Presbyterianism

The burning bush is a common symbol used by Presbyterian churches; here as used by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.[1] Latin inscription underneath translates as "burning but flourishing". In Presbyterianism, alternative versions of the motto are also used such as "burning, yet not consumed".
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Presbyterianism is a part of the reformed tradition within Protestantism which traces its origins to Britain, particularly Scotland, and Ireland.

Presbyterian churches derive their name from the presbyterian form of church government, which is governed by representative assemblies of elders. A great number of Reformed churches are organized this way, but the word Presbyterian, when capitalized, is often applied uniquely to churches that trace their roots to the Church of Scotland,[2] as well as several English dissenter groups that formed during the English Civil War.[3] Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures, and the necessity of grace through faith in Christ. Presbyterian church government was ensured in Scotland by the Acts of Union in 1707[4] which created the Kingdom of Great Britain. In fact, most Presbyterians found in England can trace a Scottish connection, and the Presbyterian denomination was also taken to North America mostly by Scots and Scots-Irish immigrants. The Presbyterian denominations in Scotland hold to the Reformed theology of John Calvin and his immediate successors, although there is a range of theological views within contemporary Presbyterianism. Local congregations of churches which use presbyterian polity are governed by sessions made up of representatives of the congregation (elders); a conciliar approach which is found at other levels of decision-making (presbytery, synod and general assembly).

The roots of Presbyterianism lie in the Reformation of the 16th century; the example of John Calvin's Republic of Geneva being particularly influential. Most Reformed churches that trace their history back to Scotland are either presbyterian or congregationalist in government. In the twentieth century, some Presbyterians played an important role in the ecumenical movement, including the World Council of Churches. Many Presbyterian denominations have found ways of working together with other Reformed denominations and Christians of other traditions, especially in the World Communion of Reformed Churches. Some Presbyterian churches have entered into unions with other churches, such as Congregationalists, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Methodists. Presbyterians in the United States came largely from Scottish immigrants, Scotch-Irish immigrants, and also from New England Yankee communities that had originally been Congregational but changed because of an agreed-upon Plan of Union of 1801 for frontier areas.[5] Along with Episcopalians, Presbyterians tend to be considerably wealthier[6] and better educated (having more graduate and post-graduate degrees per capita) than most other religious groups in United States,[7] and are disproportionately represented in the upper reaches of American business,[8] law and politics.[9]

Presbyterian identity

Iona Abbey in Scotland was founded by Saint Columba.

Early history

Presbyterian tradition, particularly that of the Church of Scotland, traces its early roots to the Church founded by Saint Columba, through the 6th century Hiberno-Scottish mission.[10][11][12] Tracing their apostolic origin to Saint John,[13][14] the Culdees practiced Christian monasticism, a key feature of Celtic Christianity in the region, with a presbyter exercising "authority within the institution, while the different monastic institutions were independent of one another."[15][10][16] The Church in Scotland kept the Christian feast of Easter at a date different from the See of Rome and its monks used a unique style of tonsure.[17] The Synod of Whitby in 664, however, ended these distinctives as it ruled "that Easter would be celebrated according to the Roman date, not the Celtic date."[18] Although Roman influence came to dominate the Church in Scotland,[18] certain Celtic influences remained in the Scottish Church,[19] such as "the singing of metrical psalms, many of them set to old Celtic Christianity Scottish traditional and folk tunes", which later became a "distinctive part of Scottish Presbyterian worship".[20][21]

Development

Presbyterian history is part of the history of Christianity, but the beginning of Presbyterianism as a distinct movement occurred during the 16th-century Protestant Reformation. As the Catholic Church resisted the reformers, several different theological movements splintered from the Church and bore different denominations. Presbyterianism was especially influenced by the French theologian John Calvin, who is credited with the development of Reformed theology, and the work of John Knox, a Scotsman and a Roman Catholic Priest, who studied with Calvin in Geneva, Switzerland. He brought back Reformed teachings to Scotland. The Presbyterian church traces its ancestry back primarily to England and Scotland. In August 1560 the Parliament of Scotland adopted the Scots Confession as the creed of the Scottish Kingdom. In December 1560, the First Book of Discipline was published, outlining important doctrinal issues but also establishing regulations for church government, including the creation of ten ecclesiastical districts with appointed superintendents which later became known as presbyteries.[22]

In time, the Scots Confession would be supplanted by the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, which were formulated by the Westminster Assembly between 1643 and 1649.

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asturianu: Presbiterianismu
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čeština: Presbyteriáni
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日本語: 長老派教会
português: Presbiterianismo
română: Prezbiterianism
Simple English: Presbyterianism
slovenčina: Presbyterianizmus
slovenščina: Prezbiterijanstvo
српски / srpski: Презвитеријанство
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українська: Пресвітеріанство
粵語: 長老會
中文: 長老宗