Friday, May 9, 2014

Presbyterianism and the Reformed Church

We hear the phrase “Presbyterian and Reformed” often enough that we may assume that most people realize, as is implicit in this style of coupling, that the two words stand for two distinct things. To those from outside of the world of British Protestantism the situation might seem rather different than it does to those of us who are Protestant Episcopalians, they seem to take for granted that the chair reserved for the British Church at the table of Reformed Protestantism belongs to Presbyterians. The chair in question, however, is really not theirs to give, and the mistake they have yet to realize, and the reason they don’t see us still sitting at the head of the table, is because they themselves are now sitting at the wrong one.

History testifies to the truth that the Presbyterian tradition is not an independent Reformed tradition, but rather represents a non-conforming tradition within the Protestant Episcopalianism from which it sprung. At the close of the initial 16th century reformation the whole of the British Isles was Episcopalian, there being bishops in the Churches of England, Scotland, and Ireland. It was not until the beginning of what historians call “The Long Eighteenth Century”, a period well beyond the Protestant Reformation, that the episcopate was finally disestablished in one of the three Kingdoms.

Presbyterianism arising as it does by a partial departure of the earlier Protestantism established within Great Britain and Ireland during the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, in some respects it represents an apostasy from the Confessionally Reformed faith, while in other respects it represents a continuation of it.

A great article from the Protestant Association, check out the original article here.

No comments: