Do you know very much about the Presbyterian Church? There are only just over a million members of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, but it is one of the leading Protestant religions outside of the U.S. with large congregations in England, Wales, and Scotland, among other countries. Reformer John Calvin, a Swiss/French theologian who at one time was studying for the Catholic priesthood, started the Presbyterian Church as a protest against what he felt were the abuses and inaccuracies in the teachings of the Catholic Church. He organized the church with a council of elders who were elected by the church so that the lay members would have a say in what went on in the church.
Calvinism, as the main tenets of the Presbyterian Church were originally called, were strongly similar to the tenets of Martin Luther, but they differed in the areas of emphasis. Calvinism also dealt with issues such as swearing and even dancing as well as church matters.
John Knox was also an important person in the founding of the Presbyterian Church. He took the message of Calvinism and the Reformation to his native Scotland while John Calvin was presenting his message in Geneva Switzerland. It was so popular that the Scottish people adopted the Presbyterian Church as the Church of Scotland, a title which it holds to this day.
When the converts to various Christian denominations in the Reformation started looking for a place to practice their religion freely and build up their churches, many turned to the new land of America. The Presbyterian Church was no different. Not only did members of the Church come to America, they played a role in laying the democratic foundation for the government. One of the signers of the Declaration of Independence was the Reverend John Witherspoon, the only Christian minister to sign.
Here are some of the basic tenets and beliefs in the Presbyterian faith:
1. The only true source of information about God and what God wants us to do is the Bible.
2. We cannot earn salvation through our works. We gain salvation through the grace of God.
3. Lay members of the church as well as church leaders have the responsibility to share the gospel with others throughout the whole earth and fill roles and jobs in the church.
4. God has all authority and power. He is the most powerful being in the universe.