Presbyterians are part of a wider family. They have a family relationship with the group of churches known as Reformed churches. These churches have been around since the sixteenth century. During the Protestant Reformation in Europe, which began with Martin Luther (1483-1546), some Christians who agreed with Luther in his criticisms of the Roman Catholic Church went on to disagree with him on other theological matters. Some of those prominent Protestants, but not Lutherans, were Zwingli, Calvin, and Bullinger. Those who followed these leaders became known as Reformed Christians. They wanted God's church to be reformed--to move away from unbiblical practices and to conform to what they believed the Scriptures taught. They understood their Christian faith along the lines described in the theological writings of these major leaders. Among the theologians, John Calvin became the most prominent.
Today there are over 75 million Reformed Christians in 218 churches in 107 countries. While Presbyterians differ theologically among themselves, there are distinctive theological affirmations, or ways of understanding Christian faith, that have been and continue to be special emphases among Presbyterians. This two-session study looks at those beliefs and encourages participants to reflect on their own understanding of the foundations of Presbyterian beliefs.