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"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

British Calvinists: John Knox (1514-1572)

John Knox (1514-1572) did much to bring Presbyterianism to Scotland. He has been described as Scotland's Calvin.

He was born in Haddington near Edinburgh in 1514 - though in Howie in Scots Worthies has this as 1505. He was a Roman Catholic priest but became Reformed around 1545. He was greatly influenced by George Wishart and spent some time as Wishart's body guard. 

He was called to preaching by a preacher in a church service. Knox at first resisted the call but then embraced it.

The French attacked Scotland in 1547 and Knox was taken to be a galley slave for19 months. During this time he was close to death, but when the galley was near St Andrews he saw it proclaiming: 
“Yes, I know it well, for I see the steeple of that place where God first in public opened my mouth to His glory; and I am fully persuaded, how weak soever I now appear, that I shall not depart this life till my tongue shall glorify His name in the same place.”
He was released and went to England (1549-1554). Where he preached. In England he spoke out against the second (1552) Prayer Book as not being Reformed enough. He thought that Cranmer, the archbishop of Canterbury, was giving in to much to Rome. Knox refused a call to be a bishop but did become a chaplain to Edward VI.

When bloody Mary I ascended the throne Knox became one of the Marian exiles. In 1554 he went to Frankfurt to minister in the English exiles' church there, but then, after disputes over ecclesiology, he moved on to Geneva where he met John Calvin. Calvin described him as a brother "engaging energetically for the faith". 

While in Geneva he wrote a polemical book against Mary I's reign, The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women (1558)  stating that women weren't fit to rule as it was against the divine will. This didn't endear him to Mary's successor Elizabeth I, who came to the throne in November 1558.

In 1559 he returned to Scotland.  He became the minster of St Giles, Edinburgh after the Protestant religion was officially ratified by the Scottish law in 1560. During this time he worked on his History of the Reformation. Knox was buried behind St Giles. 

Some of Knox's writings are available here:

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