Most authorities interpret Rambam in Hilchot Mamrim 3:1-3:3 to be saying that the law concerning minim/apikorisim do not apply to the tinok shenishba. They treat tinok shenishba as a halachic status. Looking into the gemara, I found the entire discussion in Shabbat 68B. In the sugya, it talks about two different types of people, the tinok shenishba, and a "halachic status" I've never seen referenced before, a ger shenitgayer levin hanacharim. I have two questions concerning this subject:
Are there any interpretations of the Rambam in Mamrim (and other places where he mentions a tinok shenishba) where tinok shenishba isn't a halachic status? That is to say, where tinok shenishba is more of an adjective used to give suggestions on how to treat him? I found a few commentaries on the Rambam online, and one in particular gives this opinion.
What exactly does the Rif say about the ger shenitgayer levin hanacharim? When I looked up the Rif in Shabbat, his commentary ended a daf before 68B. The Steinsaltz's makes reference that the Rif thought the the ger shitgayer levin hanacharim was a goy that converted among the gentiles, without a beit din, and that he is halachically Jewish. What exactly, in full detail, does the Rif say? Also, is this an opinion widely held or do most authorities completely reject Rif?