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Presbyterianism is a kind of Protestant Christianity. It was started in Scotland by John Knox during the 16th century. It became powerful in England during the Civil War. Today there are Presbyterian churches across the world.

Presbyterians (followers of Presbyterianism) are Calvinists and believe The five points of Calvinism, also known as the "Five Points of Calvinistic Doctrine" or simply "TULIP', a theological summary that represents the key points of the Calvinist doctrine. Each letter in the acronym TULIP stands for a different point:

1. Total depravity (also known as Total Inability): This point asserts that as a result of the Fall, humanity is completely touched by sin and, therefore, unable to choose to follow God or contribute to their own salvation. This means that, without divine intervention, humans are incapable of responding to God.

2. Unconditional election: This point emphasizes the belief that God chooses individuals for salvation based on his will alone, and not based on anything that a person does or believes. It is the idea that God's choice of who will be saved is not contingent on any foreseen response or characteristic of the individual.

3. Limited atonement (also known as Particular Atonement): This point affirms the belief that Jesus's atonement was intended to save the elect only, and not every single individual. It is the belief that Jesus's death was specifically designed to save those whom God has chosen for salvation.

4. Irresistible grace: This point asserts that the grace of God is so powerful that those whom God has chosen for salvation cannot resist it. In other words, when God calls an individual to salvation, that person will inevitably come to faith.

5. Perseverance of the saints (also known as "Once saved, always saved" or "Eternal Security"): This point emphasizes the belief that those who are chosen by God, called, and regenerated will continue in faith and ultimately be saved. This means that once a person is truly saved, they cannot lose their salvation. Some presbyterians do not agree with the 3rd point (Limited atonement) and are therefore called 4 point calvinists.

Presbyterian churches may be led by men called Ministers, Rectors or Elders. Some Presbyterian churches have women as elders. "Presbyter" means "elder" and they rule in committees.

There is no overall leader and there are no bishops in the Presbyterian tradition. On Sunday, the Bible, which they consider the 'Word of God', is read and a sermon preached by the minister is at the heart of a morning worship service, which also includes group singings of some worship songs.

Around the world[change | change source]

There are Presbyterian churches on every continent except Antarctica, but they do not always agree with each other. There have been many splits ("schisms") caused by various disagreements: some about what they believe, some about how they should be organised. In some cases these splits have been healed but many have not.

In Scotland, where Presbyterianism started, there are at least seven different groups ("denominations"); there are three main groups in England, one in Wales and five in Northern Ireland.

There are dozens of different groups in North America, almost all in the USA. They arrived during the 17th century, mostly from Scotland and already disagreeing with each other. Most countries in South America have had Presbyterian churches since the 19th century.

At least 23 countries in Africa have Presbyterian churches, also since the 19th century.

In Asia, the Korea Presbyterian Church was started through the mission of the Presbyterian Church (USA). After Korean independence, the division was formed afresh as 'Presbyterian Church in Korea (KoRyuPa)' advocating the views of Dutch Reformed churches. In 2012 a new General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Korea declared authentic historical succession of John Knox.

Related pages[change | change source]