Reformed Presbyterian churches
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The Reformed Presbyterian Church is a group of denominations following a Presbyterian form of Protestant Christianity. Reformed Presbyterian congregations are found in several countries, including Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, France, United States of America, Canada, Japan, South Sudan and Australia. The Reformed Presbyterian Church could be described as a Reformed, or an Evangelical Church.
Reformed Presbyterian theology is apostolic, Protestant, Reformed (or Calvinistic) and evangelical. There is a desire to maintain in its depth and purity the Christian faith handed down from the beginning. The basic principles of the denomination are not different from those held by many other churches. Such distinctives as there are lie in the application and implementation of these truths.
In particular, Reformed Presbyterians give prominence to the kingship of Christ. This has implications for human life in all its spheres. Areas which have received special attention (and where Reformed Presbyterian practice is, in this century, somewhat unusual) are worship and politics. The worship of the King must be governed in every detail by what he has required in His Word. They also believe that the nation is under obligation, once admitted but now repudiated, to recognise Christ as its king and to govern all its affairs in accordance with God's will. Words from Colossians 1:18 express the core of Covenanter theology: 'that in everything he (Christ) might have the supremacy'.
The Reformed Presbyterian uses a Presbyterian form of Church government - members of each congregation elect elders (who must be male, as this is believed to be commanded in the Bible, and who must also be members of the congregation). These elders, along with the minister or pastor of the congregation make up the "Session" of a congregation. Ministers are known as "teaching elders", others are known as "ruling elders". The teaching elder is not in authority over the ruling elders; neither are the ruling elders in authority over the teaching elder.
The Reformed Presbyterian Church has its roots in the Covenanters of the 17th century, who endured great hardship and persecution because of their refusal to change their political beliefs.
Reformed Presbyterians can be characterised by having a belief in the Bible as the literal Word of God, which is clearly demonstrated in many individual members' stances on moral issues such as abortion, homosexuality and gambling laws. The various Reformed Presbyterian denominations worship God using Psalms only (a practice known as Exclusive Psalmody), unaccompanied by music, which they argue is set forth in the New Testament, a practice that, while widely followed in the past by Presbyterian and other churches, is followed by few denominations throughout the world today.
- Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, or RPCNA (including churches in USA and Canada, and the Japan Presbytery)
- Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland, or RPCI (including a mission in the French city of Nantes)
- Reformed Presbyterian Church of Australia, or RPCA
- Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland, or RPCS
- Reformed Presbyterian Church of Cyprus
Several denominations and individual churches not part of this group use the name of Reformed Presbyterian. While the Reformed Presbytery in North America uses the name because of its claim to be the only true continuation of the RPCNA, most of these other churches are more distantly related and use the term for other reasons.
- Minutes of Synod and Yearbook of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America 2005. Pittsburgh: Crown and Covenant, 2006, page 171.
- Steps of Defection in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America Official publication of the General Meeting of the Reformed Presbytery. Accessed 3 April 2007.