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Title: John Craig (1512?-1600), with special reference to his contribution to the upbuilding of the Reformed Church of Scotland
Author: Kerr, T. A.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1954
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"Master" John Craig,whose long and honorable life all but spanned the sixteenth century,was among the most versatile of the Scottish reformers. He was approaching early middle-age when he joined Knox in Edinburgh,becoming his trusted colleague in the onerous ministry at the High Kirk of St Giles. Prior to throwing in his lot with his country's religious reformers,Craig,the scion of gentry originally hailing from Buchan.had been educated at the University of St Andrews,attaching himself some four years after graduation to a House of the Dominican friars. Proceeding to Italy,he at length rose to a high position of trust and responsibility in the Dominican priory within the University city of Bologna. Around the year he broke with the Papacy,in consequence of which he narrowly escaped being burnt at the stake as a heretic. Craig possessed choice gifts of mind and heart,and these being at once recognised by Knox and others,he quickly gained an ascendant position in all of the important counsels and work of the Scottish Reformed Church. From his busy pen came the first native Scottish Catechism and also a Communion preparation manual,not to mention his lengthy Treatise on Fasting( written in collaboration with Knox)and his labours shared with Andrew Melville in having a chief hand in the compilation of the Second Book of Discipline. But authorship was never really Craig's me'tier. He was essentially a man of affairs,moving in high places with an easy grace,and playing his part in the recurring political and religious crises of his generation with considerable and consistent determination and skill-though not always with universal acceptance. He made the discipline and worship of the Reformed Church of Scotland the field of hip main contribution to the new society,and of commissioners to sixteenth century General Assemblies,he was,with few exceptions,the most indefatigable. Craig had the distinction of being thrice moderator of the General Assembly,and that within the short period of fourteen years. For upwards of forty years,he served with outstanding success on all their principal committees,being in constant demand there because of his expert knowledge of both civil and canon law. Forthright and unsparing in his denunciation of wrong-doing whether of princes or people,he was nevertheless not by nature a vehement man;he could on occasion temper judgement with mercy,even with grace. His courage was beyond dispute, this being revealed at its most sterling in the laudable stand which he took with regard to the marriage of Queen Mary and Bothwell. Although Craig was ever ready to fight on to the death on behalf of his religious principles,he was at heart a man of one deploring more than he the bitter and destructive civil war of 1370-72• Indeed, his pacific stand during this unhappy time made his very unpopular with not a few of his brethren,with the result that he was compelled to retire from the capital,serving as principal minister at Aberdeen for over six years. Becoming second chaplain to King James in 1580,Craig,during the next year was instrumental in drawing up the national Covenant or King's Confession,the most fiercely anti-Papist Confession ever written. Three years later,he was again accused of "leaning over-much to the sword hand," in not contesting as Andrew Melville and others had done,the right of the king to introduce diocesan bishops to the Reformed Church of Scotland and also to dictate her general policy. Yet here, as in 157-',Craig's conduct was guided throughout by motives of peace-he strove at all costs to avert fratricidal strife,and he succeeded. And the many Scottish ministers who followed his lead,were through his compromise with the royal authority,never forced to signify their obedience to bishops or to sign the king's bond. Yet,in his zeal for law and order,Craig probably erred here,in yielding overmuch to royal claims.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available