Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Dictionary

A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.

Search:

Or browse the dictionary by selecting a letter!
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

PRESBYTERIANS

Members of various Protestant bodies, following in the tradition of John Calvin (1509-64) and his Scottish disciple John Knox (1513-72). The essential structural feature of historic Presbyterianism was that the Church's government should be in the hands of presbyters. Today, however, many Presbyterians hold that the Church founded by Christ contained episcopal and congregational, as well as presbyterian, elements. A typical Presbyterian church is governed by a hierarchy of authorities, each in the nature of a court: session, presbytery, synod, and general assembly, having clearly defined functions and specific directors.

The substance of Presbyterian belief is contained in the Westminster Confession of Faith, drafted by the Puritan English Parliament in 1643. Its main provisions are the Calvinist predestination belief that the Church founded by Christ was essentially invisible and "consists of the whole number of the elect," a spiritual and not bodily presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and a deference to civil authority that is characteristically Presbyterian. A new confession of the faith, issued by the American Presbyterians in 1967, left the Westminster Confession essentially untouched. Added to the group of now recognized statements of faith, however, was the Theological Declaration of Barmen (1834), published under Karl Barth (1186-1968) during the Nazi regime, to defend the Church's freedom from political oppression.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Making Moral Progress? July 3
Vatican statement clarifies duties of Catholic faithful after Obergefell decision July 2
Political battles vs. sacrificial service: The Brooks paradox revisited July 2
A Baptist leader with a message the Synod of Bishops should hear June 30
'Helpful' advice for social conservatives: ignore causes, deal with effects June 30

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope approves process for holding bishops accountable in abuse cases CWN - June 10
Pope Francis’ 2nd encyclical released (includes link to full text) CWN - June 18
US Supreme Court rules all states must recognize same-sex marriage CWN - June 26
Archbishop Nienstedt, auxiliary bishop resign CWN - June 15