Would it very materially destroy balance to say a player character can have a “zeroth level” in a class? The two proposed cases I’ve come across are
a swashbuckler who has the acolyte background and says “I started out training as a cleric but before getting 1st level I went on another life path; I still see myself as a fledgling cleric”
a Champion Fighter who took the Magic Initiate feat and said “I’m basically a zeroth level wizard now, right?”
The specific mechanics of the game would not be changed except where the class has spells and/or attunement items. For example, a fighter who had zeroth level wizard could attempt to use a wizard spell scroll, and attune to an item that requires attunement by a wizard. The presumption is a fighter normally could not even make the saving throw to attempt using a wizard spell scroll because the spell is not on his spell list. But if he can declare himself a zeroth level wizard, he can at least attempt it. Although he does not get the class features of wizard we read about in the PHB that say "when you choose this class at 1st level", he still counts as a wizard of lower-than-1st-level status.
To clarify further, this proposal gives no class features per se, but makes someone “count as” the class for any rules external to the class description that require a PC to be a member of a specific class.
Clearly this is opening up a situational benefit, but the question is, would it make player characters OP to allow these mechanical benefits, as in this example, for a particular fighter character? Would it materially wreck the balance of the game?