Close this search box.
Adobe Stock #270040858

John Knox and Pastoral Theology

Sean Morris joins us to speak about the pastoral theology of John Knox. Known as the thunderous voice of the Scottish Reformation, Knox is a towering figure whose impact still reverberates within the walls of churches around the globe. This episode focuses on Knox’s profound commitment to conforming worship to Scripture, a principle that shaped not only the religious landscape of his own time but also the worship practices of numerous Protestant traditions today.

Knox’s time in Geneva led to a transformative moment in the history of the Scottish Reformation. He didn’t just carry back Calvin’s teachings to Scotland, he translated them into a national scale, bringing about the establishment of a new Protestant and Reformed Church of Scotland. Today, Knox is known as the “Father of Presbyterianism,” a title acknowledging his impact despite the strong influences he drew from Calvin.

However, this journey was not without its obstacles and disappointments, notably with the Scottish First Book of Discipline. Mr. Morris elaborates on several of Knox’s frustrations, particularly with the position of superintendents, and the eventual triumphs and compromises he had to navigate while reforming the Scottish Church.

We also consider Knox’s experience with the “worship wars” in Frankfurt, and how his commitment to the regulative principle of worship evolved. At its core, this principle is an application of sola scriptura to worship, seeking only to require in worship that which is commanded in Scripture. Knox’s conviction here, despite the challenges, deeply influenced the trajectory of Presbyterianism.

Mr. Morris sheds light on Knox’s pastoral theology, opening our eyes to the complexities of historical and current worship practices. Tune in as we navigate this exciting journey into the past, appreciating the influences that continue to shape the contemporary Christian landscape.

Sean Morris is Associate Minister of Covenant PCA in Oak Ridge, TN and
Academic Dean of BRITE (Blue Ridge Institute for Theological Education) in Roanoke, VA.


  • 00:00:07 Introduction
  • 00:03:07 PCA General Assembly Highlights
  • 00:12:57 John Knox and Presbyterianism
  • 00:21:26 Exclusive Psalmody and Psalm Tunes
  • 00:25:06 John Knox’s Biography and Church Context
  • 00:32:19 Knox and Calvin
  • 00:36:40 Toward a Regulative Principle of Worship
  • 00:46:25 Knox and the Lord’s Supper
  • 00:52:26 The Pastoral Work of the Session
  • 00:59:24 Suggested Reading
  • 01:05:21 Presbygirl Paparazzi
  • 01:10:15 Conclusion

Suggested Reading

  • Jane Dawson, John Knox
  • Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology
  • Knox Film Documentary
  • Donald MacLeod, Therefore the Truth I Speak: Scottish Theology 1500–1700
  • The Works of John Knox, Banner of Truth
  • The First Book of Discipline
  • The Second Book of Discipline

Participants: , ,

Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program or subscribe to the podcast feed.


Podcasts & Essays

Related Resources