A Year in Scotland: Blogging Through The Works of John Knox – Introducing John Craig

We are nearing the end of book four of John Knox’s History of the Scottish Reformation and we are introduced to my favorite character: John Craig. Craig is an ancestor of mine and is best known as a colleague of Knox.

In typical Knoxian matter, Craig appears without proper introduction.  While in the midst of debating the right of revolting against tyranny, Craig is asked to speak which he does briefly.* Most significant comes later where his defense of standing against tyranny is more thoroughly defended. His conclusion is as follows:

And, therefore, my Lord . . . my vote and conscience is, that Princes are not only bound to keep law’s and promises to their subjects, but also, that in case they fail, they justly may be deposed; for the band betwixt the Prince and the People is reciprocate.  (458, my translation)

What is most significant in this quote is the articulation for limited government. Modern thinkers are slowly realizing that the American experiment owes much of its philosophy to the Scottish Reformation. In fact, Craig goes on to argue,

My Lord . . . my judgment is, that every kingdom is, or at least, should be an Commonwealth, albeit that every Commonwealth be not an kingdom. (458)

With that said, Craig’s biography is first given in the footnote by the editor David Laing. He summarizes Craig’s story as follows:

Mr. John Craig was born in 15:12,** became a Dominican Friar, and narrowly escaped from a sentence of the Inquisition at Rome, which had condemned him to the flames as a heretic in 1559. He at length succeeded in reaching Scotland. He was a minister of the Canongate for a short time, before he was appointed Knox’s colleague. He was translated from Edinburgh to New Aberdeen before 1574; but was brought back as King’s Minister in July 1580. He survived till the year 1600, and died at the advanced age of eighty-eight. (456)

For more on John Craig, consider my book Knox’s Colleague: The Life and Catechisms of John Craig.

* Craig’s first words are, “Sum tymeis wer hypocriteis knawin be thair disgyseit habittis, and we had men to be monkis, and women to be unis; but now all thingis ar so chaingit, that we can nocht dyscerne the Erle frome the Abbot, nor the Nun frome sik as wakd be haldin the Nobillwemin; so taht we haif gottin ane new ordour of monkis and nunis. But, (said he,) seing that ye eschame not of that unjuste proffeit, wald God that thairwith ye had the coule of the nun, the vaill, yea, and the taill joyned with all, that so ye mycht appeir in your awin cullouris.” (418)

** This date is debatable. Like other reformers, we know little of Craig’s early life.

 

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Volume 1
A Year in Scotland: Blogging Through The Works of John Knox – Introduction
A Year in Scotland: Blogging Through The Works of John Knox – Lollards of Kyle
A Year in Scotland: Blogging Through The Works of John Knox – Patrick Hamilton
A Year in Scotland: Blogging Through The Works of John Knox – English Bible
A Year in Scotland: Blogging Through The Works of John Knox – Reformation Articles
A Year in Scotland: Blogging Through The Works of John Knox – We Shall Prevail

Volume 2

A Year in Scotland: Blogging Through The Works of John Knox – Prayer of Thanksgiving
A Year in Scotland: Blogging Through The Works of John Knox – Scots Confession
A Year in Scotland: Blogging Through The Works of John Knox – Education
A Year in Scotland: Blogging Through The Works of John Knox – John Meets Mary
A Year in Scotland: Blogging Through The Works of John Knox – Mary Cries
A Year in Scotland: Blogging Through The Works of John Knox – Introducing John Craig

6 thoughts on “A Year in Scotland: Blogging Through The Works of John Knox – Introducing John Craig

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