Origin: A former Catholic priest, John Knox, developed the Presbyterian church in
Scotland based primarily on John Calvin’s theological doctrines.
Prime Philosophy: Calvinism
Founder: John Knox
Founding Date: 1560
Church Structure: Governing authority is placed primarily in elected laypersons known as elders. The elders of a local congregation are called a session. Several sessions constitute a local synod which in turn are collectively know as a General Assembly to govern the entire denomination. Elders and ministers who serve in governing bodies are called presbyters.
Mission: The church is called to be Christ's faithful evangelist going into the world, making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all he has commanded. It demonstrates by the love of its members for one another and by the quality of its common life the new reality in Christ, through worship, fellowship, and nurturing. It practices a deepened life of prayer and service under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
God: Trinitarian Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Sacraments: Baptism, Communion
Scriptures: 66 books, supernaturally inspired, Sola Fide
Dogmatic Origins: Sola Scriptura, reason and the Spirit lead to proper interpretation of Scripture. Confessions and dogmas are proclaimed by the General Assembly.
Church: One company and multitude of men chosen by God, who rightly worship and embrace him by true faith in Christ Jesus, who is the only Head of the church, even as it is the body and spouse of Christ Jesus. This church is catholic, that is, universal, because it contains the chosen of all ages, of all realms, nations, and tongues, be they of the Jews or be they of the Gentiles, who have communion and society with God the Father, and with his Son, Christ Jesus, through the sanctification of his Holy Spirit.
Man’s State: Fallen state due to original sin
Sin: covered up through justification of the elect. A person of the elect can only attribute their assured salvation to Christ’s death on the cross, and the grace through faith alone active in a believer. The Holy Spirit brings grace upon the elect.
Grace: Grace is defined as favor, blessing, or goodwill offered by one who does not need to do so. It is unearned and undeserved favor. In our sinful condition as humans, undeserving as we are of God's love, it is God's goodwill and favor reaching out to redeem us.
Redemption and Salvation: The Calvinistic theology holds that God predestines individuals to eternal beatitude or eternal damnation. Those chosen by God to be "saved" are referred to as the "elect" and can be assured of their salvation.
Justification: Presbyterians believe in justification by grace alone through faith alone, and that grace is attributed to Christ. However, reformed theology goes further and says that justification is offered only to the predestined elect. This theology varies with the particular divisions of Presbyterians. Some Presbyterians say that grace is freely offered to all and that all are predestined to be saved if a person repents of their sins and accepts by faith the relationship of love that God offers. This stance seems to abandon the tenet of predestination expounded by Calvin and Knox.
Repentance: Repentance of sins is wrought by the grace of God in his chosen elect and is a part of justification.
Baptism: Trinitarian baptism, "Baptism enacts and seals what the Word
proclaims: God's redeeming grace offered to all people. Baptism is God's gift of grace and
also God's summons to respond to that grace. Baptism calls to repentance, to faithfulness,
and to discipleship. Baptism gives the church its identity and commissions the church for
ministry to the world." -- --Book of Order W-2.3006. Presbyterians practice
Communion: "The Lord's Supper is the sign and seal of eating and drinking in communion with the crucified and risen Lord. During his earthly ministry Jesus shared meals with his followers as a sign of community and acceptance and as an occasion for his own ministry."--Book of Order W-2.4001a