What does “Presbyterian” mean? Presbyterians are among the “denominations” (types of churches) that grew out of the Protestant Reformation in Europe in the 16th century. Presbyterians trace their religious heritage to John Knox of Scotland, and to Jean (John) Calvin, a French reformer who spent many years in Switzerland. Like most Christians, we center our faith and life around our belief in both the divinity and the humanity of Jesus Christ, as a person through whom God entered our human condition and effected eternal salvation for us. We believe that God continues to be active in this world that God has created, and that God cares how we live our lives, and wants to be in relationship with us.
First Presbyterian Church of Asheboro is part of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. To learn more about the P.C.U.S.A., go to www.pcusa.org.
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.[21]
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.
Presbyterians distinguish themselves from other denominations by doctrine, institutional organization (or “church order”) and worship; often using a “Book of Order” to regulate common practice and order. The origins of the Presbyterian churches are in Calvinism. Many branches of Presbyterianism are remnants of previous splits from larger groups. Some of the splits have been due to doctrinal controversy, while some have been caused by disagreement concerning the degree to which those ordained to church office should be required to agree with the Westminster Confession of Faith, which historically serves as an important confessional document – second only to the Bible, yet directing particularities in the standardization and translation of the Bible – in Presbyterian churches.
Presbyterians place great importance upon education and lifelong learning, tempered with the knowledge that no human action can affect salvation.
Continuous study of the scriptures, theological writings, and understanding and interpretation of church doctrine are embodied in several statements of faith and catechisms formally adopted by various branches of the church, often referred to as “subordinate standards“.