Saturday, March 8, 2014

Knox and the Kirk

Hallelujah, it's March and Tabletalk is dedicated to John Knox!  How much do we know about the Scottish Reformer who took John Calvin's ideas and transported them all over the world?  We know of Luther.  We know of Calvin.  We even know of Henry VIII.  But we know so little about the English and Scottish Reformations that brought Henry to the point of wanting to leave the RC church, selfish reasons aside.

"Give me Scotland, or I die!"  John Knox prayed this.  My supposed ancestor, Mary Queen of Scots would say, "I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the assembled armies of Europe."

The Scottish Reformation started with Patrick Hamilton, born in royalty and given a job as an abbot, he studied in Paris in 1520.  In Paris, he began to read the works of the Church's favorite heretic, Martin Luther.  Afterward, he went back to Scotland and lectured at the University of St. Andrews.  Archbishop James Beaton began to threaten Hamilton, so he exited to Marburg and became even more acquainted with Luther's teachings and met William Tyndale.  Safe or unsafe, Scotland needed this knowledge that he came to love in Germany to his Scots.  Sure enough, Archbishop Beaton caught up with him and had him burned at the stake on February 29, 1528 in front of St. Salvatore's Chapel at St. Andrews.  He was the first martyr for the Scot Reformation.

The leaders of Scotland said, "No manner of person, stranger, that happens to arrive with their ships within any part of this Realm shall bring with them any books or works of the said Luther."  They would not even hear what he had to say.  He sent ripples through Europe, and Scotland would always be Scotland.  This started four decades of burning Protestant writings and then men who brought them to shore.

The next big name was George Wishart, also born to Scotland royalty in 1513.  He taught at the University of Aberdeen and taught languages.  Through reading the Greek New Testament, he found a Gospel that was completely different and infinitely better than the religion that the people practiced.  The Scot leaders also branded him as a heretic, so he fled to Switzerland where he met Calvin.

During that time, Henry VIII could no longer keep his pants zipped, so he started the Anglican Church.  He invited Wishart to England to possibly help him arrange a Protestant marriage for Prince Edward.  He did go back to Scotland.  He also decided to stay and have nothing to do with Henry.  Cardinal David Beaton, relative of James Beaton, had Wishart burned at the stake on March 1, 1546.  In no time, both Mary Stuart and Mary Tudor (Bloody Mary) were ruling the British Isles, and many people such as John Knox had to flee to the continent.  This bloody time ended with the martyrdom of Walter Myln, burned as a heretic at age 82.  He said, "I am fourscore and two years old, and could not live long by the course of nature; but a hundred better shall arise out of the ashes of my bones."

Time went on and Bloody Mary died.  Elizabeth I was Queen of England.  Full of hope, John Knox returned to Scotland.  He and other Protestants started a rebellion in 1559.  1560, the Scottish Parliament ended papal authority, removed Mass, and adopted the Scots Confession and the First Book of Discipline.  This was the beginning of the Kirk, the Presbyterian Church.

At first there were not many trained teaching elders in the land.  This church had an office of "reader" who would read the Bible from the pulpit and "expositors."  These guys were licensed to "exposit" on the Scriptures read.  Soon, more men became ordained to the Kirk.  Knox began to interpret John Calvin's doctrines to identify three marks of a true church: proper preaching of the word, proper administration of the sacraments of Communion and Baptism, and church discipline.

At some point, after James IV of Scotland and I of England ruled the united kingdoms, King Charles I, more Catholic-minded, and Archbishop Laud arranged for a Scottish Book of Common Prayer.  The goal was to use it in church in Glasgow where Knox preached.  Jenny Geddes was a marketer who would come to church and bring her stool to sit on as there was little room in the sanctuary.  Shen she heard the minister reading from the Prayer Book, she threw the stool at his head and said, "The Devil cause you colic in your stomach, false thief.  Dare you say Mass in my ear?"

As you can see, without Scotland, there is no Southern American pride.  When they found the truth and found that they loved it more than living, they willingly burned at the stake and chucked stools and clergymen so that the land of Scotland would no longer be starved for the true Gospel, only to rot in meaningless rituals again.

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