on 12 September 2014
probably the most important book on the Reformation and also the most thought provoking of recent times.
Gregory's work 'Salvation at Stake',on martyrdom at the time should Ideally be read before tackling the present work.
There are various reviews on the web by his academic peers,also responses from Gregory himself,which can give a
balanced,objective perspective on the book.All in all a must read.An excellent context in which to read Gregory,is that
of his Notre Dame colleagues, John van Engen and Mark Noll,neither of whom are Catholic.
It is always a pleasure to read works that are well-written, widely and deeply researched and breaking new ground,also
unbiased and irenic,which is what you will get from these historians.
on 7 October 2014
An indepth study giving a detailed timeline of the Unintended consequences of the Reformation across the globe. With many and varied coverage of subjects such as 16th Century wars with France, Controlling the Churches, The Enlightenment and the catapulting of scientific investigation and discovery The Industrial Revolution World wars and their consequences thereafter it makes for a facinating study
on 7 April 2012
After reading this book no one will be left in doubt about the extraordinary erudition and sweep of historical and philosophical knowledge the author brings to this ambitious work.However the text combines two separate lines of argument that are deftly weaved.He constructs on the one hand an illuminating and elaborate thesis describing the intellectual genealogy and the contingent circumstances during the Reformation which shaped the secularisation of Western Thought.But he implicitly condemns most theological innovations since the 13th Century as he believes they led eventually to modern consumerism and widespread religious unbelief.A rather strange and simplistic explanation of a very complex process.He then launches into a polemical assertion of putative Pre Reformation, Pre scientific Catholic experiential knowledge intimately linked with an integrated sacramental view of the place of Man in society and the Cosmos.He deplores the erosion of the late medieval consensus of Thomist theology and Aristotelian scholasticism,by what he calls metaphysical univocity (Duns Scotus)and doctrinal nominalism(William of Ockham) which he claims undermined the concept of divine immanence and Providential God, thus initiating the corrosive process on the Roman Catholic hegemonic belief wrought by the Reformation and completed by the Enlightenment.God would no longer be the numinous biblical God but would be the God of Deism, the first cause and supreme mover.
It is unfortunate that the text offers two alternative readings one rooted in recent historical scholarship and the other simply a nostalgic anti modern rant clearly dictated by the author's Catholic faith. Combining the two objectives in a single work was somewhat misleading for the prospective reader of a book with such academic pretensions.The unwary reader would be confounded by disputation arguments about the methodological flaws of modern atheism and the moral flaws of modern materialistic consumerism ,intimately intertwined with the main philosophical and historical thesis on the religious genealogy of secular thought.To my mind the author was disingenuous in combining in a single work a project of objective historical scholarship albeit speculative with a tendentious project of idiosyncratic cultural criticism, that should have been treated separately under a different heading.At a more basic level and without being unkind , the text which is rather repetitive is no more than a sophisticated rehash of Max Weber 's arguments deriving from the ascetic " reformation" mindset the process of disenchantment and secularisation that characterises modernity.