Quote of the Day: Stumbling in the Dark


“[Through Bible reading] did the knowledge of God wondrously increase, and God gave His Holy Spirit to simple men in great abundance.” – John Knox

(I thought of a man that lives near me whose son unexpectedly came to live with him at eight years old. The boy’s name was Knox, so I said something assuming he’d been named after John Knox.  The father had no clue who John Knox was, I suppose he just thought the name sounded good. Anyway, back to the quote.)

This is my first quote of the day, so be gentle with me but don’t hesitate to correct my probably egregious errors. I don’t know doodly squat about the author, except for two things:

  1. He’s Scots Presbyterian (d. 1572)
  2. Mary, Queen of Scots (bloody Mary) is reputed to have said of him, “I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the assembled armies of Europe.”

The wife and I just started reading through a book by the late J. Graham Miller of New Zealand, An A-Z of Christian Truth and Experience. It is there that I came across this John Knox quote.

It seems he was raised Catholic but before long became an ardent participant in the Reformation, even studying under John Calvin for a time. He said of himself:

“I sometimes am wounded knowing myself to be criminal and guilty in many, yea, in all things … that I reprehend in others … I am worse than my pen can express … Externally I commit no idolatry, but my wicked heart loveth itself and cannot be refrained from vain imaginations, yea, not from such as were the fountain of all idolatry … I am no man-killer with my hands, but I help not my needy brother so liberally as I may and ought … there is no vice repugning to God’s holy will expressed in his law, wherewith my heart is not infected.”

That, I find, seems reminiscent of the Apostle Paul (Romans 7).

Two famous Knox quotes I’ve heard before but don’t recall the circumstances:

“One man with God is always in the majority.”

“Give me Scotland or I die.”

How to apply the latter quote? Well, from the little I have read, it is not at all a demand or a threat. I suggest that it was the passionate prayer of a man willing to die for his faith, his country, and his Church.

This is a man I know little about, so if anybody has a suggestion for a good biography I’m certainly open.

Published in Religion & Philosophy
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  1. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell

    We don’t read a lot about the (human) founder of the Presbyterian Church and its primary role in the Scottish Reformation.

    You may be interested in my book, awkwardly titled: A Man, a Maid and a Milking Stool: John Know and the Reformation of Scotland. It’s available at Amazon and all good book stores. :-)

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  2. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey

    In defense of that boy’s dad, I never heard of John Knox until well into adult life. But then, my family are Catholics from Falkirk and Glasgow, so it’s not surprising that his name didn’t come up in conversation! ;-)

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  3. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B

    A profound, yet simple quote, with a few more great bonus quotes thrown in! That’s a pretty good effort for your first QOTD post, so I hope it’s the just the first of many. And one of your readers happens to have written a book on the very subject of your post. Mr. McConnell was too humble to post a link to the book, so I’ll do that here: A Man, a Maid and a Milking Stool: John Knox and the Reformation of Scotland

    The expertise of the Ricochet membership is truly amazing. It can also make some members shy about writing, but it’s usually a good learning experience for authors and readers. 

    Also, the first Knox quote is a great reminder to approach reading the Bible as a way to better understand God. Having just finished a study of Exodus, I felt that increased understanding. Even familiar Biblical stories convey meaning on so many different levels that repeated readings bring deeper understanding. What a gift!


    This post is part of the Quote of the Day group writing project at Ricochet. Please join us and signup here for May!


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