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I want to approach the Reformation from a religious rather than a political point of view. By 'religion' I mean a world view - the relation ('religare' means to link, to establish a relationship) between human consciousness and the world about us. In this very broad understanding of the word, the view that consciousness has evolved out of a long and largely fortuitous series of chemical reactions can be regarded as a religious world view. More usually the word religion is used to characterise the view that that relationship between human consciousness and the Universe is in some way personal. It is possible to enter into dialogue between us and 'it'.

In a polytheist religion the relationship is between ourselves and a number of personalised forces of nature, which can include aspects of our own psychology. Usually these gods relate to us by involving us in their own dramas. They may from time to time help us out in our own projects but they are not in general concerned to guide us - exceptional individuals apart -  into their own divine realm.

Monotheism on the other hand envisages a single consciousness behind the world, which usually is concerned with our wellbeing, both earthly and, more importantly, 'heavenly', posing the problem and the possibility of 'eternal life'.

The Reformation was an event in the evolution of our own, 'modern' world view and I want to concentrate on certain aspects of the traditional Christian world view which the Reformation rejected. By 'traditional Christian world view' I mean here elements held in common by all those Christian communions that can trace themselves back at least to the fourth century of the Christian era - the church of the Roman Empire (eg the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches); the church of the German Empire (the 'Roman Catholic' church); the Egyptian church (Copts); the Ethiopian church; the Armenian church; and the several different churches claiming succession to the old Syrian church centred on Antioch.

The German, or Frankish ('Roman Catholic') Church occupies a special place in this discussion since it was out of it that the Renaissance and the Reformation (which could be called the shadow of the Renaissance, a shadow that eventually consumed the substance), emerged. The other churches experienced the consequences of this development as a hostile force coming from outside. The special characteristics of the Western church that allowed this development might be the subject of another article.

One of the major characteristics of traditional Christianity rejected by the Reformation was monasticism. Until the sixteenth century it could have been safely assumed that Christianity, like Buddhism, was a monastic religion. So radical is the rejection of monasticism that the Christianity that did it - Protestant Christianity in all its varieties - could be regarded as a new thing under the Sun, a new religion.