John Knox—Prophet and Pastor
by Simonetta Carr
After returning to Scotland in 1559, John Knox galvanized the crowds with his preaching. His fiery denunciation of idolatry provoked a series of iconoclastic riots, which brought to a head the long-standing conflict between the Protestant Scottish nobility and the Roman Catholic crown. This is the Knox that most people remember, the thundering Scot who, in the words of his contemporaries, preached with the sound of “ten thousand trumpets” and, even in his weakest days, “was like to ding that pulpit in blads [beat the pulpit to pieces], and fly out of it.”
His fierce stand for purity of worship was legendary and often made people uncomfortable. In England, he obtained from Archbishop Cranmer a begrudging addendum to the Book of Common Prayer, which explained that kneeling during the Lord’s Supper was not a worshiping of the elements. In Frankfurt, his inflammatory sermon on similar issues, including the failures of the Edwardian church, divided the congregation, and Knox was reported to the local magistrates. Read more
John Knox on the Scottish Reformation
by A. Boyd Miller IV
In 1981, the movie Chariots of Fire, which won an Academy award for best picture, opened in theaters and demonstrated that a film with a strong Christian protagonist—even one who was intent on keeping the Lord’s Day Sabbath holy—could do well with audiences and critics alike.
As a young teenager at the time, I certainly did not understand everything in the film; however, among the memorable scenes of that movie, one portrayed Ian Charleson as the Scottish Olympian, Eric Lidell, running past a great statute of a heavily bearded man. As Lidell dashes toward the church, he lifts his hat high in salute to the statue. Only many years later would I realize that the statue was of the great John Knox. This month we in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church tip our own hat to Knox in remembrance of his birth five hundred years ago. As we reflect upon the life and ministry of Knox, we would do well to remember two significant and surprising points made by the Reformer himself in his work History of the Reformation in Scotland. Read more
John Knox and Public Prayer
by Glen J. Clary
One of the primary goals of the Protestant Reformation was to reform the worship of the church according to Scripture, the only infallible authority. The Reformers gave careful attention to revising the various elements of worship, including public prayer. As Presbyterians, we may be encouraged to know that some of the best literature written on the subject of public prayer comes from John Knox.
Even though Knox was not a pioneer in the area of liturgical reform, he played a significant role in shaping the service of worship among English-speaking Protestants. Knox was deeply devoted to the purification of Christian worship, and he endeavored to lead the church in worship that was faithful to Scripture and free from man-made inventions. Knox followed the liturgical paths cut out before him by other Reformers, especially Martin Bucer in Strasbourg and John Calvin in Geneva. However, he was no mere carbon copy of these men; rather, he took their pioneering work and improved it considerably. Read more
A Walk through the Valley of Shadows
by Mark S. Schneider
Amidst the dark shadows, light can be a revelatory shepherd. My nocturnal epiphany began while on a church retreat. I decided to take a late afternoon stroll alone in the woods. The cool, crisp autumn air and the beguiling fragrance of fresh pine lured me to see what was ahead, while I failed to note the path I left behind. I neglected to make a mental map directing me back to the lodge. Suddenly I became aware of the swiftly setting sun. The shadows of eventide quickly surrounded me as the sun yawned one final time and went to sleep. Blindsided by the rush of darkness blanketing the forest, I lost my sense of direction. I could no longer find my way back home.
When entangled by the dark shadows, light can become a redemptive hope. Consider the case of my father, Murray Schneider. A life of ethnic and humanistic pride enmeshed him in the dark shadows, in defiance of his Creator. He was raised in a Jewish family in Russia, where Hebrew cultural pride dominated, but God took a subordinate role. My father embraced an agnostic piety, seeing God as an enigma to whom he turned a blind eye, yet he saw himself as a knowable deity. Self-worship mixed with his insecurities was a toxic brew to his soul, leading him to maintain tight control over my mother, my sister, and me. For my father, the world was divided into two camps. The Jews were the virtuous, and the rest of the world consisted of Gentile Christians whom he viewed with suspicion. Yet he married a Spanish Catholic woman (Olga Veronica Fernandez), much to the chagrin of most of his family. He was a man cut asunder between Jewish pride and love for my mother. This combustible fusion led to inner torment and a volatile temperament. Read more