History of PresbyterianismEdit
Presbyterianism is a family of Christian denominations within the Reformed branch of Protestant Western Christianity. Hallmarks include Calvinist theology and the presbyterian form of church governance. A form of Calvinism, Presbyterianism evolved primarily in Scotland (Old Earth) before the Act of Union in 1707. Most of the few Presbyteries found in England can trace a Scottish connection. Although some modern adherents still hold to the theology of Calvin and his immediate successors, there is a wide range of theological views within contemporary Presbyterianism.
Modern Presbyterianism traces its institutional roots back to the Scottish Reformation (Old Earth). Local congregations are governed by Sessions made up of representatives of the congregation, a conciliar approach which is found at other levels of decision-making (Presbytery, Synod and General Assembly). Theoretically, there are no bishops in Presbyterianism; however, some groups in Eastern Europe, and in ecumenical groups, do have bishops. The office of elder is another distinctive mark of Presbyterianism: these are specially commissioned non-clergy who take part in local pastoral care and decision-making at all levels.
The roots of Presbyterianism lie in the European Reformation of the 16th century (Old Earth), with the example of John Calvin's Geneva being particularly influential. Most Reformed churches who trace their history back to Britain (Old Earth) are either Presbyterian or Congregationalist in government. Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, a high regard for the authority of the Bible, and an emphasis on the necessity of Divine grace through faith in Christ.
In the twentieth century, some Presbyterians have played an important role in the Ecumenical Movement, including the World Council of Churches. Many Presbyterian denominations have found ways of working together with other Reformed denominations and Christians of other traditions, especially in the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. Some Presbyterian Churches have entered into unions with other churches, such as Congregationalists, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Methodists. However, others are more conservative, holding rigid interpretations of traditional doctrines and shunning, for the most part, relations with non-Reformed bodies.