The fact is, there are many Presbyterian denominations currently in the USA. All of us are related, because we’ve all come into being through some sort of separation and/or reunion of the same. The PCUSA, for example, was formed in 1984 when the UPCUSA (northern Presbyterians) was rejoined with the PCUS (southern Presbyterians) who had separated just about the time the Civil War began.
Other Presbyterian denominations include
- Bible Presbyterian Church
- American Presbyterian Church
- Cumberland Presbyterian Church (they just reunited with PCUSA this year)
- Presbyterian Church of America (PCA)
- Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC)
- Free Presbyterian Church
- Independent Presbyterian Church
- Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America
- Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States
- Second Cumberland Presbyterian Church
- Orthodox Presbyterian Church
- Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod
- Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America, General Synod
- Reformed Church of America (Presbyterian in structure, not name)
- Christian Reformed Church (Presbyterian in structure, not name)
As anyone can easily see, “Presbyterian” covers a lot of ground (I may even have missed one or two along the way). While there is a wide range of history among all these denominations, most of them really differ in smaller ways theologically. Some of these denominations split off from the “main line” back in the 18th Century, so their traditions have evolved significantly over the last two hundred years. Other denominations, like the PCUSA, PCA, and EPC are very new, and are developing along new, significantly different lines.
The PCUSA has chosen to fully embrace modernism and liberalism, hence the conflict we find ourselves in today as conservative evangelicals in a liberal denomination. The PCA separated in a reactionary movement to this process and, as a result, is almost the antithesis of the PCUSA. It refuses to ordain women or allow them to lead in the church. It also embraces the Westminster Confession in a very strict way. The EPC is conservative and evangelical, but much less restrictive than the PCA. Of all the denominations listed above, these three are the only ones of any numerical significance.
To conclude, insisting that any one of these denominations is the only “Presbyterian” one, much less “The Church,” is a step beyond credibility.
Keep praying—keep the faith,