Scotland’s Reformation is marred not only with spiritual pursuits but also political and military ambitions.
The spiritual aspect of the reformation which ought to be clerical had also political undertones. Indeed, the reformation, historically speaking will not be truly possible had it not for the help the wars and internal conflict Scotland had with its monarchy and the aristocracy. The Reformation did not only affect the religious persuasions and zeal of the Scots but also their way of life in general. Their culture and their economic life had changed during the days of Reformation. But this reformation did not become successful under the pursuits of religious zeal; rather it was a by-product of opportunity that came to Scotland during the English-French conflict.
The spiritual aspect of this Reformation is not much of the concern but the power advantage that religion affects to its followings. The Church during the early times is a powerful institution that any division or upheaval in its clergy or its hierarchy is the entire kingdom’s concern.After the “Hundred Years of War” of England and France, slowly Scotland has gained advantage over the scenario. The Scots covet the freedom they want from the landlords of suzerain. The cultural and language difference of the Scots made it difficult for the Scots to unite as a Kingdom. Their interests were different from each other.
Several alliances were made to compromise and forge peace in Scotland through inter-marriages. James married Margaret, King Henry’s daughter. Yet the French monarchy did not like the idea that their present interests in Scotland shall diminish.
They were strained by the King of France Louis XII, to finally break the peace compromises( Heal, 117).The royal scandal and situations had become the breeding ground to launch the moral and virtuous leadership in the aristocracy. This was made necessary because, the future of the aristocracy will determine the future of the Church. If the religious institution shall have stable leadership, and its doctrine preserved to lead the people, the monarchial rule of the sovereign shall be at least secured (125).The teachings of Protestantism that originally came from Germany by the German monk, Martin Luther reached Scotland through trade and commerce. Literatures have reached the Scotland and influenced a great deal of people there, one of them is Patrick Hamilton, an educated Scot who himself was taught by Luther.
His preaching spread throughout the Scotland and his moral views were widely accepted by the Scottish parishioners. Denounced by the Scot clerics, he was charged with heresy and burned at stake. The burning of Hamilton was beneficial to the reformation to progress rather than impeding it.The acceptance and introduction of Reformation to the Church of Scotland is a political tactic. During the reign of James V, the alliances of France and Scotland was revived; this was made possible to further strengthen the nobility of James and to stabilize his kingdom. Yet this act is of no use. While creating cordial relationship with France even to the point of marrying the France’s aristocrats, his thawing relationship with England led to the susceptibility of the borders from attacks and raids.
His French leaning leadership had divided his aristocracy and cross to England to defect from his political stance. Later, the threesome relationship will become dual, when England made peace with France, leaving Scotland outside the backyard. This weakened the Scotland political position. On the other hand, the France-England alliance had become amicable for the next years. Later on, the plan of England to conquer Scotland cannot be attained so easily, thus several plans were ironed out to effect the strategy (Leyburn 47-56).
On the other side, Henry VIII was persuaded to lead Scotland as a protestant nation, but the death of James halted this. The King Henry later created a treaty to unify Scotland and England. The fixed marriage he set for Mary, who was then just being born, was betrothed to King Henry’s son, Edward. But later it was nullified. This made Henry VIII furious that he ravaged the Scotland and it was called by history “rough wooing”. This is to exemplify that his courtship to win Scotland was done in the most vicious way he could.The importance of Church and religion is highly necessary for any early kingdom.
In Scotland, the role of the Church is important because many of the clergy in the Church of Scotland was part of the Scottish nobility. Their positions were attained not primarily because of their spiritual qualifications rather their aristocratic connections. Their abuses were rampant that lead the Church in Scotland astray.There were acts to topple the Catholic dominated England and turn the Scotland into the realms of Protestantism. This situation named the Scot reformer John Knox who desire to have the Scotland, a protestant state. Yet his zeal was now, spiritual and moral. He wanted to have the Scotland’s church free from the abuses of the aristocrat clergy and to revive the doctrines and belief of the Church.
John Knox was influenced by another Christian reformer Jean (John) Calvin. He valiantly preached and lead the reformation that was for Scotland, only perhaps he was and only few, had the inclination to have a genuine spiritual reformation of Scotland. But the reign of Mary I halted the beginnings of the reformation and urged many of the Protestants to move to England.
From 1555 to 1560 Protestants returned to Scotland and the laity and lairds had formed to protect their doctrine and the preaching of the Gospel. However, this act was not purely religious, since Scotland’s political life and religious endeavors were inextricably linked, this Lords of the Congregation did only raise Christianity and doctrinal purity but patriotism as well, because of this, several revolts were staged and became successful.Later the Scotland and England became under the rule of Elizabeth I, who was a Protestant herself. This progress was taken as advantage of the spiritual leaders to revive the erroneous doctrines of the Church of England and the Catholic church. The leaders of reformation had issued a common Book of Reformation and later First Book on Discipline, these treatises had formally gave way to the freedom of Scotland’s both dominion under the foreign church rule and bondage from ill-doctrinal beliefs. Many systems and teachings of the old church was abolished. The Church in Scotland had been reformed almost patterned after the spiritual principles of John Knox, John Calvin and Martin Luther.
With the advent of such spiritual freedom and revival, many catholic traditions were removed in the liturgy and tenets of the Church of England. The worship of saints, the prayers for the dead for their salvation, other sacraments were discarded except water baptism for adults who will confess Jesus-Christ, and the Holy Communion, as a memorial to Christ’s return. All others were ordered to be removed from the belief. The system of the clergy and religious hierarchy was replaced by Presbyterianism from Episcopalism. Largely, many congregations in Scotland attained such spiritual taste after long wait to obtain their freedom.
Clearly, the motivations of the monarchs in reforming Scotland is two-tiered. None of them actually is spiritual. The expansion of the kingdom and retention of their rules were the motives behind the allowance and tolerance of religious movements. Yet, the acts made to suppress such reformation was favorable to it than injurious to its cause. The political strategy of the sovereigns during that time is to utilize religion as their advantage to gain importance and strengthen support. This was resorted to because; religion and life during those times were undeniably one. People believed much on faith and their life hereafter. A label of heresy was tantamount of being sentenced to death.
On the other hand, the spiritual zeal of great reformers one of them is John Knox in many ways purified the sentiments of other religious zealots to the unification and purification of the Church’s doctrine.From the very beginning the leaning of King James already wanted an expansion of kingdom. He does not want, neither any monarch during his time, including Henry VIII, Mary Queen of Scots, Mary I, even Elizabeth I had the belief that the Church and the State as social institutions must be one.
But later on, the “Second Book of Discipline” from the Church of Scotland emphasized that independence of Church and the State must be clearly drawn: its territories and boundaries clearly given out. Yet, this early pronouncement of the separation of the Church and State had been recognized much later in history. Yet the Scotland’s Church had borne out this idea from its brilliant and purpose-driven reformists.Later the Second Scottish reformation brings about the Westminster confession. Again, the success of this influence was also military and political in roots because, this was made effective by the Scotland’s invasion of England that had later made impacts on the religious systems of the English people. Several attempts to conform the reformation based on the King’s behest. This as always received much opposition from the Scottish pastors who preached the doctrine in the manner truthful to the Gospel. Yet, the religious group during those times were not entirely independent, they were still under the auspices of the monarchs.
In this setting, the spiritual reasons of reformation were not entirely free from the yoke of political tapestry of intricacies. The persuasions and interests of the great body of politics surround the struggle of the Church to be purely a spiritual institution. Their interests weigh far beyond the purposes of the Church, as the Body of Christ. The Church, as often said, became the kinder sword the royals used to upstage their revolts and edifice their own kingdom’s reign.This religious persecution, and endeavor to seek the purest intentions of Word of God, had been marred by the warring kingdoms and their search for empire-building. In return, the Church was the stage for politicking, nepotism and corruption. This caused spiritual disillusionment of the people to the very heart of faith and religion itself.
Evidently, the reasons were stated as integral part of Reformation of Scotland. This lead to the flawed views of religious zeal, and corrupted the pure views of the old Scots as parishioners.Presently, the Church of Scotland remained to be an institution. While its history is backed with interesting complexity of war and politics, the Church remained strong in the heart of its chaste core—that the foundation of the Church is the spirituality of its people and not merely the support of its royals.The issue of Church politics can be traced to the historical context the Church of England faced and struggled for. In these modern times, where the separation of the Church and the State is an inviolable principle, the Church is not absolutely isolated from criticizing the government; neither the government is free from the gentle persuasions of the Church’s clergy. The relationship that must be fostered is mutualism rather than oppositionism.
The two great institutions need not belabor on their influences on the people but rather use it to unify their followings and citizens respectively (Goodare, 312). Almost every person in one country is a member of a religious group or a church, and everyone in that nation is a member of that social community. Unity must be secured at all times.
While the present day systems do honor the separation, it is not division. The wall that divides the Church and the State is not a brick-layered built to fortress one from another, but it is only a fence of civility. History has taught us that no great political leader will survive under the pain of religious zeal and no effective church leader will be persuasive having political powers bestowed on him. Scotland’s history has taught the world on this, and it is one of the greatest contribution of Scotland to the ideologies concerning separation of the State and the Church. Motivations, persuasions for religious reformations may be done through political maneuver but essentially, reformation is effected only by spiritual and moral leadership of the Church, as an institution.