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Presbyterian denominations: Where they differ

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Feb. 10, 2012 at midnight
Updated Feb. 9, 2012 at 8:10 p.m.


The Presbyterian denomination of Christianity - adhering to the Calvinist tradition of Protestantism - was advanced by 16th century French Reformer John Calvin.

The two largest Presbyterian denominations, Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) share many liturgical and doctrinal practices of the faith.

Both denominations uphold sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures, justification by grace through faith, practice infant baptism and believe in predestination.

Both are ruled by a Presbyterian polity, or congregation-elected church governance. Presbyterian order and hierarchy is set up as a republic, so there is no Bishop, Pope, or supreme-ruling religious hierarchy. God, therefore, is the supreme authority.

But the two Presbyterian denominations differ widely on social issues, such as female clergy, and the ordination of homosexuals, for example. Here's a brief glance at the two leading Presbyterian denominations and where they differ in religious practice.

Presbyterian Church in America

Presbyterian Church (USA)

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