What we believe is core to who we are – here are some summaries of what the Reformed Presbyterian Church believes and teaches:
Reformed Presbyterian theology is apostolic, Protestant, Reformed (or Calvinistic) and evangelical. There is a desire to maintain in its depth and purity the Christian faith handed down from the beginning. The basic principles of the denomination are not different from those held by many other churches. Such distinctives as there are lie in the application and implementation of these truths.
In particular, Reformed Presbyterians give prominence to the kingship of Christ. This has implications for human life in all its spheres. Areas which have received special attention (and where Reformed Presbyterian practice is, in this century, somewhat unusual) are worship and politics. The worship of the King must be governed in every detail by what he has required in his Word. The nation is under obligation, once admitted but now repudiated, to recognise Christ as her king and to govern all her affairs in accordance with his will. Words from Colossians 1:18 express the core of Covenanting theology: ‘that in everything he (Christ) might have the supremacy’.
The name ‘Presbyterian’ comes from the Greek word for ‘elder’, so each congregation is governed by the Session, a group of ruling elders. These are men, chosen by the people and with no distinction of rank. Each Session sends delegates to the regular meetings of Presbytery, a higher court of the church. Presbyteries, in turn, meet together in a general gathering, or Synod.
The minister of the congregation is one of the elders, of equal rank with his colleagues, though serving as chairman, or Moderator, of Session. In addition to ruling, he has the responsibility of preaching the Word. Ministers are trained, usually after graduation from university, at the Reformed Theological College, located in Belfast since its establishment in 1854. Those who successfully complete the three-year course are awarded a Diploma in Theology.
The frequency of observance of the Lord’s supper is decided by each Session, present practice ranging from two to four times a year. In addition to members of the church, believers from other denominations are welcomed to the table, provided that their Christian testimony and practice are known to the elders.
The Book of Psalms provides songs which are inspired, Christ-centred, timeless, non-sectarian and continually relevant, the property of the universal church. Reformed Presbyterians experience profound spiritual fulfilment in singing, usually in four-part harmony, these glorious praises. The basic version used is the Scottish Metrical Psalter, with supplementary alternative versions. The Church has just completed a major process of Psalter revision.
A distinctive witness to the nation is borne through an emphasis on the duty of recognising Christ as king, as was once done in the seventeenth century covenants. The church considers the repudiation of those covenants to be a sin, to be repented of and corrected, and Reformed Presbyterians will only support candidates for political office who promise to work for such a national recognition of the authority of Christ. They seek to be good citizens and to support policies and participate in initiatives aimed at the true well-being of the community.
Closest relations in the family of Christ are Reformed Presbyterian Churches in Scotland, North America, Australia, Japan and Cyprus. The denomination is a constituent member of the International Conference of Reformed Churches, which brings together churches from as far apart as North and South America, South Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe. Ministers serve on the boards of such bodies as Scripture Gift Mission, Christian Witness to Israel and the Evangelical Fellowship of Ireland. Links are continually being strengthened with Christians in many other denominations and increasing co-operation with biblical churches is actively pursued.