Some Presbyterians Principles
Presbyterians believe in a sovereign God
The Presbyterian Church has a strong view of the majesty, power, and omnipotence of God. This informs many things we do. Our worship is reverent and seeks to focus our hearts and minds on God. We believe God works in peoples' hearts in God's own timing and therefore we do not try to orchestrate the when's and how's of people's salvation. The belief in a sovereign God is also foundational to the difficult and often misunderstood doctrine of predestination. Predestination states, simply put, that God chooses us first before we ever even think about responding to God. God's choice and our response complete our salvation.
Presbyterians are formed and reformed by the Bible
Presbyterians believe in the Bible and use it as the unique and authoritative guide for how to live and what to believe. The sermons on Sunday try to explain and interpret the Bible rather than the preacher's latest ideas. We encourage people to read the Bible in their own devotional times and participate in group-settings such as Sunday School and Wednesday evening classes. For Presbyterians the Bible is not just to be read by preachers and scholars. We believe that the Bible is so clear, in its major themes and principles, that everybody can understand the story of salvation, primarily by reading the Bible in a regular and consistent discipline.
Presbyterians are a people of community
Presbyterians believe that you cannot live the Christian life effectively apart from other people. God has given us the church for our mutual support, correction, and encouragement. We need a relationship with other Christians in order to be all that God intends us to be. This is one of the reasons the Presbyterian Church has a connectional form of church government. It is also one of the reasons we work together in teams for ministry. We need to do the work of Christ with other people. We believe God calls people to be connected with a local congregation and we invite people to become Covenant Partners in the work of Christ as a way to recognize and celebrate that calling.
Presbyterians are a people of mission
Presbyterians believe that we cannot simply live in our own sheltered world. God has called us to take the gospel to the entire world. God has called us to exhibit the kingdom of Christ to our community. Local congregations participate in mission activities in their specific community, on a national level, and on a global scale. Presbyterians have always looked outside themselves and their own concerns to work to fulfill Christ's Great Commission. Today the mission field is also in our own backyard as we seek to share the gospel with the almost 50% of Americans not connected with any local church.
Presbyterians are a people of the mind
Presbyterians believe that the mind is a terrible thing to waste. God has given us our minds as gracious gifts. Our reasoning faculties ought to be trained for the service of God. This is why ministers in the Presbyterian Church are held to the highest academic standards. It is why the training of elders and Sunday School teachers is so very important in the Presbyterian church. It is why we encourage everyone to grow in knowledge of the Bible, church history, theology, and an understanding of the spiritual disciplines of the Christian life.
Presbyterians have two sacraments
The Presbyterian Church does not have many ceremonies and rituals. This is because we do not want to distract from the two most important ceremonies Christ left to the church, Baptism and the Lord's Supper. We believe these are the only two ceremonies, which we call sacraments, which Christ instituted for the church throughout the ages. Baptism is administered only once as a sign of our forgiveness from sin and our entrance into the family of God. We administer baptism to infants and children in anticipation of their faith and with the promise of parents to raise them in the “training and instruction of the Lord.” We administer the Sacrament of Baptism to adults upon their public profession of faith. The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is repeated often in the Presbyterian Church. Our congregation celebrates it on the first Sunday of every month. This ceremony reminds us, over and over, that we need the spiritual nourishment Christ brings to us and that Christ, our living Savior, is present with us, now and in the future.