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History of the Reformation in Scotland Paperback – December 1, 1982
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Top Customer Reviews
Throughout the narrative Knox reveals many facets of an early, developing Reformed orthodoxy. Knox very clearly believed in the continuation of prophetic gifts. He notes that the proto-martyr Mr. George Wishart was "so clearly illuminated with the Spirit of Prophecy" that he was able to see what would happen to the realm afterwards (Knox, 52). Knox himself was said to have this gift, though Knox explains it as being so immersed in the Law of God and continually applying this knowledge to interpreting Providence (271 n.1). Perhaps this is what St Paul meant when he said seek earnestly the gift of prophecy.
In Knox we also see--not surprisingly--a budding anti-Roman apologetics. Knox's narrative is focused on the idolatry of the Mass. Knox examines the way Romanists view the Mass: 1) Is Christ being offered to the Father for the sins of the Church? or 2) Is Christ merely being offered as a remembrance to God? If (1), then does not this action replace the office of Christ, which performed the once offering up of himself to God? But if (2), then does this not imply that God forgets stuff? In either case, Knox notes that believers are simply commanded to take the Supper in both kinds in remembrance of Christ's death (242ff). This is not as thorough as Calvin's view of the Supper, but Knox never claimed to have Calvin's polish. Having studied under Calvin, though, one can place Knox in the same trajectory.
The sections of the book dealing with John Knox's views on resistance are the heart of the matter. Knox sees society as a nexus of interrelating covenants between prince, God, and the people. As a result of these covenants, no one's power is absolute. Contrary to some readings of Knox, he is not simply saying we should rebel against authority whenever we feel like it. Knox's examples provide us with resistance in the following cases: 1) protect the weak and oppressed (151), 2) defend the land against idolatry (167), and to defend the land against insane rulers (278; this is a corollary of point 1). In conclusion, both to the argument and the narrative, Knox tells Mary that authority comes from God, not the ruler and in response, we "do no sin who bridle the prince from striking innocent men in his rage" (316). Samuel Rutherford polished and perfected Knox's argument.
The book alternates between a fine, cogent read and a scattered one. Knox's style is fairly easy to follow, and he occasionally writes with a rare power. The narrative, however, isn't so clear. He frequently alludes to very minor figures in local Scottish history and the reader is frequently lost.
The original book is 5 (possibly 6) volumes, this edition only includes quick glances at each one and the last two volumes are introduced briefly. For anyone truly interested in seeing what the History of the Reformation is about this book is certainly not helpful.