Skye Screening of Knox: Some Personal Reflections

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I’ve just returned home from viewing the film Knox: The Life and legacy of Scotland’s Controversial Reformer at the Aros Cinema in Skye.

Murdo MacLeod and the team at Trinity digital have done a remarkable job in bringing to life the history of John Knox and the Scottish Reformation.

Here are a few of my initial thoughts —

  1. Knox is a great educational resource. I immediately thought that this would be a great tool to use as the basis for the Christianity in Scotland unit in RME. A couple of copies of the DVD have been pre-ordered for the RME department. So — I look forward to developing our present course into a media unit that uses this educational and informative resource on John Knox and the Scottish Reformation. Thank you Murdo Macleod and Digital Media for making this resource available.
  2. I learnt stuff I never knew. Granted — my history of the Reformation is sketchy — so that is not saying much. However — I learnt stuff about Knox and the Scottish reformation — and that can only be good.
  3. The film does not paint Knox in a romantic manner. The film makers have not shrunk back from displaying his weaknesses. This is good. Sometimes with these things there can be a bit of hero worship. Knox is a critical appraisal — and this is good.
  4. The film is not only good as an educational resource — it is a helpful spiritual resource. At various times I found myself being challenged and encouraged by the gospel centredness of Knox. I was encouraged that even though the aggressive secularism within Europe seems to be gaining the upper hand, as Knox himself said, ” The truth and the gospel may be suppressed for a time, but they will eventually and inevitably overcome.”
  5.  In particular I sensed the Lord confirm the call of God he has placed on my own life to preach the gospel. I was challenged by the words of Knox to Divinity students — “Know God. Be faithful. Bless Scotland.” And to that I say — “Amen, and let it be!”
  6. And (if I may offer one critical reflection). The film confirmed within me the sense that we do not need a repetition of the reformation that has gone before. We don’t need a carbon cut copy of Knox for today. Some aspects of Knox and the Reformation were quite ugly and contentious. Yes — we need a prophetic voice like that of Knox, but we also need compassion. We need a revival of religion but without the sectarian spirit. The Reformation was too tied up in politics and for that reason — it did not destroy christendom, it simply rebranded christendom. It changed the empire’s clothes from Roman Catholic to Protestant – but it was still an empire — not the Kingdom of Christ — which does not come forth with sword or violence.
  7. And, if I may be permitted a humorous observation — Knox being screened on Skye brought together a gathering of the tribes. Literally. Presbyterians of every stripe and variety gathered in that cinema to watch Knox. Anyone who knows Skye, knows how unique this is. Skye is a land marked by presbyterian division — yet the tribes gathered to view Knox. A divided people turned up to view Knox, yet their (our) very divisions are a denial of all that Knox stood for. Ironic isn’t it? Yet, I wonder. Could a rediscovery of Knox’s vision of a united presbyterian witness in Scotland be the catalyst which is needed to reunite the fragmented church of Jesus Christ? Could Scotland rediscover the visible unity of the Reformed and reforming Church of the Living God as can be seen in the vision of John Knox? God knows.

I’m really glad I went to see Knox. As an educator, I think it is a great resource, as a Christian, there is much in the film to encourage, inspire and challenge; as a presbyterian, I am reminded of the power and potential that presbyterianism has to unite and equip the church in Scotland; as a preacher I am reminded that I need to stand unwavering and uncompromising upon the never-changing Word of the Living God and as a sinner I am reminded that I myself need the gospel of Christ and I can only be saved by faith alone in Christ.