I’ve been studying the history of Christianity for a few months now. It is clear that a major culture shift occurred, starting around the time of the reformation and continuing even to today… The desire for self determination and personal freedom became paramount in many European countries. This was carried over to the New World and ultimately emerged in the Constitution of the United States where separation of Church and State and Freedom of Religion became the law of the land.
While some religious freedoms had occurred in parts of Europe generally each nation had a national church but in the more liberal states granted some freedom to those who didn’t participate in the state religion. The result was that in the 18th Century you basically had (among non-Catholics) Lutherans, Presbyterian, Baptist, Quakers, Moravian and Anabaptist. You also had the State Churches of England and Scotland. Methodist was still part of the Anglican church until after the Revolutionary war.
So from the time of the reformation until the birth of the United States you had maybe 10 Protestant denominations (the Puritans had fizzled out). After the United States was formed and instituted Freedom of Religion and Separation of Church and State there was an explosion in denominations, most of them splits from the 10 or so in existence in 1776, and most started in the USA. We also had the return of Gnostic beliefs, Arianism and the development of cults and pseudo Christian movements. We have also had the development of Pentecostal/Charismatic churches which is now the fastest growing group of Christians in the world.
My baptist heritage is one of a strong support for Separation of church and state. Baptist were strong supporters of being able worship according to the dictates of a personal conscious. They saw the church/state combination as oppressive against life and liberty.
I’m curious as how all of this is viewed from a Roman Catholic perspective.
So the question becomes, is Freedom of Religion and Separation of Church and State a good thing for Christianity? Is it a good thing for society?
Would you like to go back to a society where the RCC had the ability to stamp out non-RCC teaching by making non-RCC teachings illegal?