Wednesday, June 10, 2009

John Knox

The banner of reformation in Scotland was taken up by John Knox (1515-1572) , who after a colourful early life (he was a galley slave for a while) brought Calvinist beliefs to Scotland in 1558. Knox was soon a leading light of the Presbyterian way and a zealous politician who made a treaty with Queen Elizabeth I of England that gained for himself and his friends the direction of their affairs at that time. Knox was zealous in his beliefs and at times intolerant of the papists. He was also dangerously outspoken for his own good at times. But these traits made him the essential catalyst for change, and exercised a powerful influence in moulding the religious and educational life of Scotland. He was a vehement critic of Mary Queen of Scots who sought to return to the Catholic church, and had to make judicious withdrawals to the continent from time to time. But he persevered and with the `Lords of the Congregation` saw through the establishment of the Presbyterian faith in Scotland.

The Treaty of Edinburgh 6 July 1560 established Scotland as an independent Protestant nation and in August 1560 Knox urged the Scottish Parliament to declare the Reformed Faith (Presbyterianism ) as the national religion. Popery was of course, condemned . In the same year an alliance was formed with the Protestant English government of Queen Elizabeth I and a French military presence in Scotland was expelled. The first General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church met on 20 December 1560 and the First Book of Discipline ( rules for managing the Church ) and Confession of Faith were produced by Knox and others (the six Johns). There followed a period of further dispute when Mary Queen of Scots returned from France in 1561 when she tried to revert Scotland to Catholicism. However, in the aftermath of the murders of her Secretary, David Rizzio; her second husband the Earl of Darnley and her marriage to the Earl of Bothwell, she was forced to abdicate on 24 July 1567. Mary went into exile in England for nineteen years where she finally went to the block and the headsman`s axe.

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