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john knox

In the Articles Declaratory the Church of Scotland is said to ‘adhere to the Scottish Reformation’.  In other words, the Scottish Reformation of 1560 defines who we are as a Church and what we believe as a Church.

The Reformation in Scotland was the culmination of a series of events, which began with the execution of Patrick Hamilton and George Wishart for their Protestant views.  After having lived and worked in England for a number of years John Knox then spent time in Geneva with Calvin.  His return to Scotland in 1559 led to the dramatic events which ended with the Scottish Parliament declaring Scotland to be a Reformed and Protestant nation and instructing John Knox and others to write a Confession of Faith.  The result was called the Scots Confession and was the official doctrinal standard of the Church of Scotland from 1560 until 1647, when the Church of Scotland adopted the Westminster Confession of Faith.

There were three great achievements resulting from the Scottish ReformationFirst, the country adopted reformed theology.  This theology was Calvinistic in content and stressed the sovereignty of God, the authority of Scripture, the doctrine of the Church, the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith, the nature of the atonement, the number and purpose of the sacraments and much more.

The second great achievement of the Scottish Reformation was the adoption of a Presbyterian system of church government.  Indeed, the Presbyterianism system of church government is one of Scotland’s great gifts to the world church.  Reformed churches all over the world look to the Church of Scotland as the ‘Mother Kirk’ from which they derive their Presbyterianism.

The third great achievement of the Scottish Reformation was a new relationship between church and state.  There were various models of how church and state could relate to each other.  First, the state can control the church.  Second, the church can control the state.  Third, there can be separation of church and state.  In Scotland, however, a fourth model was adopted, namely, that church and state have each been ordained by God, have separate duties and functions but have a responsibility to one another.  This view had been developing since the time of Martin Luther, as amended by Calvin and then finally constructed by Knox and later by Andrew Melville.

It is the conviction of Covenant Fellowship Scotland that we have fallen a considerable distance from both the theology and practice of the Scottish Reformation in many areas.

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