The truth is, Presbyterians are such a diverse and widespread bunch that you may get many different answers to the question, “What does a Presbyterian believe?” But throughout all the answers – if they are truly faithful to Presbyterian tradition – there will run threads of continuity. Presbyterians believe in:
1. The Sovereignty of God
2. The Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ
3. The Authority of Scripture
4. The Marks of the Gathered Church, the Word preached, the administration of the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, pastoral care of the congregation, and the exercise of discipline and order in the community of faith.
5. The Church called out by God in Jesus Christ, not only to order its own internal life in faithfulness to the Gospel, but to be active in the world in the name of the One who is Lord alone.
Presbyterians, over the centuries, have been known for their active engagement with the social, political, and economic structures of society in the name of Jesus Christ and understand that the calling of Christians to that kind of presence in the world is a mandate, not only for indiviudal believers, but also for the church as an institution.
(“Church and Society,” November/December 1991 issue, Vernon S. Broyles, III, Content Editor)
Presbyterians are part of the Reformed tradition and we “confess our faith.” God’s people have always said what they believe, and at significant historical moments, it has been important for the people of God to write down who they are and what beliefs they hold most profoundly.
- The first part of the PCUSA’s Consitution is The Book of Confessions which contains two ancient creeds, four Reformation documents, and three contemporary (20th Century) confessions. New confessions of faith may be added since we believe that the need to “confess” is inherent in the nature of Christian faith. (Download The Book of Confessions.)
- The second part of the PCUSA’s Constitution is The Book of Order which organizes, directs, and disciplines the Body of Christ in its Presbyterian form. This book contains the Foundations of Presbyterian Polity, the Form of Government, the Directory for Worship, and the Rules of Discipline.
(“Presbyterian Questions, Presbyterian Answers,” Donald K. McKim, 2003. p. 6)