Parking Space 23, and The Story of John Knox

(Editor’s Note: I have been trying to get an avid Veracity reader to write this blog post for several years, as he has personally been to Scotland to see “Parking Space 23.” But alas, in this, the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation, I could wait no longer…)

If you go to Edinburgh, Scotland, today, you might have trouble finding the grave of Scotland’s greatest Protestant Reformer of the 16th century, John Knox. Hidden away, underneath the asphalt of parking space 23, lies the body of one John Knox, who paved the way for the Reformation to transform the country of Scotland. A plaque embedded in the pavement reads:

“The above stone marks the approximate site of the burial in St Giles graveyard of John Knox, the great Scottish divine who died 24 Nov 1572.”

Why would John Knox’s grave be found in a parking lot? Just imagine if the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. were bulldozed over, and converted into a parking garage.

In much of secular Scotland today, the Christian faith of the Reformation era is largely forgotten. Yet John Knox is unquestionably the founder of modern Presbyterianism, as he resolutely preached his way throughout Scotland, moving this northernmost segment of the British Isles away from Roman Catholicism towards a Protestant faith. Within a few centuries, the Scottish church would become one of the greatest missionary sending communities of all time, establishing Christian witness over all the world.

Was there something about Knox himself that contributes to this historical neglect? Though a fiery evangelist, with a great love for the Gospel, John Knox was also known to be rather severe. Was it because he acted as a bodyguard to another Scottish preacher, for a time? Was it because he suffered for two years of oppressive prison labor, aboard a French galley ship? Was it because he actively opposed the idea of having a woman as a secular ruler?

Yet it might be time to restore John Knox, Scotland’s greatest Reformer, from this historical neglect.

The film Knox explores these questions, and tells his story. Here is the trailer:

For a review of Jane Dawson’s recent scholarly biography of John Knox, consult the resources at the Gospel Coalition.

About Clarke Morledge

Clarke Morledge -- Computer Network Engineer, College of William and Mary... I hiked the Mount of the Holy Cross, one of the famous Colorado Fourteeners, with some friends in July, 2012. My buddy, Mike Scott, snapped this photo of me on the summit. View all posts by Clarke Morledge

4 responses to “Parking Space 23, and The Story of John Knox

  • graceinthemess2corinthians129

    Thanks for writing this. First of all as a Christian, I appreciate the witness and sharing of the gospel that Knox was a part of greatly and pray to see that continued and brought back to Scotland as well. As a human being, it’s hard to think of paving over any grace let alone parking on it. As a direct descendant of Knox, I found it somewhat ironic that his “ parking space” is 23, which has always been my favorite number.
    Thanks again


    • Clarke Morledge

      Wow. A direct descendant of Knox? That is wonderful.

      I have Scottish ancestry myself, but no known Knoxian connection. It is sad to see how Knox’ legacy has been sorely neglected, as he was so pivotal to the whole Protestant movement in Scotland, during the 16th century. He was severe in certain ways, but we should not let this bury his contribution to Christian history…. particularly underneath a patch of asphalt!

      Alas, we pray for revival in Scotland!!

      Thank you commenting at Veracity.


  • Sandy Giacobbe

    You know who runs the show in Scotland , they don’t forgive or forget.


  • Kevin Morgan

    Surely there are some Christians in Scotland who are willing to see to it that Knox receives the honor due him. He was a strong man and we live in a spineless age.


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: