An important aspect of John Knox's thought is his concept of divine providence. Closely related to and partially dependent on his notion of providence are the reformer's ideas on God, history, politics, and predestination. Knox did not, however, write a specific tract on divine providence. In fact, he denied being a speculative “theologian” and regarded himself as a preacher, being called “to blow my master's trumpet,” rather than “to compose books for the age to come….” Consequently, he did not approach the subject systematically. For example, Knox did not, as John Calvin had done, logically relate the subjects of creation and providence. In fact, the Scottish reformer seldom spoke of God's act of creation. Despite this nonsystematic approach, Knox did have a doctrine of divine providence, even if at times it was implicit rather than explicit. As a result, his concept of providence must be derived piecemeal from his historical, polemical, and pastoral writings.
What then is the value of studying the concept of providence in the thought of a reformer who did not think systematically? First, such a study will demonstrate that a coherent conception of the nature of divine providence can be found in Knox's writings, though not expounded in a single treatise. Second, his thoughts on this subject have not been the object of an extensive scholarly investigation, either by historians or theologians. Third, Knox's concept of providence had a practical and motivational significance for both the reformer's thought and actions, thus revealing more about Knox the man, his mission, his motivation, and worldview. His great objective was the reformation of religion, particularly in his native Scotland.