Presbyterians are a people of the book. We began with the believers of the Protestant Reformation and their earnest efforts to "re-form" the church according to the forms of life and faith they found in Holy Scripture, the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
For that reason the Presbyterian Church is also known in many parts of the world as the Reformed Church. And the watchword of those churches and their founding principle is, "the Church reformed and always reforming according to the Word of God."
Notice ... "And always reforming," why can't we just do that once and be done with it? Because life and history and our understanding of God and ourselves is always changing, for better and for worse! Because of those changes Presbyterians are a confessional people, realizing that the ancient words and teachings of Holy Scripture must continually be re-translated, reinterpreted for successive generations of believers.
Therefore, along with scripture, Presbyterian Christians receive the historic confessions, creeds and catechisms of the church through the ages as, "authentic and reliable expressions of what scripture teaches us to believe and to do." These include, for example, "the Apostles' Creed," "the Nicene Creed," "the Westminster Confession," "the Heidelberg Catechism," twelve documents in our "Book of Confessions." This book offers expressions and summaries of our faith from the earliest centuries of Christian faith down to the century just past.
Presbyterian Christians believe in loving God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. We take seriously the challenge of God to live out the faith of Jesus Christ in a world that is always changing, yet always filled with the loving, saving grace of God.
To learn more about the Presbyterian Church you may wish to explore some of the information on the PC(USA) website section Presbyterian 101.
"A Brief Statement of Faith"
"A Brief Statement of Faith," adopted in 1991, is the most recent document included in the PC(USA) "Book of Confessions." Part of the Preface to this Statement reads, "No confession of faith looks merely to the past; every confession seeks to cast the light of a priceless heritage on the needs of the present moment, and so to shape the future." The Brief Statement of Faith" reads:
In life and in death we belong to God. Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, we trust in the one triune God, the Holy One of Israel, whom alone we worship and serve.
We trust in Jesus Christ, fully human, fully God. Jesus proclaimed the reign of God: preaching good news to the poor and release to the captives, teaching by word and deed, and blessing the children, healing the sick and binding up the brokenhearted, eating with the outcasts, forgiving sinners, and calling all to repent and believe the gospel. Unjustly condemned for blasphemy and sedition, Jesus was crucified, suffering the depths of human pain and giving his life for the sins of the world. God raised this Jesus from the dead, vindicating his sinless life, breaking the power of sin and evil, delivering us from death to life eternal.
We trust in God, whom Jesus called Abba, Father. In sovereign love God created the world good and makes everyone equally in God's image, male and female, of every race and people, to live as one community. But we rebel against God; we hide from our Creator. Ignoring God's commandments, we violate the image of God in others and ourselves, accept lies as truth, exploit neighbor and nature, and threaten death to the planet entrusted to our care.
We deserve God's condemnation. Yet God acts with justice and mercy to redeem creation. In everlasting love, the God of Abraham and Sarah chose a covenant people to bless all families of the earth. Hearing their cry, God delivered the children of Israel from the house of bondage. Loving us still, God makes us heirs with Christ of the covenant. Like a mother who will not forsake her nursing child, like a father who runs to welcome the prodigal home, God is faithful still.
We trust in God the Holy Spirit, everywhere the giver and renewer of life. The Spirit justifies us by grace through faith, sets us free to accept ourselves and to love God and neighbor, and binds us together with all believers in the one body of Christ, the Church. The same Spirit who inspired the prophets and apostles rules our faith and life in Christ through Scripture, engages us through the Word proclaimed, claims us in the waters of baptism, feeds us with the bread of life and the cup of salvation, and calls women and men to all ministries of the Church.
In a broken and fearful world the Spirit gives us courage to pray without ceasing, to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior, to unmask idolatries in Church and culture, to hear the voices of peoples long silenced, and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace. In gratitude to God, empowered by the Spirit, we strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks and to live holy and joyful lives, even as we watch for God's new heaven and new earth, praying, "Come, Lord Jesus!"
With believers in every time and place, we rejoice that nothing in life or in death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Click here for access to Dr. Theodore J. Wardlaw's address to New Harmony Presbytery on October 14, 2014: Why I'm a Presbyterian and Why I Stay In.