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date: 12 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

European Presbyterianism was forged in a crucible of immense change occasioned by the Reformation. Unique theological, political, and social pressures helped shape its foundational documents. In the following centuries, Presbyterianism became a significant religious and cultural influence in parts of Europe and played a particularly influential role in Scotland. Presbyterianism has lived with the tension of the need for continuity and change. The degree to which the entire acceptance of its original formularies and theology was required was accentuated during the Enlightenment. A propensity toward division characterized European Presbyterianism, fueled by tension between its democratic emphasis on both personal and local expression, and its hierarchical structure with a commitment to a role for the magistrate in the maintenance of religion. However, twentieth-century European Presbyterianism was also marked by moves for reunion, although a declining membership became a feature many denominations in the latter decades of that century.

Keywords: Presbyterianism, Westminster Confession of Faith, covenant, Reformed, Declaratory Act, revival, sectarianism, disruption, reunion

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