John Knox Confronts the Anabaptists:
The Intellectual Aspects of His Encounter
RICHARD G. KYLE*
Abstract: Along with the other Protestant Reformers, John Knox waged a war against two fronts-the Catholic establishment and the left wing radicals. While his great enemy was the Catholic Church, recognized by law and backed by the power of the state, he was not about to be outflanked on the left. So he vehemently opposed these radicals, who he loosely identified as Anabaptists. His attack on these radicals, however, came largely in the realm of ideas for little is known about his actual dealings with them. Knox opposed the Anabaptists on two grounds-a volatile mixture of civil instability and false doctrine. He believed that their unorthodox social and political views seriously threatened the stability of society. Worse yet, he regarded their doctrines as heretical and blasphemous. Thus he saw the Anabaptists as being latter day Manichaeans, Pelagians, Catharists, Donatists, and Arians.
John Knox (1514-1572) labored in England, the Continent and Scotland to further the Protestant cause. His intense efforts “more than justify his position amidst the great Protestant reformers of the sixteenth century,” notes historian Ian Cowan. Standing squarely in the Reformed tradition, his closest relationship was with John Calvin, who inspired him significantly. But Knox had other influences and knew other reformers. He had connections with the Reformed churches throughout Europe and dealings with Reformed leaders such as Heinrich Bullinger, Pierre Viret and Theodore Beza. And Knox did not limit his associations to the Reformed tradition. To some extent he can be regarded as a “Protestant ecumenist.” He desired closer contacts with the Lutherans though they rebuffed him for both political reasons and differences over Real Presence. And despite their conflicts over worship, Knox and Thomas Cranmer were still members of the same religious communion. However, in regard to both Catholics and radicals-all of whom he identified rather loosely as “Anabaptists”-Knox’s ecumenism reached its limits.
The general Protestant-Catholic conflict and the tensions between the Anabaptists and most of the major reformers-e.g., Martin Luther, John Calvin, Martin Bucer, Philip Melanchthon, Ulrich Zwingli, and Heinrich Bullinger-have been well documented. But Knox’s encounter with the Anabaptists has received only scant treatment. The gap in Knoxian-Anabaptist studies, however, is not due to Knox’s failure to address the subject. References are sprinkled throughout the six volumes of his complete works. While these statements are brief, they do reveal Knox’s differences with the Anabaptists over specific issues. But two of his treatises contain more than passing references. They are entitled To His Brethren in Scotland and An Answer to a Great Number of Blasphemous Cavillations Written by an Anabaptist, and Adultery to God’s Eternal Predestination. Still, little is known about Knox’s actual dealings with the radical groups. This essay will therefore focus on his writings against them.
The Protestant reformers of the sixteenth century tended to tar all radicals with the same brush. In so doing they often failed to distinguish between peaceful or violent radicals or between orthodox or heretical dissenters. In fact, for many reformers the derisive term Anabaptist was a generic label for all kinds of nonconformity, virtually synonymous with fanaticism or heresy. The reformers frequently linked the term with the Pelagians (free-willers), Novationists, Arians, Manichaeans, Antinomians, Familists and other groups that had no relationship with historic Anabaptism. The reformers generally opposed the Anabaptists on two grounds. Theologically they tended to part company over such issues as baptism, human nature, predestination, sacraments, civil government, the use of force, the nature of the church, and perfectionism in the Christian life. With some radicals even the Trinity and the authority of scripture became contentious issues. More important than doctrine, however, was the threat Anabaptists seemed to pose to civic order and social stability. Several violent incidents-especially the Peasants’ War associated with Thomas Mntzer and the violent overthrown of the city Mnster-had sent chills through both the Protestant and Catholic ranks.
Knox shared in these general sentiments. Although his great enemy was the Catholic church, established by law and backed by the power of the state, he was also deeply concerned about the threat posed by the radicals on the left. In many ways, Knox was himself the most “radical” of the Magisterial Reformers, advocating the purification of worship and the duty of revolt against the Catholic political and religious establishment far more than did the Continental Reformers. Still, he viewed the Anabaptists radicals much as the Continental Reformers did, lumping them all together and identifying them as anarchists, blasphemers, heretics and the enemies of God. Even though the radicals lacked the power of the Catholic Church, they were to be feared and taken seriously as theological adversaries. And yet, in actual practice Knox’s bark was worse than his bite. Despite the fact that he had the opportunity to harm the radicals, there is in fact no record of Knox actually doing so.
LETTER TO HIS BRETHREN
Following the ascension of Catholic Mary Tudor to the English throne in 1553, many Protestants including Knox fled to the Continent in fear of their safety. A number went to Geneva, where Knox pastored the English exile church from 1554 to late 1559. In May 1557 Knox received letters from Scottish lords urging him to return to Scotland to promote the Protestant cause. He reluctantly left Geneva and reached Dieppe (France) in October, intending to take the first ship to Scotland. But there a letter informed him that the Protestant nobility had reconsidered their invitation and urged him to wait in Dieppe for a final decision on the matter. While Knox indignantly waited in Dieppe in the closing months of 1557, he wrote three letters. The first and third letters were political and do not speak to the subject at hand.
But the second letter, dated December 1 and addressed To His Brethren in Scotland, warned them to avoid the pernicious influences of radical groups. Knox never used the word “Anabaptist” in this letter-indeed, Anabaptism in any strict use of the word did not reach Scotland until well after Knox’s death. But the radicals were clearly on his mind; and in the 1557 letter he promised to write more against them, a task he accomplished in a later, extensive treatise on predestination and Anabaptist errors that appeared in 1560. Knox’s thinking on the subject had been conditioned by his earlier contacts with the Anabaptists near London. The radical movements in England had been marked by a considerable overlapping of Antitrinitarianism, Anabaptism of the Melchiorite strain, Libertinism, Freewillers and Spiritualism. So in his letter of 1557 Knox warned his brethren in Scotland against radical or Anabaptist tendencies rather than a clear discernable movement. In doing so, he railed against three sectarian inclinations: a Christological heresy, which he called Arianism; the denial of predestination; and, most important, a bent toward perfectionism.
At the time of his letter Protestantism had not yet been established by law in Scotland. Accordingly, Protestants existed in “privy kirks,” that is, house churches in which they studied the Bible and administered the sacraments. The Protestant movement had been growing largely because of immorality within the Catholic Church. Now, it seemed, the tables were being turned against them on precisely this issue. According to the radicals, the sinful lives of the Protestant nobles had discredited the whole movement and people were now separating from the “privy kirks” in search of a more holy life. Such perfectionists became the object of Knox’s attack.
Knox began the letter To His Brethren in Scotland by castigating the Catholics for both their diabolical doctrine and their corrupt lives. But he quickly turned to the primary focus of the letter-an argument against the perfectionist sectarians who were to be “no less lamented” than the Catholics. Despite some invective language, Knox’s tone in the letter was generally conciliatory. In fact, he states that he has no malice toward the sectaries but desires to communicate with them the light of God’s Word.
The radicals, claimed Knox, had not only separated from the “privy kirks” but had also displayed contempt for the church sacraments. In doing so, they made two mistakes. First, they judged a church’s doctrine by the lives of its members. Second, they required an unrealistic level of purity and justice from the church-greater “than was ever found in any congregation since the beginning.” According to Knox, such reasoning was absurd. Many Turks live a stricter moral life than is required by scripture, while sin has abounded in the household of God. For prime examples he cited David and the “congregations of Corinth, Galatia and Thessalonica” in which grievous transgressions were committed: “fornication, adultery, incest, strife, debate, contention, and envy.”
Despite these transgressions, Knox still affirmed these congregations as “true kirks of Christ Jesus.” Righteousness, he insisted, was required of all Christians but it was not the ultimate test of a “true church.” If so, the old Catholic Church could just be reformed. Rather, the marks of a true church were the preaching of God’s Word and the correct administration of the sacraments: “Where Christ Jesus is affirmed, preached and . . . where his sacraments are truly ministered . . . there is the true kirk of Christ Jesus.” And from such a church “ought no man to separate himself. . . .”
Knox further contended that people should not separate from the “true church” just because some individual members led immoral lives-which is exactly the argument used by reputable Catholic leaders to prevent an exodus from their church to Protestantism. Knox insisted that Protestants had left the Roman Church for reasons other than the evil lives led by Catholics: namely, their doctrines blasphemed Christ and his sacraments were “polluted and profaned by the vain inventions of men.” To be sure, some Protestants were not living exemplary lives. But the privy kirks were not guilty of false doctrine and corrupting the sacraments. And unless the sectaries could prove such a charge, they were not justified in leaving the Protestant church.
Knox next took another line of attack. He linked the radicals in Scotland with the ancient heresies of Pelagianism and Arianism. In doing so, he implied that they were Anabaptists because he accused them of the same errors that he later elaborated in his 1560 treatise against the Anabaptists. These heresies included an assertion of free will, justification by works and not by faith, and a rejection of election and reprobation. Like Arius, some of these radicals even denied the doctrines of Christ’s divinity and the Trinity.
Knox regarded these Anabaptist-like radicals as a group to be feared more than the Papists. To him they were “more covert, and therefore more dangerous . . . for under the color and cloak of mortification of the flesh, of godly life, and of Christian justice, they are become private blasphemers of Christ Jesus.” Their major mistake is their elevation of rationalism over faith. “The fountain of this their damnable error” is that “they acknowledge no justice except that which their foolish brain is able to comprehend. . . .” Accordingly, Knox urged the Scottish Protestants to be on guard against such teachers and professors. They are to “try the spirits” and “suffer no man without trial and examination to take upon him the office of a preacher, neither to travel amongst the simple sheep of Christ Jesus, assembling them in private conventions.” Knox was determined to guard the flock against these radicals. In particular, no Protestant preacher outside of the developing Reformed church was to formulate a “privy kirk.”
AN ANSWER TO THE ANABAPTIST
Knox probably wrote his second treatise against the Anabaptists-An Answer to a Great Number of Blasphemous Cavilations Written by an Anabaptist, and Adultery to God’s Eternal Predestination-in late 1558 and early 1559 and it was published in 1560. An Answer is Knox’s longest work, extending to some 170,000 words, excluding the lengthy quotations from the work he was refuting. Apparently he had two main purposes in writing this volume: he intended to defend the doctrine of predestination and he wanted to attack all the opinions and sects loosely labeled as Anabaptist. Consequently, he usually addressed his Anabaptist opponent concerning salvation, predestination, free will and other related issues-e.g., the nature of God and humanity. The work seldom mentions other critical differences between Knox and the Anabaptists-such as the nature of the church, infant baptism or the use of the sword.
Not all scholars, however, accept this assessment. Richard Greaves disputes the notion that An Answer was written to refute the challenge of an anonymous Anabaptist. Knox wrote his treatise on predestination shortly after the publication of his First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Woman-a work that not only displeased Calvin but also upset some English Protestants. Greaves contends that Knox wrote An Answer largely as a pedantic exercise to maintain his working relationship with Calvin and his disciples, and as a message to the English Protestants to remain loyal to Reformed doctrine. This interesting theory has merit. The First Blast had indeed upset Calvin, and Knox may now have desired to please the Swiss Reformers. Nevertheless, no solid evidence exists to reject Knox’s own stated purpose for writing his treatise-i.e., to reply to an Anabaptist and thus counter what he regarded as a radical threat against the Reformed Church.
THE ANABAPTIST THREAT
Anabaptism arrived in England-largely as an influx of persecuted refugees from the Netherlands-during the 1530s just when Henry VIII’s break from Catholicism created an environment in which religious nonconformity could flourish. The Dutch-Flemish brand of Anabaptism found fertile soil in England, where Lollardy had long been active; and indeed, the two movements were often confused with each other. At the same time, Anabaptism quickly blended in with a number of heretical and nonconformist groups, both past and present, and became a term by which opponents could label anyone suspected of being a latter day Manichaean, Pelagian, Catharist, Donatist or Arian. Moreover, since people tended to equate the belief in free will with Anabaptism, virtually all English dissenters who embraced antipredestinarian ideas or similar beliefs were linked with Anabaptism. Besides, with or without Anabaptist influences, the gathered church as an organization was gaining steam in England-especially among the Free-willers. Although continental Anabaptism clearly had some impact, seldom did English radicalism embrace the practice of believers’ baptism-the hallmark of genuine Anabaptism. Thus, the people designated as English Anabaptists might be better seen as fellow travelers with continental Anabaptism and identified by the more general term of “radical.” Nonetheless, since Knox labeled his radical opponents as Anabaptists this study will utilize that term.
During the reign of Edward VI, Knox was forced to deal with this growing radical, or Anabaptist, movement. In the winter of 1552-53 while Knox was in London he had had an encounter with a free-thinking extremist who was categorized as an Anabaptist by both Protestants and Catholics. According to Knox’s description of the meeting six years later in An Answer, this person had come to him requesting a private meeting. Because of the weighty matters to be discussed-“of such importance, as since the days of the apostles”-Knox promised not to reveal their conversation to anyone. The Anabaptist presented Knox with a book, which he claimed to be as much written by God as any of the canonical Scriptures, and asked for Knox’s opinion of its content. After reading the very first proposition-in which the author declared that the Devil, not God, had created the world and the wicked creatures in it-Knox saw evidence of the ancient Manichaean heresy. But he nevertheless gave a gentle reply, questioning how any reasonable person could “believe things directly fighting against God’s true and plain Word revealed'” When the Anabaptist insisted that he could prove his doctrine with as good a word as written Scriptures, Knox’s rejection of this claim to extra-biblical revelation took on a much harsher tone: “Ye deserve death as a blasphemous person and denier of God, if you prefer any word to that which the Holy Ghost has uttered in his plain Scriptures.” At this reply, the Anabaptist snatched the book from Knox’s hand and departed, insisting that he would have his book confirmed by men more learned than Knox. Looking back six years later, Knox regretted that he had not kept the book and reported the Anabaptist to a magistrate. Though it probably spared the Anabaptist’s life, this failure to reveal the Anabaptist could have created serious problems for Knox. And yet even six years later, Knox would not mention the Anabaptist’s name, which still could have led to his arrest and death in Elizabethan England. Why knox refused to expose the Anabaptist years later can only be a matter of speculation. It may not have been his style. Apparently, he preferred to attack powerful people-especially the supporters of Catholicism-from the pulpit rather than to inform on an extremist in secret.
Thus, An Answer was Knox’s reply to an Anabaptist whose identity is also still unknown. It does seem clear that Knox knew him personally. He was a radical who supported religious toleration and opposed predestination. Moreover, the author was obviously knowledgeable and well educated-apparently drawing materials from radicals and Catholics alike such as Sebastian Castellio, Michael Servetus, Albert Pighi and Jacopo Sadeleto. The book itself, The Confutation of the Errors of the Careless by Necessitie, exists only in manuscript form without attribution. Several sources have suggested the name of Robert Cooche, and in many ways Cooche matched the general profile. We know that he represented liberal Protestantism during the reign of Edward VI and embraced many Anabaptist views, including some described by Knox. Moreover, Cooche was a talented man with a good education who held several minor appointments at the court of Edward VI. Still, we can only say that Cooche’s authorship of the Confutation remains an educated guess.
THE ANABAPTIST MAKES HIS CASE
The struggle between Knox and the Anabaptist took place in a broader context of theological controversies and debate centered on the doctrines of paedobaptism, predestination and the Trinity. In 1553 Michael Servetus had been burned at the stake for rejecting the doctrines of infant baptism and the Trinity. Knox supported this execution; but the event evoked considerable protest from people like Sebastian Castellio, a professor of Greek at Basel- who argued that the beliefs in “the Trinity, predestination, and free justification are non-essentials to be debated at pleasure “-and Jerome Blsec, an ex-Carmelite who attacked Calvin’s views on predestination.
For the radicals, opposition to predestination was more than an intellectual exercise. In their eyes, predestination in official Reformed theology drew people into an inclusive church-thus producing moral laxity-and it led inevitably to the religious coercion of the Reformation state churches In fact, for many of them, antipredestinarianism took precedence over the separation of church and state.  The Confutation of the Errors of the Careless by Necessity appeared in this context. Its attack on predestination and election, its defense of the freedom of the will and its advocacy of religious toleration-all drawing on the controversial doctrines being espoused by Castellio and Blsec-placed the treatise squarely within some of the most heated debates of the time.
The argument of the Confutation of the Errors appealed to biblical exegesis, theology, philosophy, logic, and even the experience of personal abuse. At critical points the author reinforced his exegesis with the judgments of religious authorities. But the main theme of the text was a rejection of predestination and support of free will by appealing to Scriptural references. For example, in one place the Anabaptist confronted Knox with a passage from Ezekiel: “I will not the death of a sinner, but rather he convert and live.” In general, the Anabaptist followed two lines of attack: God loved all humankind and God had not created anyone with the intent of inflicting them with misery: “And think you that God ordained his just and innocent creatures to condemnation'” This would be tyranny and unrighteousness, “for even the most wicked man in the world, yes, the Devil himself do, then to condemn the innocent and just man.”
The chief difficulty with the doctrine of predestination arose in regard to its negative side-reprobation. Therefore, the Anabaptist centered his attack on reprobation, which he called “this horrible doctrine.” He constantly asked Knox to produce biblical evidence for reprobation: “I pray you, show me any testimony of the Scripture which so manifestly proves that God has reprobated any before the foundations of the world. God has no respect of persons.” The Anabaptist also applied logic to Knox’s use of Scripture. To Knox’s claim that God reprobated and ordained individuals to damnation, the Anabaptist replied that “in creation God made all men after his own image good and righteous. . . .” If Knox’s opinion is correct-said the Anabaptist-then God’s decree to elect did not conform with his ordinance in creation. If God created human beings in his own image unto life, why did he reprobate some before creation to be cast away’
The author also made much of the issue of lifestyle. If people were irrevocably elected to eternal life, he argued, then they had no incentive to live a moral life. In fact, the title of his book contained the phrase “careless by necessity.” By this he meant that those who believed in predestination felt that they would be necessarily saved regardless of how they lived. Moreover, the Anabaptist called the adherents of predestination “careless libertines,” meaning that they lived a dissolute life. “With the congregation of Thyatira . . . ye have the spirit of the prophetess Jezebel, teaching a careless and libertine life.” Indeed, he declared the “careless by necessity” to be “more injurious to God then the atheists” and even blasphemers.
KNOX LASHES OUT AGAINST THE ANABAPTISTS
Knox responded to these arguments with a twofold approach. On one hand, he launched a frontal attack on any radical opinion that could loosely be called Anabaptist. On the other, he countered the Anabaptist’s specific arguments against predestination with his own ideas on that subject. Because he was first and foremost a preacher and not a writer, the reformer made no attempt to systematize his theology. This nonsystematic, pragmatic style was evident in An Answer.
Though An Answer is a lengthy treatise, it is far from being a systematic one. Instead of developing an orderly argument, Knox assailed the Anabaptist’s book, chapter by chapter. The result was repetition, and repetition that was not always consistent with itself. In his haphazard approach to predestination, Knox clearly leaves the impression that he was not truly at home in the subject.
An Answer fumed against most aspects of the Radical Reformation, from Thomas Mntzer to the controversy surrounding the execution of Michael Servetus. Nearly every libertine or noncomformist idea or group became fair game, including the opponents of dogma, the supporters of religious toleration, Freewillers who opposed predestination, Mntzer and the peasants’ uprising, and the rationalists who rejected the Trinity. Knox linked all of these radical elements to past heresies-the Donatists, Cathars, Pelagians, and Manichaeans-and considered them to be all part of the same camp. In an invective typical of the age, he denounced the Anabaptists as “venomous liars, persons defamed, and blasphemers of God” and frequently labeled them as “libertines” and “blasphemers.” In at least one instance, Knox even spoke of the Anabaptists as having a devil: “I have to do not only with a blasphemer, but even (as it were) with a Devil incarnate. . . .”
More specifically, Knox linked the Anabaptists with other advocates of free will, both past and present. Since, for example, Castellio had attacked Calvin’s doctrine of predestination Knox repeatedly referred to Castellio as the Anabaptist’s master, captain, champion and great angel. Knox also connected the Anabaptists with other advocates of free will-the Pelagians and contemporary Catholics such as Albert Pighi and Jacopo Sadoleto.
While An Answer focused on Knox’s disagreement with the Anabaptists over free will and predestination, he also mentioned other areas of contention. To claim that a human being could reject election was to deny God’s omnipotent power, said Knox, thus making the Anabaptists guilty-like the Manichaeans-of acknowledging a power greater than God. In response to the Anabaptist condemnation of the execution of Servetus, Knox dismissed the Anabaptists as both blasphemous and heretical. “Servetus was an abominable blasphemer against God; and you are justifiers of Servetus,” he thundered, “therefore you are blasphemers before God, like abominable as he was.” Knox also linked them with a number of Servetus, other heretical views. ” Your great prophet” denied the Trinity and the divinity of Christ.  In other places, Knox condemned the notion of the celestial flesh doctrine set forth by Melchoir Hofmann and Menno Simons-that Christ had a heavenly flesh, not that of a man. Knox further soundly condemned the Anabaptists for denying the power of the civil magistrate, for holding all goods in community, and even for maintaining a plurality of wives. In depicting the Anabaptists as promoters of civic unrest, Knox listed the evils perpetrated by the “pestitulent sect” in the Peasant War of 1525 and in the Mnster debacle of 1535. In doing so, he borrowed substantial portions from John Sleidan’s A Famous Chronicle of Our Time. This story, of course, portrayed the Anabaptists as wrecking horrible deeds, and Knox recorded them in detail with the intent of discrediting the radical movement. “If that I list to note particular examples, I might show in your sect, and among you, to have been so horrible enormities, as more horrible were never from the beginning.”
DEFENSE OF PREDESTINATION
In An Answer Knox did more than hurl insults at the Anabaptist and lash out against the radical reformation. He also countered the Anabaptist’s arguments theologically, giving particular attention to the doctrine of predestination. From the very beginning of his lengthy reflections on the topic, Knox insisted that he was in full agreement with the judgment of John Calvin. For Knox, the doctrine of predestination was not just a theoretical matter but had practical importance, revealing a mainspring of his thinking and action. In An Answer Knox went to great lengths to emphasize the practical necessity of predestination in his view of salvation. Without the doctrine of predestination, faith could not be taught nor established. True faith springs from election and not the reverse, for “if you understand that Election has no promise without faith, I answer, that God’s free election in Christ Jesus needs neither promise nor faith . . . but (only) his good pleasure in Christ.” Redemption, from start to finish, depended on God’s free election, and without it no salvation was possible. In fact, Knox implied that predestination and the gospel were nearly synonymous.
Though Knox accentuated predestination more in the context of soteriology, he certainly integrated it into other areas of dogmatics, such as God and providence, the church, human nature and good works. Salvation depends on election, but Knox grounded predestination itself in his concept of God. Of course, for Knox God is immutable and absolutely sovereign. Consequently, predestination is an immutable and sovereign decree. God can never repent of election, neither can the elect refuse election nor finally perish despite their sin. Conversely, Knox regarded reprobation as equally immutable and divinely determined. Just as Calvin had done in the 1539 edition of the Institutes and Zwingli even earlier, Knox connected divine predestination and providence: predestination was but a decree within the larger context of providence.
Though never developed systematically, Knox’s ecclesiology rested squarely on predestination. The church consists of the elect of God; and if there is no election, there is no church. Actually, only the small flock and invisible church experience predestination, for the notion of an elected church opposes the national concept of the church. In fact, Knox dedicated his predestination treatise to the church for its instruction: “But yet I say, that the doctrine of God’s eternal Predestination is so necessary to the Church of God, that, without the same, can faith neither be taught, neither surely established.” Predestination not only establishes and multiplies the church but also preserves it. Thus Knox largely related predestination to his ecclesiology in times of stress (e.g., while exiled from 1553 to 1559, when fearful of the Counter-Reformation in 1565). This preservation theme confirmed predestination as a doctrine for the elect more so than for the damned.
Knox also rested his notions of sanctification and good works on his doctrine of predestination. The reformer’s sequence was election, true faith and salvation, and then good works. Without the doctrine of predestination human beings could not have a humble knowledge of themselves. True humility comes when the elect become aware that God has illumined their eyes and elected them to salvation, while leaving others in darkness and perdition. The humility that comes through the knowledge of election is the parent of all virtue and the root of all goodness. Thus Knox contended in An Answer that the doctrine of predestination established good works. No other doctrine could make one thankful to God and cause one to obey him according to his commandments.
Predestination for Knox included both election and reprobation, which covered all of humanity in God’s decree. In the eternal counsel of God, a difference existed in humankind even before creation. Knox did not speculate about the number elected to life or reprobated to death. Rather, he simply stood on what he believed to be clearly revealed-the fact of individual election and reprobation. In response to the accusation that he used logic more than Scripture to support the doctrine of double predestination, Knox insisted that the position was biblical, and logical arguments were only handmaidens of Scripture. Still, it must be noted that Knox placed more emphasis on the positive election of sinners to salvation, than on the reprobative aspect of predestination.
Knox acknowledged a corporate side to predestination in that the invisible church consisted of those individuals elected to eternal salvation. Nevertheless, he categorically rejected the Anabaptist’s argument for a general election of all humanity, rather than the election of individuals. He not only insisted on only one election-of individuals to eternal life-but in An Answer he denied that God loved all human beings. In Knox’s words: “You [the Anabaptist] make the love of God common to all men; and that do we constantly deny.”
Freedom, both human and divine, played a major role in Knox’s concept of predestination. In An Answer he insisted that no activity-regardless of its apparent unimportance-took place without God’s ordaining it to come to pass. Yet this absolute providence does not destroy human responsibility nor make God the author of sin. Predestination is so closely related with providence that it must be associated with the same conclusions. Thus, on one hand, Knox insisted on outright predestination. But on the other, he placed great stress on human responsibility and the fact that God did not predestinate humans to sin: “Although, I say that so he ordained the fall of man, that I utterly deny him to be the author of sin.”
God’s freedom, more so than human freedom, was important to Knox, and he never tired of emphasizing the fact of God’s free election. God freely chose whom he would save without considering any foreknown works or faith on the part of a human being. God knew in advance who would believe and who would not, and he elected or rejected accordingly. The Anabaptist and other adherents of freewill emphasized prescience which based divine election on God’s foreknowledge of events and endeavored to achieve a synergism-a kind of cooperation between God and humankind in election. But in An Answer Knox faithfully followed Calvin on this matter and bitterly opposed the traditional doctrine of foreknowledge. Knox acknowledged the existence of prescience but he gave it a different definition: “But we say that all things be so present before God, that he does contemplate and behold them in their truth and perfection.” Knox adamantly refused to separate divine foreknowledge from divine will. When God foresees something, it comes to pass because his power is omnipotent.
For the defender of predestination, more problems arise in respect to its negative aspect-reprobation. Consequently, the Anabaptist opponent focused his assault on this doctrine. So Knox, in An Answer, found himself defending a subject not developed elsewhere in his writings, and one with which he was uncomfortable. In his attempt to expound Calvin’s view in regard to double predestination, Knox apparently deviated from Calvin at two points-confusion between double and single predestination and a different emphasis on the cause of reprobation. These variations arose partly because Knox, being bound by his opponent’s argumentation and terminology, constantly gave the appearance of escaping from a tight corner. Of course, this situation led to confusion, shifts of thought and even outright contradictions.
According to its usual representation in Reformed theology, the decree of reprobation comprises two elements: preterition, or the determination to pass by some people; and condemnation, or the determination to punish those who are passed by for their sins. That Knox held to double predestination is not a matter of debate, for he clearly referred to both election and reprobation. But whether his concept of reprobation contained both the elements of preterition (passing by) and condemnation (dishonor and wrath) or just that of preterition (which resembles only single predestination) is a difficult matter. Both elements were present in Knox’s thought but, for the most part, he spoke of reprobation either so generally that the components were not discernible, or as if this decree were primarily an act of preterition, with condemnation coming as a natural result of God bypassing some individuals.
The aspect of condemnation can be found in An Answer. Like Calvin, Knox specifically placed reprobation and punishment in a cause-and-effect relationship: “And from that same eternity he hath reprobate others, whom . . . he shall adjudge to torments and fire inextinguishable.” More numerous and explicit, however, were the passages presenting reprobation as a decree of preterition, as Augustine had represented it. Knox referred to reprobates as those whom God “leaves to themselves to languish in their corruption . . . till that they come to perdition.” Representative of Knox’s teaching on passive reprobation was the following: “that God in his counsel . . . hath of one mass chosen vessels of honor . . . and of the same mass he hath left others in that corruption in which they were to fall, and so were they prepared to destruction.” Why Knox accentuated the element of preterition can be attributed to several factors, but only one is relevant to this article: an emphasis on preterition presented fewer difficulties in his debate with the Anabaptist.
Knox insisted on two causes for reprobation-the hidden will of God and the sin of humanity. According to V. E. d’Assonville, in arguing that the hidden will of God was the primary source of all things, including reprobation, Knox ran counter to Calvin at this point and created difficulties for himself in his debate with the Anabaptist. Calvin had emphatically stated that people should concern themselves with the secondary cause of reprobation-sin-rather than with the primary source, God’s hidden will. The Geneva reformer guarded against meaningless speculation about the hidden cause while stressing the reason indicated by Scripture-human sin. But now Knox did just the opposite. To him, any cause sought outside the will of God led to confusion. Thus Knox made God’s will not only the primary source of reprobation but almost the exclusive cause: “But because that in his Word there is no cause assigned (God’s good will only excepted) why he hath chosen some and rejected others.” Nevertheless, due to the difficulties presented by his Anabaptist opponent, Knox at times shifted his emphasis to the point of near contradiction. He grudgingly acknowledged a second but subordinate cause of reprobation-human sin. Though Knox stressed that God’s ordinance was the primary basis for reprobation, he insisted that reprobation did not cause sin. “Man therefore falls (God’s providence is ordaining), but yet he falls by his own fault.”
THE ISSUE OF AUTHORITY
In a letter To His Brethren in Scotland and An Answer, three subjects predominated-perfectionism in the church, predestination and a general attack on the Radical Reformation. But Knox also briefly challenged the Anabaptists on two other issues-authority and baptism.
In respect to authority, the opinions of the radical reformers covered a wide spectrum. Apart from the strict biblicists, the Radical Reformation evidenced two extremes: the spiritualists and rationalists. The spiritualists tended to identify the scriptural Word with the inner voice, to the point of subjectivism. Conversely, the rationalists often imposed reason and conscience upon the Scriptures, turning church into a school of ethics and worship into study. Knox, however, made few distinctions in this regard. Seldom did he mention the biblicists and, when he did, he disagreed with their interpretation of Scripture-sometimes harshly, labeling them as blasphemers, and more gently on other occasions, simply elevating the view of a church father such as Augustine. Knox primarily targeted the Anabaptist’s appeal to the inner voice, reason and extra-biblical sources. Like Calvin and Luther, he savagely opposed those Anabaptists who, he believed, substituted an inner light for the written Scripture. Though the Bible needed the work of the Holy Spirit in order to become operative, Knox did not speak of God’s Word as some subjective experience divorced from Scripture.
Similarly, Knox condemned the Anabaptist for subordinating the written Word to reason. In a letter To His Brethren in Scotland he noted that the wellspring of Anabaptist errors is that they limit divine activity and justice to what they can rationally comprehend. In An Answer Knox repeatedly linked the Anabaptists with the rationalists Castello and Servetus. In doing so, he accused the larger movement of their errors. Knox told the Anabaptist that the Protestant faithful must preach Christ not only to the Jews, Turks and Catholics, “but also against you enraged Anabaptists, who can admit in God no justice which is not subject to the reach of your reason.”
Knox leveled his sharpest attack at those who added to the biblical canon. Following Reformation tradition, Knox identified the canon as the Word of God, assuming it to include all of the New Testament books plus the Old Testament writings found in the Hebrew Bible. His predestination tract explicitly warned the flock against anyone who made the noncanonical writings equal in authority to the books recommended by the Holy Spirit to the church and written by Moses, the prophets, the evangelists and apostles. Knox strongly maintained that the canon had closed. Accordingly, and in contradistinction to the medieval canon, he gave no recognition to the apocryphal writings-i.e., the Old Testament books contained in the Septuagint but not in the Hebrew Bible. These books, he believed, were not of the Holy Spirit. The teachings contained therein were acceptable for edification-providing they did not contradict the canonical Scriptures-but Knox would not allow them to establish doctrine: “To your [the Anabaptist] scriptures, which ye alledge from the book of Wisdom, and from Esdras (his fourth book), I will shortly answer, that albeit ye will ten thousand times decore (decorate) them with the title of the Holy Ghost, I will not the more credit them. . . Let them serve, if so please you, to exhortation, but for confirmation of any doctrine shall they never serve unto me.” Apparently the Anabaptist had challenged Knox’s doctrine of predestination by appealing to extra-biblical sources-i.e., dreams, revelations and noncanonical books-in addition to the canonical scriptures. Therefore, Knox frequently declared that “the plain Scripture confuteth this your error. . . .” “We affirm nothing which God’s Word doth not plainly teach us. . .”
Knox and the Anabaptists had another less obvious disagreement regarding biblical authority-hermeneutical principles. While accepting the Old Testament, many Anabaptists elevated the New over the Old or interpreted the Old Testament in light of the New. Knox saw the Anabaptists as making a radical cleavage between the time of the law and that of the New Testament and the two testaments themselves. He made only a few references to this subject, but he clearly rejected such an approach to Scripture. In An Answer Knox reminded them: “If you claim any privilege by the coming of the Lord Jesus, [he] himself will answer, `that he is not come to break nor destroy the law of his heavenly Father.'” Indeed, one can argue that Knox was primarily a man of the Old Testament. While the entire Bible was important to Knox, his theological trademark bore the imprint of the Old Testament. The sources of his radicalness and uniqueness came largely from the Old Testament and the way he interpreted it. In all probability, such an emphasis governed Knox’s approach to Scripture because the Reformer was preoccupied with issues that are more readily addressed by the Old Testament-namely, the purification of religion, the covenant, the reformation of corporate religion on a national scale, and resistance to ruling authorities who promoted idolatry (i.e., Catholicism).
That John Knox was a man of the Old Testament becomes evident when one examines his methods of biblical interpretation. While he employed a variety of methods to discern the meaning of Scripture, two related features dominated his approach to the Bible and, in turn, his religious beliefs-a strong emphasis on the Old Testament and a pronounced literalism. More specifically, Knox’s major premise, drawn from Deuteronomy 12:32, dominated his view of Scripture. At the onset of his ministry in St. Andrew’s Castle he quoted from it: “`All that the Lord thy God commands thee to do, that do thou to the Lord thy God: add nothing to it, diminish nothing from it.’ By this rule, think I, the Kirk of Christ will measure God’s religion, and not by that which seems good in their own eyes.” Because Knox made this verse the focal point of his biblical interpretation, his theology acquired its own trademark. The consequences of his literal Old Testament hermeneutic-with its starting point in Deuteronomy 12:32-manifested itself clearly in Knox’s drive to purify religion, which in turn provided the motivation for his notions of resistance to idolatrous rulers. Knox demanded that all forms of worship conform to the express warrant of Scripture. If they did not, the Catholic religious and political powers supporting what he regarded as idolatry should be brought down-by force if necessary.
KNOX REJECTS BAPTISM
Knox and the Anabaptists obviously had major differences over the subject of baptism. Most of his thought on baptism came in a 1556 treatise, Answers to Some Questions Concerning Baptism. Knox penned this tract primarily to answer questions about the validity of the papal baptism, the question of rebaptism and the purpose of baptism. In both the Catholic and Anabaptist doctrines of baptism, Knox found real threats to the fledgling church he desired to establish. Essentially, he repudiated the Catholic baptism as an idolatrous practice. However, since Knox also rejected Anabaptist rebaptism as a disintegrating threat to both church and society, he said that those baptized in infancy under the Catholic rite need not be baptized again.
Like the magisterial reformers, the Anabaptists argued that baptism cannot save or purify. But they went further to emphasize the nonsacramental nature of baptism. They also rejected the idea that there was any continuity between circumcision under the Old Covenant and baptism under the New Covenant. By more radically implementing the doctrine of repentance and justification by faith they insisted on baptism of the contritional, conscious believer in adult life. Because the Anabaptists related baptism to discipleship, they would not baptize for future faith, nor as a means to encourage faith, nor for the faith of the infant’s sponsors. For believers, baptism symbolized their newness of life and their determination to follow Christ.
Knox condemned the Anabaptist approach to baptism with both secular and theological arguments. Insofar as the Anabaptist sectaries presented a disruptive threat to both church and society, he would not consent to rebaptism under any circumstances. In An Answer Knox referred to the Anabaptist rejection of infant baptism in the context of their political and economic distinctives-i.e., their reluctance to use the civil courts, their refusal to take the oath and their holding of property in common. In particular, he appeared to identify the entire Anabaptist movement-including adult baptism-with the debacle at Mnster.
In his tract on baptism, Knox also rejected rebaptism because of the nature of the baptismal sacrament itself. He considered it as an external sign and not the cause of regeneration or virtue, so that regardless of its corruption, there could be no effect on the work of the Holy Spirit. Since Christ’s justice is inviolable and since the faithful’s league and covenant with God is constant and certain, there is no need to repeat this sign of a believer’s entrance into the household of God. One baptism in this life sufficed, but the other sign, the Lord’s Supper, must be repeated.
Knox wrote his baptismal tract in a soteriological context and related the issue of rebaptism to his doctrines of God, election, the covenant and the church. In Knox’s mind, rebaptism negates God’s immutability and sovereign election; it denies a covenant to eternal salvation; and it runs counter to his concept of the church. In Knox’s words: “God’s Majesty changes not as man does, but that his gifts and vocation are such, as of the which he cannot repent him[self] towards his elect. And therefore need they not to return to the external sign of baptism.” Were all who were baptized in league with God and therefore elect? Knox does not address this enigmatic question. On one hand, his statements in his baptismal tract-if taken literally-would seem to indicate such a course of action. On the other hand, his emphasis on the inner working of the Spirit rather than the external sign would rule out such a conclusion. In the light of his total theology, baptism could signify regeneration only if the recipient were elect and therefore justified.
The basic point of the entire dispute over infant baptism concerned the doctrine of the church. The Anabaptists aimed at a gathered church, with adult baptism as a testimony of faith, whereas the magisterial reformers defended infant baptism because they viewed the church as a community in league with God containing those making an external profession. Knox accorded an important place to the invisible church, which is known only to God and is synonymous with the elect. Nevertheless, he spoke most often of the visible church, which came in two forms: the small flock, normally a nonestablished church; and the national church (kirk), established by law and encompassing most of Scottish society. Though Knox regarded the small flock as the visible church most likely to contain the elect, even this church included the wicked. The national church-to even a greater extent-was a variegated organization containing both the godly and ungodly. Baptism, therefore, signified entrance into the visible church, which was a mixed body. Thus Knox insisted that doctrine and the correct administration of the sacraments-not morality-distinguished the “true” church from the “malignant” church.
To say that Knox opposed the Anabaptists would be an understatement. Their unorthodox social and political views seriously threatened the stability of society, he believed. Worse yet, Knox regarded their doctrines as “most horrible and absurd,” as “rotten heresies” and “damnable error.” He considered the holders of such opinions as “blasphemers” and “vile slaves of proud Lucifer.” Even the collective works to which Knox contributed took a similar view of the Anabaptists. The First Book of Discipline classified the Anabaptists as “enemies to the Christian religion.” And the Confession of the English Congregation of Geneva had even harsher words for the Anabaptists, describing them as “limbs of the Antichrist.”
Why did Knox attack the Anabaptists so vehemently? In his opinion they were more covert and dangerous than the Catholics precisely because they cloaked their errors in piety and righteousness. Furthermore, the reformer saw himself as a preacher, a watchman cast in the mold of the Hebrew prophets, whose responsibility it was to sound a warning to those in power. As in the book of Ezekiel, God would judge harshly the watchman who saw danger coming and failed to warn the people to repent. In his own eyes, he was God’s mouthpiece, a trumpet to warn the faithful against the Anabaptist threat.
But Knox also went beyond warning to also advance some remedies in response to this threat. Since the root of the Anabaptist error rested in their false teachings, Knox offered as a corrective sound doctrine, beginning with a proper understanding of salvation. And such an understanding, of course, rested on the belief that a sovereign God predestined some to be save and others to be lost.
Still, even the elect had a life to live. For Knox, Anabaptist separatism was not an option. Rather, the faithful were to be in the church and avail themselves of the Word truly preached and the sacraments rightly administered. “No man is so regenerate, but that continually he has need of the means which Christ Jesus . . . has appointed to be used in his kirk. . . .” To prevent Anabaptist tenets from taking root in the church itself, Knox insisted on a stringent examination for those who would labor in the vineyard-namely, the pastors and teachers.
In the end, however, Knox acknowledged that correct doctrine and church order alone would not suffice. The Anabaptists put great emphasis on holy living and so must the faithful in Scotland. Godly living would silence both their Catholic and Anabaptist detractors. So, quoting Paul, Knox admonished the faithful to: “Let so your light shine before men that they may see your good works, and that they may glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
[*]Richard G. Kyle is Professor of History and Religion at Tabor College (Hillsboro, KS).
1. Ian B. Cowan, “John Knox and the Making of the Scottish Reformation,” Procedings of the Conference on Scottish Studies 1 (1979), 25, 26; Richard Greaves, Theology and Revolution in the Scottish Reformation (Grand Rapids: Christian U. Press, 1980), 203, 204, 208; Diarmaid MacCulloch, Thomas Cranmer (New Haven: Yale U. Press, 1996), 525-33, 547, 551.
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. Willem Balke, Calvin and the Anabaptist Radicals (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981); Harry Loewen, Luther and the Radicals (Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier U., 1974); John S. Oyer, Lutheran Reformers Against Anabaptists (The Hague, Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff, 1964); John S. Oyer, “Bucer Opposes the Anabaptists,” MQR 68 (Jan. 1944), 24-50; John Calvin, Treatises Against the Anabaptists and Against the Libertines ed. Benjamin Wirt Farley (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1982); Jay T. Yoder, “Thomas More and the Anabaptists,” MQR 66 (Jan. 1992), 47-56; Amy Nelson Burnett, “Martin Bucer and the Anabaptist Context of Evangelical Confirmation,” MQR 68 (Jan. 1994), 95-122; Galen Johnson, “The Development of John Calvin’s Doctrine of Infant Baptism in Reaction to the Anabaptists,” MQR 73 (Oct. 1999), 803-23; Heinold Fast and John H. Yoder, “How to Deal with Anabaptists: An Unpublished Letter of Heinrich Bullinger,” MQR 33 (April 1959), 83-95.
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. Several works devote a substantial number of pages to Knox and the Anabaptists. See Irvin Buckwalter Horst, The Radical Brethren: Anabaptism and the English Reformation to 1558 (Nieuwkoop, Netherlands: De Graff, 1972); Jasper Ridley, John Knox (New York: Oxford U. Press, 1966); M.T. Pearse, Between Known Men and Visible Saints: A Study in Sixteenth-Century English Dissent (Cranbury, NJ: Associated U. Presses, 1994), 130-41. One unpublished and somewhat polemical manuscript contains a chapter on Knox and the Anabaptists: Kevin Reed, John Knox: The Forgotten Reformer (Dallas: Presbyterian Heritage Publications, 1997). This work is available on CD-ROM.
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. John Knox, The Works of John Knox ed. David Laing, 6 Vols. (Edinburgh: Printed for the Bannatyne Club, 1846-64), 4:261-75; 5:31-468. Hereafter this will be cited as Works followed by the appropriate volume and page number.
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. Irving B. Horst, “England,” ME 2:218; Loewen, Luther and the Radicals, 21; Balke, Calvin and the Radicals, 11, 21, 22, 41, 116; Oyer, Lutheran Reformers Against Anabaptists, 8-40; Johnson, “Calvin and Infant Baptism,” 807, 808. To some extent, Bucer was an exception to the above generalizations. While he attempted to counter the Anabaptists, he was more conciliatory toward them- Oyer, “Bucer Opposes the Anabaptists,” 24, 36. Krahn sees Bucer as having a more hostile attitude toward the Anabaptists than does Oyer. See Henry G. Krahn, “Martin Bucer’s Strategy Against Sectarian Dissent in Strasbourgh,” MQR 50 (July 1976), 163-80.
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. Johnson, “Calvin and Infant Baptism,” 803-08; Balke, Calvin and the Radicals, 41; Oyer, Lutheran Reformers Against Anabaptists, 127, 157; George Huntston Williams, The Radical Reformation 3rd. ed. (Kirksville, MO: Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers, 1992), 912-42; Hans-Jrgen Goertz, “Thomas Mntzer: Revolutionary Between the Middle Ages and Modernity,” MQR 64 (Jan. 1990), 23-31; Hans J. Hillerbrand, “The Propaganda of the Mnster Anabaptists,” MQR 52 (Oct. 1988), 507-11; Richard Bailey, “The Sixteenth Century Apocalyptic Heritage and Thomas Mntzer,” MQR 52 (Jan. 1983), 27-44; James M. Stayer, Anabaptists and the Sword (Lawrence, KS: Coronado Press, 1976); Hans-Jrgen Goertz, “The Mystic with the Hammer: Thomas Mntzer’s Theological Basis for Revolution,” MQR 50 (April 1976), 83-113; Abraham Friesen, Thomas Muentzer, a Destroyer of the Godless (Berkeley, CA: U. of California Press, 1990); James M. Stayer and Werner O. Packull, The Anabaptists and Thomas Mntzer (Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt, 1980).
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. See Richard Kyle, The Mind of John Knox (Lawrence, KS: Coronado Press, 1984), 175-81, 250-90; Richard Kyle, “John Knox and the Purification of Religion: The Intellectual Aspects of His Crusade Against Idolatry,” Archiv fr Reformationsgeschichte 77 (1986), 265-80; Richard Kyle, “John Knox’s Method of Biblical Interpretation: An Important Source of His Intellectual Radicalness,” Journal of Religious Studies 12:2 (1985), 57-70; Greaves, Theology and Revolution, 126-56; Richard Greaves, “John Knox, The Reformed Tradition, and the Development of Resistance Theory,” The Journal of Modern History 58 (Sept. 1976), 1-31; J. H. Burns, “John Knox and Revolution,” History Today 8 (August 1958), 565-73; J. H. Burns, “John Knox and Revolution,” History Today (Aug. 1958), 565-73; W. Owen Chadwick, “John Knox and Revolution,” Andover Newton Quarterly 15 (March 1975), 250-66; Roger A. Mason, “Knox, Resistance and the Moral Imperative,” History of Political Thought 1:3 (1980), 411-36; John Cassidy, “The Quest for Godly Rule: The Development of Resistance Theory in Reformation Scotland,” Scottish Tradition 14 (1988),1-10; Dan G. Danner, “Resistance and the Ungodly Magistrate in the Sixteenth Century: The Marian Exiles,” The Journal of the American Academy of Religion 49 (Sept. 1981), 471-81; Jane E. A. Dawson, “Trumpeting Resistance: Christopher Goodman and John Knox,” in John Knox and the British Reformations, ed. Roger A. Mason (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 1998), 131-53; Roger A. Mason, “Knox, Resistance and Royal Supremacy,” in John Knox and the British Reformations, 154-75.
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. Not until later in the sixteenth century, did Anabaptism become clearly distinguishable from English Calvinist separatism.-Williams, Radical Reformation, 1196-1201; Horst, “England,” 215-18; C. Norman Kraus, “Anabaptist Influence on English Separatism as Seen in Robert Browne,” MQR 34 (Jan. 1960), 5-19; O. T. Hargrave, “The Freewillers in the English Reformation,” Church History 37:3 (1968), 271-80; Andrew D. Penny, “The Freewill Movement in the Southeast of England, 1550-58,” (Ph.D diss. U. of Guelph, 1980), 9-12, 46, 47, 176-88; Peter Pauls, “A Pestiferous Sect: The Anabaptists in England from 1530-1660,” Journal of Mennonite Studies 3 (1985), 63-65; Duncan B. Heriot, “Anabaptism in England during the 16th and 17th Centuries,” Transactions-Congregational Historical Society 12:7 (1936), 252, 257; Horst, Radical Brethren, 31-36; Pearse, Between Men and Saints, 24, 141; C. J. Clement, Religious Radicalism in England 1535-1565 (Edinburgh: Rutherford House, 1997), 6, 28, 30, 31, 106; Merc Pearse, The Great Restoration: The Religious Radicals of the 16th and 17th Centuries (Carlisle, UK: Paternoster Press, 1998), 119, 120.
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. Works, 4:261-75; Greaves, Theology and Revolution, 49, 50; Ridley, John Knox, 256; W. Stanford Reid, Trumpeter of God (New York: Scribner’s, 1974), 143; James Kirk, Patterns of Reform (Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1989), 1-15; Pearse, Between Men and Saints, 131.
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. Greaves, Theology and Revolution, 28, 29; Richard Greaves, “The Knoxian Paradox: Ecumenism and Nationalism in the Scottish Reformation,” Records of the Scottish Church History Society (Summer 1973), 91, 92.
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. Horst, Radical Brethren, 35, 36; Horst, “England,” 216; Pauls, “A Pestiferous Sect,” 60-63; Kraus, “Anabaptist Influence,” 5-7; Heriot, “Anabaptism in England,” 37, 312, 313; Hargrave, “Freewillers in the English Reformation,” 271, 273, 278; Alan Kreider, ed. “An English Episcopal Draft Article Against the Anabaptists, 1536,” MQR 59 (Jan. 1975), 38; Penny, “Freewill Movement in England,” 45-48, 176-88, 220-22; Clement, Religious Radicalism in England, 6, 28, 31, 106.
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. Works, 5:23-25; Horst, Radical Brethren, 117-20; Horst, “England,” 217; Michael T. Pearse, “Robert Cooche and Anabaptist Ideas in Sixteenth-Century England,” MQR 58 (July, 1993), 337, 339, 343, 347, 348, 350; Reid, Trumpeter of God, 151; Williams, Radical Reformation, 1119; Pearse, Great Restoration, 128; Clement, Religious Radicalism in England, 237-60; Pearse, Between Men and Saints, 116-30. Penny (“Freewill Movement in England,” 251-60) offers John Champneys as a possible alternative to Cooche. Cooche himself did not participate in believers’ baptism, so in this sense he may not have been a genuine Anabaptist.
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. Sabastian Castellio, Concerning Heretics, ed. Roland Bainton (New York: Columbia U. Press, 1935), 110 (quote); Greaves, Theology and Revolution, 26, 27; Kyle, “Predestination in the Thought of Knox,” 58.
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4. Horst, Radical Brethren, 117, 118; Ridley, John Knox, 291, 292 No copy of the Confutation has ever been located. However, a version of it can be found in Knox’s reply to the Anabaptist. During the sixteenth century, controversialists commonly cited part of an opponents’s work. But Knox’s lengthy reply went beyond the common practice and he may have quoted the entire book.
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. James S. McEwen, The Faith of John Knox (Richmond: John Knox Press, 1961), 64; Greaves, Theology and Revolution, 29-30; Kyle, “Predestination in the Thought of Knox,” 56; Kyle, Mind of Knox, 105; O. T. Hargrave, “The Predestinarian Offensive of the Marian Exiles at Geneva,” Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church 42 (1973), 118. Pearse (Between Men and Saints, 135) contends that Knox was comfortable with the subject of predestination, although this view does not consider the totality of Knox’s writings.
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. Works, 5:228, 455; Williams, Radical Reformation, 597; C. Arnold Snyder, Anabaptist History and Theology (Kitchner, ON: Pandora Press, 1995), 359-61, 365, 366; J. A. Oosterbaan, “The Theology of Menno Simons,” MQR 35 (July 1961), 92, 93; Clement, Religious Radicalism in England, 108, 220.
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. Works, 5:30. See also James Kirk, “The Influence of Calvinism on the Scottish Reformation,” Records of the Scottish Church History Society 18 (1974),158 and V. E. D’Assonville, John Knox and the Institutes of Calvin: A Few Points of Contact in Their Theology (Durban, South Africa: Drakensberg, 1960), 33, 34, 43. Given Knox’s frequent references to Calvin and the content of this work, such a statement seems essentially correct. However, the predestinarian thought of the two reformers exhibited secondary differences due to the methodology and circumstances, and possibly even one variance on a substantial issue. But such nuances lie beyond the scope of this article.-See Kyle, “Predestination in the Thought of Knox,” 69-71; Kyle, Mind of Knox, 117-19; Greaves, Theology and Revolution, 38-43; McEwen, Faith of Knox, 70.
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. Works, 5:27, 63-67, 70, 73, 280, 281. See also Pierre Janton, Concept et sentiment de l’eglise chez John Knox: le reformateur ecossais (Paris: Presses Universitaries de France, 1972), 91-109; Richard Kyle, “The Divine Attributes in John Knox’s Concept of God,” Westminster Theological Journal 48:1 (1988), 161-72.
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. Works, 5:31, 32; D’Assonville, Knox and the Institutes, 43, 44; Gottfried W. Locher, Zwingli’s Thought: New Perspectives (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1981), 124. See also Richard Kyle, “John Knox’s Concept of Divine Providence and Its Influence on His Thought,” Albion 18:3 (1986), 395-410.
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. Works, 5:391. See also 5:408: “If you say, that death and damnation cometh not by God’s will, but by sin and unbelief of man, you have relieved yourself nothing.” See also D’ Assonville, Knox and the Institutes, 60, 61.
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]86. Williams, Radical Reformation, 1254, 1255; Eric W. Gritsch, “Thomas Muentzer and the Origins of Protestant Spiritualism,” MQR 37 (July 1963),172-94; Walter Klaassen, “Spiritualization in the Reformation,” MQR 37 (April 1963), 67-77; Jan J. Kiwiet, “The Theology of Hans Denck,” MQR 32 (Jan. 1958), 3-27; Peter Claus-Clasen, Anabaptism: A Social History, 1525-1618 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell U. Press, 1972).
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. See Richard Kyle, “The Hermeneutical Patterns in John Knox’s Use of Scripture,” Pacific Theological Review 17 (1984),19-32; Richard Kyle, “John Knox’s Methods of Biblical Interpretation: An Important Source of His Intellectual Radicalness,” Journal of Religious Studies 12:2 (1985), 57-70; Kyle, Mind of Knox, 38, 39.
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. Williams, Radical Reformation, 300-04; Gerhard J. Neumann, “The Anabaptist Position on Baptism and the Lord’s Supper,” MQR 35 (April 1961), 140, 141, 143; Vincent G. Harding, “Menno Simons and the Role of Baptism in the Christian Life,” MQR 33 (Oct. 1959), 329, 333, 334; Myron S. Augsberger, “Conversion in Anabaptist Thought,” MQR 34 (July 1962), 244, 246, 247, 250-54; William Estep, The Anabaptist Story (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), 150-75.
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. Richard Kyle, “The Major Concepts in John Knox’s Baptismal Thought,” Fides et Historia 21:1 (1989), 25; Greaves, Theology and Revolution, 89. Calvin also had unresolved tensions over this issue. See Egil Grislis, “Calvin’s Doctrine of Baptism,” Church History 31:1 (1962), 46-57.
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. John Knox, “Epistle to the Congregation of Berwick, 1552,” in John Knox and the Church of England, comp. Peter Lorimer (London: Henry S. King, 1875), 225; Richard Kyle, “The Church-State Patterns in the Thought of John Knox,” Journal of Church and State 30:1 (1988), 71-87; Kyle, “The Nature of the Church,” 37.
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. Works, 6:229; Reid, Trumpeter of God, xiv-xv. See Dale Johnson and James McGoldrick, “Prophet in Scotland: The Self Image of John Knox,” Calvin Theological Journal 33:1 (1998), 4-7; Dale Johnson, “Prophecy, Rhetoric and Diplomacy: John Knox and the Struggle for the Soul of Scotland,” Ph.D. Diss. Georgia State U., 1995.
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. Works, 4:268, 269; Reed, Forgotten Reformer, 239-42.
The Mennonite Quarterly Review
John Knox Confronts the Anabaptists