The Presbyterian Faith

What We Believe

 God comes to us in free and undeserved favor in the person of Jesus  Christ who lived, died, and rose for us that we might belong to God and  serve Christ in the world. Following Jesus, Presbyterians are engaged in  the world and in seeking thoughtful solutions to the challenges of our  time. 

Presbyterians affirm that God comes to us with grace and love in the  person of Jesus Christ, who lived, died, and rose for us so that we  might have eternal and abundant life in him. As Christ’s disciples,  called to ministry in his name, we seek to continue his mission of  teaching the truth, feeding the hungry, healing the broken, and  welcoming strangers. God sends the Holy Spirit to dwell within us,  giving us the energy, intelligence, imagination, and love to be Christ’s  faithful disciples in the world. More than two million people call the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)  their spiritual home. Worshiping in 10,000 Presbyterian congregations  throughout the United States, they engage the communities in which they  live and serve with God’s love.

History

 Presbyterians trace their history to the 16th century and the  Protestant Reformation. Our heritage, and much of what we believe, began  with the French lawyer John Calvin (1509-1564), whose writings  crystallized much of the Reformed thinking that came before him. Calvin did much of his writing from Geneva, Switzerland. From there,  the Reformed movement spread to other parts of Europe and the British  Isles. Many of the early Presbyterians in America came from England,  Scotland and Ireland. The first American Presbytery was organized at  Philadelphia in 1706. The first General Assembly was held in the same  city in 1789. The first Assembly was convened by the Rev. John  Witherspoon, the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence. It's also of interest to note that our republican form of government is based upon the Presbyterian model.  

Theology

 Some of the principles articulated by John Calvin remain at the core  of Presbyterian beliefs. Among these are the sovereignty of God, the  authority of the scripture, justification by grace through faith and the  priesthood of all believers. What they mean is that God is the supreme  authority throughout the universe. 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. Our salvation  (justification) through Jesus is God’s generous gift to us and not the  result of our own accomplishments. It is everyone’s job — ministers and  lay people alike — to share this Good News with the whole world. That is  also why the Presbyterian church is governed at all levels by a  combination of clergy and laity, men and women alike. 

Points of interest

Presbyterians confess their beliefs through statements that have been adopted over the years and are contained in The Book of Confessions.  These statements reflect our understanding of God and what God expects  of us at different times in history, but all are faithful to the  fundamental beliefs described above. Even though we share these common  beliefs, Presbyterians understand that God alone is lord of the  conscience, and it is up to each individual to understand what these  principles mean in his or her life. 


Baptism

Presbyterians believe in the Sacrament of Baptism by sprinkling or immersion. Please read the article "What Presbyterian's Believe - Living and Dying in God's Enveloping Care".