Open Theology (Nov 2018)

Reformation 500: Any Cause for Celebration?

  • Milbank John

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 4, no. 1
pp. 607 – 629


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In general the effect of the Reformation has been negative, but this is because it but imperfectly overcame the legacy of later medieval philosophy which was both univocalist and nominalist. In consequence it has encouraged some of the negative features of modernity: capitalism, the emergence of the sovereign state, the disenchantment of nature, iconoclasm, literalism and the disparagement of tradition. However, modern Catholicism has not been altogether free of this legacy and its consequences either. There has also been, to an almost contradictory degree, a positive consequence of the Reformation at its most radical: the pursuit of the ethical for its own sake and a greater sacralisation of all aspects of reality.