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  • Presbyterianism refers to a number of different Christian churches adhering to the Calvinist theological tradition within Protestantism, and organized according to a characteristic Presbyterian polity. Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the and the necessity of grace through faith in Christ. Presbyterianism evolved primarily in Scotland before the Act of Union in 1707. Most of the few Presbyteries found in England can trace a Scottish connection. Although some adherents hold to the theology of Calvin and his immediate successors, there are a range of theological views within contemporary Presbyterianism. Modern Presbyterianism traces its institutional roots back to the Scottish Reformation. Local congregations are governed by Sessions made up of representatives of the congregation, a conciliar approach which is found at other levels of decision-making (Presbytery, Synod and General Assembly). Theoretically, there are no bishops in Presbyterianism; however, some groups in Eastern Europe, and in ecumenical groups, do have bishops. The office of elder is another distinctive mark of Presbyterianism: these are specially commissioned non-clergy who take part in local pastoral care and decision-making at all levels. The roots of Presbyterianism lie in the European Reformation of the 16th century, with the example of John Calvin's Geneva being particularly influential. Most Reformed churches who trace their history back to Scotland are either Presbyterian or Congregationalist in government. In the twentieth century, some Presbyterians have played an important role in the Ecumenical Movement, including the World Council of Churches. Many Presbyterian denominations have found ways of working together with other Reformed denominations and Christians of other traditions, especially in the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. Some Presbyterian churches have entered into unions with other churches, such as Congregationalists, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Methodists. Methodism is a movement of Protestant Christianity represented by a number of denominations and organizations, claiming a total of approximately seventy million adherents worldwide. The movement traces its roots to Reverend John Wesley's evangelical and revival movement in the Anglican Church. His younger brother Charles was instrumental in writing much of the hymnody of the Methodist Church. George Whitefield, another significant leader in the movement, was known for his unorthodox ministry of itinerant open-air preaching. Wesley, along with his brother and Whitefield, were branded as "Methodist" by opposing clergy within the Church of England. Initially Whitefield merely sought reform, by way of a return to the Gospel, within the Church of England, but the movement spread with revival and soon a significant number of Anglican clergy became known as Methodists in the mid eighteenth century. The movement did not form a separate denomination in England until after John Wesley's death in 1795. Some 18th century branches of Methodism include, the earliest Methodists, Calvinistic Methodists, from the work of George Whitefield and Howell Harris, the Welsh Methodists, and the Methodism of John Wesley. The influence of Whitefield and Lady Huntingdon on the Church of England was a factor in the founding of the Free Church of England in 1844. Through vigorous missionary activity Methodism spread throughout the British Empire, and the work of Whitefield from an early time introduced Methodism to the United States, and beyond. Early Methodists were drawn from all levels of society, including aristocracy. But the Methodist preachers took the message to labourers and criminals who tended to be left outside of organised religion at that time.[citation needed] Wesley himself thought it wrong to preach outside a Church building until persuaded otherwise by Whitefield. Doctrinally, the branches of Methodism following the Wesleys are Arminian, while those following Harris and Whitefield are Calvinistic. Wesley chose to break with the Church of England's Calvinistic position, which Whitefield remained faithful to. This caused serious strains on the relationship between Whitefield and Wesley, with Wesley becoming quite hostile toward Whitefield in what had been previously very close relations. Whitefield consistently begged Wesley to not let these differences sever their friendship and, in time their friendship was restored, though this was seen by many of Whitefield's followers to be a doctrinal compromise. As a final testimony of their friendship, John Wesley's sermon on Whitefield's death is full of praise and affection. Methodism has a very wide variety of forms of worship, ranging from high church to low church in liturgical usage. Both Whitefield and the Wesleys themselves greatly valued the Anglican liturgy and tradition, and the Methodist worship in The Book of Offices was based on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. A Baptist is a Christian who subscribes to a theology and may belong to a church that, among other things, is committed to believer's baptism (as opposed to infant baptism) and, with respect to church polity, favors the congregational model. The term Baptist can also describe a local church, denomination, or other group of individuals made up of individual Baptists. Baptists are historically characterized by individual and local church autonomy and a disavowal of creeds leading to wide diversity in beliefs and practices among individuals and groups who would call themselves Baptist. While the term Baptist has its origins with the Anabaptists, and was sometimes viewed as pejorative, the denomination itself is historically linked to the English Dissenter, Separatist, or Nonconformism movements of the 16th century. Most Baptist churches choose to associate with denominational groups that provide support without control. The largest Baptist association, apart from the Baptist World Alliance, is the Southern Baptist Convention (which left the World Alliance in 2004), but there are many other Baptist associations. There are also autonomous churches that remain independent of any denomination, organization, or association. Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the teachings of the 16th century German reformer Martin Luther. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation. The reactions of governmental and churchly authorities to the international spread of his writings, beginning with the 95 Theses, divided Western Christianity. The split between Lutherans and the Roman Catholic Church arose mainly over the doctrine of Justification before God. Lutheranism advocates a doctrine of justification "by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone," which contradicted the Roman view of "faith formed by love", or "faith and works". Unlike the Reformed Churches, Lutherans retain many of the liturgical practices and sacramental teachings of the pre-Reformation Church. Lutheran theology differs considerably from Reformed theology in a variety of ways, including Christology, the purpose of God's Law, divine grace, whether one is "once saved always saved," and predestination.

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