Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Must-Read: 'Unintended Reformation' by Brad Gregory

I recently finished The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society (just released in January 2012 by Belknap Press of Harvard University) by historian Brad Gregory, in which the Reformation is argued to be "the most important distant historical source for contemporary Western hyperpluralism with respect to truth claims about meaning, morality, values, priorities, and purpose." (p 369)

And I must say, what a book! As I explain in my review just posted at Called to Communion,
"Gregory’s masterpiece is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand why the world is the way it is and has the potential of becoming a landmark book of our times. In other words, if you decide to take a pass, and it later becomes big, remember that I told you so."
You can read my full review here.

And this Brad Gregory has quite impressive credentials to write this book. From his Amazon author page:
Brad S. Gregory is the Dorothy G. Griffin Associate Professor of Early Modern European History at the University of Notre Dame. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University (1996) and was a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows (1994-96). Before joining the faculty at Notre Dame in 2003, Gregory taught at Stanford University, where he received early tenure in 2001. Gregory has two degrees in philosophy as well, both earned at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium. He has received teaching awards at Stanford and Notre Dame, and in 2005 was named the inaugural winner of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities from the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture as the outstanding mid-career humanities scholar in the United States. Gregory's research focuses on Christianity in the Reformation era, the long-term effects of the Reformation, secularization in early modern and modern Western history, and methodology in the study of religion.
The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society is available at Amazon in hardcover ($25.20) and for Kindle ($22.68).


  1. I think your review is excellent.

    As far as the book itself, I thought it was a pity in the conversation over a CtC on this article that only Brent responded to Carl Trueman's review. I think his point is a good one and one that Catholic apologetics needs to address. You can look at the effects of the Reformation. You can also say that reformation because because the papal system failed so badly centuries and so badly in addressing the problems of the middles that groups with deeply conflicting goals were willing to cooperate and coordinate. IMHO Catholic apologetics do not do a good job in addressing the question of the negatives of the papel system.

    There is no question that the Reformation being partially successful:
    -- first that the whole of Western Europe neither became Protestant nor returned to Catholicism
    -- second that within Protestant countries various sects with inconsistent doctrines all attracted large percentages of the population.
    -- third religions that were quasi-Christian began to flourish

    all led to the notion of secular government. But that notion is equally successful in Catholic countries. It appears that by and large the vast majority of the population do not wish a church capable of employing state terror as a (or the primary) means of maintaining doctrinal conformity. And without doctrinal conformity the state cannot be explicitly religious.

  2. I did see Carl Trueman's review, but I haven't had time to read it or respond it. Based on what you and others have said about it though, it would seem to be something very much worth responding to, so I hope someone else can read Gregory's book, read the review, and make a response