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Chapter 25 - Denominations
One might see the 1500s in Europe as the point the Catholic church lost their monopoly on Christianity. After failing to defeat the break away Lutherans in the 1600s (not before exterminating 80% of the people in Germany), the Catholic church began a slow process of declining monopolisitc control and power.
One might well argue that the reformation began with the invention of movable type and the distribution of the bible in popular language. However, the power of the Catholic church was not to be challenged by the truth of God’s word as much as it was by the armies German princes had to resist the power of the Catholic church.
In France, those who would reform Christianity were inexorably exterminated or driven out. We can see that the presentation of an alternate configuration of Christianity needed the support of a ruler who had a large enough army to stop those who would discourage him. For this reason many denominations became national religions administered by political rulers. The adverse circumstances under which alternatives to Catholicism were undertaken did not provide consideration of change to the organizational system structure even while consideration of alternative doctrines was pursued.
While most of Europe settled into state sponsored and regulated religion, England still had a spark of popular support for improvements to Christian practice. These were variously resisted and even persecuted. However, the popular exploration of alternative Christian configurations was to be more fully explored in America where freedom of religion was written into the Constitution of the new government.
Sadly, most of these attempts to return Christianity to its New Testament roots carried with it the organizational systems structure that would limit what the adherents could achieve. Only slowly would a few come to see that there was no ‘correct’ way to create a system to administer Christianity. It always was and can only function in the relationships people have.
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