How the Faith of John Knox Conquered Scotland

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In 1514, just a few years before Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, the town of Haddington in Scotland witnessed the birth of a boy named John Knox. Throughout Knox’s childhood years, all of Europe was in turmoil over the development of the Christian Reformation. The Catholic Church was fighting the new beliefs with force and the people were beginning to fight back. In Scotland, the Catholic Church claimed most of the free land and the Catholic authorities were abusing their power in the church and the political system. With Reformation materials coming to Scotland from Europe, the Protestant fire caught on and began to spread. In 1536, John Knox was ordained and somewhere around 1540 he joined the Reformation cause of preacher George Wishart.

In 1546, Cardinal Beaton, the archbishop of St. Andrews, ordered the arrest and execution of Wishart.  This sparked a rebellion that eventually lead to Beaton’s own overthrow and death at the hands of Protestant fighters. After the death of Wishart, the Scottish reformers asked Knox to become the new preacher of St. Andrews, an offer that brought the humble Knox to tears. But Knox wasn’t destined to stay in St. Andrews long, in 1547 the castle was besieged and the Reformers were captured and sent to work as galley slaves.

After nineteen months of slavery, Knox was released and he returned to his preaching ministry, spending five years teaching in England until the ascent of the Catholic Mary Tudor. Arriving in Geneva, Knox was introduced to Reformer John Calvin, who welcomed Knox as a brother. Though Calvin’s achievements in Geneva impressed Knox, he returned to Scotland to continue his work in his own homeland. While he faced many more hardships, John Knox continued his reformation efforts and in 1560, Queen Elizabeth I of England came to support the Protestant cause in Scotland and Knox was free from persecution at last. He spent the remainder of his life shaping the Protestant church and preaching to all who listened.

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