We have argued throughout this book that standard modern microeco-nomic theory has much to contribute to an understanding of the historical changes in the forms of Christianity. We now go further to maintain that our economic model of the Christian church may help inform some of the current debates in the status of contemporary Christianity. Despite Melton's claim that more fundamental changes (such as formal schism) in religious families seldom occur due to a basic commonality of belief, it appears that a number of contemporary issues—policy-oriented interpretations of church doctrine in the face of scientific, cultural, or income changes or differences—may put that view to the test. The basic issue, as has always been the case since the Protestant Reformation or even the beginning of Christianity, is the matter of interpretation. In this critical matter, especially regarding the translation of scriptural writings into contemporary church or public policy, there is as much difference within denominational families as between them, as the following examples reveal.
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