Presbyterianism

Presbyterianism is a form of church government, practiced by many (although not all) of those Protestant churches (known as Reformed churches), which historically subscribed to the teachings of John Calvin. Presbyterianism traces its institutional roots back to the Scottish Reformation, especially as led by John Knox. There are many separate Presbyterian Churches in different nations around the world. Besides national distinctions, Presbyterians also have divided from one another for doctrinal reasons, especially in the wake of the Enlightenment.

History of Presbyterianism

These denominations derive their name from the Greek word presbyteros, which means "elder." Presbyterian church governance is common to the Protestant churches that were most closely modelled after the Reformation in Switzerland. In England, Scotland and Ireland, the Reformed churches that adopted a presbyterian instead of episcopalian government, became known naturally enough, as the Presbyterian Church.

In Scotland, John Knox (1505-1572), who had studied under Calvin in Geneva, returned to Scotland and led the Parliament of Scotland to embrace the Reformation in 1560. The existing Church of Scotland was thus reformed along Presbyterian lines. In Ireland the Presbyterian Church was formed from the Church of Scotland and later became The Presbyterian Church In Ireland.In England, Presbyterianism was established in secret in 1572, toward the end of the reign of Elizabeth I of England. In 1647, by an act of the Long Parliament under the control of Puritans, the Church of England embraced Presbyterianism . The re-establishment of the monarchy in 1660 brought the re-establishment of episcopalian government in England (and in Scotland for a short time); but the Presbyterian church in England continued in non-conformity, outside of the established church. In Ireland, Presbyterianism was established by Scottish immigrants and missionaries to Ulster. The Presbytery of Ulster was formed separately from the established church, in 1642. Presbyterians, as well as Roman Catholics in Ulster and the rest of Ireland suffered under the discriminatory Penal Laws until they were revoked in the early 19th century. All three, very diverse branches of Presbyterianism, as well as independents, and some Dutch, German, and French Reformed denominations, combined in America to form what would eventually become the Presbyterian Church USA (1705). The Presbyterian church in England and Wales is the United Reformed Church, whilst the tradition also influenced the Methodist church, established in 1736.

Because of an emphasis on equal education for all people, Presbyterians have 'planted' and encouraged schools across the US as the country grew and the missionaries were sent out to the people.

Characteristics of Presbyterians

Main article: Presbyterian church governance

Presbyterians distinguish themselves from other denominations by both doctrine and institutional organization, or as they prefer to call it 'church order'. The origins of the Presbyterian churches were in Calvinism, which is no longer emphasized in some of the contemporary branches. Many of the branches of Presbyterianism are remnants of previous splits from larger groups. These splits have been caused by disagreement concerning the degree to which those ordained to church office should be required to agree with the Calvinist Westminster Confession of Faith, which historically serves as the main constitutional document of Presbyterian churches. Those groups that adhere to the document most strictly are typified by baptism of the infant children of believers, the exclusive use of Psalms (modified for metrical singing), singing unaccompanied by instruments, a common communion cup, only men are eligible for ordination to any church office, and a fully Calvinist doctrine of salvation. Because of this diversity of belief, more conservative Presbyterians are likely to attend the smaller denominations that have chosen to split from a larger body. While these conservative Presbyterians are not in the majority, their numbers are significant.

Presbyterian government is based on Elders. Teaching and ruling elders, sitting as a 'Kirk Session', (commonly refered to as simply 'session') are responsible for the discipline, the nurture and the mission of the local congregation. Sometimes the practicalities of buildings and finance in the congregation are delegated to a distinct group (known variosly as a 'Board' or 'Deacons' Court'. Teaching elders (ministers) have responsibility for teaching, worship and performing sacraments. Ministers are called by individual congregations. A congregation issues a call for the minister's service, but this call must be ratified by the Presbytery.

Above the Kirk Sessions exist Presbyteries, which have area responsibilities. These are composed of ministers and elders from each of the constituent congregations. The Presbytery sends representatives to a broader regional assembly, generally known as the General Assembly, although an intermediate level of a synod sometimes exists. This congregation / presbytery / synod / general assembly schema is based on the historical structure of the larger Presbyterian churches, like the Church of Scotland; some of the smaller bodies, like the Presbyterian Church in America or the Presbyterian Church in Ireland skip one of the steps between congregation and General Assembly, and usually the step skipped is the Synod. The Church of Scotland has now abolished the Synod.

Presbyterians place great importance upon education and continuous study of the scriptures, theological writings, and understanding and interpretation of church doctrine embodied in several statements of faith and catechisms formally adopted by various branches of the church. References to the adoption of Calvin's theology of predestination and the typical member's predisposition to conduct themselves "decently and in order" have earned them the moniker of the "frozen chosen". However, most Presbyterians generally exhibit their faith in action as well as words, including generosity, hospitality, and the constant pursuit of social justice and reform as well as proclaiming the gospel of Christ.

Varieties of Presbyterians in North America

Even before the Presbyterians left Scotland there were divisions in the larger Presbyterian family. In North America, because of past doctrinal differences, Presbyterian churches often overlap, with congregations of many different Presbyterian groups in any one city. The largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States is the Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA). Other Presbyterian bodies in the United States include the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC (http://www.epc.org)), the Reformed Presbyterian Church, the Bible Presbyterian Church (BPC), the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP Synod), the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States (RPCUS). In Canada, the largest Presbyterian Church is the Presbyterian Church in Canada; in 1925, about seventy percent of which, merged with the Methodist Church, Canada, and the Congregational Union of Canada to form the United Church of Canada.

Famous American Presbyterians

  • Dick Armey, U.S. Representative; conservative Republican from Texas
  • John C. Breckinridge, U.S. Vice-President under Buchanan
  • William Jennings Bryan of the famous Scopes "Monkey Trial" in Tennessee 1925 and three times U.S. Presidential nominee for the Democratic Party
  • James Buchanan, 15th U.S. President
  • Frederick Buechner, author of fantasy novels and non-fiction religious books
  • Aaron Burr, U.S. Vice-President under Jefferson
  • The Rev. Aaron Burr, co-founder of Princeton University
  • John C. Calhoun, U.S. Vice-President under Adams and Jackson
  • Grover Cleveland, 22nd and 24th U.S. President
  • Brian DePalma, film director; raised as a Presbyterian
  • John Foster Dulles, U.S. Secretary of State in the Eisenhower Administration
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President
  • Bill Frist, current Senate Majority Leader
  • Lamar Alexander, junior United States Senator from Tennessee
  • Jay Rockefeller, junior United States Senator from West Virginia
  • Mel Watt, Congressman from North Carolina and Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
  • John Glenn, Astronaut, United States Senator
  • Katherine Harris, Florida Secretary of State during the 2000 election crisis and current congresswoman (R)
  • Benjamin Harrison, 23rd U.S. President
  • A. A. Hodge, seminary professor
  • Charles Hodge, seminary professor
  • Andrew Jackson, 7th U.S. President
  • Stonewall Jackson, General in the Confederate Army
  • Norman Maclean, author and academic
  • James Knox Polk, 11th U.S. President (converted from Presbyterianism to Methodism)
  • Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. President
  • Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State (2005- )
  • The Rev. Fred Rogers, also known as the famous Mister Rogers, was an ordained Presbyterian Minister up until his death.
  • Jimmy Stewart, actor
  • Norman Thomas runs for President as the Socialist Party candidate in 1928
  • Daniel D. Tompkins, U.S. Vice-President under Monroe
  • Mark Twain, American author
  • Henry A. Wallace, U.S. Vice-President under F.D. Roosevelt
  • Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, Princeton Seminary professor
  • William A. Wheeler, U.S. Vice-President under Hayes
  • Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey
  • Woodrow Wilson, 28th President
  • The Rev. John Witherspoon, only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence

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In Canada, the largest Presbyterian Church is the Presbyterian Church in Canada; in 1925, about seventy percent of which, merged with the Methodist Church, Canada, and the Congregational Union of Canada to form the United Church of Canada. In 2004, the Giants fired head coach Jim Fassel after a 4-12 season and signed Tom Coughlin to the position. Other Presbyterian bodies in the United States include the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC (http://www.epc.org)), the Reformed Presbyterian Church, the Bible Presbyterian Church (BPC), the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP Synod), the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States (RPCUS). Ray Lewis was named MVP. The largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States is the Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA). In 2001, the Giants were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV by the score of 34-7. In North America, because of past doctrinal differences, Presbyterian churches often overlap, with congregations of many different Presbyterian groups in any one city. Ottis Anderson was named MVP.

Even before the Presbyterians left Scotland there were divisions in the larger Presbyterian family. In 1991, the Giants defeated the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV 20-19 in one of the most dramatic Super Bowls ever played, which culminated in Scott Norwood's missed FG. However, most Presbyterians generally exhibit their faith in action as well as words, including generosity, hospitality, and the constant pursuit of social justice and reform as well as proclaiming the gospel of Christ. In 1990, the Mara family sold a 50% interest in the team to Preston Robert Tisch. References to the adoption of Calvin's theology of predestination and the typical member's predisposition to conduct themselves "decently and in order" have earned them the moniker of the "frozen chosen". This Giants team began the recent football tradition of dousing the head coach with a cooler of ice cold water near the end of a victorious game that clinches some sort of championship. Presbyterians place great importance upon education and continuous study of the scriptures, theological writings, and understanding and interpretation of church doctrine embodied in several statements of faith and catechisms formally adopted by various branches of the church. Phil Simms was named MVP after completing 88% of his passes.

The Church of Scotland has now abolished the Synod. In 1987, the Giants defeated the Denver Broncos 39-20 in Super Bowl XXI. This congregation / presbytery / synod / general assembly schema is based on the historical structure of the larger Presbyterian churches, like the Church of Scotland; some of the smaller bodies, like the Presbyterian Church in America or the Presbyterian Church in Ireland skip one of the steps between congregation and General Assembly, and usually the step skipped is the Synod. The stadium is shared with the New York Jets. The Presbytery sends representatives to a broader regional assembly, generally known as the General Assembly, although an intermediate level of a synod sometimes exists. In 1976, the Giants moved to Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey from Yankee Stadium. These are composed of ministers and elders from each of the constituent congregations. In 1958, the Giants played the Baltimore Colts for the NFL championship, in what came to be known as "The Greatest Game Ever Played".

Above the Kirk Sessions exist Presbyteries, which have area responsibilities. At half time, coach Steve Owen provided the team with basketball shoes for better traction on the icy turf, and the game came to be known as the "Sneakers Game". A congregation issues a call for the minister's service, but this call must be ratified by the Presbytery. In 1934, the team defeated the Chicago Bears 30-13 at the Polo Grounds in icy nine degree temperatures. Ministers are called by individual congregations. The Giants are one of the original teams of the NFL. Teaching elders (ministers) have responsibility for teaching, worship and performing sacraments. The Giants were created in 1925 by original owner Tim Mara.

Sometimes the practicalities of buildings and finance in the congregation are delegated to a distinct group (known variosly as a 'Board' or 'Deacons' Court'. They currently play in the NFC East Division. Teaching and ruling elders, sitting as a 'Kirk Session', (commonly refered to as simply 'session') are responsible for the discipline, the nurture and the mission of the local congregation. The New York Giants are a National Football League team originating in New York City, but currently based in New Jersey. Presbyterian government is based on Elders. Lawrence Taylor #56. While these conservative Presbyterians are not in the majority, their numbers are significant. Ken Strong #50.

Because of this diversity of belief, more conservative Presbyterians are likely to attend the smaller denominations that have chosen to split from a larger body. Charlie Conerly #42. Those groups that adhere to the document most strictly are typified by baptism of the infant children of believers, the exclusive use of Psalms (modified for metrical singing), singing unaccompanied by instruments, a common communion cup, only men are eligible for ordination to any church office, and a fully Calvinist doctrine of salvation. Joe Morrison #40. These splits have been caused by disagreement concerning the degree to which those ordained to church office should be required to agree with the Calvinist Westminster Confession of Faith, which historically serves as the main constitutional document of Presbyterian churches. Al Blozis #32. Many of the branches of Presbyterianism are remnants of previous splits from larger groups. Tittle #14.

The origins of the Presbyterian churches were in Calvinism, which is no longer emphasized in some of the contemporary branches. Y.A. Presbyterians distinguish themselves from other denominations by both doctrine and institutional organization, or as they prefer to call it 'church order'. Phil Simms #11. Main article: Presbyterian church governance. Mel Hein #7. Because of an emphasis on equal education for all people, Presbyterians have 'planted' and encouraged schools across the US as the country grew and the missionaries were sent out to the people. Tuffy Leemans #4.

The Presbyterian church in England and Wales is the United Reformed Church, whilst the tradition also influenced the Methodist church, established in 1736. Ray Flaherty #1. All three, very diverse branches of Presbyterianism, as well as independents, and some Dutch, German, and French Reformed denominations, combined in America to form what would eventually become the Presbyterian Church USA (1705). Ryan Kuehl. Presbyterians, as well as Roman Catholics in Ulster and the rest of Ireland suffered under the discriminatory Penal Laws until they were revoked in the early 19th century. Willie Ponder. The Presbytery of Ulster was formed separately from the established church, in 1642. Jeff Feagles.

In Ireland, Presbyterianism was established by Scottish immigrants and missionaries to Ulster. Jay Feely. The re-establishment of the monarchy in 1660 brought the re-establishment of episcopalian government in England (and in Scotland for a short time); but the Presbyterian church in England continued in non-conformity, outside of the established church. Jack Brewer. In 1647, by an act of the Long Parliament under the control of Puritans, the Church of England embraced Presbyterianism . Brent Alexander. In Ireland the Presbyterian Church was formed from the Church of Scotland and later became The Presbyterian Church In Ireland.In England, Presbyterianism was established in secret in 1572, toward the end of the reign of Elizabeth I of England. Gibril Wilson.

The existing Church of Scotland was thus reformed along Presbyterian lines. Shaun Williams. In Scotland, John Knox (1505-1572), who had studied under Calvin in Geneva, returned to Scotland and led the Parliament of Scotland to embrace the Reformation in 1560. Mark Jones. In England, Scotland and Ireland, the Reformed churches that adopted a presbyterian instead of episcopalian government, became known naturally enough, as the Presbyterian Church. Frank Walker. These denominations derive their name from the Greek word presbyteros, which means "elder." Presbyterian church governance is common to the Protestant churches that were most closely modelled after the Reformation in Switzerland. Will Peterson.

Besides national distinctions, Presbyterians also have divided from one another for doctrinal reasons, especially in the wake of the Enlightenment. Will Allen. There are many separate Presbyterian Churches in different nations around the world. Kevin Lewis. Presbyterianism traces its institutional roots back to the Scottish Reformation, especially as led by John Knox. Nick Greisen. Presbyterianism is a form of church government, practiced by many (although not all) of those Protestant churches (known as Reformed churches), which historically subscribed to the teachings of John Calvin. Reggie Torbor.

John Witherspoon, only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence. Carlos Emmons. The Rev. Barrett Green. Woodrow Wilson, 28th President. Antonio Pierce. Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey. Norman Hand.

Vice-President under Hayes. Fred Robbins. Wheeler, U.S. Kendrick Clancy. William A. Lorenzo Bromell. Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, Princeton Seminary professor. Osi Umenyiora.

Roosevelt. Michael Strahan. Vice-President under F.D. Wayne Lucier. Wallace, U.S. Shaun O'Hara. Henry A. Chris Snee.

Mark Twain, American author. Rich Seubert. Vice-President under Monroe. Jason Whittle. Tompkins, U.S. Ed Ellis. Daniel D. David Diehl.

Norman Thomas runs for President as the Socialist Party candidate in 1928. Luke Petitgout. Jimmy Stewart, actor. Kareem McKenzie. Fred Rogers, also known as the famous Mister Rogers, was an ordained Presbyterian Minister up until his death. Visanthe Shiancoe. The Rev. Marcellus Rivers.

Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State (2005- ). Jeremy Shockey. President. David Tyree. Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. Willie Ponder. President (converted from Presbyterianism to Methodism). Jamaar Taylor.

James Knox Polk, 11th U.S. Tim Carter. Norman Maclean, author and academic. Plaxico Burress. Stonewall Jackson, General in the Confederate Army. Amani Toomer. President. Jim Finn.

Andrew Jackson, 7th U.S. Derrick Ward. Charles Hodge, seminary professor. Mike Cloud. Hodge, seminary professor. Tiki Barber. A. Jared Lorenzen.

A. Jesse Palmer. President. Tim Hasselbeck. Benjamin Harrison, 23rd U.S. Eli Manning. Katherine Harris, Florida Secretary of State during the 2000 election crisis and current congresswoman (R). Emlen Tunnell.

John Glenn, Astronaut, United States Senator. Tittle. Mel Watt, Congressman from North Carolina and Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. Y.A. Jay Rockefeller, junior United States Senator from West Virginia. Lawrence Taylor Linebacker (1999). Lamar Alexander, junior United States Senator from Tennessee. Ken Strong.

Bill Frist, current Senate Majority Leader. Steve O'Neill. Eisenhower, 34th President. Wellington Mara Co-Owner (1997). Dwight D. Tom Landry Coach (1990). Secretary of State in the Eisenhower Administration. Arnold Weinmeister Defensive End (1984).

John Foster Dulles, U.S. Sam Huff Linebacker (1982). Brian DePalma, film director; raised as a Presbyterian. Morris 'Red' Badgro End, (1981). President. Alphonse 'Tuffy' Leemans halfback, Fullback (1978). Grover Cleveland, 22nd and 24th U.S. Frank Gifford Halfback (1977).

Vice-President under Adams and Jackson. Roosevelt 'Rosey' Brown Tackle (enshrined in 1975). Calhoun, U.S. Tom Coughlin 6-10-0 2004-present. John C. Jim Fassel 60-55-1 1997-2003. Aaron Burr, co-founder of Princeton University. Dan Reeves 32-34-0 1993-1996.

The Rev. Ray Handley 14-18-0 1991-1992. Vice-President under Jefferson. Bill Parcells 85-52-1 1983-1990. Aaron Burr, U.S. Ray Perkins 24-35-0 1979-1982. Frederick Buechner, author of fantasy novels and non-fiction religious books. John McVay 14-23-0 1976-1978.

President. Bill Arnsparger 7-28-0 1974-1976. James Buchanan, 15th U.S. Alex Webster 29-40-1 1969-1973. Presidential nominee for the Democratic Party. Allie Sherman 57-54-4 1961-1968. William Jennings Bryan of the famous Scopes "Monkey Trial" in Tennessee 1925 and three times U.S. Jim Lee Howell 55-29-4 1954-1960.

Vice-President under Buchanan. Steve Owen 153-108-17 1931-1953. Breckinridge, U.S. Benny Friedman and Steve Owen 2-0-0 1930. John C. LeRoy Andrews 24-5-1 1929-1930. Representative; conservative Republican from Texas. Earl Potteiger 15-8-3 1927-1928.

Dick Armey, U.S. Joe Alexander 8-4-1 1926. Bob Folwell 8-4-0 1925.

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