What Is a Presbyterian?
    
 
     The word, “Presbyterian,” comes from the Greek word, “presbuteros,” meaning “elder.” Following Biblical principles, the Presbyterian church is a representative democracy ruled by Elders elected by the congregation.  In the church, Elders serve three year terms, and, together with the Pastor, constitute the Session (governing body).  The Board of Deacons serve the physical and social needs of the church and community.  Local churches are part of a Presbytery.
 
The earthly theological “father” of Presbyterian-ism is John Calvin.  While living in Switzerland, he wrote his masterpiece, Institutes of the Christian Religion, which became the guidebook for the Protestant Reformation.  His influence grew when the Council of Geneva accepted his “Articles,” setting forth ideals of church structure and government.
 
His theology spread from Geneva throughout Europe in the 1530's.  Calvin emphasized Biblical truth, the sovereignty of God, the priesthood of all believers, intelligent theology, ethical behavior, and democratic government.  Under his leadership, Geneva became the center of the reformation in Europe, and its church a model of basic Presbyterian organization. 
 
The fiery pastor John Knox, a student of Calvin, brought Presbyterianism to his homeland, where it became the Church of Scotland.  Scottish and Irish Presbyterians were among the earliest settlers in America.  Their democratic ideals so influenced the American Revolution that some of the British called it the “Presbyterian Revolt.”  Indeed, the United States Constitution was modeled after the Presbyterian form of government, and the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence was a Presbyterian.
 
Presbyterians attempt to balance “order” (intelligent theology and sound Biblical scholarship) with “ardor” (spiritual passion and zeal).  We believe the Bible is the authoritative witness to Christ, the infallible guide to faith and practice, and God’s Word written to us, inspired and spoken into our lives by the Holy Spirit.  Presbyterians sometimes differ in their views on various theological issues, affirming that “God alone is Lord of the conscience,” yet we always seek to be guided by God’s Word and the Holy Spirit.
  July 2018  
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