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. None (the Raider organization does not retire the jersey numbers of former players). 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). They did this by issuing "personal seating licenses", without which fans cannot buy tickets to the games. The largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States is the Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA). In this lawsuit, the Raiders agreed that they would sell out all of their home games, in exchange for the city helping to renovate their stadium. In North America, because of past doctrinal differences, Presbyterian churches often overlap, with congregations of many different Presbyterian groups in any one city. Their most recent legal battle is with the city of Oakland.

Even before the Presbyterians left Scotland there were divisions in the larger Presbyterian family. After moving back to Oakland, they were sued by the NFL for losing the Los Angeles television market, the second largest in the United States. 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. The Raiders sued the city of Los Angeles over the fact that the city backed out of a stadium deal for the team. 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". Also, they were the only team that was not a defendant in the USFL's ultimately unsuccessful antitrust suit against the NFL; Davis was a witness for the USFL in that action. 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. They have been involved in several lawsuits, most famously with the cities of Los Angeles and Oakland, as well as the NFL.

The Church of Scotland has now abolished the Synod. The Raiders are the most litigious team in the NFL. 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. In the 2004-2005 season, their first season under Turner, the Raiders continued to suffer on the field, posting their second consecutive losing record (5-11), heavy laden with turnovers and injuries. The Presbytery sends representatives to a broader regional assembly, generally known as the General Assembly, although an intermediate level of a synod sometimes exists. After the end of the 2003 regular season, Callahan was fired, and ultimately replaced by current head coach Norv Turner. These are composed of ministers and elders from each of the constituent congregations. In fact, in a press conference at the end of one game, then-coach Bill Callahan berated both his players and the media for the team's poor performance that season.

Above the Kirk Sessions exist Presbyteries, which have area responsibilities. They finished with a losing record of 4-12, tied with three other teams for the worst record in the NFL, and the worst record ever for a team who were Super Bowl contenders one season previously. A congregation issues a call for the minister's service, but this call must be ratified by the Presbytery. The 2003 season was a 180-degree turnaround for the Raiders. Ministers are called by individual congregations. Gannon was named MVP of the league, and the Raiders made their fifth Super Bowl appearance following the season, only to lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Teaching elders (ministers) have responsibility for teaching, worship and performing sacraments. The Raiders finished the 2002 season with an 11-5 record and clinched the top seed in the playoffs.

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 finished 10-6, but lost their divisional playoff game to the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in the controversial "tuck" game, in which an apparent fumble by the Patriots (that was recovered by the Raiders) was reviewed and determined to be an incomplete pass. 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 Raiders acquired all-time leading receiver Jerry Rice prior to the 2001 season. Presbyterian government is based on Elders. By 2000, the Raiders began to reclaim their position among the NFL's greatest teams, highlighted by the emergence of veteran quarterback Rich Gannon as one of the best all-around quarterbacks in Raiders history. While these conservative Presbyterians are not in the majority, their numbers are significant. After the following season, the Raiders moved back to Oakland.

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. This period was marked by the career-ending injury of Bo Jackson in 1990, the failure of troubled quarterback Todd Marinovich, and the departure of Marcus Allen in 1993. 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. This also marked a somewhat down period in Raider franchise history, both on the field and, more importantly, off the field. 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 Davis's perceived infatuation with Jackson caused a major rift between Davis and star running back Marcus Allen, who eventually left to play for the Kansas City Chiefs. Many of the branches of Presbyterianism are remnants of previous splits from larger groups. In 1987, the Raiders drafted dual-sport athlete Bo Jackson after he originally decided to not play professional football in 1986 (when drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round).

The origins of the Presbyterian churches were in Calvinism, which is no longer emphasized in some of the contemporary branches. This was momentous as it made Shell the first ever African American Head Coach in the history of the NFL. Presbyterians distinguish themselves from other denominations by both doctrine and institutional organization, or as they prefer to call it 'church order'. Shell held that position until 1988 when he was made the team's Head Coach. Main article: Presbyterian church governance. Also that year Al Davis hired future hall of famer Art Shell to coach the Offensive Line. 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. In 1982, the Oakland Raiders moved to Los Angeles, California to play their home games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum; they won the championship the following year.

The Presbyterian church in England and Wales is the United Reformed Church, whilst the tradition also influenced the Methodist church, established in 1736. In spite of his success, Madden left coaching in 1979 to pursue a career as a television football commentator. 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). In 1969, John Madden became the team's head coach, and during the 1970s he helped start the Raiders' ascent towards their current status as one of the most successful franchises in NFL history, starting with their 1977 Super Bowl XI win over the Minnesota Vikings. 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. In 1970, the AFL-NFL merger took place, and the Raiders joined the West Division of the American Football Conference in the newly merged National Football League. The Presbytery of Ulster was formed separately from the established church, in 1642. The Raiders appeared in Super Bowl II (the first of five Super Bowls) in 1968 but lost to the NFL champion Green Bay Packers.

In Ireland, Presbyterianism was established by Scottish immigrants and missionaries to Ulster. In 1966, Davis became Commissioner of the AFL and is considered a driving force in raising the AFL to competitive levels that forced the NFL to merge with the younger league. 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. Clem Daniels, Billy Cannon, Hoot Gibson, Art Powell and Daryle Lamonica were among many great players to wear the "silver and black", to be joined in 1967 by AFL legend George Blanda at the start of his nine-year career with the Raiders. In 1647, by an act of the Long Parliament under the control of Puritans, the Church of England embraced Presbyterianism . Four years later, the club captured the 1967 AFL Championship. 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. He reorganized the Raiders, and the team improved to a 10-4 won-loss record.

The existing Church of Scotland was thus reformed along Presbyterian lines. Al Davis, a former assistant coach for the San Diego Chargers, was hired as head coach and general manager in 1963. 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 team spent its first three seasons changing stadiums and losing more games than it won. In England, Scotland and Ireland, the Reformed churches that adopted a presbyterian instead of episcopalian government, became known naturally enough, as the Presbyterian Church. The franchise is tied with the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs for the most post-season games played as an AFL team, six. 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. Starting out as a poor franchise with a weak team playing in Frank Youell Field, towards the end of the 1960s it became an AFL powerhouse and one of professional football's most consistent teams.

Besides national distinctions, Presbyterians also have divided from one another for doctrinal reasons, especially in the wake of the Enlightenment. The Raiders' image was synonymous with the AFL's: brash and bold. There are many separate Presbyterian Churches in different nations around the world. The Oakland Raiders were a charter member of the American Football League in 1960. Presbyterianism traces its institutional roots back to the Scottish Reformation, especially as led by John Knox. Football, Inc. 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. Legally, the team is a limited partnership operated by Al Davis, who serves as President of the team's general partner, A.D.

John Witherspoon, only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence. The Oakland Raiders are a National Football League team based in Oakland, California. The Rev. Rod Woodson. Woodrow Wilson, 28th President. Jack Tatum. Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey. Ken Stabler.

Vice-President under Hayes. Otis Sistrunk. Wheeler, U.S. Jerry Rice. William A. Jim Plunkett. Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, Princeton Seminary professor. Art Powell.

Roosevelt. Babe Parilli. Vice-President under F.D. John Matuszak. Wallace, U.S. Daryle Lamonica. Henry A. Sean Jones.

Mark Twain, American author. Bo Jackson (also played Major League Baseball). Vice-President under Monroe. Lester Hayes. Tompkins, U.S. Wayne Hawkins. Daniel D. Ray Guy.

Norman Thomas runs for President as the Socialist Party candidate in 1928. Dave Grayson. Jimmy Stewart, actor. Hoot Gibson. Fred Rogers, also known as the famous Mister Rogers, was an ordained Presbyterian Minister up until his death. Tom Flores. The Rev. Clem Daniels.

Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State (2005- ). Todd Christensen. President. Billy Cannon (born 1937, made All-League as a halfback in 1961 and as a tight end in 1969). Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. Tim Brown. President (converted from Presbyterianism to Methodism). Cliff Branch.

James Knox Polk, 11th U.S. Lyle Alzado. Norman Maclean, author and academic. Marcus Allen. Stonewall Jackson, General in the Confederate Army. Jerry Porter. President. Ted Washington.

Andrew Jackson, 7th U.S. Charles Woodson. Charles Hodge, seminary professor. Warren Sapp. Hodge, seminary professor. Randy Moss. A. LaMont Jordan.

A. Rich Gannon. President. Robert Gallery. Benjamin Harrison, 23rd U.S. Kerry Collins. Katherine Harris, Florida Secretary of State during the 2000 election crisis and current congresswoman (R). Gene Upshaw (1987) - 1967-1981.

John Glenn, Astronaut, United States Senator. Art Shell (1989) - 1968-1982. Mel Watt, Congressman from North Carolina and Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. Jim Otto (1980) - 1960-1974. Jay Rockefeller, junior United States Senator from West Virginia. Ron Mix (1979) - 1971. Lamar Alexander, junior United States Senator from Tennessee. Ronnie Lott (2000) - 1991-1992.

Bill Frist, current Senate Majority Leader. Howie Long (2000) - 1981-1993. Eisenhower, 34th President. James Lofton (2003) - 1987-1988. Dwight D. Ted Hendricks (1990) - 1975-1983. Secretary of State in the Eisenhower Administration. Mike Haynes (1997) - 1983-1989.

John Foster Dulles, U.S. Eric Dickerson (1999) - 1992. Brian DePalma, film director; raised as a Presbyterian. Al Davis (1992) - 1963-1965, 1966-Present. President. Dave Casper (2002) - 1974-1980, 1984. Grover Cleveland, 22nd and 24th U.S. Willie Brown (1984) - 1967-1978.

Vice-President under Adams and Jackson. Bob Brown (2004) - 1971-1973. Calhoun, U.S. George Blanda (1981) - 1967-1975. John C. Fred Biletnikoff (1988) - 1965-1978. Aaron Burr, co-founder of Princeton University. Marcus Allen (2003) - 1982-1992.

The Rev. Vice-President under Jefferson. Aaron Burr, U.S. Frederick Buechner, author of fantasy novels and non-fiction religious books.

President. James Buchanan, 15th U.S. Presidential nominee for the Democratic Party. William Jennings Bryan of the famous Scopes "Monkey Trial" in Tennessee 1925 and three times U.S.

Vice-President under Buchanan. Breckinridge, U.S. John C. Representative; conservative Republican from Texas.

Dick Armey, U.S.

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