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Presbyterian Creeds & Confessions

Those ordained to Presbyterian church office "receive and adopt the essential tenets of the Reformed faith as expressed in the confessions of our Church as authentic and reliable expositions of what Scripture leads us to believe and do, and [are] instructed and led by those confessions as [we] lead the people of God." 
-- The Book of Order
-- G-14.0207 (c)

Search the PC(USA) Book of Confessions(unofficial) 

The Nicene Creed (ca AD 325-381)
The Nicene Creed including Latin version and notes
Resource page for the proposed contemporary translation of the Nicene Creed
Wikipedia Wikipedia  CCEL CCEL

Written during the 4th century A.D. in an attempt to unify the Christian church under emperor Constantine. It is heavily influenced by the theologian Athanasius and the work of the first two ecumenical councils of Nicaea (325) and Constantinople (381). It was adopted by the council of Chalcedon in A.D. 451. Its central doctrines are those of the Person of Jesus Christ and the reality of the Holy Spirit. It is the only creed accepted by all three major branches of Christendom including Protestant, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians.

The Apostles' Creed including Latin version (ca AD 180-750)
 Wikipedia Wikipedia  CCEL CCEL

Developed between the second and ninth centuries as a baptismal creed for new Christians this is the most popular creed used in worship by Western Christians. Its central doctrines are those of the Trinity and God the Creator.

The Scots Confession (1560) - John Knox
The Scottish Confession of Faith - Presbyterian Heritage Publications version 
with Introduction, Preface and footnotes.
 Wikipedia Wikipedia  CCEL CCEL

Written by John Knox and five other "Johns" (Willock, Winram, Spottiswood, Row and Douglas) at the conclusion of the Scottish civil war in response to medieval Roman Catholicism and at the behest of the Scottish Parliament in five days. Its central doctrines are those of election and the Church. It was approved by the Reformation Parliament and Church of Scotland, attaining full legal status with the departure of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1567.

The Heidelberg Catechism (1563) -- full text in several parts
 Wikipedia Wikipedia  CCEL CCEL

Written by Zacharias Ursinus and Caspar Olevianus in Germany at the time of the breaking of the peace of Augsburg in response to the Lutherans and at the direction of Frederick the Elector. Its central doctrines are those of Stewardship and the Lord's Supper. It is the most personal of the Reformed creeds.

The Second Helvetic Confession (1566)
 Wikipedia Wikipedia  CCEL CCEL latin

full text

Written by Heinrich Bullinger in Switzerland after surviving the Black Plague as a codicil to his will. It is in response to the Anabaptists and makes an attempt to reconcile with the Lutherans. It is influenced by Ulrich Zwingli. Its central doctrines are those of Covenant and Baptism.

The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646)
 Frames Version | Whole
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Written by the Westminster Assembly at the call of Parliament together with the following two catechisms and heavily influenced by Reynolds. It is written in the context of the English Civil War and as a response to high church Anglicanism. The central doctrines of this and the following two catechisms are the sovereignty of God and the authority and proper interpretation of Scripture.



The Shorter Catechism -- with Scripture proofs and Question Index (1649)
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  • Fisher's Catechism - (1753, 1765) a Scottish commentary on the Shorter Catechism which is being entered by the Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics.

The Larger Catechism (1649)
  Wikipedia Wikipedia  CCEL CCEL

Sum of Saving Knowledge

  • This item is not found in the PC(USA) Book of Confessions but is from the Westminster Standards and is subtitled: "A Brief Sum of Christian Doctrine, contained in the Holy Scriptures, and holden forth in the forsaid confession of faith and catechism; together with The Practical Use Thereof. "

The Theological Declaration of Barmen (1934)
  Wikipedia Wikipedia

Written by Karl Barth and the confessing church in Nazi Germany in response to Hitler's national church. Its central doctrines concern the sin of idolatry and the lordship of Christ.

The Confession of 1967 - United Presbyterian Church
  Wikipedia Wikipedia

Written during the troubled 1960's and the civil rights movement in response to civil religion. Its central doctrines include reconciliation and the equality of all persons. Edward A. Dowey, Jr. headed the committee which composed it.

  • Inclusive Language Version
         This inclusive language text of the Confession of 1967 was prepared informally by the Reverend Cynthia A. Jarvis (Associate Pastor, Nassau Presbyterian Church, Princeton, NJ) and Professor Freda A. Gardner for use at the October 21-22, 1982, Symposium on "The Confession of 1967: Contemporary Implication." Subsequently the text was reviewed with Professors Daniel Migliore and Edward Dowey. Subsequently the text was revised by the Office of Theology and Worship in 2002. This text is intended for liturgical use, thus the "Preface" is not included.
         The purpose of this unofficial revision is solely to alter the male-oriented language that was commonly and uncritically accepted in 1967. All departures from the official text which is found in the Constitution of the UPCUSA are indicated, and the original language is quoted in the notes. In addition, two notes (nos. 2 and 163) include Scripture references for exact quotations from the New Revised Standard Version.
         One interesting result of the revision is the frequent change from the third to the first person -- which many will find more appropriate to the language of confession.
  • A Brief Statement of Faith - Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (1983) 
    A Brief Statement of Faith - Second site

    After the two largest streams of Presbyterianism in the United States reunited to form the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 1983 a committee was appointed to draft a confession that would briefly summarize our faith. A lengthy process of writing and review led to its adoption by the presbyteries in 1991. Like the earliest creeds it is liturgical in style and suitable for use in worship.


Search the PC(USA) Book of ConfessionsSearchable -- This is a special web application which lets you search for a word or phrase. The places in the document where those phrases can be found are then marked in an "outline", and you can expand the outline to "drill down" to the location of each occurrence. Other General Assembly documents beyond the Confessions and Book of Order are available here as well. This area is quite busy, and may not always be available.

The 210th General Assembly (1998) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved catechisms for use in the church. These have not however been added to the Book of Confessions. Three versions of these catechisms are available:

Two of these catechisms are presented here with Scripture references. The references were not part of the text approved by the Assembly, but were prepared by the study committee for use with the catechisms.

Belhar study

The 219th General Assemble (2010) approved the Confession of Belhar  and recommended it to the constituent presbyteries for their vote for future inclusion in the Book of Confessions.  If approved by a two-thirds majority of presbyteries and by the 220th General Assembly (2012), the Constitution will be amended.


pcrdsrogers.gif (6781 bytes)For a detailed discussion see Jack Rogers' - Presbyterian Creeds: a guide to the book of confessions; The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, PA; 1985; and its supplement, Presbyterian Creeds: supplement on a brief statement of faith; ibid. 1991. 

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Other Titles of Interest

Other Christian Creeds and Confessions

Feel free to link to this site from your church or seminary page, etc. Comments, objections and suggestions are appreciated. Cross referencing will be an ongoing project so stop back every so often. I am responsible for only some of the above links hence some may change over time. Please let me know if any of them do change or if you find some better links to replace these. Thank you. Rev. Michael H. Anderson, PC(USA) michael@creeds.net

Labelled with ICRALast updated: 09/29/2010

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