Who is the PCA?
The Presbyterian Church in America has a strong commitment to evangelism, missionary work at home and abroad, and to Christian education. From its inception, the church has determined its purpose to be “faithful to the Scriptures, true to the reformed faith, and obedient to the Great Commission.”
Organized at a constitutional assembly in December 1973, this church was first known as the National Presbyterian Church but changed its name in 1974 to Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). It separated from the Presbyterian Church in the United States (Southern) in opposition to the long-developing theological liberalism which denied the deity of Jesus Christ and the inerrancy and authority of Scripture.
In December 1973, delegates, representing some 260 congregations with a combined communicant membership of over 41,000 that had left the PCUS (Presbyterian Church US), gathered at Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and organized the National Presbyterian Church, which later became the Presbyterian Church in America.
The PCA has made a firm commitment on the doctrinal standards which had been significant in Presbyterianism since 1645, namely the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms. These doctrinal standards express the distinctives of the Calvinistic or Reformed tradition.
Among the distinctive doctrines of the Westminster Standards and of Reformed tradition is the unique authority of the Bible. The reformers based all of their claims on “Sola Scriptura,” the Scriptures alone. This included the doctrine of their inspiration which is a special act of the Holy Spirit by which He guided the writers of the books of Scriptures (in their original autographs) so that their words should convey the thoughts He wished conveyed, bear a proper relation to the thoughts of other inspired books, and be kept free from error of fact, of doctrine, and of judgment — all of which were to be an infallible rule of faith and life.
Other distinctives are the doctrines of grace, which depict what God has done for mankind’s salvation: (1) Total depravity of man. Man is completely incapable within himself to reach out toward God. Man is totally at enmity with God, cf. Romans 3:10-23. (2) Unconditional election by the grace of God. There is absolutely no condition in any person for which God would save him. As a matter of fact, long before man was created, God chose or predestined some to everlasting life. He did this out of His mere good pleasure, cf. Ephesians 1:4 and 5. (3) Particular atonement. God in His infinite mercy, in order to accomplish the planned redemption, sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to die as a substitute for the sins of a large but specific number of people, cf. Romans 8:29 and 30. (4) The irresistible grace of God. This is the effectual work of the Holy Spirit moving upon a particular person whom He has called, applying the work of redemption, cf. John 3:5 and 6. (5) The perseverance of the saints. This is that gracious work of God’s sanctification whereby He enables a saved person to persevere to the end. Even though the process of sanctification is not complete in this life, from God’s perspective it is as good as accomplished, cf. Romans 8:30, 38, and 39, and Philippians 1:6.
The PCA maintains the historic polity of Presbyterian governance set forth in The Book of Church Order, namely rule by presbyters (or Elders) and the graded assemblies or courts. These courts are the Session, governing the local church; the Presbytery, for regional matters; and the general assembly, at the national level. It has taken seriously the position of the parity of Elders, making a distinction between the two classes of Elders, teaching and ruling.
All that to say, we have a strong commitment to evangelism, missionary work, and Christian education. The best and most succinct way to describe us as a denomination is ... “faithful to the Scriptures, true to the reformed faith, and obedient to the Great Commission."