Who is Sir John Knox?
He was a minister of the Christian gospel who advocated violent revolution. He was considered one of the most powerful preachers of his day, but only two of the hundreds of sermons he preached were ever published. He is a key figure in the formation of modern Scotland, yet there is only one monument erected to him in Scotland, and his grave lies beneath a parking lot.
John Knox was indeed a man of many paradoxes, a Hebrew Jeremiah set down on Scottish soil. In a relentless campaign of fiery oratory, he sought to destroy what he felt was idolatry and to purify Scotland’s religion.
Almost nothing is known of Knox’s life before 1540, the accounts given by his earlier biographers being mostly fanciful. Of his parentage it is known only that his mother’s name was Sinclair (Knox used the name John Sinclair as an incognito in times of danger), that his father’s name was William
Embracing protestant method:
John Knox was born around 1514, at Haddington, a small town south of Edinburgh. Around 1529 he entered the University of St. Andrews and went on to study theology. He was ordained in 1536, but became a notary, then a tutor to the sons of local lairds (lower ranking Scottish nobility).
Dramatic events were unfolding in Scotland during Knox’s youth. Many were angry with the Catholic church, which owned more than half the real estate and gathered an annual income of nearly 18 times that of the crown.
Bishops and priests were often mere political appointments, and many never hid their immoral lives: the archbishop of St. Andrews, Cardinal Beaton, openly consorted with concubines and sired 10 children.
The constant sea traffic between Scotland and Europe allowed Lutheran literature to be smuggled into the country. Church authorities were alarmed by this “heresy” and tried to suppress it. Patrick Hamilton, an outspoken Protestant convert, was burned at the stake in 1528.
In the early 1540s, Knox came under the influence of converted reformers, and under the preaching of Thomas Guilliame, he joined them. Knox then became a bodyguard for the fiery Protestant preacher George Wishart, who was speaking throughout Scotland.
to be continued…