...it seems to me that the rise of multiple Protestantisms, each tied closely to a local situation, created conditions in which local renewal of the faith could take place more readily and stir hearts more deeply than in the Catholic regions of Eruope. The ecclesiastical division of Europe, however, also hastened the secularization of Europe, because the loss of a universal church directly or indirectly encouraged men and women to disregard all traditional authority and to think and act on their own. Protestantism thus may have created a situation anticipating both the secularization that abandoned Christian authority and genuine Christian revival. By contrast, Roman Catholicism, with its renewed commitment to the universality of the church, probably created a situation less propitious for local Christian renewal, but also more propitious for preserving traditional European respect for religious authority, the revelation from God found in Scripture, and Christian tradition itself.
What do you think? I hesitate to agree that post-Reformation Catholics maintained a high regard for God's revelation in Scripture, but other than that, Noll's assessment helps me understand some of the independent spirit of Protestantism, which so often seems to work against us. The proliferation of Protestant denominations may point to something good (strong convictions), but must also point to something bad, in that disunity always has sin at its root, somewhere. Of course, each denomination thinks that the sin is in the other denomiation and "That's why we had to separate from them." Surely, though, none are 100% correct.
To work toward unity, it helps to recognize where our disunity came from, as best we can.