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date: 24 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Presbyterian theology has traditionally emphasized the majesty, holiness, and sovereignty of God and the uniqueness of God’s action in the creation, redemption, and perfection of creatures. Classical Presbyterian teaching exemplifies core themes of Reformed theology as it took shape in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: the primacy of divine self-disclosure; the existence, essence, and perfections of the One God; and the essential character of God as triune. These themes were deeply rooted in catholic Christian teaching, but assumed their most significant confessional form under particular influences: the legacies of Puritanism, controversy over Arminianism, and the evolution of covenant or federal theology. The history of Presbyterian theology reflects a complex set of relationships to this classical picture, variously reflective of the intellectual consequences of the Enlightenment; enduring debates about religious experience; and massive social, cultural, and political change. Contemporary Presbyterian approaches are wide-ranging; some are much more consciously connected to the tradition than others. There are, however, some persistent emphases, and questions about the local and the catholic assume new dimensions in the contexts of “world Christianity.” If the essential location of faithful Presbyterian confession is the presence of the Living God, therein lies its enduring hope.

Keywords: God, Trinity, sovereignty, revelation, creator-creature relation, covenant, Enlightenment, religious experience, dogmatic theology, contextual theology

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