Reformation 500 WEEK 43 KNOX REFORMS SCOTLAND
After bloody Mary came to the English throne, John Knox fled for his life; and “ended up as co-pastor of the English refugee congregation in Calvin’s Geneva,” which he said was “the happiest period of his life” (Needham, 2000 years, 3:407). In 1558 he wrote his first revolutionary book, in which he argued that “female rule…contradicted both the law of nature and God’s revealed law in Scripture, and female rulers must be deposed. The treatise was aimed chiefly against Mary Tudor [bloody Mary];” but “soon after the book’s publication, Mary Tudor died and was succeeded by a female Protestant sovereign, Elizabeth [who helped to make England a Protestant country again]. Knox’s book alienated Elizabeth badly,” and “also outraged most Protestants,” including Calvin who “had its sale in Geneva banned” (Ibid. 408). On the whole, Calvin and Knox were on the same page. Knox judged Geneva to be “the most perfect school of Christ that ever was in the earth since the days of the apostles.”
In 1559, Knox returned to Scotland, “determined to do for his country what Calvin had done for the city of Geneva” (Nichols, Reformation, 97). “In May, after he preached a fiery sermon that making images of Jesus, God, and saints and praying to them is against the Bible, his listeners became so energized that they started to destroy all the pictures and statues in the church. The same thing happened in other cities. Soon there was an actual war, and Mary Guise [who was ruling Scotland for her sixteen-year-old daughter Mary Stuart who was also Queen of France] had to ask France to send more troops to help her. Seeing they could easily be outnumbered, the Protestant lords asked England to come to their rescue…. Finally, in March 1560, the English army came to the rescue and defeated the French in battle” (Simonetta Carr, John Knox, 37, 40). In June Mary of Guise died. On August 17, “the Scottish Parliament decreed a change of religion. Protestantism instead of Catholicism was made the religion of the country. A Calvinistic confession of faith, largely the work of John Knox, was adopted. The pope’s authority and all jurisdiction was abolished and the celebration of the mass was forbidden” (Kuiper, Church in History, 217). In January 1561, Parliament approved Knox’s Book of Discipline, which introduced Presbyterian church government modeled after Calvin’s system in Geneva, where each congregation is governed by elders (presbyters), elected from its own membership. “For the conduct of public worship Knox prepared a Book of Common Order. To a great extent this order of worship was based on the form for public worship used by the church of English refugees in Geneva. That in turn was based on the form designed by Calvin. This form of worship consisted in prayer, reading of Scripture, the sermon, congregational singing, and the taking up of an offering” (Kuiper, 218-219).
Mary Stuart, Scotland’s lawful queen, arrived in August 1561. Her attempt to obtain freedom to practice her catholic faith was vigorously opposed at every step by Knox, who “affirmed in a sermon that one mass was more dreadful than an invasion of Scotland” (Needham, 3:420). Knox was summoned into Mary’s presence four times, and each time “got the better of the queen,” even once “reducing her to hysterical tears by his forthright no-nonsense commitment to a Protestant Scotland in which the idolatry of the mass could have no place” (Ibid. 421).
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 Knox Reforms Scotland
For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 43
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