John Knox was a prominent crusader for Christ in the Protestant Reformation in Scotland, and has profoundly shaped the principles and practices of Christian worship drawn from the word of God. On the whole, most contemporary churches today repudiate what Knox stood for, which was unhindered reformation in life and worship. His theological understanding, particularly on the subject of Christian worship and its contrast to idolatry, is an integral part of his Works. This is rooted in his unwavering adherence to the fundamental truths of the Christian faith, the authority of Scripture, and his repudiation of what he regarded as idolatrous practices in the Roman Catholic Church.

In ‘The First Blast of the Trumpet’ (1558), Knox expounds his views on idolatry, rebuking it as a reprehensible violation of Christian worship. “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for idoctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:9). Knox’s understanding of Christian worship was deeply entrenched in his belief in God’s Sovereignty, the supremacy of Scripture, and the need for simplicity in worship practices. ‘The Forme of Prayers and Ministration of the Sacraments, &c. used in the English Congregation at Geneva,’ often referred to as the ‘Book of Common Order’ (1564), demonstrates his commitment to this simplicity in worship. In Knox’s view, worship is a community activity involving prayers, preaching, and singing Psalms, with the focal point being the glorification of God alone (Knox, 1564). “Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: Talk ye of all his wondrous works,” (Psalm 105:2).

In his ‘History of the Reformation in Scotland’ (1587), Knox expounds on the concept of idolatry within the context of the Second Commandment. He argues that any material representation or veneration directed toward the Divine is tantamount to idolatry (Knox, 1587). This denouncement of anything obscures the essential nature of God and was a crucial pillar of the Scottish Reformation. His perspectives, though contentious in our time, remain relevant for their zealous focus on Biblical supremacy, purity in worship, and a clear repudiation of idolatry, which is often in question today.


  1. Knox, J. (1558). The First Blast of the Trumpet. Geneva: John Crespin.
  2. Knox, J. (1564). The Forme of Prayers and Ministration of the Sacraments, &c. used in the English Congregation at Geneva. Geneva: John Crespin.
  3. Knox, J. (1587). The History of the Reformation in Scotland. Edinburgh: Printed by Robert Walde-grave, printer to the King’s Majestie.


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