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Presbyterian Churches.

Presbyterians helped perpetuate the doctrinal and governmental features that J. Calvin* emphasized. See also Polity, Ecclesiastical, 7.

1. Presbyterianism in Scotland. Calvin's doctrinal and ecclesiastical system was brought to Scot. by J. Knox.* The Reformation had found early root in Scot. See Hamilton, Patrick. The martyrdom of G. Wishart* was avenged by assassination of D. Beaton.* RCs sought help from France, Prots. from England. The assassins and others, including Knox, were captured and taken to Fr..

1560 saw the consolidation, nat. recognition, and est. of the Ref. Church. The Scotch Confession of Faith was ratified August. The 1st Gen. Assem. met December. The 1st Book of Discipline was drafted 1560, signed by some nobles 1561 (see Discipline, Books of, 1). The govt. of the ch. was vested in supts., ministers, doctors, elders, and deacons. Communion was to be celebrated 4 times a yr. In towns there were to be daily services. Marriages were to be performed “in open face and public audience of the Kirk.” The Book of Common Order (drawn up 1556 by Knox for the Eng. Prot. congs. in Geneva and also known as “The Order of Geneva” and “John Knox's Liturgy”) was appointed for use in Scot. by the Gen. Assem. 1562, rev. and enl. 1564 and was in gen., but not exclusive, use for ca. 80 yrs. The Reformation in Scot. was effected by presbyters, and the govt. of the ch. naturally became Presb. The ch. was est. by Parliament 1567. The Scotch Confession of Faith was superseded 1647 by the Westminster Confession (see Presbyterian Confessions, 3, 4).

The 1st formal division arose 1688, when the Cameronians,* dissatisfied with the compromising spirit of the ch., refused to concur in the Revolution settlement and remained an isolated body till 1876, when they joined the Free Ch. (see next par.). Next came 2 secessions that eventually coalesced in the United Presb. Church. E. Erskine* led a secession 1733. The seceders divided into Burghers and Antiburghers 1747 over the question of taking the Burgess oath: “I profess and allow with my heart the true religion presently professed within this realm and authorized by the Laws thereof; I shall abide thereat and defend the same to my life's end, renouncing the Roman religion called Papistry.” The Burghers were known as the Associate Syn. (later called Associate Presbytery), the Antiburghers as the Gen. Associate Syn. Both Burghers and Antiburghers threw off small minorities of Auld Lichts (see New Lichts). The Auld Licht Burghers returned to the Est. Ch. shortly before the 1843 Disruption, when they left it again; most Auld Licht Antiburghers joined the Free Ch. 1852, the rest remained separate. Burghers and Antiburghers reunited 1820 to form the United* Secession Ch. This ch. was known for for. miss. enthusiasm. The next secession was the Relief* Ch., which began with T. Gillespie* and was known for its liberal spirit. The Relief Ch. and the United Secession Ch. joined to form the United Presb. Ch. 1847.

The Free* Ch. of Scot., largest and most influential, came into being on a nat. scale 1843. Those who left (or “came out” of) the Est. Ch. in what is called The Disruption claimed to be the true Ch. of Scot. and made their organization indep. of the state, holding that the spiritual liberty and indep. of the ch. were at stake.

The Free Ch. of Scot. and the United Presb. Ch. united 1900 to form the United Free Ch. of Scot., which united with the Est. Ch. of Scot. 1929.

Other indep. chs. were organized: Free Presb. Ch. of Scot. (formed 1893 as Free Ch. Presbytery of Scot., in reaction against the 1892 Declaratory* Act; name changed later to avoid legal complications), Ref. Presb. Ch. (see also Macmillan, John), legitimate descendant and representative of the Covenanted Ch. of Scot. in its period of greatest purity 1638–49 (see also Covenanters), and United Original Secession Ch., dated from 1733 and Erskine (see above).

See also Associate Reformed Church; Scotland, Reformation in, 1–3.

2. Presbyterian Ch. of Eng.. Under oppression, a considerable number of persons left the Est. Ch. and held services acc. to the Presb. order. Others still in the ch., who were likeminded, held conferences or “ministers' meetings,” one of which in London 1572 deputed 2 mems. to visit nearby Wands-worth and organize a Particular Ch. in acc. with Presb. order, the 1st open formation in Eng. of a ch. different from the Est. Church. W. Laud* took severe measures against nonconformists.* Tension developed bet. the king, who held to the Est. Ch., and Parliament. Presbs. felt driven to join the parliamentarians. Subsequent alliance of Parliament with the Scot. army, and decisions of the 1647 Westminster Assem., resulted in replacement of the episc. form in the Est. Ch. by presbytery. The Westminster Assem. drew up a Directory for the Pub. Worship of God 1643 and the Westminster Confession. The Directory of Church Government, an Eng. tr. of a Lat. work by W. Travers,* was circulated in support of the presb. system.

The Establishment was now Presb., but Presb. polity was accepted largely only in London and Lancashire. O. Cromwell* replaced presbytery by independency. The 1662 Act of Uniformity required (1) every minister not episcopally ordained to be reordained: (2) adherence to everything in the Book* of Common Prayer; (3) obedience to the ordinary (bp.); (4) abjuration of the Solemn League* and Covenant; (5) an oath declaring it unlawful to take up arms against the king. Many clerics refused obedience and left their charge. The Conventicle Act (passed 1664, modified and reenacted 1670) made it practically impossible for them to preach to any sizeable group; the Five Mile Act of 1665 was designed to keep them away from centers of population. The Revolution of 1688 brought in its wake the “Happy Union” arrangement of 1691. acc. to which all branches of nonconformity acted as practically a single community with little authority or doctrinal clarity. See also Puritans; United Church of Christ, I A 1.

Many nonconformist groups had provided chapels. In course of time nearly all these groups joined Scotch Presb. congs. that formed in London and elsewhere, but had no official connection with the Scottish gen. assem. By 1772 the ministers of the 7 such congs. in London formed The Scots Presbytery of London. It claimed “communion” with the Ch. of Scot., but had no ecclesiastical connection with it and was little more than a “ministers' meeting.” In 1836 it changed name to The London Presbytery in Communion with the Ch. of Scot. In 1839 the Scottish Assem. counseled it to organize as The Presb. Syn. in Eng. The 1843 Disruption (see 1) divided also The Presb. Syn. in Eng. The majority sided with the Free Ch. of Scot. and kept the name Presb. Syn. in Eng.; the minority stayed with the Est. Ch. of Scot. and formed The Scottish Presbytery in London in Connection with the Ch. of Scot. In 1850 this presbytery and 2 others formed The Syn. of the Ch. of Scot. in Eng. In 1863 the United Presb. Ch. in Scot. (see 1) formed its congs. in Eng. into the Eng. Syn. In 1876 this syn. united with the Presb. Syn. in Eng. to form the Presb. Ch. of Eng.

3. Presb. Ch. in Ireland. When Ulster was extensively colonized by Scot. and Eng. Prot. settlers under James* I, beginning 1610, Presbs. gained a permanent footing in Ireland. Presb. ministers began to come from Scot. 1613 and for a time they were appointed without reordination to vacant charges in the Est. Ch. In 1641 there was a rebellion in lreland; perhaps ca. 30,000 Prots. were massacred. In 1642 a Scot. army was sent to quell the rebellion; each regiment had a chaplain and a regular kirk session selected from the officers; the 1st presbytery consisted of 5 chaplains and 4 elders. Ministers came from Scot.; new presbyteries were formed; at the time of O. Cromwell* there was a gen. syn. with 80 congs. and 70 ministers. In 1661, 64 ministers were dismissed for nonconforming; many Presbs. went to Am.

William III (1650–1702; king of Eng., Scot., Ireland 1689–1702) authorized a payment to the Presb. ministers of Ireland in recognition of the loyal support of Presbs. on his arrival in Ireland 1690. This was the beginning of the Irish regium donum (Lat. “royal gift”), later increased, and paid almost continuously till the disestablishment of the Irish Ch. 1869. Toward the end of the 1st half of the 18th c. some ministers were influenced by modernism. A cong. of seceders formed 1741; in time there came to be a Secession Syn. as well as a Syn. of Ulster. Ministers of secession congs. also received a regium donum. Arian views of some Syn. of Ulster ministers ca. 1825 led to reaction in which the Syn. of Ulster, by overwhelming majority, declared in favor of the doctrine of the Trin. In 1829 seventeen ministers withdrew from the syn. and later formed The Remonstrant Syn. of Ulster. In 1840 the Syn. of Ulster and most of the Secession Syn. united to form the Gen. Assem. of the Presb. Ch. in Ireland.

There were Presbs. in S Ireland before 1610. Presbs. in S Ireland outside the Syn. of Ulster and the Secession Syn. belonged to the Southern Assoc. which became the Syn. of Munster 1809. In 1840 the orthodox mems. of this syn. withdrew and formed the Presbytery of Munster, which joined the Gen. Assem. of the Presb. Ch. in Ireland 1854.

The Ref. Presb. or Covenanting Ch. of Ireland traces its origin to the Covenanters* of Scot. (“Society people”), who had fled persecution and settled in the NE part of the island. A presbytery was organized 1792, a syn. 1811. In 1840 a number of ministers and congs. withdrew as a result of controversy about the power of the civil ruler. Some of the congs. returned, others joined the Presb. Ch. of Ireland. Standards: the Westminster Confession and Catechisms, together with the Testimony, which sets forth the church's distinctive position.

Some seceders did not enter the Gen. Assem. of the Presb. Ch. in Ireland 1840 but formed the Associate Syn. of Ireland or the Presb. Syn. of Ireland distinguished by the name Seceder.

4. Presbyterianism in Am.

a. The Presb. Ch. (U. S. (A.)) was formed 1983 by reunion of The United Presb. Ch. in the USA and the Presb. Ch. in the US

The United Presb. Ch. in the USA was formed 1958 by merger of The Presb. Ch. in the USA “Northern Presbs.”) and The United Presb. Ch. of N. Am.

The Presb. Ch. in the USA traces its hist. to colonial days. The 1st presbytery was organized 1706 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania In New Eng., Presbyterianism yielded to Congregationalism. The Great* Awakening deeply affected Presb. ch. life. G. Tennent* and W. Tennent,* leaders of the progressive or New Side party (Syn. of New York), endorsed the revival system of G. Whitefield* and held that only such should be admitted to the ministry as had “experienced” conversion. W. Tennent est. a “log coll.” 1736 in a log house on his estate at Neshaminy. Bucks Co., Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, to train candidates whose chief requisite was a religious “experience”; the coll. was a predecessor of Princeton (New Jersey) U. The conservative or Old Side party (Syn. of Philadelphia) held that Calvinism was theol. opposed to revivalism and that only coll.-bred men should become ministers. The 2 parties reunited 1758.

In the 1st part of the 19th c. the Presb. Ch. and the Cong. assocs. of New Eng. operated under the Plan of Union (based on 1801–10 agreements bet. the gen. assem. and the assocs. of Connecticut and other states), which allowed Cong. ministers to serve Presb. congs. and vice versa. The Plan of Union was abandoned 1837 largely as a result of conservative or Old School party pressure against interdenom. miss. agencies. Progressive or New School party leaders included A. Barnes.*

The New School took a stand against slavery 1850. In 1857 some of its syns. and presbyteries (ca. 15,000 communicant mems.) in the south withdrew; in 1858 they organized the United Syn. of the Presb. Ch. In 1861 southern presbyteries withdrew from the Old School and formed the Gen. Assem. of the Presb. Ch. in the Confederate States of Am. In the 1860s this Gen. Assem., the United Syn., and the Indep. Presb. Ch. of South Carolina united and adopted the name Gen. Assem. of the Presb. Ch. in the US (later known as Presb. Ch. in the US; (see below); other bodies joined it 1867–74. This is the so-called Southern Presbyterian group.

The United Presb. Ch. of N. Am. was formed 1858 by union of the Assoc. Ref. Presb. Ch. and the Assoc. Presb. Ch. See also Associate Reformed Church.

Towards the end of the 19th c. liberalism began to affect Presbyterianism. The confessions were revised to bring the doctrine of God's decree into harmony with His universal grace. The Welsh Calvinistic Meth. Ch. (Presb. in polity) united with the Presb. Ch. in the USA 1920. See also Auburn Affirmation; Briggs, Charles Augustus; Coffin, Henry Sloane; Union Movements, 7.

The Presb. Ch. in the US (“Southern Presbs.”) traced its beginning to 1861 (see above); theologically more conservative than “Northern Presbs.” (see above), though in 1939 the Gen. Assem. deleted from the Westminster Confession the par. on the decree of election and the par. in which the pope is called the Antichrist.

b. Cumberland Presb. Ch. Organized 1810 Dickson Co., Tennessee, as a result of the Kentucky Revival at the close of the 18th c. led by James McGready (ca. 1758–1817) and in opposition to indifferentism, fatalism, and formalism. Its Confession of Faith and Discipline is a modified version of the Westminster Confession and Catechisms (see Presbyterian Confessions, 3, 4). Operates Memphis (Tennessee) Theol. Sem. and Bethel Coll., McKenzie, Tennessee

In 1869 the gen. assem. approved est. of a separate organization for Negro chs. called Colored Cumberland Presb. Ch. In 1940 the latter group received a Presbytery in Liberia, Afr., into membership and changed name to Cumberland Presb. Ch. in the US and Afr. In the mid-1960s the name was changed to 2d Cumberland Presb. Ch. in US and connection with the Liberia Presbytery severed.

c. Presb. Ch. in Am. Organized 1973 in Birmingham, Alabama, mostly by former mems. of the Presb. Ch. in the US (see a). Called Nat. Presb. Ch. in its 1st yr.

d. The Orthodox Presb. Ch. (called Presb. Ch. of Am. 1936–39). Founded 1936 by J. G. Machen* and followers, who opposed modernism in the Northern Presb. Ch. (see a), were suspended for insubordination, and withdrew.

e. Bible Presb. Ch.. Founded by men suspended with Machen (see d) but who were more rigid on abstinence and premillennialism. Name changed 1961 to Ev. Presb. Church. United 1965 with Ref. Presb. Ch. in N. Am. (Gen. Syn.) to form the Ref. Presb. Ch., Ev. Syn.

f. Scotch Presbs. are often called Covenanters.* Many regarded convenanting as both pol. and religious in function: a pub. testimony to one's belief that the Bible must be followed also in soc. relations. Covenanters observe Sunday and the NT Sabbath, practice close Communion, do not take part in affairs of a govt. that does not recognize the Triune God, and do not permit membership in secret socs. Some Covenanters oppose singing hymns not in the Bible. Scotch Presbs. are conservatively Calvinistic and champion the inerrancy of the Bible. Representatives in Am. include Ref. Presb. Ch. of N. Am. (also known as Ch. of the Covenanters); Assoc. Ref. Presb. Ch. (Gen. Syn.).

g. Ref. Presb. Ch., Ev. Syn. See e

h. Associate Ref. Presb. Ch. (Gen. Syn.). A syn. (Gen. Syn. from 1935) of the former Associate Ref. Presb. Ch. (the latter helped form The United Presb. Ch. of N. Am. 1858; see Associate Reformed Church); result of realignments among Covenanters.

i. 2d Cumberland Presb. Ch. in US See b

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

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Content Reproduced with Permission

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