Travelogue: Persevering in the Christian Life

Session 4: What the Scots Have to Say

Dr. Stephen Nichols observed that Exodus chapter 3 has a connection to the Scottish church.

(Exodus 3:1-12) “Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, ‘I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.’ When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then he said, ‘Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ And he said, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Then the LORD said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’ He said, ‘But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.'”

In 1525, an act of the Scottish Parliament was passed. It reads,

“It is a statute and ordained that for as much as damnable opinions of heresy are spread in diverse countries by the heretic Luther and his disciples, and this realm and lieges have firmly persisted in the holy faith since the same was first received by them, and never as yet admitted any opinions contrary to the Christian faith, but ever have been clean of all such filth and vice. Therefore, that no manner of person, stranger, that happens to arrive with their ships within any part of this realm shall bring with them any books or works of the said Luther and his disciples.”

The Scottish parliament resolved that if someone was caught smuggling in this heretic’s books, their ship would be seized, all its contents forfeited, and they would go to jail. What the Scottish parliament was not counting on, however, was that one of their own would bring Luther’s ideas to the Scottish people.

St. Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland. image: vgm8383
St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland. image: vgm8383

Patrick Hamilton was burned at the stake outside of St. Salvator’s chapel in St. Andrews, in February 1528. Like Luther, Hamilton had a predecessor from more than a century earlier. Luther’s predecessor was John Huss, and Hamilton’s was Paul Craw who originally went by Pavel Kravar and was Bohemian, the modern Czech Republic. Paul Craw was from a Lollard congregation in Prague. The Lollards were the followers of John Wycliffe known as the “Morning Star” of the Reformation. Wycliffe believed that church services should be in the language that people could understand. When the Dutch walked by Wycliffe’s church while he was in exile, they expected to hear an Englishman giving the mass in Latin but they heard English. So they called them “mumblers,” which is what “lollard” means in Dutch. They decided to send a missionary back to Wycliffe’s homeland, and the person was Paul Craw. He brought with him his credential from the University of Prague to the academic community in St. Andrews, and he began to practice medicine.

But Craw was there surreptitiously as a missionary.

“He would visit people on their deathbed, and he would point them away from the Saints. He would gently pull the rosary from their hand, and he would tell them about Christ,” Dr. Nichols recounted. “And eventually the word got to the archbishop, whose seat was there at St. Andrews at the castle. And Paul Craw was arrested, and like Paul, he took advantage of his time in jail to try to bring his captors to Christ, and his fellow prisoners to Christ. And so they put him in solitary confinement. But there’s problem: They’ve got to walk him from his prison to the gallows, and he’s going to talk about Christ the whole way, so they shove an iron ball in his mouth. Then they walk him for his martyrdom.”

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church history, justification, perseverance, Reformation, systematic theology, travelogue