Autistic Adults Working in Religious Communities

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Joined: 6 May 2008
Age: 64
Gender: Male
Posts: 48,887
Location: Stendec

24 Aug 2015, 9:04 am

SocOfAutism wrote:
... I know very little about even the major religions, despite going to a few random church services ...
Presbyterianism is a Calvinist Christian denomination wherein each church is governed by a representative assembly of elders called a "Session". The members of the Session are nominated and elected from within the congregation, as thus the policies and decisions of the Session reflect those of the congregation they represent.

Individual churches have some leeway in setting their rules and standards, as long as they adhere to the core beliefs of the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures, and the necessity of grace through faith alone in Christ. Under Presbyterian doctrine, works are demonstrations of faith, not requirement for entry into Heaven.

For instance, some Presbyterian churches require their pastors to be men who are "... above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity ...", in accordance with the description given in 1st Timothy, Chapter 3, verses 1 through 7.

Other churches permit men who have divorced and remarried, and some even allow women to be pastors. Eventually, some Presbyterian churches may allow openly gay people of either sex to lead the church (if they haven't already).

So, orthodoxy within the Presbyterian denomination can range from conservative to liberal, depending on the standards of the local church community.

But, like any social organization, cliques and factions form within each church as people struggle to reconcile their own individual beliefs and experiences with established church doctrine. These groups tend to be even more exclusive than the church itself, basing their associations on the approval of their respective leaders. Thus, you may encounter larger churches with two or more fellowship groups focussed on the same demographics, but differing only in ties of family, friendship, and overall popularity (just like high school).

Presbyterians are often referred to as "The Frozen Chosen". This is mainly due to two characteristics of nearly every Presbyterian church: (1) When confronted with a new situation, Presbyterian Sessions tend to form study committees, which may take a year or more to complete their study and submit their findings, which then may not be acted on by the Session for another year or more, with the final decision being made to do nothing at all. (2) Being a Calvinist denomination, Presbyterian doctrine dictates some form of Predestination - from a strict "God controls everything" to a more lenient "God has a plan for you; take it or leave it" type of theology.

Presbyterians also recognize only two sacraments: Baptism and Holy Communion. According to Wikipedia:
Presbyterians traditionally have held the Worship position that there are only two sacraments:

1) Baptism, in which they would baptize infants, as well as unbaptized adults by the Aspersion (sprinkling) or Affusion (pouring) method, rather than the Immersion method.

2) The Lord's Supper (also known as Communion), in which they would believe that Christ is present in the bread and wine through the Holy Spirit, as opposed to being locally present.

Unlike many denominations that baptize infants on the basis of baptismal regeneration, Presbyterians, along with their Continental Reformed counterparts, baptize infants on the belief that as Hebrew infants were circumcised in order to show that they were part of the covenant community, infants of believing parents are likewise to be baptized.
(Link to Article)

That's pretty much all that I can tell you. If you want to know more, obtain a Presbyterian "Book of Order" and a Bible; then delve into both to see where the former departs from the latter.