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Scottish Reformation Parliament

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The Scottish Reformation Parliament is the name given to the Scottish Parliament commencing in 1560 that passed the major pieces of legislation leading to the Scottish Reformation, most importantly Confession of Faith Ratification Act 1560[1]; and Papal Jurisdiction Act 1560 [2].

John Knox

John Knox

In 1559, John Knox returned to Scotland, marking a new effort in his battle to reform the nation. Until this time many Scottish Protestants were Lutheran, previously led by Patrick Hamilton as well as Calvinists (led by George Wishart). However upon the return of Knox from Geneva, Scottish Protestants rallied around him and the Scottish Reformation came strongly under the influence of Calvinism.

Queen dowager Mary of Guise, acting as regent for her daughter Mary, Queen of Scots, had become keen to crush the Protestants and was determined to use force. Civil war appeared imminent, but each side shrank from the first step. Knox at once became the leader of the reformers. He preached against "idolatry" with the greatest boldness, with the result that what he called the "rascal multitude" began the "purging" of churches and the destruction of monasteries. Mary of Guise died in 1560, at which point Mary, then resident in France, gave permission for Parliament to meet in her absence. The work of the 'Reformation Parliament' was popularly acclaimed, but not formally ratified until seven years later.

Following the signing of the First Covenant in 1557 by the nobles and barons, Parliament abolished 1560 the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland with the Papal Jurisdiction Act.

A Reformed confession of faith was drafted by six ministers: John Winram, John Spottiswoode, John Willock, John Douglas, John Row, and John Knox. On 17 August 1560, the document was read twice, article by article, before the Parliament; and the Protestant ministers stood ready to defend the cause of truth, in the event that any article of belief was assailed.

When the vote was taken, the Confession was ratified and adopted, and the church was organised along Presbyterian lines. The first General Assembly of the Church of Scotland met in Edinburgh, and the First Book of Discipline (1560) was drawn up. The Second Book of Discipline (1581) was ratified by Parliament in 1592 (see General Assembly Act 1592[3]). This definitely settled the Presbyterian form of polity and the Calvinistic doctrine as the recognised Protestant establishment in the country.

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