The development of Presbyterianism in the 1570s

The Books of Discipline

First Book of Discipline

In the First Book of Discipline of 1560, John Knox wrote his ideas for the new Reformed Church in Scotland:

  • The new Protestant Church to gain the properties and lands of the Catholic Church.
  • Superintendents would organise the Church in their areas.
  • The Protestant Church was to provide education and look after the poor.

Second Book of Discipline

As a result of Melville’s agitation, the Second Book of Discipline was drawn up in1578. This outlined Melville’s views that the Kirk received its authority from God, not the state. It also outlined his opposition to bishops.

This resulted in meetings between ministers of different parishes to discuss matters of faith and religious teaching.

The Scottish Kirk by 1581

By 1581 it was planned that the Kirk would control the appointment of ministers, disciplinary matters and representatives at the General Assembly.

It appeared at this point that the Kirk could become independent of the King and influence of nobles. Decisions at paraish level were made through the Kirk Session which was made up of elders and deacons.

Kirk Sessions set appropriate standards of behaviour, and stressed the need for attendance at daily and Sunday services.

This gave the Kirk control of members of the congregation.

The Black Acts of 1584 limited the authority of the congregation. Presbyteries were abolished and royal supremacy over the Kirk was established.

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