There are remarkable essays, for example, on the Protestant reformers and Our Lady, on the making of the Book of Common Prayer, the (Catholic) genius William Byrd and the (eventually rather tragic) career of Richard Hooker. There is a masterly review of writings on the English Reformation, including positive appreciations of Hilaire Belloc, the Redemptorist Fr Thomas Edward Bridgett and Philip Hughes’s bold trilogy; and a fascinating account of how the 17th-century Irish Protestant firebrand (psychopath?) Robert Ware produced blatant forgeries to promote his cause.
Some of these essays are a bit heavy going, but MacCulloch has a gift for explaining complicated things simply. He can also produce the arresting new insight: for example, that Thomas Cromwell may have indeed have been a “sacramentary”, as his enemies claimed, ie one who denied any Real Presence, and was thus more radical than was Cranmer at the time. Or how the Polish ex-priest-turned-Protestant Jan Łaski did much to drive forward the English Reformation. Or how remarkable was the survival – unique in Protestant lands – of our cathedrals with their full array of deans and canons, organs, choirs and closes, and how their liturgy and hymnody contributed to the rise of Anglicanism. . . .
One reason that Catholics don't like the label Roman Catholics is that it ignores the diversity of the Catholic Church. It forgets about the other Latin Rites, for example, and displays compete ignorance of Eastern Rite Catholics. The error that Scarisbrick is highlighting in MacCulloch's statements about the Eucharist is that our doctrine is that the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is Sacramental, not physical (corporal or corporeal). It's stated clearly in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, so MacCulloch has a ready resource for accuracy.
The cover illustrated above is the U.K. edition, which is out now. The U.S. edition, with a different subtitle, is due out in August. According to OUP-USA:
The Reformation may have launched a social revolution, MacCulloch argues, but it was not caused by social and economic forces, or even by a secular idea like nationalism; it sprang from a big idea about death, salvation, and the afterlife. This idea - that salvation was entirely in God's hands and there was nothing humans could do to alter his decision - ended the Catholic Church's monopoly in Europe and altered the trajectory of the entire future of the West.
By turns passionate, funny, meditative, and subversive, All Things Made New takes readers onto fascinating new ground, exploring the original conflicts of the Reformation and cutting through prejudices that continue to distort popular conceptions of a religious divide still with us after five centuries. This monumental work, from one of the most distinguished scholars of Christianity writing today, explores the ways in which historians have told the tale of the Reformation, why their interpretations have changed so dramatically over time, and ultimately, how the contested legacy of this revolution continues to impact the world today.