What is the Presbyterian Church?

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What is the Presbyterian Church?When we refer to a Presbyterian church, we are talking about a representative democracy that is governed by elders who are elected by the congregation.

The authority resides in the representatives who are duly elected in each of the governing bodies of the church. The session is the governing body of the local church.

Local sessions and the daily work of the church are supervised by:

Deacons, who are elected to direct the charitable and temporal ministry of the church; and by trustees, who are selected in some churches, in order to administer the financial, property, and legal affairs of the church.

On the other hand, the general structure of the church is made up of 4 governing bodies, which are described below:

Consistory, it is the local government body where the elders and ordained ministers or of the word are elected, all elected by the congregation.

Presbytery, are the ministers or elders who belong to congregations that usually supervise several churches.

Synod, are the elected representatives in each presbytery in order to oversee various presbyteries.

General Assembly, this is the national governing body, which is composed of an equal number of laity and clergy elected by the presbyteries.

Orthodox Presbyterian Church

In the case of these churches they are a kind of Presbyterian confessional, to which this name is given especially in the northern part of the United States.

This church was founded by conservative members of the (PCUSA) Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, who opposed modernist theology in the 1930s.

Orthodox Presbyterian churches can be found throughout North America and in many communities of varying sizes. In all of them the love of God and the relevance of the message of Christ are demonstrated.

All in order to rescue the society that is overwhelmed by vain materialism, by sin and broken relationships. Through faithful teaching, members of this church grow spiritually.

This is because they obey God’s laws, since that obedience pleases him. So they not only receive God’s word, but they strive to apply it in their lives.

Reformed Presbyterian Church

This Reformed Presbyterian Church has missions and congregations in Japan, Canada, and the United States. Thanks to its beliefs that have been formulated through membership in the RP Global Alliance and the Reformed Presbyterian Church, they position it as the conservative wing of the Protestant churches.

In addition, this church commits to various subordinate standards along with its Westminster Confession of Faith and Brief Catechisms, as well as the Testimony, Book of Discipline, Directory for Church Government, and Directory for Worship.

The main assumption of the Reformed churches is that the only head of the church is the risen Jesus Christ. That is why no elite group is highlighted, nor any special person who has received through direct revelation or by laying on of hands, some extraordinary powers of authority.

The doctrines of this church are determined in a traditional way by some principles, such as: scripture, salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, the sovereignty of God and the call to be people of transformation in the world.

The worship in this church is dignified, methodical and simple, where it is very important and highlights to hear and preach the word of God. In these Reformed Presbyterian churches the Eucharist is seldom celebrated weekly, since the most common Eucharistic celebrations are held monthly.

What religion is practiced in the Presbyterian church?

The Presbyterian denomination is a form of Christianity that is democratically organized with the goal of embracing the faith common to all Christians.

Presbyter in the New Testament means elder and refers to the custom of democratically electing counselors and leaders from among the wisest members of the church.

Among the characteristics required to be a Presbyterian are:

  • Confess faith in Christ
  • Trust Christ as our Savior and forgiver.
  • Promise to follow Christ and his example to live.
  • Make a commitment to attend church.

Where was the Presbyterian church born?

The history of the Presbyterian church dates back to the 16th century at the hands of the French reformer John Calvin and the Scottish Protestant Reformation leader John Knox, the latter made tireless efforts that managed to transform Scotland into the most Calvinist country in the world and also the cradle of modern Presbyterianism.

For example, in the United States, the origin of the Presbyterian church arises thanks to the Presbyterians of Ireland and Scotland, along with the influence of the Reformed German and Dutch emigrants, as well as the French Huguenots.

Presbyterian Christians are not united by the great denomination, but by the association of independent churches.

It is noteworthy that John Calvin was trained as a Catholic priest and later converted to the reform movement. He later became a revolutionary theologian and minister of the Christian church in America, Europe and the rest of the world.

Calvin’s thoughts were devoted to some practical matters such as: the church, the ministry, the Christian life, and religious education. He was even forced to lead the Geneva Reformation in Switzerland.

The Geneva city council for 1541 promulgated the ecclesiastical ordinances of Calvin, which established regulations in matters related to the order of the church, games of chance, dances, religious formation and even oaths.

Strict disciplinary measures were enacted by the church to deal with people who violated these ordinances.

Presbyterian Church Beliefs

For the faithful Presbyterians, the following beliefs are presented in the Book of Confessions:

  • The Trinity: We trust in the Triune God, the Holy One of Israel, whom we only worship and serve.
  • Jesus Christ is God: we trust Jesus Christ, fully human, fully God.
  • Scriptural authority: Our knowledge of God and God’s purpose for humanity comes from the Bible, particularly what is revealed in the New Testament through the life of Jesus Christ.
  • Justification by grace through faith: Our salvation through Jesus is God’s generous gift to us and not the result of our own accomplishments.
  • The Priesthood of All Believers: It is the job of all, ministers and laity alike, to share this good news with everyone. The Presbyterian church is governed by a combination of men, women, laity, and clergy at all levels alike.
  • The sovereignty of God: the supreme authority in the entire universe is God.
  • Sin: God’s reconciling act in Jesus Christ exposes evil in men as sin in God’s eyes. All people are subject to God’s judgment and helpless without forgiveness. In love, God assumed judgment and shameful death in Jesus Christ, to lead men to repentance and new life.
  • Baptism: For both adults and babies, Christian baptism marks the reception of the same Spirit by all his people. Baptism with water represents not only the cleansing of sin, but also a death with Christ and a joyful rising with him to new life.
  • The mission of the church: to be reconciled with God is to be sent into the world as its reconciling community. This community, the universal church, is entrusted with God’s message of reconciliation and shares in its work to heal the enmities that separate men from God and from each other.

Most Important Beliefs for Presbyterians

The baptism

Most Presbyterians tend to believe in baptism as a celebration or as a renewal of the covenant with which God united his people with himself. We can say that it is one of the first and most important celebrations of Presbyterian practice.

Through baptism, people are received into the church in a public way, in order to participate in its life and ministry, in this sense the church is responsible for training and supporting people in Christian discipleship.

When a baptism is for infants, the congregation and parents are especially obliged to nurture the children in this Christian faith, which ultimately leads them through a doctrine to have a personal response to the love of God that is manifested in baptism.

Communion

When it comes to fellowship, Presbyterians come together to worship, pray, praise God, and enjoy other people’s fellowship and instruction through the teachings of God’s word as Catholics and Episcopalians.

In the same way, they practice the act of communion; all the members of the church consider this act as solemn, but joyful; which symbolizes the celebration of the table of their Savior and a reconciliation with God and with each other.

Read also: What is Mormonism?

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