Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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What is a True Presbyterian?

Rev. Angus Stewart


Is a true Presbyterian simply someone who attends, or is a member of, a Presbyterian congregation? Or is a devout Presbyterian someone who believes and lives by the biblical doctrines of Presbyterianism set forth in the Westminster Confession (WC)?

Circumcision and synagogue attendance etc. did not make one a true Jew, for "he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart" (Rom. 2:29). Similarly, he is a Presbyterian who is one inwardly who believes from the heart the historic doctrines of Presbyterianism.

For a true Presbyterian, the 66 books of Scripture are the supreme rule of faith and life (WC 1:2), not unbelieving science or political correctness. Thus he believes that "some men and angels are predestined unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death" (3:3); that Christ died only for elect mankind (3:6); and that free will is a heresy (9:3). He does not look to his own good works for salvation (16:5) but to the justifying righteousness of Christ alone (11). He rejoices in God’s covenant (7), which requires the baptism of believers and their infants (27:1; 28:4). He believes that the Lord’s Table must be supervised by the elders so that "all ignorant and ungodly persons" are refused admission (29:8). For he confesses that "the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men … or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture" (21:1). At home, he practices family worship (21:6) and in all areas of life he seeks to obey the ten commandments out of gratitude to God (19:6). He evaluates churches by the three marks, namely "according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them" (25:4). Thus he opposes the church and pope of Rome as being "against Christ, and all that is called God" (25:6) and he understands that the mass is "most abominably injurious to Christ’s one only sacrifice" (29:2).

Sadly, true Presbyterians are rare today, even though Presbyterian ministers and elders swear to uphold the doctrines of Scripture set forth in the Westminster Confession. God warns that church leaders shall receive the greater judgment (James 3:1). Those who love Christ and His church grieve at the state of Presbyterianism in our land and exhort Presbyterians to return to the Westminster Confession, a faithful summary of the teaching of the Word of God.