In parts 1 and 2, I gave the historical background of the Scottish Reformation through the life of John Knox and a summary of his work, The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women. I briefly touched on some modern misperceptions and explained why The First Blast still reverberates for civil liberty even today.
Part 3: American Vision’s “John Knox’s blast of monstrous pagan chauvinism”
Here I will address the article recently published in American Vision written by Suzannah Rowntree. I want to make it clear that this is not an attack on the motives or personalities of the people promoting this article. I also don’t think of my rebuttal as the final word, but hopefully it will show some that there is another perspective and will spark more informed discussion.
I have great admiration for the accomplishments of American Vision. The first Christian Reconstructionist book that I ever read in the 1980s, was a paperback workbook series written by Gary DeMar called, God and Government. Not only do I have the utmost respect for Gary DeMar’s work with American Vision, but ironically the ideas presented in God and Government are the fruition of Knox’s First Blast. DeMar’s book series expounds on the explosive power of the biblical social theory that emerged from the Reformation’s full-orbed Gospel. However, I consider some of American Vision’s current work to be an unfortunate departure from this foundation. One such example is the article I will critique.
What is the current controversy?
A controversy over the American Vision article has erupted because in recent years, numerous people have pointed to the publication of The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women as one of the fountainheads of the “Lesser Magistrate Doctrine.” Yes, the theology of political resistance was maintained in Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion and the Lutheran Magdeburg Confession. However, Knox’s First Blast represented the first time there was a call to arms to overthrow a specific monarch – and one that shocked even the proponents of the Lesser Magistrate doctrine in Germany and Switzerland, not to mention England and Scotland.
Currently in America, we are faced with federal tyranny through judicial supremacy and a growing Leviathan statist power. Some have proposed that Christians reignite the spirit of the “Black Regiment” – the Presbyterian pastors who led the American Revolution and taught these principles. The First Blast is an often recommended work to introduce Christians to that spirit of resistance. Most never end up reading the tract, but are amused by the title when it is explained that the “Monstrous Regiment of Women” is the “unnatural government” of three Roman Catholic queens, Bloody Mary (Tudor), Mary of Guise, and Mary Queen of Scots (Stuart). Knox and the Scottish covenanters are portrayed as Scottish heroes cast in the role of Protestant “Bravehearts.”
However, to some who have been steeped in the postmodernist, feminist worldview of western culture, the language of Knox comes off as a politically incorrect affront to women. It is offensive not just to Mary Queen of Scots and her “shavelings and pestilent prelates,” as Knox termed his Roman Catholic persecutors, but to all women who (they falsely suppose) are represented as lower “creatures” no more valuable than farm animals to men. The tract has also been likened to the excesses we see in the so-called Christian patriarchy movement. From the outset, I concede that these are valid concerns if this is truly the stance of some modern Christians.
To counter excesses in patriarchy movement, a social media group has been founded, which is ironically named, “The Monstrous Regiment of Women.” They state that their intention is to point the finger at those within the Reformed tradition who adopt and support the John Knox pamphlet.
Brothers in Christ, when you approve and recommend John Knox’s FIRST BLAST OF THE TRUMPET AGAINST THE MONSTROUS REGIMENT OF WOMEN, you send a very clear message to the women around you.
“You are worth less then men.”
“You are little better than animals.”
“You will never accomplish anything for the kingdom of God.”
Why should we pay any attention to you if you say such things?
In other words, they say that if you don’t renounce John Knox’s teaching in The First Blast in its entirety, you will be shunned as a hateful misogynist.
Why is it important?
Why does it even matter that a musty 40-page pamphlet from the 1500s is being attacked by a group of millennials on podcasts and social media?
I like to tell people that the current Christian Reconstructionist movement is a small fraction of a subset of thinkers within Reformed theology. For about 250 years – from about the 1500s to the late 1700s – Calvinism was the dominant theology in Protestantism. Within the movement, some of the Presbyterians and Puritans birthed a well-articulated postmillennial eschatology, a Bible-based set of civil laws and numerous examples of church and civil covenants to justly administer those laws. They did so imperfectly, but modern Reconstructionists consider this time period to be a Model of Reformation we can learn much from.
To apply the Lesser Magistrate doctrine to today, we don’t need to overthrow our government, but states can simply declare their right to be self-governing and not subject to any power of the federal government that is not described or enumerated in the U.S. Constitution. Many Christian activist groups are now advocating for the Lesser Magistrate doctrine in our fight against abortion, unnatural marriage and a host of other abominations foisted upon us by a draconian state that is growing in size and ability to tyrannize us.
We are trying to awaken the larger evangelical population to the fact that Christianity is also carries a political philosophy of liberty that will enable the Church to preach the Gospel worldwide and impact our backslidden culture. This includes elevating the esteem of all people including women and minorities. It’s a great disadvantage to have our goals mischaracterized by those who supposedly are “Reformed” themselves.
This rebuttal is not meant as a rebuke as much as a critique of the gross misundertandings promoted by the “Pagan Chauvinism” article. I also don’t mean to belittle or delegitimize the outcry against real abuses toward women occurring in the name of Christianity. But frankly, anyone who understands the historical background of the Scottish Reformation knows that abuse toward women did not occur as a result of Knox’s little pamphlet. On the contrary, Knox’s life work resulted in the greatest civil liberty known in modern times. Reformed social theory elevated the standing of all people.
“Pagan Chauvinism” is well-written, organized, focused and forcefully argued. However it falls apart when evidence is given and citations from Knox are elaborated upon. In fact, it becomes silly in places. There are many statements that are incorrect from the start. It is not the logic of the article that is deficient, but its numerous faulty premises.
Misunderstanding the genre – First, the pamphlet is a polemic. It was very common in John Knox’s day for theologians to use harshly worded and even crude language to describe their opponents. It was his use of forceful language, not against a theological opponent, but against the head of state, that scandalized many of his readers. Yet this is exactly the effect that a polemic is supposed to have. Its intent is to stoke controversy and debate. It was so effective that people are still having this debate today. Those who wonder, “How could Knox write such things!” are responding exactly according to the way that a polemic is intended to provoke controversy.
Misunderstanding the historical context – Paradoxically, medieval Christian society considered women ineligible for any public office except that of head of state. They accepted that to preserve familial lines of succession, ruling queens were necessary when there was no direct male heir.
Ironically, I discussed this point with a few of Rowntree’s defenders who said the opposite. They said they believed that women could occupy civil offices – “just not the executive office.” That is exactly my view too. Women ought to work as public servants and be involved in politics if they are able, while not neglecting their families, but Scripture speaks against women “bearing the sword” or sitting in punitive judgment over adult men in any capacity.
In Knox’s day, the view was completely the opposite. Even Queen Elizabeth was expected to bear arms and appeared at the Battle of the Spanish Armada as the commander of the English forces. Although she did not personally fight in the battle, she continually put herself in harm’s way as the reigning monarch. In December 1583, Elizabeth I wrote to the French Ambassador, “There are more than two hundred men of all ages who, at the instigation of the Jesuits, conspire to kill me.” Further, there were no less than half a dozen known assassination plots against her life. Elizabeth’s speech at Tilbury to her troops is considered to be genuine and gives a glimpse into how she thought of her role as a female commander-in-chief.
I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust.
I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.
While we should greatly admire the faith and courage of this brave woman, we ought to admit that this was a subversion of nature and God’s revealed will for a woman to bear the sword against men in battle.
Misunderstanding the political context – The very title, The First Blast of the Trumpet, connotes a military uprising against tyranny. The language is taken from Old Testament prophecy and Revelation 8:13.
Then I looked, and I heard an eagle flying in midheaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!”
In Knox’s view, the Church stood wearing the prophetic mantle and must speak in the spirit and power of Elijah against those who murdered God’s preachers of the true Gospel. It was because the three Marys persecuted God’s Church and were suppressing the Gospel that Knox opposed them. The context is primarily political. To parse it as an attack on women in general is missing the forest for the trees.
After Knox was freed from his life as a galley slave, he became popular in Protestant England and was a preacher in the court of Edward VI, who was King Henry VIII’s immediate successor. When Edward died, for a very short period of time, Lady Jane Grey was made queen because Edward’s court felt she would preserve the Protestant legacy. This lasted only nine days until Mary Tudor was installed.
Knox was appalled that a Roman Catholic queen would inherit the throne. However, he at first continued to perform his duty as a royal chaplain. He even composed a prayer read in public worship that Mary Tudor and her court would be converted to the Reformed faith. He continued to pray for Mary until persecution broke out and he had to flee the British Isles ending up in Geneva in 1554. Shortly after Knox fled, “Bloody Mary” had Lady Jane executed along with hundreds of other Protestants.
It is easy to see that Knox’s opposition to Mary was political because she was a Catholic queen. He never wrote a word about the Lady Jane’s role and probably would have supported her as an alternative Protestant monarch if she had not been killed.
Misunderstanding the author’s purpose – According to Rowntree, Knox’s polemic was directed only against women because they were women.
His First Blast was intended as just the first of three pamphlets that would prove women to be incapable of bearing godly rule. – S.R.
On the contrary, The Second Blast, we are told, was to be more instructive on how the Church of Scotland and England could effectively organize to overthrow tyranny. Knox published a summary of it in the same year and it was later appended to The First Blast. We are not told what The Third Blast was to be about except that it would be published in Knox’s own name. He intended to take the weight of the blame on himself declaring that he was willing to die as a martyr for the cause of the Reformation.
Misunderstanding the author’s point of view – In reading various responses to the Rowntree article, the biggest problem is that people haven’t taken the time to read The First Blast or other background literature written by Knox. Again, he was not set against the three Marys merely because they were women. As I will show below, Knox was indeed hoping and praying for one of them to be converted and become a “Deborah,” who would help establish Protestantism in the British Isles.
Misunderstanding the appeal to “nature” – This is probably the biggest example of dishonesty in the article. As I explained in part 1, Knox makes use of historical examples to show that this crime against nature is obvious even to the pagans. Paul makes a similar argument in 1 Corinthians 5:1, that certain behavior is “not tolerated even among Gentiles.” So it is perfectly scriptural to make use of an argument from nature or to quote pagan philosophers. Paul himself makes two such appeals in his Sermon on Mars Hill (Acts 17:22-31).
John Knox’s pamphlet is totally unscriptural and comes straight out of pagan Greek and Roman philosophy, not the Bible. – S.R.
Well no, the exact opposite is true. Knox uses a scriptural argument for about 39 pages and takes the space of about one page to show how the Greeks and Romans agreed that a woman monarch is against nature. If we say that Knox errs because he begins with a pagan argument and bases his whole argument on that, this is also dishonest. Knox insists that natural arguments are not sufficient and therefore he must base his argument on the Word of God.
But to me it is sufficient (because this part of nature is not my most sure foundation) to have proved that men illuminated only by the light of nature have seen and have determined that it is a thing most repugnant to nature that women rule and govern over men…. But now to the second part of nature, in the which I include the revealed will and perfect ordinance of God.
So according to Knox, nature is not the most sure foundation, only the revealed will and perfect ordinance of God in Scripture is sufficient. I was baffled in hearing many people who have not read The First Blast complain that Reformed teachers are using a tract to demean women that has nothing of the Bible, but is based only on pagan philosophy.
Misunderstanding his use of the Church Fathers – Another outrageous distortion of Knox’s argument is that he considers women to not be made in the image of God (or lesser image bearers) and “literally” argues women are subhuman.
I would plead with my brothers in Christ, especially those who claim to be Reformed. Think twice before you throw your support behind this document, which literally argues that women are subhuman, somewhere between men and animals on the Platonist chain of being. – S.R.
While I won’t harp on the mangling of the word “literally,” this completely misunderstands Knox’s use of Augustine who very clearly states that woman is made in the image of God. The argument here is neither that women are not in the image of God nor that they are lower than men.
The argument is that women are not in God’s image in one aspect – in their natural ability to rule over men. That is, God ordains civil rulers to act as His ministers. Men are in His image. Therefore, men are suitable to rule over men. Women are not suitable to rule over men. They are suitable to be men’s helpers in dominion work. They are fully God’s image bearers in that they have dominion over all other parts of God’s creation. That is the argument that Knox is advocating by quoting Augustine, which I will show below.
(One could also argue that a man is not in God’s image in that men don’t have the natural ability to bear children in God’s image – as a woman was chosen from the beginning to give birth to Christ. But that is not the focus of Knox’s tract, although he touches on it as you will soon see.)
Misunderstanding 16th century English vocabulary – This is where Rowntree’s article made me smile. Even though the spelling of words has been modernized, Elizabethan-era English is difficult unless you have read and heard a lot of it. Knox died when Shakespeare was eight-years-old so the language is very similar.
One of the most common errors in reading literature from this time period is to not understand that the vast majority of words – as high as 90 to 95 percent of the vocabulary – are still in use today, but they have changed form or meaning. This makes a word archaic because it does not mean what you think it means.
Further, educated people of that day used a lot of word play, often employing colorful metaphors meant to evoke emotional responses, but also words loaded with double meanings. It is true that in Knox’s day the word Monstruous (or “monstrous” in its modern spelling) meant unnatural. But it also means a monster. (For example, Caliban in The Tempest is called a monster.) The same is true about Regimen (or “regiment”). It means government, but also had the connotation of a military force. Knox is sounding the alarm against a hostile army of persecutors. So even the title of the tract is ironic, even sarcastic, definitely meant to provoke a reaction.
That being said, there are other examples where modern meanings of words have changed.
“Creatures” for instance, isn’t necessarily a synonym for animals. The meaning of “creature” can be anything in God’s creation. I’ve seen comment after comment on the Rowntree article stating that Knox “literally” says women are “between men and animals.” In fact, nowhere in the pamphlet is this stated. Not only is the word “animals” never used, but the connotation of comparing women to other “creatures” is not negative at all. Here is Knox quoting Augustine.
“… woman (sayeth he), compared to other creatures, is the image of God, for she beareth dominion over them; but compared unto man, she may not be called the image of God, for she beareth not rule and lordship over man, but ought to obey him …”
To paraphrase, woman has dominion over all creation. But she does not have the image of God compared to man in one aspect. She must not bear authority over man. The problem here is that people are reading Rowntree article without first reading Knox and think he “literally argues that women are subhumans.”
A few other “loaded words” used by Knox to describe women are obnoxious to a politically correct mindset. In the short section in which Knox uses the argument from nature, he speaks of the natural inability of women to rule.
For their sight in civil regiment is but blindness; their strength, weakness; their counsel, foolishness; and judgment, frenzy, if it be rightly considered.
Note that contrary to the claim of the American Vision article, Knox is not saying here that all women are always blind, weak, foolish, frenzied. He is saying that when placed in civil power, women will exhibit these traits. He also notes that “for certain causes, known only to [God] himself” there are exceptions to this, which he discusses in his answers to objections.
Nature, I say, doth paint them further to be weak, frail, impatient, feeble, and foolish; and experience hath declared them to be inconstant, variable, cruel, and lacking the spirit of counsel and regiment.
Note that Knox is here only commenting on women’s nature as they are unfit to rule in the civil realm. He does not claim that women are unfit in other areas of authority and dominion, such as in bearing and nurturing children. In the section in which he cites John Chysostom, he notes “woman to be a tender creature, flexible, soft, and pitiful, which nature God hath given unto her, that she may be apt to nourish children.”
“Pitiful” here means full of pity. It is not a term of derision. So the argument Knox uses is not that women are to be despised or looked down upon in a misogynistic sense. Rather God has not equipped men and women to be equal in all things. In rearing children, women are usually more “tender,” but in ruling in matters of the civil order, they are more “cruel.” In fact, there was a widely publicized study in 2017 that showed that historically queens were more often warmongers than kings.
According to a working paper by political scientists Oeindrila Dube, of the University of Chicago, and S. P. Harish, of McGill University. They studied how often European rulers went to war between 1480 and 1913. Over 193 reigns, they found that states ruled by queens were 27% more likely to wage war than those ruled by kings (Who gets into more wars, kings or queens?).
So Knox’s argument from nature and his supposedly incendiary descriptive words are actually born out by modern studies as well as by God’s Word.
Mistaking John Calvin’s view – Calvin’s view was that the Church could overthrow tyrants under the authority of lesser magistrates. What Rowntree claims here is correct, but the reason she implies is false.
Even at the time, the pamphlet was controversial. John Calvin disapproved of The First Blast, saying that by publishing it Knox was likely “to unsettle governments which are ordained by the peculiar providence of God.” – S.R.
Yes, Calvin was disturbed that Knox was calling for the overthrow of the English and Scottish queens. But the reason why is a bit more complicated than the false claim that Calvin approved of women monarchs.
Knox’s premise that female rulers had subverted both the divine and natural order was not controversial. The problem came when he called for the overthrow of a female monarch based on the fact that they opposed the Gospel. The following points are completely missed by Rowntree in her article.
First, in 1554, four years prior to the publication of The First Blast, John Knox posed several questions to John Calvin and Heinrich Bullinger (while visiting the Swiss cities of Geneva and Zurich on his way to Frankfurt) concerning the political state of affairs in England and Scotland. To begin with, they all agreed together that rule by women opposed God’s will. No natural or historical circumstances justified a woman exercising civil authority. They agreed that in the examples of Deborah and Huldah, God Himself sovereignly suspended His own commandment, something that men were not authorized to do. Further, they each agreed that women rulers were not only prohibited in God’s natural order, but their existence in history was a result of the curse of the Fall. Calvin also agreed with Knox that God was judging England for not establishing the Reformed faith by giving them a wicked, oppressive queen like Jezebel.
Second, Knox’s question was over whether the Church ought to continue to pray for the conversion of these female rulers and that they would be raised up by God as “Deborahs” in order to succor the Church as “nursing mothers” – or whether they ought to be opposed by force as the people of God in Elijah’s day opposed Jezebel.
Calvin indeed answered that God ordained these governments by patrilineal succession. It would therefore “not be lawful to unsettle” the line of descent that God ordained. Where Calvin includes the phrase “peculiar providence of God,” he means that although having a woman in the line is unnatural, God uses it to establish hereditary rights.
Third, in An Answer Given to a Certain Scotsman, in Reply to Some Questions Concerning the Kingdom of Scotland and England, Heinrich Bullinger records the questions submitted by John Knox to the school at Geneva.
Whether the Son of a King, upon his father’s death, though unable by reason of his tender age to conduct the government of the kingdom, is nevertheless by right of inheritance to be regarded as a lawful magistrate, and as such to be obeyed as of divine right?
Whether a Female can preside over, and rule a kingdom by divine right, and so transfer the right of sovereignty to her Husband?
Whether obedience is to be rendered to a Magistrate who enforces idolatry and condemns true religion; and whether those authorities, who are still in military occupation of towns and fortresses, are permitted to repel this ungodly violence from themselves and their friends?
To which party must godly persons attach themselves, in the case of a religious Nobility resisting an idolatrous Sovereign?
You can read the answers given to Knox at the above link, but it should be obvious that the curious Scotsman was searching for a biblically lawful way to rid Scotland and England of two murderous monarchs and establish a Christian realm like Geneva where the Gospel could flourish without hindrance.
In short, both Calvin and Bullinger agreed that women were unnatural rulers. But when pressed with giving an answer as to how whether the Church could support English and Scottish nobles (lesser magistrates) if they rebelled against these idolatrous queens, they were more evasive, saying that this was the decision of “godly persons,” and warning him to attempt nothing contrary to the Law of God and to look to Him as the only deliverer.
Calvin himself was faced with a dangerous political situation in Geneva himself during that time, so it is possible that he wanted to avoid the appearance of stirring up armed conflict in this current case.
Mistaking Knox’s reversal of his position – Rowntree continues and claims that even Knox himself disavowed this work.
In other words, the Monstrous Regiment ultimately had to be abandoned by its own author, and anyone who supports it today is demonstrating less wisdom than Knox himself. – S.R.
This is demonstrably false. It completely ignores Knox’s letters to Queen Elizabeth in which he clearly maintains his position, yet nevertheless prays that Elizabeth might turn out to be a Deborah.
The article ignores his subsequent career in both opposing Mary Queen of Scots, while preaching the Gospel to her and praying for her conversion. Mary leveled the charge against Knox that he had written The First Blast to promote rebellion against her mother and herself. Knox acknowledged that he wrote the book and stood by it. He responded that as long as Queen Mary did not “defile your hands with the blood of the saints, that neither I nor that book shall either hurt you or our authority.” This is more evidence that Knox did not write the book merely to attack women or women rulers, but rather to defy tyrants.
Knox believed The First Blast to be an exercise of his divinely inspired gift of prophecy. He stood by it until his death.
In fact, the tract continued to be widely circulated with great interest long after that. The title page used by American Vision as a graphic is ironically from an edition published many years later in Philadelphia in 1766 with a modernized spelling of the title. This shows the continuing interest in Knox’s social and political theory at the time of the American Revolution.
Mistaking Queen Elizabeth’s view – I am amazed at the point of view, not from liberal humanist historians who don’t understand God’s providence, but from short-sighted Christians who don’t see the hand of God in the immediate effect of the publication of The First Blast.
Within months, the pamphlet backfired on Knox when Mary Tudor died, leaving the English throne to her Protestant sister Elizabeth I. Elizabeth supported the Reformation, but was highly offended by Knox’s pamphlet and never allowed him to return to England to work for the cause of the Reformation there. Knox admitted that “my First Blast hath blown from me all my friends in England” and gave up writing the second and third pamphlets. – S.R.
Did it backfire?
Knox’s initial purpose in writing The First Blast was to rid England and Scotland of two murderous monarchs. Within two years of its publication, both queens met untimely deaths while still in their early 40s. Knox was able to return to Scotland with the ability to prosecute the Church’s covenantal lawsuits more directly through preaching and direct interviews with Mary Queen of Scots. It is obvious from the first page of the tract that Knox himself viewed The First Blast as a prophetic imprecatory proclamation. Two Marys died as a result. Mary Queen of Scots was later arrested for plotting regicide (toward her cousin Elizabeth) and beheaded.
Knox hoped and prayed – as evidenced in his letters to her – that Elizabeth would become a “Deborah” – a woman placed in power by the sovereignty of God to succor the Church and bring about Reformation. While Knox was disappointed that Elizabeth did not take the Reformation far enough, he never publicly attacked her in the same manner as the three Marys. He considered her “neither a good Protestant, nor a resolute Papist.” Elizabeth did ally with the Protestant Scottish nobles in their military resistance against Mary Queen of Scots. She also brought further reform by approving the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, which established the doctrine and government of the Church of England.
The claim that she “never allowed him to return to England” is a bit of a red herring. The historical fact is that Elizabeth did not allow Knox to make the shorter trip through England to Scotland and he complained he had to take the voyage by sea instead. However, by the time Mary of Guise died, Knox was well into his mid-50s and had been frail and sickly since the time of his sentence as a galley thrall. He therefore made the rest of his life’s effort the Reformation in Scotland, and Elizabeth, though offended by the tract, was his ally until this was accomplished.
As for the Second and Third Blast pamphlets, which Knox claimed were supposed to cover the method of civil resistance, he instead got busy doing the work of Reformation. In 1559, a year after the publication of The First Blast, he began to write about how his theology became autobiography in The History of the Reformation in Scotland, which was finally completed just before his death.
Mistaking Knox’s personal views and conduct with women – The American Vision article has some sharp words as to how Knox personally viewed women.
John Knox, whatever his strengths in other areas, clearly had an unbiblically low view of women as a sex. – S.R.
Lady Jane Grey, Mary Tudor, Mary of Guise, Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth Tudor were five queens whose lives paralleled Knox. In each of their cases, Knox began with the attitude of a servant committed to praying for their safety and well-being and for the conversion of the Catholic queens who persecuted Protestants. His personal correspondence and personal interviews with Mary of Guise and Mary Queen of Scots show a firm man, yet compassionate and sincerely concerned about the state of their eternal souls. In all his personal conversations with Mary Queen of Scots, he never demeaned her as a woman. Mary acted alternately seductive, manipulative, feminine, and would sometimes cry and howl because Knox would not relent. Although he despised Mary’s behavior in his presence, he remained respectful of her as a person.
John Knox preaching to Mary Queen of Scots. Knox remained hopeful for the conversion of the Catholic queens who persecuted Protestants.
Further, his relationships with his first mother-in-law and two wives shows he relied on the women in his life greatly. His second wife, many years younger than him, took daily dictation while he was bed-ridden and attended to his sickness, so that he might finish his History of the Reformation in Scotland book.
Influence of 21st century literary criticism – Writers in the 16th century were not politically correct by today’s standards. It has become almost a cottage industry among academics to read the worst possible interpretation into a celebrated author, from William Shakespeare to Laura Ingalls Wilder, to discredit their ideology along the lines of 21st century literary criticism. Knox had obviously never encountered the Thought Police who tout Marxist, Freudian, feminist and Jungian theories of criticism.
So while Rowntree takes some pains to distance herself from the errors of modern feminism, the words of Hamlet might be apt here, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” While decrying feminism, she also promotes a gross misunderstanding of the facts and swallows the feminist view of John Knox as a misogynist and a fool.
Let the word of God rebuke the foolish ravings of John Knox. – S.R.
The article makes Knox’s tract to be all about women’s roles in society and their value in God’s eyes rather than the narrowly pointed intent of Knox’s purpose toward defending England and Scotland against persecution and idolatry.
Influence of Marxist historical revisionism – “Historical revisionism” has become a blanket term used by conservatives to oppose all liberal interpretations of history. In fact, all interpretations of history are “revisionist.” What else would they be? But specifically, the Marxist view of history sets up a conflict between the economic classes called the political struggle. Then it attempts to create social tension between the two groups. They believe eventually that this will result in the triumph of the communist state over the capitalist state.
At this point, you might be thinking, “Wait a minute! Aren’t you going too far? Are you really calling these young women communists?”
No in fact, I am not.
Western Christians never cottoned much to political Marxist theory mainly because it preached atheistic materialism. Since Western Christians, and especially Americans, are driven by the Protestant work ethic and have seen good fruit result, it is difficult to convince a prosperous Christian that class warfare is impoverishing the nations. Such guilt manipulation over “the rich getting richer” just doesn’t work with us.
Instead Marxists since the 1960s have tried a new tack, that of cultural Marxism. Instead of decrying a supposed economic injustice inherent in the oppressive capitalist system, the cultural Marxist cites examples of injustice toward racial minorities, women, and now sexual preference. The tactic is to attack examples of imagined wrongs committed against the oppressed, in this case women, and castigate anyone who is associated with the person or institution that committed such offenses. Finally, the call for total equality in all areas of life is the common-sense conclusion for anyone who rejects the oppression of women.
It should go without saying that anyone who can rule a home wisely and well is equally capable of ruling herself wisely and well, or a business, or a school, or a church, or a state, for that matter. – S.R.
So the agenda from the outset is to call for men to repent of not thinking women are able to be church elders and heads of state. This is really the central argument, though it is buried in a middle paragraph, with Ecclesiastes 4:13 used as a doctrinal proof text, “Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.”
In other words, women are equal to men, therefore they should be able to rule in the church and the state. My response is that if the agenda is to call for women leaders and heads of state as biblically permissible, then the Bible ought to be used to argue that. To use the tactics of cultural Marxism to shame those who disagree on the basis long held biblical doctrine is not only dishonest, but ironic to the extreme. Seasoned Christian teachers are being called to repent of recommending a historic literary work that was written to oppose oppressive, murderous regimes.
My hope is that Reformed thinkers will understand the monumental importance of John Knox’s social and political philosophy. My prayer is that readers of American Vision will not be cajoled or intimidated into accepting the thesis of this article. It should be viewed instead as a flimsily supported, transparent farce.