Guten Tag all you blog readers. This is the one and only Ryan Dewey writing his second blog for the CTI program. This whole week we took a break from our books and drove all over Scotland to see sites that dealt with the Scottish Reformation. For those who don’t know, the Scottish Reformation officially started in 1560, although there were events that led up to it before hand. The unique thing about the Scottish Reformation is there are actually two reformations. The 1560 date, and then another reformation which happened in 1638. Both relate to each other, yet both are different too. I could spend many paragraphs and pages on the historical events, but I really want to focus on the main themes and why the reformations happened.
If you want to know what the 1560 Reformation was all about you just need to look at the rest of Europe at this time. The Catholic Church was the church at that time, but sadly they strayed from the Word of God and became corrupt. Not only in Scotland, but men and women throughout Europe were raised up by God to fight the heresies of the Catholic Church. The 1560 Reformation was focused on teaching people the truth of Scripture and destroying the lies of the Catholic Church. Men like John Knox, Patrick Hamilton, George Wishart, and Andrew Melville preached justification through faith alone. They taught the common people of that time the authority of the Scripture and that Christ is Lord over all. The 1638 Reformation in Scotland wasn’t worried about the Catholic Church anymore. The Protestants won that battle. This Reformation was about who was truly King of all. At that time the UK was ruled by corrupt kings who believed they had a divine right to tell people and Church how to worship, live, etc. The reformers of Scotland, or the Covenanters as they were called, knew that Scripture taught the true King was Christ, and the UK king had no right to tell the Church what to do. The Church is the bride of Christ and submits only to her husband. Eventually, the Covenanters fought for this and won by the help of the Dutch. This paragraph is just a brief, and I mean brief, description. This topic is vast, and I encourage all of you to read more about the Scottish Reformation.
During this time many Covenanters were killed by their own countrymen. And it wasn’t just in military battles, but some were killed while praying or reading their Bibles. This time in history was very bloody. The Covenanters were viewed as terrorists. So why did these men and women die? Was it because they hated the monarchy and wanted a new government? Or was it because they were too stubborn and just couldn’t get along with other Christians? Or was it because they were fighting for religious freedoms and liberties for all peoples? It was none of these things. As I have seen in the gravestones of many of the martyrs, the writings on the stone tell me the truth. They did this in adherence with God’s Word. They did this in the defense of the Gospel which brings salvation to many. These men and women died because they lived for Christ instead of man, traditions, or any authority apart from God Himself. They trusted in the Scriptures and knew the words were from the one and only true God of the Universe. They sought for things above and not earthly things. They were truly children of God. I pray that God will continue to form his Church like Christ, so that we can have the faith and spiritual strength the Covenanters had.
I finish with this. A few of the early martyrs can be found in the town of St. Andrews. There, written in the sidewalk by the University and Castle are the initials of Patrick Hamilton and George Wishart, two of the early reformers who were killed by the Catholic Church before the 1560 Reformation. Their initials are not out in the open or protected by a fence. Cars can park on them, people walk on them, or even sometimes spit on them. John Knox, the main figure of the 1560 Reformation, is buried outside St. Giles in Edinburgh. His grave has no writing on it. It is just a gold plaque in the middle of a parking lot. You would think Christians should be outraged that these men have no honor after their deaths. But as my good friend Dave said, “Why are we looking at the ground, He is risen.” Just as Christ came into this world and was humiliated and died a criminal’s death, these men suffered for Christ on earth. But they didn’t leave this world the same way. They are now with the Father in glory. The world will always hate people who carry the name of Christ with them, but the beautiful thing is that God will always love and forgive His children because of Christ. These men don’t care about their burial spots or memorials. They lived and died for His glory not theirs. They served God on earth and they serve God now in Heaven. As God said through the Apostle Paul, Galatians 1:10, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”