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. 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). none. The largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States is the Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA). Fans expect the Texans will break .500 in 2005. In North America, because of past doctrinal differences, Presbyterian churches often overlap, with congregations of many different Presbyterian groups in any one city. Texans fans are, on balance, pleased with the progress made so far, even though they booed the team for its dreadful performance in the aforementioned Browns game that ended the 2004 season.

Even before the Presbyterians left Scotland there were divisions in the larger Presbyterian family. They have yet to put a mark in the Win column against the Indianapolis Colts, the team to beat in the AFC South. 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. Houston swept the series against both the Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2004. 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". Notably, the Texans began beating up the former Houston franchise, the Tennessee Titans. 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. The team could have won three in a row to end the season, but lost in that attempt against the lowly Cleveland Browns.

The Church of Scotland has now abolished the Synod. In 2004, they cleared some major hurdles and won two consecutives games twice in that season after failing to do so in either 2002 or 2003. 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 team has steadily improved with each successive season with a record of 4-12 in its first season, 5-11 in 2003, and 7-9 in 2004. 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 2004, the Texans were the host team for Super Bowl XXXVIII. These are composed of ministers and elders from each of the constituent congregations. The Texans made NFL history by becoming the first expansion team to win consecutive season openers, first in 2002, defeating its established NFC in-state rival Dallas Cowboys in its first regular season game by a score of 19-10, then in 2003, beating the Miami Dolphins.

Above the Kirk Sessions exist Presbyteries, which have area responsibilities. The city's previous franchise, The Houston Oilers, moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1997 and are now the Tennessee Titans. A congregation issues a call for the minister's service, but this call must be ratified by the Presbytery. The Texans are a member of the AFC South division. Ministers are called by individual congregations. The Houston Texans are a National Football League team based in Houston, Texas. Teaching elders (ministers) have responsibility for teaching, worship and performing sacraments. Jamie Sharper.

Sometimes the practicalities of buildings and finance in the congregation are delegated to a distinct group (known variosly as a 'Board' or 'Deacons' Court'. Billy Miller. 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. Aaron Glenn. Presbyterian government is based on Elders. Jabar Gaffney. While these conservative Presbyterians are not in the majority, their numbers are significant. Tony Boselli.

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. Dunta Robinson. 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. Vernand Morency. 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. Andre Johnson. Many of the branches of Presbyterianism are remnants of previous splits from larger groups. Domanick Davis.

The origins of the Presbyterian churches were in Calvinism, which is no longer emphasized in some of the contemporary branches. David Carr. Presbyterians distinguish themselves from other denominations by both doctrine and institutional organization, or as they prefer to call it 'church order'. Main article: Presbyterian church governance. 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.

The Presbyterian church in England and Wales is the United Reformed Church, whilst the tradition also influenced the Methodist church, established in 1736. 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). 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. The Presbytery of Ulster was formed separately from the established church, in 1642.

In Ireland, Presbyterianism was established by Scottish immigrants and missionaries to Ulster. 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 1647, by an act of the Long Parliament under the control of Puritans, the Church of England embraced Presbyterianism . 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.

The existing Church of Scotland was thus reformed along Presbyterian lines. 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. In England, Scotland and Ireland, the Reformed churches that adopted a presbyterian instead of episcopalian government, became known naturally enough, as the Presbyterian Church. 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.

Besides national distinctions, Presbyterians also have divided from one another for doctrinal reasons, especially in the wake of the Enlightenment. There are many separate Presbyterian Churches in different nations around the world. Presbyterianism traces its institutional roots back to the Scottish Reformation, especially as led by John Knox. 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.

John Witherspoon, only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence. The Rev. Woodrow Wilson, 28th President. Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey.

Vice-President under Hayes. Wheeler, U.S. William A. Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, Princeton Seminary professor.

Roosevelt. Vice-President under F.D. Wallace, U.S. Henry A.

Mark Twain, American author. Vice-President under Monroe. Tompkins, U.S. Daniel D.

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

Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State (2005- ). President. Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. President (converted from Presbyterianism to Methodism).

James Knox Polk, 11th U.S. Norman Maclean, author and academic. Stonewall Jackson, General in the Confederate Army. President.

Andrew Jackson, 7th U.S. Charles Hodge, seminary professor. Hodge, seminary professor. A.

A. President. Benjamin Harrison, 23rd U.S. Katherine Harris, Florida Secretary of State during the 2000 election crisis and current congresswoman (R).

John Glenn, Astronaut, United States Senator. Mel Watt, Congressman from North Carolina and Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. Jay Rockefeller, junior United States Senator from West Virginia. Lamar Alexander, junior United States Senator from Tennessee.

Bill Frist, current Senate Majority Leader. Eisenhower, 34th President. Dwight D. Secretary of State in the Eisenhower Administration.

John Foster Dulles, U.S. Brian DePalma, film director; raised as a Presbyterian. President. Grover Cleveland, 22nd and 24th U.S.

Vice-President under Adams and Jackson. Calhoun, U.S. John C. Aaron Burr, co-founder of Princeton University.

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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