Friday, December 1

Yikes!  I never really looked at this title page of John Knox’s pamphlet before.

I’d glanced at it but not given it a second thought.  Yeah, misogyny.  What else is new?  

Today, however, I read that title page carefully, and the Bible verse cited there jumped out at me–the same verse being used today to keep women from being ordained as pastors in some churches.

1 Timothy 2:12 “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man.”

I read further in Wikipedia’s summary of The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regimen of Women.

John Knox first published it in the summer of 1558, a few months before young Elizabeth became queen of England.  Bad timing, Rev. Knox.

Furthermore, he did so anonymously and in Geneva, without first showing it to John Calvin.

Here’s how a Wikipedia author summarizes the result: 

In England, the pamphlet was officially condemned by royal proclamation. The impact of the document was complicated later that year when Elizabeth Tudor became Queen of England. Although Knox had not targeted Elizabeth, he had deeply offended her, and she never forgave him.

Of course she never forgave him.  Nor would I have.

Many scholars since then, however, have made excuses:

  • Knox was just expressing what many believed in those days.
  • He liked his mother-in-law.
  • He respected the views and piety of many women.

And so forth.

No one besides John Knox, however, went on a huge campaign against queens, basing his work on 1 Timothy 2:12.

I was sitting in the membership class last Sunday when the pastor (a woman!) mentioned that John Knox, a founder of the Presbyterian church, went to Switzerland and learned Reform theology from John Calvin there.

Somehow I never knew that these two holy men of the Protestant reformation had met.

A few days later I found myself searching John Knox on the internet.  That’s how I came across his interaction with Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I.

Frankly, he sounds like leaders of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, founded in 1987 to oppose biblical feminists.  In the spectrum of opinion about women being queens, Knox was the man most against female rule.  Monstrous.  Unnatural.

Now I’m asking, “Why am I about to affirm membership in the Presbyterian church, founded by John Knox?”

I don’t know.  Maybe I won’t.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) has been ordaining women since 1956, but it still honors good ol’ John Knox.

That’s like southern states still having statues of Confederate generals. 

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