The Effects of the Protestant Revolt

This blog recommends a book titled “An Essay on the Economic Effects of the Reformation” by George O’Brien.  We will begin posting quotes from the book.  Here is the first:

The division of History into organic and critical periods we owe to Saint Simon.  During the organic periods mankind accepts with firm conviction some positive Creed while during the critical periods men lose their old convictions without attaining any new ones of a general authoritative character. The organic period of Christianity came to an end, and the critical period began, at the Reformation, when the authority of the Church was assailed and the reign of private judgment inaugurated. . . This critical phase has lasted for 400 years, and it will continue until a new organic period can be begun by the universal.acceptance of some common creed.  The discovery of that creed is man’s capital task today.  Ever since the reformation, the old foundations of European life have been attacked by successive waves, first of protestantism, and then of rationalism, until society has arrived at its present chaotic, formless, distracted condition. . .

There is one institution alone which is capable of supplying and enforcing the social ethic that is needed to reviving the world.   It is an institution at once intra-national and international; an institution that can claim to pronounce infallible on moral matters, and enforce the observance of its moral decrees by direct sanctions on the individual conscience of man; an institution which, while respecting and supporting the civil governments of nations, can claim to exist independently of them, and can insist that they shall not intrude upon the moral life or fetter the moral liberty of their citizens.   Europe possessed such an institution in the Middle Ages; it’s dethrone mentioned was the unique achievement of the reformation; and the injury inflicted by that dethronement has never since been repaired.
(The institution he is referring to is of course Holy Mother Church)