There was a very large volume of Christian literature published, particularly controversial and millennial but also historical and scholarly. Hagiography became more critical with the Bollandists, and ecclesiastical history became thoroughly developed and debated, with Catholic scholars such as Baronius and Jean Mabillon, and Protestants such as David Blondel laying down the lines of scholarship. Christian art of the Baroque and music derived from church forms was striking and influential on lay artists using secular expression and themes. Poetry and drama often treated Biblical and religious matter, for example John Milton's Paradise Lost.
At the beginning of the century James I of England opposed the papal deposing power in a series of controversial works, and the assassination of Henry IV of France caused an intense focus on the theological doctrines concerned with tyrannicide. Both Henry and James, in different ways, pursued a peaceful policy of religious conciliation, aimed at eventually healing the breach caused by the Protestant Reformation. While progress along these lines seemed more possible during the Twelve Years' Truce, conflicts after 1620 changed the picture; and the situation of Western and Central Europe after the Peace of Westphalia left a more stable but entrenched polarisation of Protestant and Catholic territorial states, with religious minorities.
By the end of the 17th century, the Dictionnaire Historique et Critique by Pierre Bayle represented the current debates in the Republic of Letters, a largely secular network of scholars and savants who commented in detail on religious matters as well as those of science. Proponents of wider religious toleration—and a sceptical line on many traditional beliefs—argued with increasing success for changes of attitude in many areas (including discrediting the False Decretals and the legend of Pope Joan, magic and witchcraft, millennialism and extremes of anti-Catholic propaganda, and toleration of the Jews in society).
Polemicism and eirenicism
Contention between Catholic and Protestant matters gave rise to a substantial polemical literature, written both in Latin to appeal to international opinion among the educated, and in vernacular languages. In a climate where opinion was thought open to argument, the production of polemical literature was part of the role of prelates and other prominent churchmen, academics (in universities) and seminarians (in religious colleges); and institutions such as Chelsea College in London and Arras College in Paris were set up expressly to favor such writing.
At the same time as the judicial pursuit of heresy became less severe, interest in demonology was intense in many European countries. The sceptical arguments against the existence of witchcraft and demonic possession were still contested into the 1680s by theologians. The Gangraena by Thomas Edwards used a framework equating heresy and possession to draw attention to the variety of radical Protestant views current in the 1640s.
In 1610, Galileo Galilei published his Sidereus Nuncius, describing observations that he had made with the new telescope. These and other discoveries exposed difficulties with the understanding of the heavens current since antiquity and raised interest in teachings such as the heliocentric theory of Copernicus.
In reaction, scholars such as Cosimo Boscaglia maintained that the motion of the Earth and immobility of the Sun were heretical, as they contradicted some accounts given in the Bible as understood at that time. Galileo's part in the controversies over theology, astronomy and philosophy culminated in his trial and sentencing in 1633, on a suspicion of heresy.
The Protestant lands at the beginning of the 17th century were concentrated in Northern Europe, with territories in Germany, Scandinavia, England, Scotland, and areas of France, the Low Countries, Switzerland, Kingdom of Hungary and Poland. Heavy fighting, in some cases a continuation of the religious conflicts of the previous centuries, was seen, particularly in the Low Countries and the Electorate of the Palatinate (which saw the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War). In Ireland there was a concerted attempt to create "plantations" of Protestant settlers in what was a predominantly Catholic country, and fighting with a religious dimension was serious in the 1640s and 1680s. In France the settlement proposed by the Edict of Nantes was whittled away, to the disadvantage of the Huguenot population, and the edict was revoked in 1685.
Protestant Europe was largely divided into Lutheran and Reformed (Calvinist) areas, with the Church of England maintaining a separate position. Efforts to unify Lutherans and Calvinists had little success; and the ecumenical ambition to overcome the schism of the Protestant Reformation remained almost entirely theoretical. The Church of England under William Laud made serious approaches to figures in the Orthodox Church, looking for common ground.
Within Calvinism an important split occurred with the rise of Arminianism; the Synod of Dort of 1618–19 was a national gathering but with international repercussions, as the teaching of Arminius was firmly rejected at a meeting to which Protestant theologians from outside the Netherlands were invited. The Westminster Assembly of the 1640s was another major council dealing with Reformed theology, and some of its works continue to be important to Protestant denominations.
In the 1640s England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland underwent religious strife comparable to that which its neighbours had suffered some generations before. The rancour associated with these wars is partly attributed to the nature of the Puritan movement, a description admitted to be unsatisfactory by many historians. In its early stages the Puritan movement (late 16th–17th centuries) stood for reform in the Church of England, within the Calvinist tradition, aiming to make the Church of England resemble more closely the Protestant churches of Europe, especially Geneva. The Puritans refused to endorse completely all of the ritual directions and formulas of the Book of Common Prayer; the imposition of its liturgical order by legal force and inspection sharpened Puritanism into a definite opposition movement.
Maps of territory held by Royalists (red) and Parliamentarians (green), 1642 — 1645
After coming to political power as a result of the First English Civil War, the Puritan clergy had an opportunity to set up a national church along Presbyterian lines; for reasons that were also largely political, they failed to do so effectively. After the English Restoration of 1660 the Church of England was purged within a few years of its Puritan elements. The successors of the Puritans, in terms of their belies, are referred to as Dissenters and Nonconformists, and included those who formed various Reformed denominations.
Emigration to North America of Protestants, in what became New England, was led by a group of Puritan separatists based in the Netherlands ("the pilgrims"). Establishing a colony at Plymouth in 1620, they received a charter from the King of England. This successful, though initially quite difficult, colony marked the beginning of the Protestant presence in America (the earlier French, Spanish and Portuguese settlements were Catholic). Unlike the Spanish or French, the English colonists made little initial effort to evangelise the native peoples.
Toward the latter part of the 17th century, Pope Innocent XI viewed the increasing Turkish attacks against Europe, which were supported by France, as the major threat for the Church. He built a Polish-Austrian coalition for the Turkish defeat at Vienna in 1683. Scholars have called him a saintly pope because he reformed abuses by the Church, including simony, nepotism and the lavish papal expenditures that had caused him to inherit a papal debt of 50,000,000 scudi. By eliminating certain honorary posts and introducing new fiscal policies, Innocent XI was able to regain control of the church's finances.
The most significant failure of Roman Catholic missionary work was in Ethiopia. Although its ruler, Emperor Susenyos, had publicly declared his conversion to Catholicism in 1622, the declaration of Roman Catholicism as the official religion in 1626 led to increasing civil war. Following Susenyos' abdication, his son and successor Fasilides expelled archbishop Afonso Mendes and his Jesuit brethren in 1633, then in 1665 ordered the remaining religious writings of the Catholics burnt. On the other hand, other missions (notably Matteo Ricci's Jesuit mission to China) were relatively peaceful and focused on integration rather than cultural imperialism.
The first Catholic Church was built in Beijing in 1650. The emperor granted freedom of religion to Catholics. Ricci had modified the Catholic faith to Chinese thinking, permitting among other things the veneration of the dead. The Vatican disagreed and forbade any adaptation in the so-called Chinese Rites controversy in 1692 and 1742.
1611–1800 King James Version (Authorised Version) is released, based primarily on Wycliffe's work & Bishop's Bible of 1572, translators are accused of being "damnable corrupters of God's word", original included Apocrypha
1615 Confessio Fraternitatis, the second Rosicrucian manifesto describing the "Most Honorable Order" as Christian ("What think you, loving people, and how seem you affected, seeing that you now understand and know, that we acknowledge ourselves truly and sincerely to profess Christ, condemn the Pope, addict ourselves to the true Philosophy, lead a Christian life (...)".)
1623 – A stone monument over nine feet tall, 33 inches wide, and ten inches thick is unearthed in Ch'ang-ngan (Si-ngan-fu), China. Its inscription, written by a Syrian monk almost a thousand years earlier and in both Chinese characters and Persian script, begins with the words, "Let us praise the Lord that the [Christian] faith has been popular in China"; it told of the arrival of a missionary, A-lo-pen (Abraham), in AD 625.
1624 – Persecution intensifies in Japan with 50 Christians being burned alive in Edo (now called Tokyo)
1631 – Dutch missionary Abraham Rogerius (anglicized as Roger), who authored Open Door to the Secrets of Heathendom, begins 10 years of ministry among the Tamil people in the Dutch colony of Pulicat near Madras, India 
1632 – Zuni Indians murder a group of Franciscan missionaries who had three years earlier established the first mission to the Zunis at Hawikuh in what is now New Mexico
1635 – An expedition of Franciscans leaves Quito, Ecuador, to try to penetrate into Amazonia from the west. Though most of them will be killed along the way, a few will manage to arrive two years later on the Atlantic coast.
1636 – The Dominicans of Manila (the Philippines) organize a missionary expedition to Japan. They are arrested on one of the Okinawa islands and will be eventually condemned to death by the tribunal of Nagasaki.
1636 Founding of what was later known as Harvard University as a training school for ministers – the first of thousands of institutions of Christian higher education founded in the USA
1638 – Official ban of Christianity in Japan with death penalty; The Fountain Opened, a posthumous work of the influential Puritan writer Richard Sibbes is published, in which he says that the gospel must continue its journey "til it have gone over the whole world."
1642 – Catholic missionaries Isaac Jogues and René Goupil are captured by Mohawk Indians as they return to Huron country from Quebec. Goupil was tomahawked to death while Jogues will be held for a period of time as a slave. He used his slavery as an opportunity for missionary work 
1646 Westminster Standards produced by the Assembly, one of the first and undoubtedly the most important and lasting religious document drafted after the reconvention of the Parliament, also decreed Biblical canon
1657 – Thomas Mayhew, Jr., is lost at sea during a voyage to England that was to combine an appeal for missionary funds with personal business
1658 – After the flight of the French missionaries from his area, chief Daniel Garakonthie of the Onondaga Indians, examines the customs of the French colonists and the doctrines of the missionaries and openly begins protecting Christians in his part of what is now New York
1660–1685 King Charles II of England, restoration of monarchy, continuing through James II, reversed decision of Long Parliament of 1644, reinstating the Apocrypha, reversal not heeded by non-conformists
1666 -John Eliot publishes his The Indian Grammar, a book written to assist in conversion work among the Indians. Described as "some bones and ribs preparation for such a work", Eliot intended his Grammar for missionaries wishing to learn the dialect spoken by the Massachusett Indians.
1667 – The first missionary to attempt to reach the Huaorani (or Aucas), Jesuit Pedro Suarez, is slain with spears 
1668 – In a letter from his post in Canada, French missionary Jacques Bruyas laments his ignorance of the Oneida language: "What can a man do who does not understand their language, and who is not understood when he speaks. As yet, I do nothing but stammer; nevertheless, in four months I have baptized 60 persons, among whom there are only four adults, baptized in periculo mortis. All the rest are little children."
1676 – Kateri Tekakwitha, who became known as the Lily of the Mohawks, is baptized by a Jesuit missionary. She, along with many other Native Americans, joins a missionary settlement in Canada where a syncretistic blend of ascetic indigenous and Catholic beliefs evolves.
1681 – After arriving in New Spain, Italian Jesuit Eusebio Kino soon becomes what one writer described as "the most picturesque missionary pioneer of all North America." A bundle of evangelistic zeal, Kino was also an explorer, astronomer, cartographer, mission builder, ranchman, cattle king, and defender of the frontier 
1682 – 13 missionaries go to "remote cities" in East Siberia
1699 – Priests of the Quebec Seminary of Foreign Missions establish a mission among the Tamaroa Indians at Cahokia in what is now the state of Illinois
1700 – After a Swedish missionary's sermon in Pennsylvania, one Native American posed such searching questions that the episode was reported in a 1731 history of the Swedish church in America. The interchange is noted in Benjamin Franklin's Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America (1784).