Sir,

     It was refreshing and challenging to read Mr Wilson’s doughty Scot’s support of Knox though he has given both his countryman and myself the wrong-sized shoes. Furthermore, as Andrew Lang in his definitive work on Knox also says of his subject, Mr Wilson sails dangerously close to the wind in his historical analysis. Yet he calls me controversial! In such discussions, we must take into sympathetic account each other’s background. I argue from the very Puritan and Non-Conformist point of view which Knox opposed. So one could hardly expect me to view Knox as my ideal Reformer. Mr Wilson argues from Knox’s merits in ousting Franco-Popish tyranny from Scotland. I do not challenge these merits in the least, however questionable the New Order that Knox set up was. We must also take into account the background of the period we are discussing and how Christian men alter their views radically according to changing situations. Who would doubt, as Hugh Watt shows in his book John Knox in Controversy, that Knox spent more time attacking his fellow-reformers than he did the pope’s cohorts? Who would deny the faithful words of evangelical men such as Bale, Whitehead, Cox, Lever, Becon, Sandys, Sampson and Traheron, who say that Knox looked upon the public reading of Scripture and other gospel-grounded forms of worship as ‘irksome and unprofitable’? Does not even Edward Arber, in his Introduction to The Troubles at Frankfort (1907 edition) bemoan the fact that his beloved subject regarded the public reading of God’s Word with disdain and forbade lay participation in the service?

     Mr. Wilson doubts that Winzet could speak the truth because he was a Roman Catholic. Yet Watt says of him, “It is evident that very little would have made Ninian Winzet one of our leading Reformers,” and points out that Winzet said nothing to support Rome but his words were soundly applicable to Knox’s ceremonies. One would think truth is truth from whatever mouth it comes. If Mr. Wilson demands a Reformed testimony, I trust he will accept the witness of Cranmer and Ridley who equally maintained that Knox was lacking in Scriptural acumen. Indeed, they argued that Knox’s ceremonial ideas, such as his manner of celebrating the Lord’s Supper, were based on a superstitious misunderstanding and misapplication of the historical account. Knox certainly also misapplied Mark 12:17 and Romans 13:1. On being called to pastor the Frankfurt church in 1554, Knox refused to administer the Lord’s Supper on grounds totally incompatible with Scripture and this, as also his intolerant bearing, caused those such as John Bale who had called him to dismiss him speedily, but not until Knox had quite wrecked the congregation of equals with his monarchical and Erastian demands. Grindal told Ridley that peace had returned because Knox had gone.

     Though Knox submitted to the Genevan Order in Calvin’s City, as Mr Wilson affirms, and, for a time, bowed to the dictate of the Lords in Scotland, who proscribed the Second Book of Common Prayer, when he thought he had a free hand, Knox refused the reformed principles of either. I must reject Mr Wilson’s attempt to filter away Knox’s love of hierarchy because his seven-tiered clerical church structure, not counting the so-called laity, still smacks too much of Rome’s seven-tier system to me. Note how often Knox hobnobbed with the political authorities, claiming he represented the whole church, begging them to determine church order, when the overwhelming majority of members were thoroughly against him. We also have the clear testimony of Foxe, Whitehead and many other Non-Conformists that it was a strategic reaction to Knox’s and Goodman’s highly treasonable, political and revolutionary Geneva writings that Mary burnt the Martyrs, equating their gospel preaching with Knox’s rebellious fantasies. Note Calvin’s pathetic, Mr. Facing-Both-Ways attempt to distance himself from Knox’s and Goodman’s intrigues. (Letter to Cecil, Jan. 29, 1559).

     Lastly, we note how Knox rejected the right of worship of Non-Conformists and urged tolerant, Puritan Anglicans such as Grindal to suppress what he (Knox) thought was the more radical element. Grindal informed Sir William Cecil, a great supporter of the Reformation but one who thought Knox was ‘odious’, with an amused twinkle in his eye, how a party of Non-Conformist Puritans visited Knox’s Scotland in 1568 to taste the Reformation there. They returned to England astonished, disgusted and dejected, having found so much blatant Romanism hiding behind the Knoxian shield. Grindal commented, “the church of Scotland will not be pure enough for our men.” Nor is the Knoxian idea of a church pure enough for me.

George M. Ella, Mülheim