Simple questions do not always have simple answers. For instance, have you ever pondered the question, “What does it mean to be a Christian?” Well, we might say a Christian is a follower of Christ or a disciple of our Lord or something along those lines. But then we need to unpack what those things mean and all their various contours and implications. To be a Christian might mean something very different to two Christians sitting in the same room.

A few years ago, I read a fascinating and somewhat controversial book called The Churching of America, by Roger Finke and Rodney Stark. In it the authors examined and brought to light the history of religion in America by arguing it works as a free market economy, an economy in which there are winners and losers. The authors were not pastors or theologians, but professors of sociology and they tackled the issue as sociologists. They do not speak much about orthodoxy or heterodoxy or faithful confessions but use the language of economics.