What Presbyterians Believe
This ongoing series of articles on "What Presbyterians Believe" explores the Biblical and theological foundations of our faith.
The authors have given permission for these articles to be reproduced. We hope this series will be useful for adult church school classes and discussion groups, new member classes and individual enrichment.
How to Speak Presbyterian
It has been estimated that 58 percent of the members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) did not grow up in the denomination. For readers in that category, here is a short rundown of the lingo you are likely to hear in a Presbyterian church that you may not have heard in another church.
To Adam: Yes, the PC(USA) ordains both men and women, without discrimination, to the position of teaching elder (our term for a pastor, formerly known as a Minister of Word and Sacrament) - after completing three years of seminary, earning a Master of Divinity, proceeding through several years of discernment and evaluation, doing several internships, and when determined fit for ministry. These teaching elders, with the authorization of their sessions or congregational governing bodies, are able to administer both the sacrament of Holy Communion and the sacrament of Baptism. Gender equality and justice is a priority for the PC(USA).
What is the Presbyterians stance on women baptizing in the church? Can they perform the ceremony?
To Santiago: Good question! Presbyterians of course differ in many of their beliefs, but one of our core tenets is 'grace alone.' In other words, we are saved through the death and resurrection of Christ, through the grace of God, not through any acts on our part. God is always the initiator. That of course doesn't mean we're then off the hook. We are called to respond to God's grace with gratitude and service. Our "works," as you call them, are always responsive to grace, for they are insufficient to earn our salvation.
I also was very surprised to see that the subject of Presbyterian beliefs about salvation was not offered in the list. Does not one (as a Christian) perhaps believe that this is one of the most important subjects? After all did not our Lord come here to show us Love, how to live in love, and then die to take our sins on him so we could be "saved", and enter into his kingdom? It doesn't have to be complex or argumentative, after all salvation is simple, since it is a work of our Lord. I just mainly wanted to know if Presbyterians are on a "works trip", or believe that they are saved by GRACE, Gift Recieved At Christ's Expense
I'd love to hear the response to Ann's question. Having been raised in the SDA church, I do have strong opinion on the subject. That said, we (myself and husband) have been regularly attending a PCA congregation since we moved South. This one subject is possibly the only thing I really question, (with exception to maybe the state of the deat), since the commandments are clear. Thoughts??