Carl Trueman’s post praising the cynicism of church historians has so many quotable parts that it’s hard to choose just one. While you’ll want to read the whole thing, here is a good bit to chew on:
Any intellectual historian of any merit will tell you that the last 1,000 years in the West have only produced two moments of paradigm shifting significance, and neither of them was the Reformation. The first was the impact of the translation into Latin of Aristotle’s metaphysical works. This demanded a response from the thirteenth century church. The response, most brilliantly represented by Thomas Aquinas, revolutionized education, transformed the philosophical landscape, opened up fruitful new avenues for theological synthesis, and set the basic shape of university education until the early eighteenth century. Within this intellectual context, the Reformation was to represent a critical development of Augustinian anti-Pelagianism in terms of the understanding of the church and of salvation, but it did not represent quite the foundational paradigm shift that is often assumed.
The second major moment was the Enlightenment. Like the earlier Aristotelian renaissance, this was a diverse movement and the singular term is something of a scholarly construct; but the various philosophical strands covered by the terms served to remake university education and to demand new and fresh responses from the church in a way that the Reformation had never done.