Presbyterian History In America-A Sunday School Class

log college

The Log College for Training Ministers in the 1700s.

Why study Presbyterian history? We all know the axiom that “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it” but that is not why we plan to study Presbyterian history this fall. While we do not desire to repeat mistakes from the past, for Christians there are many more benefits to studying church history.

We will begin a study of Presbyterian history in America beginning this on Sept 7, 2014 beginning at 9:15AM (our normal Sunday School time). 

It is sad how little people know of history in general but certainly about Church history specifically. I have run into folks with no idea of the difference between the Roman Church, the Protestant Church or the Eastern Church, let alone the differences between various denominations. Whether worshipping in denominations or independent churches, many lack a sense of connectedness to the historical church as if the modern church was just dropped in place with no connection to the past.

The purpose of this study is several fold:

  1. To understand the roots of our own denomination,  the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and its place in the universal (i.e. catholic) church.
  2. To strengthen our knowledge of the Scriptures as understood by Presbyterians (and other Christians) since the Reformation and back to the early church.
  3. To develop a deeper knowledge of the body of Christ and Jesus Christ who reigns supreme over his church and to understand how the Holy Spirit continues has worked in the church through the ages (despite human sin).
  4. To learn what the Church’s role in American history may teach 21st century Christians.
  5. To learn about the lives and traditions of Christians who have come before us.

The purpose of this study is not to create pride in ourselves our our denomination (the history of our church and its divisions does not lend itself to boastfulness)  as our only hope is found in Jesus Christ. I expect of have some fun and work through this history together.

Here is a rough outline of the first half of this study.

Please Note: This outline is expected to be improved/changed as we move through this study

Outline of Presbyterian Church History in America

Introduction and Background

  • Discussion about various backgrounds represented in our own congregation
  • Review of key events in the 16th Century leading up to settlement in America.
  • Reformation/Reformers
  • Calvin’s establishing Protestant/reformed Church. Polity, Offices, Songs, Lord’s Supper.

Early Colonial Period

  • From Knox to America
  • Early Settlers and Francis Makemie
  • A brand new Church in the new world
  • The adoption of Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms

Young Church and Revival

  • Difference between the Northern Puritans and the Scotch Irish in the Atlantic states
  • The immigration of Scotch Irish and its influence on the Church
  • Revival, Log College and the Tennants
  • New Light/Old Light Division

The Church and Revolution

  • The college of New Jersey
  • Witherspoon, Presbyterians and the American Revolution
  • The First General Assembly Meets

To Be Continued…


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