Saturday, September 2, 2017


Reformation 500 WEEK 36    England and Scotland

     When Luther died in 1546, Calvin was busy reforming Geneva, and answering the official Roman Catholic counter reformation in progress since 1545 at the Council of Trent (northern Italy). This Council lasted until 1563 (a year before Calvin’s death).

     Meanwhile the reformation was spreading in England and Scotland. “Patrick Hamilton, a student of Martin Luther who was the first to bring Reformed preaching to Scotland, was burned at the stake for his faith in 1529” (DeMar, Reformation to Colonization, 229). Later, some young men from Scotland, after visiting Luther’s university at Wittenberg, returned to their native country to spread Luther’s doctrines. “The transition from Lutheranism to Calvinism took place under George Wishart” (Kuiper, Church in History, 216). A priest by the name of John Knox served as Wishart’s bodyguard. But “Wishart wouldn't let Knox come with him to his trial and execution” ( Wishart was hanged and burnt at the stake in 1546.

     “Wishart’s other followers, retaliated by murdering Cardinal Beaton, Scotland’s supreme Catholic official. For nearly a year those espousing Reformed principles made some headway in Scotland from their base at the castle at St. Andrews. With the help of French forces, Catholics regained the upper hand, taking the castle and sending its Protestant inhabitants, John Knox among them, to the galley ships as prisoners” (Nichols, Reformation, 96). For nineteen months, Knox “toiled as a galley-slave. Day after day he had to ply the oars in the hot, smelly hold of a French ship,” constantly “pestered with suggestions that he should pray to the image of Mary” (Kuiper, 216). After his release in 1549, “Knox went to England where he preached and eventually became chaplain to Edward VI” (DeMar, 230).

     Also in 1549, Calvin’s wife, Idelette, died. “Calvin was devastated. Writing to his friend and fellow Reformer Pierre Viret, he declared his grief: ‘I have been bereaved of the best companion of my life.’ To Farel he stated, ‘I do what I can to keep myself from being overwhelmed by grief’.” (Nichols, 119).

     When King Henry VIII died in 1547, his nine-year old and sickly son Edward VI (by his third wife Jane Seymour) came to the throne. At his coronation, Archbishop “Cranmer referred to him as the second Josiah, as a king who would restore England to the true faith” (DeMar, 226). Calvin dedicated several of his commentaries to Edward and wrote several letters to him. “Under Edward’s leadership, a number of important changes took place: religious services were conducted in English, the Catholic Mass was abolished [images were also removed], clergy were permitted to marry, and English Bibles were freely printed” (DeMar, 226). Distinguished Protestant refugees, Martin Bucer, Peter Martyr, Jan Laski, and John Knox were also helping with reform efforts. Bucer worked with Cranmer to improve the Book of Common Prayer (a service book still used today for use in worship). John Knox helped Cranmer formulate the Church of England’s official creed, the Forty-Two Articles.

     “The Reformation in England seemed to have complete victory within its grasp.” But “Edward [only 16] died of tuberculosis in 1553” (Kuiper, 227). The “young king died, praying, ‘My Lord and God, save this realm from popery, and maintain it in true religion” (DeMar, 226). His Catholic sister Mary succeeded him to the throne. 

NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation 500 England and Scotland

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 36

Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.

Page on Omaha Reformed Church's Website: Links to all Bulletin Inserts. 

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