The Reformation by Diarmaid McCulloch

The first time I read this book I didn’t think much of it, but on rereading it I found it a rich source of information, analysis, and commentary. If there is a single theme throughout this history, it is the way in which a passion for God usually leads to a ferocious hatred of anyone who has different ideas about God. The story of the Reformation is not an altogether inspiring story, with Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli all exposed as rather less than saintly men, and it flies in the face of the New Testament doctrine that the church of Christ is supposed to be a unified body. But I believe that the Reformation overall was a positive development in Western civilization, although, as the author notes, its effect on Europe has largely evaporated as European religious faith has increasingly waned. The United States, I would argue, is largely a product of Protestant faith and continues to be so today. But in my opinion the Reformation is not finished and still has a long way to go.

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