Presbyterian faith, which continues to be rooted in the principles of the Protestant Reformation, is inspired by core principles articulated by John Calvin, Martin Luther, and other 16th century reformers. Some of these major theological themes include:
- Jesus Christ Is the Head of the Church — We believe that God has put all things under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and has made Christ head of the Church, which is his body in the world. Christ, who is present with us in both Spirit and Word, calls the Church into being and gives us everything we need for our mission in the world. Christ alone rules, calls, teaches, and uses the Church as he wills. Everything we do, say, and believe as the Church is a joyful participation in Christ’s ongoing life and work.
- The Sovereignty of God — As Presbyterians, we confess and acknowledge “one God alone, to whom alone we must cleave, whom alone we must serve, whom only we must worship, and in whom alone we put our trust” (Scots Confession). We encounter and experience God as a Trinity, one in substance and yet distinct in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- The Centrality of Scripture — We believe that the scriptures contained in the Bible constitute the written Word of God, which has been passed down to us by generations of believers and which remains a living, vibrant, and relevant witness to the power, love, and grace of God. We confess that, wherever this Word is read and proclaimed, “Jesus Christ the Living Word is present by the inward witness of the Holy Spirit” (Book of Order, W-2.2001). For this reason, the preaching and teaching of scripture are always central to our worship.
- Justification by Grace through Faith — Following the convictions of the original Protestant Reformers, we deny that salvation can be attained through any human work. We affirm that only the power, grace, and love of God can restore us to spiritual health and vitality. In this respect, even faith is a gift from God.
- The Priesthood of all Believers – As Presbyterians, we affirm that each of us stands on equal footing as sinners before God. Following this principle, our form of church government is democratic in nature. We believe in the sanctity of the individual conscience, believing that, when a majority of consciences are in agreement with a particular interpretation or course of action, our corporate will is most likely to align with the will of God.
- The “Great Ends” of the Church – As Presbyterians, we proclaim that the goals and purposes (or “great ends”) of the Church are: “the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind; the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God; the maintenance of divine worship; the preservation of the truth; the promotion of social righteousness; and the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.” (Book of Order, F-1.0304).
- God Welcomes All into the Family of Faith – Because the gospel calls us to extend the fellowship of Christ to all persons, Presbyterians welcome all persons who trust in God’s grace in Jesus Christ and desire to become part of the fellowship and ministry of his Church (Book of Order, G-1.0302).
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