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Alfred Plummer, The Continental Reformation in Germany, France and Switzerland (from the Birth of Luther to the Death of Calvin) (London: Robert Scott (Pub.); 1912), p. 7.


‘[E]xtravagant estimates of the Reformation, made by subsequent generations, are easily recognized as fallacious by those who will make a serious effort to ascertain and fairly weigh the facts. But, in the generations before the Reformation, there runs a fallacy which is less commonly recognized. Almost from the Apostolic Age, Christians have marked a contrast between the Church and the world. When the world was wholly pagan, such a contrast was inevitable. The Head of the Church was Christ, and the prince of this world was the devil. It was equally inevitable that this contrast should lead on to the contrast between “sacred” and “secular.” As soon as that distinction was made, there was material for a mischievous fallacy. Secular is opposed to sacred. What is sacred must always be good: therefore what is secular is, of course, evil; it is profane and anti-Christian. Among the great services which the better Humanists rendered to European society was that of demonstrating that a great deal of what was purely secular was by no means evil.’