SCHISMATIC CHRISTIANITY: The decline of Christianity began not, as is generally believed, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries but, rather, in the sixteenth century, which is to say with the formulation of the 'Augsburg Confession' by Melanchton in 1530, which officially signalled the beginnings of Protestantism and, unknowingly at the time, precipitated the downfall of Christianity. For with the rise of Protestantism came an era of inter-Christian wars, of what we may term the 'cannibalism of Christianity', when, ostensibly in the name of the same God, Protestant killed Catholic and Catholic killed Protestant, and the Christian civilization slowly bled itself to death.
Hitherto, in the various guises of Catholicism, Christianity had fought as a single unit against Mohammedanism and thus involved itself in religious wars, or wars between different world religions. But with the rapid rise of Protestantism in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the chief conflict was fought not without but within the Church, which became plagued by increasingly violent schisms from then onwards.
As a single unit Christianity had become an extremely formidable force - indeed, so formidable as to be religiously totalitarian. But when divided into mutually hostile units, Christianity weakened itself in a manner which no eighteenth- or nineteenth-century rationalist ever did. In a very real sense Protestantism was a form of early rationalism, a forerunner of the Age of Enlightenment, and a force without which that age could not have come into existence. For by dividing the Church, Protestantism questioned the professed sovereignty of the established faith and thereby considerably detracted from its claim to omnipotence. As the ferocity of the subsequent inter-Christian wars testified, once the divide had been created it could never be repaired. And so the 'cannibalism of Christianity' continued to wreak havoc until such time as, with the progressive weakening and decline of the Church, there was very little spiritual flesh left to devour, and wholesale materialism accordingly became the order of the day.