Thursday, August 17, 2017

August 17: “Six Johns”

by archivist
Dangerous Times Demand Vigorous Faithby Rev. David T. Myers
The Protestant Reformation had been a long time in coming to Scotland. But finally, that reformation which had begun in Germany and Switzerland under Martin Luther and John Calvin hit the shores of Scotland under the spiritual leadership of John Knox. His presence was not without its suffering. which we have seen thus far in these pages to Knox and other Protestants before him. But in 1560, members of the Protestant faith took control of the Scottish Parliament. Then, Knox and others wanted a Protestant nation from the top down. And this Reformation parliament agreed, instructing Knox and six other ministers to prepare a creed summarizing of the faith and life of the Scottish church.
This group of ministers led by John Knox had met before to hammer out a book of discipline for the Kirk. Their names were: John Winram, John Spottiswoode, John Willock, John Douglas, and John Roe. Along with John Knox, they were famously known as “the six John’s.” They returned back to the Parliament with the doctrinal statement after just  four days, on August 17, 1560. Obviously, they were at home with the Scriptural truths and texts within this document.
It consisted of twenty-five chapters, supports with Scriptural texts, strengthened by words such as “cleave, serve, worship, and trust.” They had to be some knowledge of church history by its readers in the distant past, as it condemned the heresies of Arius, Marcion, Eutyches, and Nestorius by name. Obviously, Roman Catholicism was thoroughly denied in the confession. It was read twice, first to the Lords of the Articles, and second to the whole Parliament, with members of the “Six John’s” standing up to answer any and all protestations. Very few were enunciated. The votes of every member of the Parliament were then recorded. While there were a few negatives, the majority in the affirmative was clear and strong. Scotland has a Reformation Creedal standard.
Two acts, as John Knox wrote in his History of the Reformation, were passed in additions to the Scots Confession. The one was against “the Mass and the abuse of the Sacrament, and the other against the Supremacy of the Pope.” (pg. 233) All laws at variance to the Reformed faith were set aside.
The entire Scot Confession of 1560 can be read online here.
This Reformation Confession would provide the spiritual foundation of the Scottish Reformation until the Westminster Confession and Catechisms would replace it in 1648.
Words to Live By:
This author in his forty years of ministry within Presbyterian churches has often heard visitors, upon hearing of our Confessional Standards, reply that they hold to “no creed but Christ.” Now that succinct statement sounds good, but in truth even the apostate would affirm it.The only difference would be that his “Christ” is very much different from the Christ of the Bible. And that is the reason why a Confessional standard is needed by the true church today. To be sure, it is never held above the Bible. It is always a subordinate standard. We receive and adopt it as elders of the church. We look upon it as a summary of the teachings of the Old and New Testaments.  Reader, if you haven’t cracked open its pages for a long time, spend some time this week in reading again its chapters. You will be thankful again of this historic standard of our Presbyterian and Reformed churches.

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