A historical question then arises however as to the reason for this particularly strong predisposition of the economically most developed regions toward a revolution in the Church. And here the answer is by no means as simple as one might at first believe. Certainly, the casting aside of economic traditionalism seems to be one phenomenon that was bound to lend strong support to the tendency to call into question religious traditions and to rebel against traditional authorities. But what is often forgotten is that the Reformation meant less the entire removal of ecclesiastical authority over life than the replacement of the previous form of authority by a different one. It meant, in fact, the replacement of an extremely relaxed, practically imperceptible, and scarcely more than formal authority by an infinitely burdensome and earnest regimentation of the conduct of life [Lebensfuhrung], which penetrated every sphere of domestic and public life to the greatest degree imaginable. Today, even peoples of thoroughly modern economic character can tolerate the rule of the Catholic Church- "punishing heretics, but treating sinners gently," a principle that applied even more strongly in the sixteenth century than it does today; but the rule of Calvinism, as exercised in the sixteenth centuy in Geneva and Scotland, at the turn of the sixteenth and seventeentt centuries in large parts of the Netherlands, in the seventeenth centuy in New England, and at times even in England, would be for us simply the most unbearable form of ecclesiastical control over the individual that it would be possible to imagine.
What the reformers in the countries with the highest economic development disapproved of was not that there was too much but rather that there was too little ecclesiastical and religious control of life.
Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the “Spirit” of Capitalism, 1905/1920