(1514 to 1572)
John Knox organised the Calvinistic reformation in Scotland. He was born in Giffordgate in 1514. He died in Edinburgh 24. November 1572.
After visiting Latin school Haddington John Knox studied theology and law at the University of Glasgow. 1536 he was ordinated as priest. 1540 he worked as notary in Haddington, later as a teacher of the household of some earls. Knox turned to the reformation influenced by the preachers Thomas Gwilliam and George Wishart. He had close contact to Wishart until he died as martyr in 1546. When it came to an uprise in St. Andrews after Wishart was burned at the stakes the Protestants of the town called John Know as their minister.
French troops defeated the uprise in July 1547 and took John Knox to the galley. After his release the British government under Edward VI. (1547-1553) gave him a preaching job in Berwick upon Tweed, close to the Scottish border, and in 1551 in Newcastle. He rejected to become Bishop of Rochester, because he rejected the Episcopal constitution and the Catholic behaviour of the Anglican Church.
In 1552 Knox helped with the second edition of the Book of Common Prayer. He succeeded in getting through a black paragraph. It pointed out that kneeling to take the Lord’s Supper one does not acknowledge Christ’s presence, because Christ sits to the right hand of God in Heaven.
When the Catholic Maria Tudor (1553-1558) descended the throne John Knox flew to Geneva in January 1554, where he became a disciple of Calvin. From November 1554 to March 1555 he stayed in Frankfurt am Main as priest, because the Reformed parishes of English and French refugees had asked him to come. Here Knox had to appease two opinions: those who wanted the Anglican rites of the Book of Common Prayer and those who wanted to abolish these rules. Knox himself thought the rites to be of no biblical background, but he did not think them to be unholy. The senate of Frankfurt turned him out, because he publicly attacked Kaiser Karl V. and his son Philipp.
In fall 1555 he returned to Scotland for a short time, where Marie of Guise, mother of minor Marie Stuarts, reigned. Because the reformation was not jet possible in Scotland Knox went back to Geneva until 1559. Now he worked as pastor of the English refugees and helped to translate the Geneva Bible into English. He urged the Scottish nobility to further the reformation. The Protestant aristocrats established a congregation in 1557 to defend the Evangelical Church.
After returning to Scotland John Knox and the political active aristocrats joined to push the reformation demanding to abolish idols. Monasteries were plundered and pictures of saints were destroyed. Knox functioned as negotiator to establish a congregation between the Scottish nobility and Queen Elisabeth I. Of England against the common enemy France under Franz II. and his wife Marie Stuart (1542-1567). Marie of Guise was thrown over after French troops were defeated in Scotland.
In August 1560 the parliament passed a confession of faith the Confessio Scotica. Knox was one of the driving forces behind it. The papal jurisdiction was abolished and the Catholic rites were banned. Knox became minister of Edinburgh and started to work for an abolition of the Catholic mess at Queen Marie Stuart’s court. She never acknowledged the Protestant Reformation and was working against John Knox. In Edinburgh Knox pushed ahead with building a Presbyterian Church of Scotland. After the murder of Marie Stuarts Italian secretary he had to flee from Edinburgh. He could return only after her imprisonment. He demanded her death accusing her of murdering her husband and of adultery.
Now Lord Murray acknowledged the resolutions of the parliament. 1570 Knox had to leave town again because of his preaching against the Queen’s party. Some month prior to his death he returned.
The preacher John Knox had many enemies because of his uncompromising attitude. His letters show that he had a remarkable ability as a pastor. Although he helped to write confessions of faith and church orders Knox did organise the Scottish Reformation. His practical talents were better than his theoretical skills. Being entangled in political conflicts for decades he established a theory to legitimise resistance to the political powerful, who suppressed belief. Scottish Protestantism is based on his work. Calvinism and Puritanism succeed over the Anglican Church. Knox also is renown for his writings as a church historian. His work about the Scottish Reformation is a source for his biography.
Frauke Brauns, Bielefeld