Reformation and Revolutions

No other great event in Western history is more ignored by historians and the general public today than the Protestant Reformation. If given the option, most historians would prefer to write, and most people to read, a book on the American, the French, or the Russian revolution than one on the birth of Protestantism. Why are we more comfortable with the other revolutions that have shaped our world than we are with the great religious one? Unlike them, the Reformation was not so straightforward a contest for economic justice and political freedom. It forces us to think about history and human life in more varied and complex ways. We find in it not only a spiritual movement driving society and politics, but one that makes injustice and bondage within the inner life as portentous as those which afflict people’s physical lives. For people living then, the struggle against sin, death, and the devil became as basic as that for bread, land, and self-determination.

Steven Ozment, Protestants: The Birth of a Revolution (New York: Image Books, 1991), 3.