What we believe
The Presbyterian Church was founded by the Rev John Knox in Scotland in the year ____. Over the years, it grew into the National Church of Scotland but also spread around the world. Knox himself was a student of the Rev John Calvin in Geneva.
The Presbyterian Church belongs to the family of Reformed Churches worldwide. This means its teachings are distinct and framed within a Confession of Faith. Hence it is sometimes labelled a Confessional Church.
In Australia, the Presbyterian Church of Australia declares that the Bible is the primary authority in all matters relating to faith and doctrine. It has also directed that the Westminster Confession of Faith is our subordinate Standard. This secondary standard gives the Presbyterian Church a distinctly Reformed flavour in its doctrines and style of worship.
The Presbyterian Church of Australia subscribes to the Regulative Principle in the style of worship. This means it believes that the way we worship God matters more to God than it does to us. And that we want to worship God in the way he prescribes, not necessarily in the way it makes us feel.
This principle has often been put into the shorthand form "whatever is not commanded is forbidden". This is why we sing Psalms, read the Bible, preach the bible, and make prayers to God of thanksgiving, confession, and petition.
The Westminster Confession of Faith also provides a framework for understanding the doctrines within the Bible in a systematic and transparent manner. The document was put together over a significant amount of years by a number of many learned theologians. It doesn't override Scripture and is subject to the same. Yet nor does the Scripture themselves permit individuals to private interpretation. This check and balance is beneficial for all concerned.
In Australia, Our National Church has also provided a declarative statement in relation to the Westminster Confession of Faith. This document allows for some flexibility in relation to some of the doctrines of grace within the Confession. It doesn't change it. Nor does it lessen its authority. This statement simply provides for a broader understanding of the strictness of the Confession so that some do not feel so tightly burdened by it. What ought not to be construed is that the Statement overrides the Confession of Faith. It sheds "light" upon it but it is not to be seen through the lens of it.
Originally the declarative statement was introduced to enable more sophisticated (read more liberal) persons to