The influence of the Reformational factors on the process of secularization
Keywords:Reformation, secularization, Christianity, disenchantment, metaphysical univocity of being
This article explores the Reformation's influence on the secularization of Western society according to the conceptions of Ch. Taylor and B. Gregory. Both authors point to the Reformation as a watershed moment in this process. However, they focus on different aspects of this historical phenomenon and assess its effects in contrasting ways.
In Ch. Taylor's book "A Secular Age" he reviews the Reformation in light of M. Webber's ideas and agrees that it has caused important reverberations, namely: disenchantment of time and space leading to the formation of instrumental reason, rehabilitation of work as a social activity and the spread of high moral standards to the masses, which then became a precondition for the formation of disciplinary societies. Hence, Ch. Taylor perceives the Reformation as a religious factor of predominant social progress. At the same time, he notices that the exacerbation of the doctrine of predestination in Protestantism became an obstacle for the intellectuals of the Modern Age to apprehend Christianity.
On the other hand, B. Gregory poses a more critical review of the Reformation in his book "The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society". He argues that doctrinal disagreements caused by Protestants' numerous convictions have consequently hindered contemporary Western society. Some of the unintended effects he identifies are the subjectivization of moral standards and the replacement of the substantial ethics of good by formal ethics of rights. Additionally, B. Gregory asserts that Protestant doctrines were influenced by the metaphysical univocity of being to a certain extent, which entailed the naturalistic character of modern science. However, several of his critics have questioned his research emphasizing the lack of evidence to support this last claim. Critics have also observed that his understanding of the Reformation as a destructive deviation from medieval Christianity is mainly based on an idealized view of the Middle Ages. Still, notwithstanding the one-sided character of B. Gregory's representation of the Reformation and the lack of reasonableness of some of his arguments, he correctly demonstrates its ethical consequences.This allows the conclusion that among the Reformation's consequences were both, those that contributed to the social progress and those that led to the emergence of the new ethical problems. This mean that the one-sided assessment of the Reformation as an exclusively positive or entirely negative phenomenon is inaccurate since it does not take into account the plurality of its direct and indirect, intended and unintended consequences. In this respect, Ch. Taylor is more moderate in his analysis of the Reformation, because he takes into consideration both aspects of its influence, in contrast to B. Gregory who notices only the destructive ones.
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