Presbyterianism Essay

The entire protestant reformation began with the work of Martin Luther, a German monk who had questions about the Roman Catholic Church. He asked a priest about his problems and the priest told him to look for the answer within the bible. Martin Luther looked in the bible and realized all the troubles that were going on in the Church. Knowing its problems Luther nailed a document with the problems entitled the 95 Theses. His document started the whole protestant reformation. There were many people who contributed to the reformation.

John Calvin was one of these contributors. Calvin was raised as a humanist and believed that people, the individual, and not merely the kings and bishops, should have a share in political and religious policy making. Calvin was responsible for the pattern of church government known as Presbyterianism. Calvin believed in the absolute sovereignty of God and he denied that human beings were capable of free will, and he elaborated a doctrine of predestination that God elects certain people to salvation, while rejecting others and consigning them to eternal damnation. (isoa. et)

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Presbyterianism rganized a distinct church government independent of civil government, in order to allow church officials to work for social reform. (thinkquest. org) Presbyterianism, itself, is a system of religion and politics. It is a system of church government by presbyteries of ministers and elders. No higher rank than that of presbyter or elder was recognized, and all elders were ecclesiastically of equal rank. Each Presbyterian congregation was governed by its session of elders, each session was subordinate to provincial presbyteries, and these were, in their turn, subordinate to the

General Assembly of the Church. (brown. edu) In Presbyterianism the oldest people in the congregation held the highest rank. The idea of Presbyterianism spread with the discovery of new land and more people wanting to have freedom of religion. The First American Presbyterian churches were founded by English colonists on Long Island, New York, and in New England during the 1640s. Four major divisions have occurred in American Presbyterianism.

The first arose during the 1740 s over the revival of the first Great Awakening; the second ccurred during the 1830 s due to slavery in the United States, theological issues, and the conduct of missionary work; the third took place in 1861 because of the American Civil War; and the fourth was during the 1920s and 1930s at the peak of the controversy between fundamentalism and modernism. (isoa. net) Presbyterian churches were not like the Roman Catholic Church in the sense of liturgy. The Roman Catholic Church was very strict with its services.

Presbyterian worship has always allowed for considerable flexibility in orms and practices, but it is based on Calvin’s definition of the essential characteristics of the church being the faithful proclamation of the gospel and the celebration of the sacraments. In the United States emphasis was originally placed on the sermon as the center of worship; liturgy was practically absent, and the Lord’s Supper was celebrated only occasionally. During the late 1800s and early 1900s services began to include a greater use of liturgy and a more regular celebration of the Lord’s Supper (isoa. net).