Although the term “Presbyterian” refers to the system of church government adopted by these churches, the essence of Presbyterianism, which is one of the two church traditions stemming from Calvin’s Geneva reformation, is the belief in the sovereign, independent, triune God who has entered into a covenant to save a people for his own glory.


Presbyterian theology is a comprehensive system of doctrine, which is rooted in the Westminster Standards. Presbyterian churches share much doctrine in common with other true churches: God as the independent, triune God who made the heavens and earth; the Bible as the infallible word of God; all people as sinners; justification not by works, but by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; the second coming of Christ in glory; the final judgment to glory or damnation. Presbyterians also hold to doctrines that are shared with other traditions stemming from the Reformation: the absolute sovereignty of God in election; the duty of the Christian to live a life of piety in accordance with God’s moral law, including the Ten Commandments; participation in the two sacraments, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; the theological existence of both the invisible and visible church. The distinguishing mark of Presbyterian churches, however, is the system of church government that these chuches have adopted, with the elders of individual churches belonging to a Presbytery, and multiple Presbyteries belonging to a General Assembly.


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