Presbyterians & the Assemblies of God

Assemblies of God and Presbyterian churches share a similar system of governance.
... Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Presbyterians and the Assemblies of God are movements within Protestant Christianity. There are over 50 distinct Presbyterian denominations, the largest of which are the Church of Scotland and the Presbyterian Church (USA). The Assemblies of God is one of over 700 distinct denominations that have risen from and identify with the Pentecostal movement. Like most movements within Protestant Christianity, the Assemblies of God and Presbyterians have both similarities and differences.

1 Presbyterians

Presbyterianism began when the Parliament of Scotland adopted the Protestant Confession as the official creed of the Kingdom of Scotland in 1560. The Church of Scotland and other Presbyterians are influenced heavily by the teachings of John Knox, who was a student of French-Swiss Reformer John Calvin.

The teachings of Presbyterian churches are summarized in the confessions the church accepts. The majority of Presbyterian denominations consider the Westminster Confession to be the most important document other than the Bible. Most Presbyterians also recognize a number of other confessional documents and creeds. In addition to their confessions, Presbyterians are known for their style of governance by councils of elders (at the congregational level) and presbyters (at regional and national levels).

2 Assemblies of God

The Assemblies of God is the world's largest Pentecostal denomination. The Pentecostal movement began in the U.S. state of Kansas in 1900 as an offshoot of the Methodist-Holiness revival of the late 1800s. The Pentecostal movement, including the Assemblies of God, emphasizes the restoration of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including speaking in tongues, healing and prophecy.

The Assemblies of God formed in 1914 as an attempt to organize the evangelistic efforts of the fledgling Pentecostal movement. Since then, it has become one of the world's largest denominations, with over 61 million adherents worldwide.

3 Doctrine

Doctrinally, Presbyterians are heavily influenced by the teachings of John Calvin. The core of Calvinist teaching is that God is sovereign. Presbyterians, like other Calvinists, believe that God has foreordained who will be elect (saved) and who will be lost. The core tenets of Presbyterian belief are laid out in their confessionals.

The Assemblies of God identifies with the teachings of Jacob Arminius and John Wesley, who taught that people have free will to accept or reject God's grace and calling. The Assemblies of God's distinctive doctrine is their belief that God offers all believers baptism in the Holy Spirit, which is evidenced by speaking in tongues. The rest of the Assemblies of God's core tenets are laid out in their "Statement of Fundamental Truth."

Both Presbyterian and Assemblies of God churches hold to the teaching that salvation is by grace alone, through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Both churches recognize two ordinances: communion and water baptism. Presbyterians practice baptism of babies and converts by sprinkling or pouring, while Assemblies of God practice baptism of believers by immersion.

4 Governance

There are three basic forms of church governance, with many variations on each. The first is episcopal, in which leaders are appointed from the top down and the church is governed by a series of bishops. The second is congregational, in which congregations have complete (or nearly complete) autonomy and govern by their own counsel, with leaders generally being elected.

The third, which is used by both the Assemblies of God and Presbyterian churches, is presbyterian, in which the church is governed by a council of elected elders who are in turn subject to regional and national councils of presbyters. Leaders are elected and ministers called by the local congregations, but these decisions are subject to the approval of a board of regional presbyters, which are in turn subject to councils on a district and national level.

Dell Markey is a full-time journalist. When he isn't writing business spotlights for local community papers, he writes and has owned and operated a small business.