Presbyterianism

WE BELIEVE THAT :

  • The Bible is God`s Word.
  • The Christian message and the Church are vital to life in today`s world.
  • God loves all of us, no matter who we are and what we have done, and He wants us to know and to love Him.
  • He has proved this by sending His Son, Jesus Christ to live in this world, to die for the world, and to be raised from the dead so that we might know God`s love.
  • The Church is the family of God`s people, where everyone is accepted, valued and loved.
  • As a family we should show our common love and purpose, in sharing together.

WHAT IS PRESBYTERIANISM?

Apart from being a word that challenges the spelling abilities of most people, it is also a word or concept that many people know very little about. Presbyterianism refers to how the Church is organised and governed. It comes from the Greek word, presbuteros, meaning an elder.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF PRESBYTERIANISM

In the 16th Century, there was what is known as the Protestant Reformation, when Martin Luther and others, protested against the extravagance of the Roman Catholic Church. In Scotland, the Reformation was led by John Knox, under whose influence the Protestant Church in Scotland was organised under a Presbyterian system. This spread mainly into Ireland, but also to England, Wales and Europe.

When immigrants first arrived from Britain, their distinctive form of Church organization was brought with them. However it soon became “Australian”. In 1901, the different State Presbyterian Churches united together to become the Presbyterian Church of Australia. In 1977 much of the Presbyterian Church, the Methodist and the Congregational Churches joined together to become the Uniting Church of Australia. However a substantial number of the Presbyterians could not enter into the Union, because of concerns over a number of issues, of which the place of Scripture was one of the main ones.

HOW THE CHURCH IS ORGANISED

  • General Assembly of Australia – meets every three years and is made up of representatives from every Presbytery. It discusses and decides on issues of doctrine, worship, and discipline
  • State Assemblies (Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia) – meet every year and are made up of the minister and one elder from every congregation. They discuss and decide on issues of running the State Church.
  • Presbytery (Local geographical areas) – meets more regularly and is made up of the minister and an elder from every congregation in that area. It has oversight and a responsibility to encourage every congregation in that region
  • Local Church – the Kirk Session is made up of elders and oversees the spiritual welfare of the Church; the Committee of Management is made up of the elders plus managers who are elected, and they look after the finances and property of the Church.

DISTINCTIVE TRAITS OF PRESBYTERIANISM

  • A central emphasis on Scripture as being the Word of God, which is relevant to our modern life
  • Upholds the importance of preaching
  • Practices two Sacraments
    • Holy Communion
    • Baptism:
      • of children, as a token of God’s covenant love and His promise for families
      • of adults, as a profession of faith
  • Accepts the Westminster Confession of Faith as it’s secondary standard (This is a series of statements drawn from the Bible, which outline key beliefs)

We are a “Reformed” Church.  To be “Reformed” means several things. Historically, it means that we trace our roots to the Reformation, when John Calvin and others led a movement to reform the Church according to the Scriptures. Theologically, it means that we believe in the absolute sovereignty of God and in God’s glory as the highest good. This historical and theological heritage is often expressed in the “alones” of the Reformation, namely:

  • Grace alone as the only way to be reconciled to God.
  • Faith alone as the only means of receiving God’s grace.
  • Christ alone as the only ground of God’s saving grace.
  • Scripture alone as the only infallible authority for belief.
  • God’s glory alone as the ultimate purpose for the lives of men and women.