by John M. Otis
Summary: The purpose of this booklet is to set forth the major distinctives of Biblical Presbyterianism. It is a concise explanation of the biblical doctrines of the presbyterian denomination. It is an excellent tool to use for new member classes.
The purpose of this work is to set forth the major distinctives of Biblical Presbyterians in order that those who are members of a Presbyterian church might know in a somewhat concise way what their church believes and that curious persons might know what Presbyterians generally believe. A majority of those who are members of a Presbyterian church probably do not know what are the fundamental tenets of their church, nor do they know why they are Presbyterian. By this we mean that most could not give sufficient Biblical or theological reasons why they are Presbyterians as opposed to Baptist,, Methodist, Church of God, etc. There is a great need for members not only to know clearly what they believe but why they believe it. Thomas Witherow perceived the situation quite clearly in his work entitles, The Apostolic Church. In speaking about why people join churches, Witherow said.:
"They are guided by feeling rather than by judgement. They do not first ascertain the leading principles of the denomination from its acknowledged standards, and then examine these principles in the light of the Word of God. The bulk of mankind are not intellectual enough to search for principles and weigh them. At least they do not take the trouble, but are influenced in their choice, either by the authority of some great men, or the moral worth of some particular persons, or the piety and eloquence of some local minister.
The term 'Biblical Presbyterianism' is used for a specific reason. As unfortunate as it may be, one is forced to use such terminology in light of the current "theological atmosphere" in most mainline denominations. There are those churches which deny much of what will be set forth in this presentation, and yet they refer to themselves as Presbyterians. They are Presbyterian in name only. Upon close scrutiny of their theological beliefs these churches hardly could be called "Christian." Some of these deny the deity of Jesus Christ, His virgin birth His personal visible return, the inerrancy of Scripture. etc. And the sad thing is that so many do not realize that there is such a polarization of theological beliefs in "Presbyterianism." Those of us that do affirm all the beliefs that will be set forth in this work are often disturbed that we are automatically lumped together with others under the term "Presbyterian." We would wish that these churches would remove the term "Presbyterian" since they deny what is true Biblical Presbyterianism. By "Biblical Presbyterianism" we mean that system of belief which conforms itself to Scripture in all details. And any subsequent use of the term 'Presbyterian' in this presentation will assume that this is what we mean by this term.