I want to thank Christian Focus Publications for providing me with a copy of John Knox: The Sharpened Sword in return for my honest opinion.
It’s no secret that I love Christian Focus Publication’s Trailblazers line of Christian biographies for children ages 9-14. They are written by various authors in a narrative format with fictionalized dialogue. Reading a Trailblazers book almost feels as though one is reading a novel rather than a biography.
I also really appreciate the fact that the Trailblazers series covers figures from Christian history that are generally not available in books for children. Some of the men and women they’ve covered in their 62 published biographies (so far) include John Stott, John Calvin, Martin Lloyd-Jones, and Queen Mary of Orange.
See what I mean? Not your average fare.
The books also cover some of the wonderful missionaries we all love to read about like Mary Slessor, Gladys Aylward and Adoniram Judson.
These books have become a standard part of our history curriculum.
John Knox of Scotland
I was excited to see a new addition to the Trailblazers. Catherine Mackenzie is the author of nearly 90 books. Our family was first introduced to Ms. Mackenzie’s work through her Little Lights Biography Series for younger children. They are fantastic!
The Reformation, and the period following it were a bloody time in history. Catholics killed Protestants, Protestants killed Catholics, and it seems like everyone killed the Anabaptists. There are no Anabaptists in the story of John Knox, but there is plenty tension over religious freedom. The battle to worship Jesus Christ alone and to look to Scripture alone for guidance was being waged across Europe, and it came at last to Scotland.
John Knox the Reformer
John Knox had begun his adult life as a Catholic priest. Upon hearing the gospel preached by men such as George Wishart, Knox left the Catholic faith, became Reformed and took work as a tutor. The Sharpened Sword chronicles his life from that point forward, through his work as a bodyguard for Wishart, as a leader of a Reformed resistance, and his reluctant acceptance of the call to preach.
From the seige of Saint Andrews, Knox was arrested and sentenced to serve as a slave on a French ship, rowing in the galley. His journeys afterward took him through England, and back and forth from Scotland to Geneva, where he worked alongside John Calvin. He spent the last years of his life preaching in Scotland.
The Sharpened Sword is an excellent addition to any study on the Reformation, or on Scotland. It’s also interesting to read just for a better understanding of Church history.
John Knox Biography Facts
There are a couple of points you will want to know about before choosing The Sharpened Sword for your family.
- The first is that this book is written from a Reformed perspective.
- Second, be aware of the fact that a good deal of the story line from the last years of Knox’s life center around his battle for religious freedom in Scotland against Mary Queen of Scots.
- Mary’s affairs and marriages were somewhat messy and interfered much with her reign.
- While Ms. Mackenzie is not explicit about Mary’s behavior, she does not avoid it either, implying that the queen used flirtation to gain power.
- She also chronicles Mary’s marriages, and at one point uses the word ‘lover’.
- For this reason, I will wait to have my children read The Sharpened Sword until middle school.
Purchase John Knox: The Sharpened Sword
OR, at Christian Book:
More Christian Focus Trail Blazers Books for Your Kids
Our family loves the Christian Focus Trail Blazers books. They’re perfect for ages 7-14. We read them as we studied history! Check them out.
Eric Liddell: Finish the RaceJohn Chrysostom: The Preacher in the Emperor’s CourtSamuel Rutherford: The Law, the Prince and the ScribeFrancis & Edith Schaeffer: Taking on the WorldTitanic: The Ship of DreamsWilliam Tyndale: The Smuggler’s FlameWilfred Grenfell: Courageous DoctorDietrich Bonhoeffer: A Spoke in the WheelElisabeth Elliot: Do the Next ThingBetty Greene: Courage Has WingsUlrich Zwingli: Shepherd WarriorLilias Trotter: Daring in the DesertIsobel Kuhn: Lights in LisulandJim Elliot: He Is No FoolGeorge Müller: The Children’s ChampionAdoniram Judson: Danger on the Streets of GoldPatricia St. John: The Story Behind the StoriesHelen Roseveare: On His Majesty’s ServiceJohn Newton: A Slave Set FreeJohn Calvin: After Darkness LightJohn Knox: The Sharpened SwordBilly Graham: Just get up out of your SeatRichard Wurmbrand: A Voice in the DarkMary Slessor: Servant to the SlaveJoni Eareckson Tada: Swimming Against the TideHudson Taylor: An Adventure BeginsAugustine: The Truth SeekerPatrick of Ireland: The Boy Who ForgaveBrother Andrew: Behind Enemy LinesLottie Moon: Changing China for ChristD L Moody: One Devoted ManNate Saint: Operation AucaJohn Welch: The Man Who Couldn’t Be StoppedMichael Faraday: Spiritual DynamoWilliam Wilberforce: The Freedom FighterC. S. Lewis: The Story Teller: Trailblazers SeriesJonathan Edwards: America’s GeniusCharles Spurgeon: Prince of PreachersGeorge Müller: The Children’s ChampionGeorge Whitefield: Voice That Woke the WorldAmy Carmichael: Rescuer By NightMary of Orange: At the Mercy of KingsMartyn Lloyd-Jones: From Wales to WestminsterHannah More: The Woman Who Wouldn’t Stop WritingFanny Crosby: The Blind Girl’s SongPaul Brand: The Shoes That Love MadeFrances Ridley Havergal: The Girl Who Loved MountainsCorrie Ten Boom: The Watchmaker’s DaughterGladys Aylward: No Mountain Too HighJohn Bunyan: Journey of a PilgrimDavid Brainerd: A Love for the LostJohn G. Paton: South Sea Island RescueBilly Bray: Saved From the Deepest PitJohn Stott: The Humble LeaderBill Bright: Dare to be DifferentCharles Simeon: For Christ in Cambridge (Trail Blazers)William Carey: Expecting Great Things (Trail Blazers)Jack Turner: Truth in the Arctic (Trail Blazers)Elaine Townsend: At Home Around the World (Trail Blazers)Thomas Clarkson: The Giant With One Idea (Trailblazers)John and Betty Stam: To Die is Gain (Trail Blazers)Maud Kells: Fearless in the Forest (Trail Blazers)Jim Elliot: He Is No Fool (Trail Blazers)Elizabeth Prentiss: More Love (Trailblazers)Polycarp: Faithful unto Death (Trail Blazers)Thomas Cranmer: The King’s Ambassador (Trailblazers)Olaudah Equiano: A Man of Many Names (Trail Blazers)
Christian Biographies for Kids | Christian History for Kids | Theology for Kids
Christian History Matters for Our Kids.
History matters. Now, more than ever, we see how important it is for our children to know and understand history and the Bible.
- God is the sovereign ruler of all things. It’s important for our kids to see his hand in the history of nations and in the lives of both peasants and kings.
- Christian history is the story of our family history. Our kids get to see how people who love Jesus follow him.
- Understanding history can help our kids learn historic and biblical theology. They learn what the Bible says and what that means for us. They also see when the study of Scripture has taken important turns that have changed the Church.
- Reading Christian biographies and history can be a wonderful way for kids to think outside their own time and culture. God’s Church spans centuries and includes people from every nation.
- Christian biographies help kids consider their own faith, walk with Jesus, and the impact their witness may one day have on others–and on history.
The Who What Why Series is the perfect resource to teach your kids about history, while helping them apply biblical truths to their lives today.
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