While the following words, written in 1960, no longer represent the beliefs of all Presbyterian denominations or congregations, they do reflect the understanding and beliefs of the Presbyterian Church in America:
"It is frequently pointed out that the word "Presbyterian" refers to the Eldership and that Presbyterianism, as such, is a form of church government. Presbyterianism is not only a form of government in the Church, but is also a well-defined system of beliefs or of doctrine. In the exaltation and interpretation of the Bible the Reformation reached its zenith in the teachings and writings of John Calvin. Thus Presbyterianism, following his interpretation of the Bible, is known as Calvinism. More specifically, the Calvinism of Presbyterians is based on the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, documents which were written nearly a hundred years after Calvin died."
"Presbyterians share with other evangelical churches many basic beliefs. Presbyterians also recognize that earnest Christians may follow other interpretations of the Bible in non-essential matters. But Presbyterians believe that in the Reformed system (another word for Calvinism) the teachings of the Bible are most fully and most accurately set forth. Every Presbyterian officer and minister takes a vow that he believes the Reformed faith to be that system of doctrine which the Bible teaches. Every Presbyterian officer and minister in the Presbyterian Church, moreover, also vows that he will take steps to remove himself from his position should he ever find that his beliefs have taken another direction."
"Now the strength of Presbyterianism lies in its central loyalty to the Scriptures. This Church has always insisted that only in the Bible may we find what we must believe about God, His works and His ways. Only the Bible is a rule of faith and life free from error -"our infallible rule of faith and practice." We believe that Presbyterianism agrees with what the Scriptures teach and that it contains nothing contrary to what the Scriptures teach."
(Taylor, G. Aiken, "What Presbyterians Believe")