The First Book of Discipline (1560)

Author: Whytock, Jack C.
The book argues for seeing Calvinian influence as the most significant influence for the Scottish reform movement of 1560. It examines John Calvin’s understanding of discipline and interpretations of it by the wider continental Calvinian family, particularly John à Lasco, Valérand Poullain and the French Reformed Church, and their connections and influences on the Scottish Reformation.


“This study is valuable for the Church in the Western World, but also for the Church of Jesus Christ in Africa. There is little or no practice of church discipline in much of the United States, Great Britain and in the Netherlands. The basic reasons for neglecting church discipline are indeed unbelief, a spirit of relativism and indifference, and a false understanding of “love” and Christian freedom. Therefore, discipline is often considered almost exclusively as something negative and is often immediately equated with excommunication. Where discipline is practiced, it is often applied with a legalistic and formalistic spirit which leads to its abuse. In African Christian churches, where I have been ministering for thirty-five years, the shame-conscious oriented cultural context makes confrontation extremely difficult. Therefore, we find the same two extremes that are found in the West – either no discipline is being applied or a formalistic and legalistic spirit in the application of church discipline is adopted, which leads to its abuse. Discipline then becomes the enforcement of uniformity rather than the correction of an actual denial of the gospel or blatant immorality.” – Prof. P. J. Buys, Mukhanyo Theological College

“. . . has a useful and very relevant meaning to the present Presbyterian church and to the wider Reformed Church and represents a gift, both academic and historical, that will be a very useful resource both within the libraries of ministers and universities alike.” – Prof. Chris Killacky, Acadia University

Table of Contents

Foreword by P.J. Buys
1. Introduction
2. Calvin on Discipline, A Theological Perspective
3. John à Lasco and His Influence on The First Book of Discipline
4. Valérand Poullain and his Influence on The First Book of Discipline
5. The French Reformed Church and The First Book of Discipline
6. Conclusion
Index of Names and Places