The Unintended Reformation:

Historical arguments and omissions

posted by Brad S. Gregory

A number of the forum reviewers raise objections to various aspects of the historical arguments in The Unintended Reformation. Others criticize me for having neglected what they regard as important omissions that adversely affect the book’s arguments. I will consider each of these sorts of criticisms in turn. Many of these critiques derive from the difficulty of keeping in mind that the book’s structure—a function of its method, which follows from its explanatory purpose as discussed in the first part of my response—distributes phenomena from the same historical era across six chapters rather than keeping them together. In combination with the necessarily compressed exposition, which also derives from the method, this sometimes results in readers not heeding or forgetting what is incorporated elsewhere in the book.

To begin, then, in roughly chronological order with criticisms about my characterization of the Latin Middle Ages. Several reviewers accuse me of depicting a misleadingly monolithic and overly coherent Latin Christendom. Victoria Kahn, for example, refers to a “Catholic mono-culture of the Middle Ages” and James Chappel lumps me with authors who laud “the glorious unity of medieval Christendom”; Thomas Pfau notes “a rather abstract and monolithic understanding of medieval Christianity,” implying that I ignore how it was “realized in extraordinarily complex and regionally diverse liturgical and sacramental practices”; and Adrian Pabst quotes the phrase “unified, comprehensive worldview” with reference to Latin Christendom as if it were from my book (it is not; the book’s only use of the phrase “comprehensive worldview” refers to neo-Darwinism [66]).

Such characterizations are puzzling and frustrating. I have been reading scholarship in medieval history for well over twenty years, so I made sure that both the widely shared and the locally diverse elements of medieval Latin Christianity apparent in that scholarship were reflected in my book. This is most obvious in Chapter 2, where I characterize, in a compact manner consistent with my methodology, both of these aspects of medieval Latin Christianity: “it combined sharp limits on orthodoxy with a wide tolerance of diverse local beliefs and practices. Any picture of medieval Latin Christianity as a homogeneous, uniform set of rigidly prescribed, strictly enforced, and closely followed practices is deeply misleading,” and “variety and voluntarism marked late medieval religious life” (83). I thought I had been unambiguous on this point, and perhaps referred too laboriously to “a cornucopia of local religious customs, voluntary devotional practices, specific ecclesiastical subgroups, particular jurisdictional privileges, divergent theological approaches, and syncretistic beliefs in a spectrum ranging from the impeccably orthodox to the edge of heresy” (84). What phrase should I have used—rather than “almost riotous diversity” (84)—to capture the localized variegation that Pfau accuses me of ignoring? Again in the Conclusion I made a point of noting “the wide diversity of ways in which the faith was expressed from Scandinavia and Scotland to Sicily and Spain” (366). Perhaps the perceived problem derives from my concomitant insistence that many medieval Christian institutions, beliefs, and practices were widely shared? But how can this be plausibly denied? It seems uncontroversial that aside from Jews and (before 1492 in Iberia) Muslims and the small number of those considered heretics, the manifest localisms of Latin Christendom were “held together in an overarching unity by a combination of ingrained customs, myriad institutions, varying degrees of self-conscious dedication, and the threat of punishment” (84). Masses of evidence, however one interprets it, lie behind both the unity and the diversity, so I see no option but to affirm both, which is no contradiction. Throughout the book both are implied in my shorthand phrase, “institutionalized worldview,” to refer to late medieval Christianity.

Related to this mischaracterization of my interpretation of the Middle Ages is the accusation of “nostalgia,” a charge that commonly seems to follow when a scholar evinces any fundamental criticism of modernity. Got a problem with the world today? It must mean you yearn for the past. Apparently only two kinds of narratives can be written—progress or decline—so if you’re not doing the first, you must be doing the second. Kahn writes, for example, “Gregory titles the conclusion to his book ‘Against Nostalgia,’ but it is impossible to imagine a more nostalgic argument, however erudite and impassioned it may be.” It is difficult to know what to make of such an allegation. Must someone critical of the present eo ipso be uncritically nostalgic for the past? Can’t one be critical and in other respects appreciative of each? The dubious charge of nostalgia is related to Chappel’s mistaken assertion that “[Gregory] is no less committed to an idea of ‘the West’ whose decline he unironically laments throughout the work.” But “the West” is an idea I nowhere defend and for the imputed decline of which there is no lament in the book. I am, in fact, deeply suspicious of it. “The West” in my book is not an ideological banner but simply a geographic designation, as I repeatedly make clear. It denotes those parts of Europe that from the Middle Ages to the present were once part of Latin Christendom, plus North America from its first contact with Europeans to the present. I suspect that refusals to take me at my word (“Against Nostalgia”) derive from the supersessionist view of history criticized in the book, here manifest in scholars who tend to ignore the presence of theology as a robust, anti-postmetaphysical part of modern intellectual history and contemporary intellectual realities. We are back to the institutionalized assumption of metaphysical naturalism in contemporary academic life. My repeated recognition of the “the late medieval church’s many real, pervasive, and undeniable problems” (85) should have made apparent to any reader that I meant what I said in the Introduction: “This is neither a study of decline from a lost Golden Age nor a narrative of progress toward an ever brighter future, but rather an analysis of unintended historical consequences that derived from transformative responses to major, perceived human problems” (20-21). Thankfully, other reviewers have grasped as much; in Peter Gordon’s words, for example, “Gregory is not naïve and he is not nostalgic for the way things actually were.”

The argument of Chapter 1 has been misconstrued in numerous reviews, including some among this forum’s reviewers. Pfau’s claim, that “Invariably, though, the gravitational pull of The Unintended Reformation is away from social and material historiography and toward philosophical theology,” is off the mark. It would obtain only had I not addressed concrete religious practices in Chapter 2, the exercise of power by church(es) and states in Chapter 3, embodied socio-ethical behaviors and relationships in Chapter 4, or three-dimensional economic practices in Chapter 5. A similar mischaracterization is expressed by Guido Vanheeswijck, who in contrasting my book with Taylor’s A Secular Age, asserts that “Gregory mainly, if not exclusively, focuses on the (doctrinal) and metaphysical beliefs that have been changing throughout the last half-millennium.” My book is not fairly characterized as a work of intellectual history per se. The book must be read and understood as a whole; in contrast to Pfau’s Minding the Modern, it is not a work of Ideengeschichte organized as a single chronological narrative devoted to the intensive investigation of more narrowly circumscribed concerns (a genealogical analysis of “will” and “person”). Recurrently and consistently, premodern Christianity (and Catholicism in general) in The Unintended Reformation is regarded most fundamentally as a shared way of life, not as a matter of philosophy, theology, or assent to doctrines.

Ian Hunter spends by far the most time on Chapter 1 among the forum’s respondents. His reading is distorted by his mistaken assumptions about The Unintended Reformation as a work of Catholic confessional history that allegedly repudiates historicism as such (see the first part of my response). Hunter thus fails to understand the central argument of Chapter 1, which leaves him oblivious to the misplaced character of his critique of my point concerning Catholic claims about “God’s sacramental presence in the world. A central weakness of [Gregory’s] account is that he never really specifies and clarifies this concept, except all-too-briefly at the very end of the chapter.” On the contrary, at the outset of the argument, I expressly state that “If God is inconceivable and unrepresentable, then so is any adequate grasp of God’s relationship to creation, in general and in all its particulars. The exact nature of such a God’s relatedness to human beings, for example, or the precise mode of his presence in the sacraments, or the specific relationship of God to the subatomic particles disclosed by twentieth-century physics, could and can only be inexplicable as a corollary of God’s own incomprehensibility” (34-35, italics in original). In other words, Hunter criticizes me for not specifying and clarifying a concept that I emphasize cannot in principle be specified and clarified. This reveals his own incomprehension of the philosophical point at the chapter’s heart, which is related to his misunderstandings that this sacramental view of reality is somehow dependent either on Thomism or (an ahistorical view of!) the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. It is rather an extension of the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation, as I state clearly (32), which is in turn connected to the traditional doctrine about God’s transcendence.

Hunter also misses the principal significance of the Reformation for Chapter 1’s argument, despite the fact that it too is clearly stated (40-41, 46-47): the endless doctrinal controversies of the Reformation era eliminated recourse to alleged divine revelation for supra-confessional discourse about the relationship between God and the natural world. Any and every theological intervention about God’s supposed revelation reinforced rather than resolved the doctrinal controversies characteristic of the Reformation era. As a result, metaphysical univocity became consequential in ways it had not been before the Reformation. By the late seventeenth century the increased explanatory power of natural efficient causality was combined with Occam’s razor applied to an either-or understanding of the relationship between natural causes and divine presence, and God was widely understood metaphysically as de facto a part of the same order as creation. Hence the way was cleared for the view (still widely believed but mistaken) that the reality of a transcendent creator-God becomes somehow incrementally less plausible in proportion to the power of scientific explanation about the natural world. If anything, I could have made this point more emphatically in Chapter 1. It is articulated much more powerfully by David Bentley Hart in The Experience of God, which emphasizes the inescapably logical as well as metaphysical character of the doctrine of creation ex nihilo (which like all other Christian doctrines of course emerged historically—nowhere in my book do I even suggest otherwise). Hunter claims that the defense of a transcendent conception of God and the critique of Greek metaphysics by early modern German Protestant historians of theology and philosophy, including Jacob and Christian Thomasius, Colberg, and Arnold, “fl[ies] in the face of Gregory’s central argument” in Chapter 1. But I do not deny that some early modern and modern Protestant and Catholic theologians maintained the notion of a transcendent God in their respective traditions. This is not an issue I take up. Again, this simply misses the point of Chapter 1, which analyzes the historical emergence of the widespread contemporary view concerning the supposedly inherent connection between scientific discovery and modern atheism or Weberian disenchantment. All forms of Protestantism (including the protagonists invoked by Hunter) belong to the open-endedness that followed historically from the Reformation’s foundational principle of sola scriptura (as is clear from Chapter 2); and the continuation of Catholic and Protestant theologies in the modern era do not affect the relationship between God and the natural world as understood in either modern philosophy or the natural sciences, which is the concern of the last part of Chapter 1. These theologies have all along been part of modern intellectual life and today contribute to our hyperpluralism, despite being ignored by most intellectual historians of modernity and contemporary academics in general.

As for the Reformation’s centrality for the emergence of the complex historical processes in the makings of modernity, some of the forum’s participants have different assessments: Chappel thinks I “boldly reviv[e] this largely forgotten axis of ‘modernity critique’” whereas Kahn thinks that “in many ways” the book’s argument “is a familiar one”: “Practically every scholar of liberalism has traced our modern social and political formation in the West to the early modern period, and many have seen liberal political theory—with all of its problems—as a response to the confessional conflicts of the Reformation.” Pabst, on the other hand, writes that “Gregory’s single greatest achievement is to have documented extensively and often forensically just how pivotal the Reformation was in accelerating and amplifying the emerging process of secularization.” I tried to be as clear as possible in the Introduction about my considerable indebtedness to existing scholarship, and about where I think The Unintended Reformation contributes something new. I avow that “The upheavals of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries . . . are part of standard narratives about how the Reformation era ushered in Western modernity, with its separation of church and state, secularization of public politics, privatization of religion, and freedom of religious belief and worship” (6). The book’s aim is not originality per se, but explanation of the historical formation of dominant contemporary Western institutions and hyperpluralism. To this end, I was and remain grateful for the work of a great many other scholars without which, as I wrote in my book and repeated in the first part of my response, the endeavor would have been impossible. But I am not aware of many historians of the Western world, regardless of their period of specialization, who both cross the boundaries that separate medieval from early modern, and early modern from modern history, and deliberately seek to integrate intellectual, political, social, economic, cultural, and religious history with the history of higher education spanning more than half a millennium. Nor am I aware of many colleagues who have devised a method so simultaneously synthetic and analytical to serve this end. I know of no other scholars who have made a case for the doctrinal disagreements and religio-political conflicts of the Reformation as the distant historical precipitants for intertwined contemporary phenomena as diverse as naturalist metaphysical beliefs, the subjectivization of morality, the political protection of individual rights, the application of scientific discoveries in manufacturing technology, open-ended consumerism, and the ideologically secular character of higher education, to name only some of the major phenomena encompassed in The Unintended Reformation. If Kahn or others who think the book unoriginal are aware of such scholarship, I would be grateful to learn about it.

There are relatively few criticisms about my interpretation of the Reformation era among the forum respondents. Pabst makes a strange claim, utterly alien to Reformation historiography, about Anglicanism as “a theological tradition in its own right since John Wycliffe, William Tyndale and Richard Hooker, and one that cannot be subsumed under Reformed Protestantism, as Gregory wrongly suggests.” This ignores the scholarly consensus about the appellation “Anglicanism” and the Reformed Protestant character of the Church of England’s official doctrine during the reigns of Edward VI, Elizabeth I, and James I. Hunter suggests I am inconsistent in the ways I sometimes use the term “Protestant” and at other times specify which Protestant churches or traditions are relevant for the point I am making, but this is simply not the case in Chapter 1’s discussion of the eucharist. I have researched and conceptualized the Reformation era comparatively and cross-confessionally for over twenty years, and am self-conscious about the need for nomenclatural precision depending on the issue at hand. Brenna Moore thinks I am unaware of the presence of Sephardic Jews in the early modern Dutch Republic even though I explicitly mention them (164). Ernst van den Hemel thinks I am unmindful of the United Provinces’ restrictive limits on religious practice, ignoring this very point in note 112 on page 454, where I quote from the collection edited by Hsia and van Nierop cited against me by van den Hemel; I also read in manuscript and wrote a jacket blurb for Charles Parker’s excellent study of early modern Dutch Catholics, Faith on the Margins, which includes documentation of the hardships they faced. Comparative freedom of religious belief and practice in the early modern Dutch Republic was far from complete by later, more liberal Western standards, but this fact does not vitiate my argument about its importance in the seventeenth century. Van den Hemel further accuses me of “impl[ying] that the choice for toleration was a choice for immoral economic activity and not for religiously inspired morality,” but this ignores my mention in Chapter 3 of those early modern Christians who championed toleration for religiously motivated moral reasons (161-162) as well as of those who found no difficulty reconciling their acquisitiveness with their religious commitments as analyzed, for example, by Mark Valeri for colonial New England (280-281).

A final criticism to consider before moving on to questions about omissions concerns my analysis of modern philosophy, which is raised by Kahn, Gordon, and Chappel. (I will take up more obviously contemporary issues related to philosophy and liberalism mentioned by these and other reviewers in the final part of my response.) It is chiefly Chapters 2 (about the basis for answers to the life questions) and 4 (about the transformation from an ethics of the good to an ethics of rights) that are questioned here. The focus of Chapter 2 is very specific, namely a historical analysis of the basis for answers to the life questions, which I argue was scripture alone (and its adjuncts) for Protestants in the Reformation era, and reason alone for foundationalist philosophers since Descartes. The chapter deliberately does not seek to explore the ideas of any theologians or philosophers in any depth or detail, interesting and worthwhile as this endeavor is for those with other questions, because doing so was not germane to my explanatory purpose nor would it have affected my argument.

My argument about modern philosophy is that based on any and all evidence one might care to marshal, it has failed on the terms of its own protagonists with respect to answering the life questions. This verdict depends on correctly characterizing the animating ambition of modern philosophers and comparing it with what has in fact happened. This endeavor occupies the latter part of Chapter 2, the argument of which is that modern philosophers from the seventeenth century through at least Husserl sought on the basis of reason alone to articulate universally valid and consensually persuasive truths about metaphysics, the nature of human beings, ethics, epistemology, and political life in answer to life questions, explicitly eschewing appeals to revelation, tradition, or authority. Here I draw directly on texts by Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Hume, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Emerson, Marx, Mill, and Husserl as evidence. I could have referred to the texts of many more thinkers, and I could have expanded considerably my treatment of any or all of these; I have read philosophy ever since I devoted three years to it almost exclusively in Leuven in the 1980s. But as I state in Chapter 2, neither sort of expansion would have changed the fact that these and other modern philosophers disagree in fundamental and apparently irresolvable ways about central metaphysical, ethical, anthropological, and other issues that the recourse to reason alone was meant to resolve. This does not mean they do not have many interesting or insightful things to say. It does not mean they were uninfluential or lacked adherents and advocates who regard (and continue to regard) certain of their claims as true. It only means that reason alone has not achieved, and based on the evidence of the history of modern philosophy and the state of contemporary philosophy apparently cannot achieve, what its practitioners sought and in some instances still seek to achieve—not only with respect to metaphysics, which is particularly emphasized by Gordon, but also with respect to any other major domain of philosophy, including ethics or philosophical anthropology. Hence modern philosophy has failed on its own terms. The scenario I use to dramatize this point with respect to contemporary philosophy, and which Gordon characterizes as “quite simply not a serious argument,” is frankly not meant as an argument (in contrast to the 12 pages that precede it)—it is rather a way of illustrating with an image and a thought experiment the failure of modern philosophy’s ambitions. I can understand why Gordon, who has devoted years to analyzing the complexities of twentieth-century Continental thought, and does so brilliantly, would dislike the argument that contemporary philosophical options are arbitrary in the sense of preferential. But I cannot see how anything in his critique invalidates the argument. With respect to modern philosophy, this inference simply applies what Gordon calls, in a nice phrase, “an internal criterion for failure.” Note that this is specifically an argument about modern philosophy, not modernity as such—the former I argue has failed, the latter that it “is failing,” although Gordon conflates the two in his central criticism of my book (I will take this up in the final part of my response).

My argument does not of course preclude the possibility that some philosophical genius might within the next few years articulate an answer to the life questions on the basis of reason alone in a manner that will garner universal (or near-universal) assent among men and women with the requisite education and intellectual capacity to understand it. The point is simply that, based on the historical and contemporary evidence, there is no reason to think this is even remotely likely. Much more likely, again based on the evidence, is that there is something inherently problematic about the very idea of “reason alone” as conceived in modern foundationalist philosophy, as many of its critics have argued. If Gordon or anyone else who “contribute[s] to modern philosophical inquiry” wishes to try to articulate answers to life questions or find resolutions to any real-life moral disagreements in consensually persuasive ways on the basis of reason alone, they are more than welcome to try. But based on the past four centuries of modern philosophical argument and the state of contemporary philosophy, I am skeptical about their chances of success. I would also be interested to hear from Kahn about any actual “non-subjective, non-arbitrary moral values” that have been generated “through conversation, negotiation, and cultural interaction” among moral philosophers, beyond the restricted circles of philosophers or others who happen to agree on the values in question. A circle inclusive of all moral philosophers will disclose nothing of the kind, a point Alasdair MacIntyre made over thirty years ago in After Virtue and which is no less true today than it was then. The irony of Kahn’s reference to the “sudden invention of a new kind of individual rights talk in the 1970s” as “a sign, not necessarily of the incoherence or arbitrariness of rights claims, but of their newfound historical truth value,” is apparently lost on her, considering that the same decade saw multiple Western countries legalize abortion on demand, a practice predicated on the far-from-uncontroversial claim that human fetuses are not human beings with a right to life. No matter how much one considers the ideas of modern or contemporary philosophers in the manner urged by Kahn or Chappel, so long as the net is cast inclusively it would not change my argument about modern philosophy in The Unintended Reformation—it would rather strengthen with as much content and as many examples as one pleases the argument I make.

I will turn now from criticisms of historical arguments to criticisms concerning omissions. I mentioned in the first part of my response what I state more than once in my book, namely that despite its range and ambition, The Unintended Reformation makes no claims of comprehensiveness and its six chapters “are by no means exhaustive” (5). Indeed, the book’s method requires omissions, as I explained in the first part of my response, where I also noted that the book was originally conceived with twelve chapters. The question, then, is not whether certain things are left out but whether the omissions adversely affect my argument about the formation of contemporary ideological or institutional realities, the explanation of which is, again, the overriding aim of the book. The three most substantive charges about omissions from the book by this forum’s reviewers are that it ignores European Christians’ encounters with non-Christians, overlooks Catholic contributions to secularization, and avoids consideration of democracy.

Moore says “it is impossible to understand the historical trajectory of Christianity without understanding its contact with non-Christian others” and adds that “there is no mention of Christianity’s entanglements with colonialism” in the book. To be sure, I could have said much more about these issues than I do. But they are mentioned, and indeed are even emphasized albeit in a compressed manner: I note the significance of sixteenth-century Spanish interactions with non-Christians in the Americas for the discourse on human rights, for example, as well as the brutality of early modern European colonialism including the slave trade, the “killing and coercive displacement” of indigenous peoples in North America, and the influence of the horrifying realities of rival European imperialisms on postcolonial European secularization in the later twentieth century (198, 282, 291, 177-178). Seen in a global perspective focused on large-scale interactions among peoples, the most important development in sixteenth-century Christianity was arguably the missionary, commercial, and colonial interaction of Western Europeans with indigenous peoples in the Americas, Africa, and Asia. My concern, however, was not with the general significance of these interactions in a global history of Christianity, or with their significance for early modern Western Christian identity. I considered instead whether a chapter devoted to Christian and non-Christian interactions would have outweighed the explanatory power of any of the six domains on which I chose to concentrate for my purposes. I do not think it would have. On the other hand, without considering the impact of the doctrinal and religio-political conflicts of the Reformation era, we cannot understand modern liberal states or our contemporary hyperpluralism. Granted, adding a chapter about Western European colonialism and the ways in which confessional conflicts were exported overseas would undoubtedly have enriched the book’s analysis (in her recent Notre Dame doctoral dissertation, for example, Anne McGinness explores such conflicts among the Portuguese, French, and Dutch in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Brazil). As I state in the Conclusion, the book also would have been strengthened by chapters on sex, families, and marriage, as well as on forms of communication in the long-term transformation from a medieval world of orality and manuscripts to our contemporary world of wireless internet connections. It is curious, to say the least, that Moore suspects I avoided Christianity’s encounters with non-Christians because this would have meant acknowledging European Christian violence and coercion—the concrete religio-political violence between Catholics and magisterial Protestants in Western Europe is central to the book. Again, I decided not to devote a chapter to the relationship between Christians and non-Christians because I did not think it as important as the book’s other chapters for my explanandum. Had I written twelve chapters rather than six this surely would have been one of them. It seems to me it would have strengthened the book’s main argument rather than changed it in any fundamental ways.

Pabst chides me for concentrating too exclusively on Protestantism and thus neglecting important Catholic contributions to long-term processes of secularization. Here too, it seems to me, the critique is blunted by the fact that the book includes some of the phenomena to which he refers, whereas other elements in his critique miss the mark because of the way he renders the book’s main argument. My argument is not that “Protestantism unwittingly invented the capitalism and secular liberalism that together constitute our current condition” but rather that the conflicts between (especially magisterial) Protestants and Catholics in the Reformation era, both doctrinal and concretely political and military, were the principal precipitants of the long-term transformations, together with the ways in which early modern authorities across confessional lines sought to enforce the imposition of Christianity. Catholicism was integral to these processes, which, as my book makes clear, began in some cases long before the Reformation: metaphysical univocity, the increasing jurisdictional control of ecclesiastical institutions by non-ecclesiastical authorities, the monetization of the economy and expansion of markets, and the intellectual challenges posed by humanism to the scholastic institutionalization of knowledge in universities. The question is whether these were in and of themselves secularizing processes, as Pabst suggests. If we consider the evidence for participation across the social and educational spectrum in the devotional and intellectual culture of Latin Christianity at the outset of the sixteenth century, and the zeal with which so many civic authorities and sovereign leaders sought to reform ecclesiastical life within the framework of the church’s doctrinal assertions, it is difficult to find much secularization underway. If anything, public and private life were becoming more rather than less religious, which continued after the Reformation, albeit in divergent confessional channels—which did have long-term secularizing consequences. It was the rejection of the authority of the Roman Church—which had so many diverse implications—that exposed the secularizing potential of metaphysical univocity or nominalism, for example, both of which had been around for more than a century and a half by the time of the Reformation. Late medieval Christian thought and piety thrived with and was arguably even energized by them as well as by humanism and other intellectual and devotional currents prior to the Reformation, all of which of course also prompted new questions and conflicts. But the rejection of the Roman Church is what made the disagreements between magisterial Protestant and Catholic controversialists, respectively protected by confessionally opposed political authorities, so different from pre- or post-Reformation intra-Catholic theological disputes. The latter are inappositely noted by Pabst as though they were parallel to controversies in the Reformation era, whether between magisterial Protestants and Catholics or among Protestants. They were not, because they were based on a fundamentally different attitude toward the authority of the Roman Church, which precipitated in turn very different actions toward it.

Again, The Unintended Reformation does not aim to be a comprehensive history or to explain everything about the contemporary Western world. Had I included a chapter about rival views of human nature, or about competing metaphysical ideas as such, I certainly would have taken up the nominalism and voluntarism identified by Pabst as a problematic omission. But I could explain what I sought to without devoting explicit attention either to nominalism or voluntarism in my targeted chapters. I am not quite sure why Pabst thinks “the sundering of nature from the supernatural” is mentioned only “in passing”; especially with respect to the emergence and ideological significance of modern metaphysical naturalism, it is central to Chapter 1 and a red thread that runs throughout the book. Moreover, I expressly mention Suárez and post-Tridentine Catholic theology in the sense noted by Pabst (53); the self-colonization of Christians by capitalism applies as much to Catholics after the mid-seventeenth century as it does to Protestants, rather than capitalism being “impute[d] almost exclusively to the Protestant Reformation”; and I specifically discuss conciliarism, although admittedly not at length (142-143). I am well aware of the schism of 1054, as is implied in mention of efforts to overcome it (144), but my book is about the transformation of the Western world since the late Middle Ages, in which Eastern Orthodoxy plays an explanatorily negligible role. Certainly these and many other things could have been treated in more detail, but they are incorporated into the narrative in ways cognizant of their respective contributions to the long-term historical processes analyzed in the book.

Finally, there is the supposed “intended absence” of “democracy” alleged by Chappel. Since most of Chappel’s criticism focuses on my putative unconcern with the fact that we live in democratic, pluralistic regimes, and the challenges this presents, I will consider it primarily in the final part of my response. The ostensible omission of modern democracies from the book is a mirage. Chappel apparently could not make the conceptual leap from the historical formation and analysis of a broader category, the “modern, liberal regimes” at the heart of Chapter 3 and important throughout the book, to his favored term, “democracy.” Perhaps rereading the book with this in mind will help. I am grateful to be informed that “we live in a democracy, made up of people from multiple faith communities” and not “in a kingdom at all.” And here I had been thinking that “the Kingdom of Whatever” was a metaphor intended to say something important about contemporary life in Western democracies in general. Other readers seem to have understood the term as it was intended.

In the final part of my response, I will take up reviewers’ criticisms and questions related to the book’s treatment of the contemporary situation in which we find ourselves. The Unintended Reformation is as much about the present as it is about the past. As such it makes a case for the indispensability of history for contemporary self-understanding.

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