The main concern of this study, first published in 1990, is the part played by Protestantism in the complex of social processes of ‘secularization’. The book deals with the way in which Protestant schism and dissent paved the way for the rise of religious pluralism and toleration; and it also looks at the fragility of the two major responses to religious pluralism – the accommodation of liberal Protestantism and the sectarian rejection of the conservative alternative. It examines the part played by social, economic and political changes in undermining the plausibility of religion in western Europe, and puts forward the argument that core Reformation ideas must not be overlooked, particularly the repercussions of different beliefs about authority in competing Christian traditions.
1. Secularization 2. The Fragmentation of Protestantism 3. Dissent and Toleration 4. Establishments and Toleration 5. The Rise of Liberal Protestantism 6. The Decline of Liberal Protestantism 7. The Conservative Response to Pluralism 8. American Protestantism 9. The Spiral of Decline