#1 Do Presbyterians Practice Infant Baptism?
Yes, within the Presbyterian denomination, infant Baptism (also known as pedobaptism) does take place in the form of a Trinitarian Baptism.
Within the Presbyterian denomination, there is an offering a sprinkling of water or dripping process that represents the rebirth and resurrection of Jesus Christ; this is commonly performed on babies and children of all ages. The tradition for most Christians that do favor pedobaptism, is to baptize on the eighth day of the child’s life.
Some religions do not practice infant baptisms, feeling that the jurisdiction of free will and choice cannot be made until a convert reaches full maturity.
With certain denominations that limit to one baptism per lifetime, many religions believe it is only right that one must be of consensual age to participate in a baptism. Without the conscious awareness to make this decision, a child can be baptized into a religion without the chance for a second baptism in that lifetime.
- “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”
- Infant Baptism – Dr. Ligon Duncan – PCA – April 10th, 2016.
#2 Do Presbyterians Believe in Predestination?
Since Presbyterian theology is deeply-rooted in the sovereignty and autonomy of God, as well as the mandate of scriptural-literalness – the former belief of Presbyterians was to follow the literal translation of scriptures, which directly mentions concepts of Predestination.
However, over time, the denomination has split on this issue, leading to some controversy.
With Scriptures like 1 Peter 1:20 reading: “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you,” – this can easily be taken as God’s law.
John Calvin, the Founder of Calvinism, writes that the definition of Predestination is:
“God’s eternal decree, by which he compacted with himself what he willed to become of each [person]. For … eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal damnation for others.“
As the foreknowledge of who God would offer eternal life to, Predestination is contradictory to many Christian beliefs and practices, and therefore, can lead to great debate within the religion.
“Obviously we’re not all of one mind about it …
Most of the Reformed confessions of the Presbyterian tradition reflect a doctrine of Predestination as a part of justification by grace; some are more explicit than others.
But many 20th-century Presbyterians have been very concerned about the few statements in the confessions that suggest that God has from all eternity condemned some people to eternal death.”
Not wanting to be presumptuous or assume that all scripture can be taken so literally – Modern-day Presbyterians feel that the reason to love thy neighbor and teach the word of God is explicitly because anyone’s life can be saved.
If Christians felt that everyone was pre-prescribed to damnation, there would be no reason to try to ‘save’ people or bother sharing God’s messages.
- “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,” – Ephesians 1:4-5.
#3 Do Presbyterians Speak in Tongues?
Many churches have been divided by the practice of speaking in tongues, also known as Glossolalia. Typically, this is not a Presbyterian practice.
The main three arguments in this divide of Christians that partake or do not partake in Glossolalia include:
- Several feeling it is the epitome of connecting to God.
- Others conversely find it devilish and similar to being possessed.
- Others may fall in the middle, feeling neutral about the subject but commonly referring to it as a ‘distraction’ of worship, rather than outright ungodly.
1 Corinthians 14:22 reads:
“Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers.”
It continues to 1 Corinthians 14:27:
“If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret.”
With little on official Presbyterian websites besides the occasional scripture with mention of speaking in tongues, there is no public statement from the PCA or PCUSA regarding this subject, leaving it up to the individual or Church.
Summarized by the BBC regarding the larger Protestant religion, they write that various Protestant Church believe that speaking in tongues is:
“Still a gift from the Holy Spirit.
However, other Protestant churches reject this idea, believing the gift of tongues was only for the time of the early Church.”
- “So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.” – 1 Corinthians 14:39.
- Speaking in Tongues – Faith Presbyterian Tallahasee.org – Published October 2020.
#4 Do Presbyterians Drink?
Although excessive drinking and drunkenness is not acceptable behavior within the Christian community, moderate drinking is generally acceptable, especially in the modern-day.
The reformed Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) is more conservative than the separate denomination, the PCUSA, which are more liberal. The PCA (of the traditionalist-influence) promote to the public:
“It is altogether wise and proper that Christians refrain from the use, sale, and manufacture of alcoholic beverages.”
During temperance and prohibition in the 1920s, Presbyterians fought actively to campaign against the consumption and production of alcohol.
As time went on, these social regulations became increasingly less influential, likely due to alcohol becoming re-accepted into the general American society and U.S. business into the 21st century. It is difficult to discourage an activity when everyone else is doing it (Presbyterian or not); therefore, modern Presbyterians may ‘have a beer or two,’ without engaging in sinful excess.
A strict, conservative, or fundamentalist Presbyterian would strongly discourage drinking and veraciously argue against drunkenness, especially public intoxication.
The Bible mentions pro- and anti- forms of scripture regarding drinking, leaving it up to the induvial to interpret.
- “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,” – Ephesians 5:18.
- “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” – Proverbs 20:1
- “I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.” – Amos 9:14
- “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8
- “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” – Isaiah 55:1
- Drinking Problem? – Michelton Presbyterian Church – Series 2020 Stand Alone Sermons. Published October 4th, 2020.
#5 Do Presbyterians Eat Meat?
Yes, Presbyterians do consume meat. Manyuse the literal translation of scriptures like Romans 14:2 to support their diet preferences:
“One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.”
Although they consume meat or allow the choice to be left up to the individual’s discretion, they do, however, promote a more plant-based diet and lifestyle to help mitigate climate change.
PresbyterianMission.org writes about ‘Faith and Your Dinner Plate:’
“The world has about 7.5 billion people, soon to be 9 or 10 billion, who — apart from vegans and vegetarians — enjoy eating meat, increasingly so as incomes permit. But the planet can no longer tolerate our Western lifestyle, which includes widespread meat production and meat eating.”
Explicitly stating that this doesn’t mean extremist-measures like ‘swearing off all meat,’ this does entail cutting back on your meat consumption and creating a diet for your family that will:
- Help them be healthier
- Aid the planet to exist longer
- The combination of these two missions, results in the superior mission – Uninterrupted worship for you and your lineage on a thriving green earth.
Utilizing science in relation to biblical interpretation, the official Presbyterian website concludes by saying:
“The impact, though, of eating less meat and dairy is great, because currently the global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined.”
- “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” – Genesis 9:3
- “One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.” – Romans 14:2
- “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.” – Romans 14:21
- Serving The Meat of Ministry – United Presbyterian Church – October 18th, 2020.
#6 Do Presbyterians Baptize?
Yes, Presbyterian’s baptize.
The Christian religions that practice baptisms include (but are not limited to):
- Churches of Christ
- Eastern Orthodox
- Evangelical and reformed churches
- Jehovah’s Witnesses
- Oriental Orthodoxy
- Orthodox Christians
- Roman Catholic
- Seventh-day Adventists
The religions that do not practice baptisms include:
- Baptists (some denominations)
- Christian Scientists
Of the denominations that do engage in baptisms, most will practice infant baptisms, including Presbyterians, but not all Christians agree. Certain Christians believe that a person cannot get to Heaven without being baptized as an infant; others feel that pedobaptism is morally wrong.
- ‘And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’” – Acts 22:16
- “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” – Mark 16:16
- On Baptism – First Presbyterian Church USA – FCBirminham.org – November 10th, 2015.
#7 Do Presbyterians Believe in Saints?
Being that many Presbyterian churches even incorporate the word ‘Saint’ into their Church’s name, yes, Presbyterians strongly believe in the concept of Saints. A church will commonly be decorated with art or statues of saints surrounding the altar.
“In the Presbyterian/Reformed tradition, we have and always will acknowledge and honor saints. Our designation as saints comes from our rich inheritance of Christ’s righteousness.”
Some will consider anyone who is Christian to be a Saint, while others may believe that the belief in them should not be mistaken for worshipping them, as worship is only for God.
Believing that Saints can hold notions of idolatry, there is some controversy on the subject, but mostly a pure reverencefor anything related to God and his powers of goodness.
A Presbyterian could be described as having reverence for a Saint but not praying to or worshipping it over the authority of the almighty God.
- “To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 1:7.
- “Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.” – Psalm 30:4.
- “As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.” – Psalm 16:3.
- Do Presbyterians Believe in Saints? – Published February 23rd, 2019.
#8 Do Presbyterians Believe in The Trinity?
Yes, Presbyterians do believe in the Trinity, but may view it differently than other Christian denominations.
Experiencing the Holy Spirit as the life-force of God, a Presbyterian will typically describe Jesus and God as being the same entity, God. Meaning, when worshipping Jesus, they are worshipping God himself. However, there is some debate and separation, even within the Presbyterian theology.
PresbyterianMission.org writes that the divergent beliefs regarding the Holy Spirit from Reformed tradition are:
- The Holy Spirit is God.
- The Holy Spirit is God’s most intimate, powerful and mysterious presence with and in us.
- The coming of God as Holy Spirit into our lives is always and simultaneously both individual and corporate.
- The coming of God as Holy Spirit into our lives is always and simultaneously both individual and corporate.
- “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” – Matthew 28:19.
- “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” – John 14:26.
- “And the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” – Luke 3:22.
- What Do Presbyterians Believe – Confess the Trinity – Published August 18th, 2020.
#9 Do Presbyterians Believe in God?
Yes, Presbyterians are Protestant Christians that believe it is their life-long effort and honor to align society more closely with God’s will.
Everything that a Presbyterian does in life, or any Christian for that matter, is likely in the name of God, their Lord and savior.
Presbyterian theology strongly emphasizes the need for finding grace through Jesus Christ, the Son, who is also sometimes generalized through the blanket statement of ‘God.’ This is seen in scriptures such as Romans 5:8 , “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Jeremiah 10:10 states:
“But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earthquakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation.”
Presbyterians back-up their sermons by proving their goodwill with quantifiable evidence of practicing what they preach. In Lifeway Research’s piece on helping versus fearing refugees, it is found that:
- Most Presbyterians (96%) see caring for refugees as a privilege
- Lutherans (85%) see caring for refugees as a privilege
- Methodists (85%) see caring for refugees as a privilege
- Baptists (77%) are less certain
- Pentecostals (68%) are less certain
- “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” – Isaiah 40:28.
#10 Do Presbyterians Believe in Jesus?
Yes, Presbyterians do believe in Jesus, the Son of God, who was a sacrifice for mankind’s sins. John 3:16 reads:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Often described in a comprehensive statement as God, Presbyterians sometimes use the name’s Jesus and God interchangeably, referring to the same higher power. This is seen in scripture where one refers to a God, Father, and Prince all at once, leading to some conflating beliefs on how the isolated powers of God diverge and interconnect:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
First Presbyterian Church states about their Reformed theology pertaining to Christ:
“Presbyterians affirm that God comes to us with grace and love in the person of Jesus Christ, who lived, died and rose for us that we might have eternal and abundant life in him.”
- “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9
- Jesus Calls Us – Presbyterian Church USA – ECO America – October 31st, 2019.
#11 Do Presbyterians Believe in Free Will?
There is great debate regarding this subject, because if everything is pre-determined, why bother trying to save others? In this same light, the Bible directly states that we are not ‘at the will of man,’ so which of these extremes is true?
Proverbs 16:9 describes that:
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
John 1:12-13 states:
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Despite this, modern churches and individuals have deciphered the Bible in their own ways, with this point being left up to interpretation at this point. Most prescribe to the belief that a person has to have free will, to be even initially drawn to the love of God. Others feel we are at God’s changing discretion and jurisdiction.
The Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, established 1698, writes:
“So – what about the whole question of free will then?
God’s love is of such a nature that it must be given, we must simply trust that it’s there for us and live out of that gratitude. God chooses whom God wills, because God’s in charge. But is God in charge of everything?
The answer is no. God doesn’t dabble in those sorts of details.
God doesn’t control us like a puppeteer. In fact, God’s saving love does the opposite thing for us. God’s salvation enables us truly to have freedom, to be free.”
· “The steps of a man are established by the Lord when he delights in his way.” – Psalm 37:23.
- Predestination and Free Will – Resurrection – A congregation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Published June 14th, 202.
#12 Do Presbyterians Believe in Salvation?
Yes, Presbyterians feel that God has offered humanity salvation in the sacrifice of his only Son, Jesus Christ.
“It is not a right or a privilege to be earned by being “good enough.” No one of us is good enough on our own — we are all dependent upon God’s goodness and mercy. From the kindest, most devoted churchgoer to the most blatant sinner, we are all saved solely by the grace of God.”
Sounding almost verbatim of scriptural references such as Titus 3:5, Presbyterians are guided by their goal of entering Heaven and finding eternal salvation from their sins:
“He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”
Some also take literally to Jonah 2:9, which states:
“But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!”
- “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” – Ephesians 2:8.
- Predestination and Its Presence in Presbyterian Thought and Life – FirstPresybterian.org (1pres.org). Published April 26th, 2015.
“I believe faith is a gift from God, and delivered to us from the Holy Spirit. I believe salvation happens by grace alone and not by anything I do. I believe salvation is God’s business and I trust in the grace of God as I understand it through my savior Jesus Christ.”
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