Can someone help me answer this so-called history lesson by a separated brother?
Couple points for clarification. Exactly what the Reformation brought about must be understood in the context of this discussion. I’ll only focus on one point, and then attempt to show the influence of Christianity on free government in general.
Under Catholicism, the Pope has the authority of God, and his words are considered equal to, or superior to, the Bible. When Luther finally translated the Bible from Latin to German, so that the common man could finally read it, two things happened: (1) There was a revelation that God is really a personal God who desires an intimate relationship with all people, and (2) that the Bible is the highest authority for the Church, and an absolute by which society could be transformed. Point 2 is quite consistent with the idea of “moral absolutes”, or “universals”, in the philosophical sense.
The effect on governments in particular was this: People now finally had an absolute moral authority by which they could challenge governments. A man could confront the emperor, point to his Bible, and show the emperor that he was himself under God’s authority. This radical, new idea swept across all of Europe. Countries transformed by the Reformation saw their governments transformed MOSTLY peacefully, as was the case with our own Revolution, and especially in the bloodless revolution of England.
France, on the other hand, had two difficulties: (1) A staunch rule by the Catholic Church, and (2) an embracement of the secular humanism movement that came out of the Renaissance. As such, although there were likely multitudes of people with a Christian worldview, it can hardly be said that they were ever a “Christian” nation, as could be said of America, and most of the rest of Europe. Russia suffered a similar dilemma under the rule of the Tsar and the Orthodox Church, which resembles Catholicism in many ways. So it is no wonder that Marx was able to plant his seeds of godlessness and humanism in both of these nations.