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The Scottish Reformation 1560: The Greatest Year in Scotland’s History

Category Book Reviews
Date July 13, 2010

The Church of Scotland Glasgow Presbytery held a ‘Commemoration of the 450th Anniversary of the Reformation in Scotland’ service in Glasgow Cathedral on 29th June.

The address was given by a prominent Roman Catholic, Prof. Tom Devine of the University of Edinburgh on ‘The importance of the Reformation for the Development of Scotland’ and it dealt with the Reformation’s influence on education, union with Protestant England and the Enlightenment.

The prayers were read by Gregor Duncan, Scottish Episcopal Bishop of Glasgow, Mario Conti, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow, and Neil Galbraith, moderator of the Presbytery of Glasgow.

A more discerning, accurate and heart-warming account of the Scottish Reformation can be found in John J. Murray’s 60-page book, The Reformation 1560: The Greatest Year in Scotland’s History, published by the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) and obtainable for £3 from David Blunt, Free Church Manse, Knockintorran, Isle of North Uist, HS6 5ED, Email

John J. Murray writes,

The situation prevailing in the Church and in the nation in 2010 is such as makes one wonder if the martyrs died in vain, if the labours of the Reformers were all for nothing. We are in a new age of darkness with the Gospel buried out of sight, not only by an unchanged Roman system, but by a Protestantism largely devoid of the authority of Scripture, the saving truths of the Gospel, and holiness of life. With the Church in such a weakened state, atheism, scepticism and secularism flourish. Scriptural illiteracy abounds. The moral structure has collapsed. Our culture is declining like some of the ancient civilisations. The liberties won for us at the Reformation are being eroded by government legislation.

As will be made clear in the following pages, the Reformation was first and foremost a mighty work of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual renewal lay at the heart of the transformation which took place. God had mercy on Scotland and delivered her from a dark night. As we face a similar situation today we need to humble ourselves before God and repent of our sins and the sins of the Church and nation. We need to cry to him to once again have mercy on our land. May the light which shone at the Reformation shine again and scatter the darkness of Romanism, unfaithful Protestantism and secularism from our land. ‘O send out thy light and thy truth’ (Psa. 43:3).

He concludes in the last brief chapter on the theme ‘Bring Back the Light’ with the following sections – the real issue today: another reformation needed; recovering God; recovering Scripture; recovering the only way of salvation; recovering the preached Word; recovering the church; recovering godly living; recovering leadership; the final issue, spiritual renewal.It is quite a splendid book, wholly sympathetic with the great work that God did in Scotland 450 years ago, lucid, fascinating, fresh and stirring. It would be a means of grace to anyone who read it.

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