By Jay Rogers
Published March 31, 2008
Increasing persecution by the Catholic authorities against the Scottish Reformers in the 1500s led them to adopt a form of public prayer proclamations or “covenantal lawsuits.” The intent of these prayer proclamations was to implore their enemies to come to the knowledge of salvation. If the wicked rulers refused to repent of their murders and idolatries, the Church, acting as an ecclesiastical court, was giving them over to hell. These declarations warned their oppressors to repent or suffer the consequences of facing a militant uprising led by the Church of Scotland. The text of one such proclamation reads as follows:
To the generation of Antichrist, the pestilent prelates and their Shavelings within Scotland, the Congregation of Christ Jesus within the same, sayeth,
To the end that ye shall not be abused, thinking to escape just punishment, after that ye in your blind fury have caused the blood of many to be shed, this we notify and declare unto you, that if ye proceed in this your malicious cruelty, ye shall be entreated, wheresoever ye shall be apprehended, as murderers and open enemies to God and unto mankind; and therefore, betimes cease from this blind rage. Remove first from your bands of bloody men of war, and reform yourselves to a more quiet life; and thereafter mitigate ye the authority which, without crime committed upon our part, ye have inflamed against us, or else be ye assured, that with the same measure that ye have inflamed against us, and yet intend to measure to others, it shall be measured unto you: That is, as ye by tyranny intend not only to destroy our bodies, but also by the same to hold our souls in bondage of the Devil, subject to idolatry, so shall we with all force and power, which God shall grant unto us, execute just vengeance and punishment upon you.
Yea, we shall begin that same war which God commanded Israel to execute against the Canaanites; that is, contract of peace shall never be made till ye desist from your bloody idolatry and cruel persecution of God’s children. And this we signify unto you in the name of the eternal God, and of his Son Jesus Christ, whose verity we profess, and Evangel we will have preached, and holy Sacraments rightly ministered, so long as God will assist us to gainstand your idolatry. Take this for advertisement and be not deceived.
The Scottish Covenanters refuted the idea of the “Divine Right of Kings” arguing that the King himself is in covenant with God. The people, as the king’s subjects, were also a part of the covenant. Yes, God ordained earthly rulers, but only those who were just and obedient to God’s law. If a king broke covenant with God, the people were obliged to throw off the shackles of tyranny – otherwise the people would be guilty of submitting to the unjust commandments of wicked rulers. John Knox implored the earthly rulers to submit themselves to God’s authority:
The name and the cloak of the authority, which ye pretend, will nothing excuse you in God’s presence; but rather shall ye bear double condemnation; for that ye burden God, as that his good ordinance were the cause of your iniquity. All authority which God hath established, is good and perfect, and is to be obeyed of all men, yea under the pain of damnation. But do ye not understand, that there is a great difference betwix the authority which is God’s ordinance, and the persons of those which are placed in authority? The authority and God’s ordinance can never do wrong; for it commandeth, That vice and wicked men be punished, and virtue, with virtuous men and just, be maintained. But the corrupt person placed in this authority may offend, and most commonly doth the contrary hereof; and is then the corruption of the person to be followed, by reason that he is clad with the name of the authority? Or, shall those that obey the wicked commandment of those that are placed in authority be excusable before God? Not so; not so. But the plagues and vengeances of God taken upon kings, their servants, and subjects, do witness to us the plain contrary.
Pharaoh was a king, and had his authority of God, who commanded his subjects to murder and torment the Israelites, and at last most cruelly to persecute their lives. But was their obedience (blind rage it should be called) excusable before God? The universal plague doth plainly declare that the wicked commander, and those that obeyed, were alike guilty before God. And if the example of Pharaoh shall be rejected because he was [a gentile], then let us consider the facts of Saul: He was a king anointed of God, appointed to reign over his people; he commanded to persecute David, because (as he alleged) David was a traitor and usurper of the crown; and likewise commanded Abimelech the High Priest and his fellows to be slain: But did God approve any part of this obedience? Evident it is that he did not. And think ye, that God will approve in you that which he did damn in others? Be not deceived: with God there is no such partiality. If ye obey the unjust commandments of wicked rulers, ye shall suffer God’s vengeance and just punishment with them. And therefore as ye tender your own salvation, we most earnestly require of you moderation, and that ye stay yourselves, and the fury of others, from persecuting of us, till our cause be tried in lawful and open judgment.”
The consequences of disobeying the covenant of God was suffering the severity of God’s judgment. If the persecutors of the Scottish Church refused to repent, they would suffer excommunication. Knox and his followers knew that God himself would give victory to the Church. Judgment would come on their oppressors in some way, either in the case with Ananias and Saphira being struck down immediately (Acts 5:1-11); in the case of Simon the Sorcerer in being brought to repentance (Acts 8:18-24); in the case of Herod being struck down by disease (Acts 12:23); or in the case of Elymas the Sorcerer who was incapacitated by being struck by blindness (Acts 13:8-11). Armed uprising was not the first priority of the Church. They were first to dispense with all effective means of Church discipline. But armed resistance, as a last means of self defense, was never ruled out.
John Knox, The Reformation in Scotland, pp.168,169,171,172.
Forerunner - Home » The Forerunner Newspaper » Reformation
Your comments are welcome!
“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!
Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.
Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
What is true Revival and Spiritual Awakening?
Discover the answer in this eyewitness account by Dennis Kinlaw, President of Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky, who recounts the story of a visitation of the Holy Spirit in 1970. This is the presentation that has continued to spark the flames of Revival in the hearts of people around the world. Contains eyewitness footage from the Revival at Asbury College in 1970 in Wilmore, Kentucky.
Certain to challenge you to greater holiness and a deeper commitment to full-scale revival. Original news and private footage has been included. If you are a student who longs to see a spiritual awakening at your school, you must see this video!
“This simple video does a wonderful job of conveying something of God’s heart and power, Everyone we have ever shown this to has received an immediate impartation of faith for revival and the power of prayer.”
— Bob and Rose Weiner, Weiner Ministries Int’l
Running Time: 40 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Here I stand … I can do no other!”
With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.
The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Running time: 105 minutes
Special offer: Order 5 or more for $5 each.
Watch a clip from Martin Luther.
$9.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?
Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!
Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.
Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)
Running Time: 145 minutes
$17.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)