What is distinctive about the Presbyterian Church?
- Authority of Scripture—We understand the Bible to be God’s unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ and God’s Word to us. We have a high view of scripture and take great care and prayer in interpreting it. This high view requires us to recognize that we will always be tempted to make scripture say what we believe, therefore it is critical that we take care in interpretation so that we truly hear the messages God communicates to us through the Old and New Testaments. For more in depth information on this click here.
- Women in Leadership—Women are welcomed fully into all levels of leadership in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Women and men both contribute equally to the healthy leadership of our congregations and denomination.
- Science—Presbyterians neither view science as the only method for discovering truth nor as an enemy that threatens our faith. Presbyterians serve in all fields of science and welcome the insights this method of truth-seeking reveals to us. We believe that science can help us understand the world better, help us read scripture better, and help us better serve the world to which God sends us.
- Questions and Doubts are Welcome—Presbyterians seek to make the connections between scripture and our daily lives. As a result, all questions are welcome and doubts are thought of as “the ants in the pants of faith” (Frederick Buechner). Our questions, doubts, and faith lead us to explore and discuss the thorniest social and political issues of the day. While this is often uncomfortable, we value being a community where no topic is taboo and no assertion of faith cannot be questioned, doubted, and struggled with.
- No Political Party has the Whole Truth—Presbyterians are often quite active in politics, with numerous Presidents, Senators, Supreme Court Justices, and other politicians having been Presbyterian. Nevertheless, the Presbyterian Church resists becoming captive to any political party. We have clergy and lay leaders from both parties and from many political and economic perspectives. Our diversity helps discover broader truths than those embodied in political ideology.
- Reformed Theology—This perspective of Christian faith has a confidence in the goodness and power of God that frees us to bear witness to Christ while not fearing that people who do not have the same beliefs or perspectives as us will be condemned by God. Reformed theology also challenges us to be active in the world showing the compassion of Christ anywhere that people are hurting or societal systems cause injustice.
- Representative Form of Government—The Presbyterian Church is governed at all levels by a combination of clergy and laity, men and women who represent the diversity of the church. The balance of power between clergy and lay members and between the national, regional, and local church allows more voices to contribute to leadership and helps address power abuses quickly when they arise.
For more information on the Presbyterian Church (USA):
This link (www.presbyterianmission.org/what-we-believe/) will take you to a wealth of resources in the areas of:
Within the pages on theology and social issues, you will find many sub-links to direct you to further information. It’s a great place to get lost for a while learning about Presbyterian history, faith, practice, and uniqueness!