Donald Trump boasted about his faith as a Presbyterian during a rally on Saturday, where he contrasted it with the Seventh Day Adventist faith that Ben Carson ascribes to.
"I love Iowa. And, look, I don't have to say it, I'm Presbyterian. Can you believe it? Nobody believes I'm Presbyterian. I'm Presbyterian. I'm Presbyterian. I'm Presbyterian," he told a packed house in Florida. "Boy, that's down the middle of the road folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh Day Adventist, I don't know about. I just don't know about."
Gathered below are 10 things you may or may not know about Presbyterians and their unique system of beliefs.
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1. John Calvin
— When Martin Luther, the German monk, took issue with the Roman Catholic Church and its selling of indulgences in the 16th century, he inspired faithful Christians across Europe to leave and form their own houses of faith. Calvin, a Frenchman who was studying to be a lawyer at the time, was inspired by the Protestant Reformation in the 1530s and relocated to Geneva, Switzerland, where he wrote "The Institutes of Christian Religion." Calvin's writings are generally credited as the foundations of the Presbyterian faith.
2. John Knox
— During his ministry in Geneva, Calvin preached more than 2,000 sermons, and in so doing inspired John Knox. Knox, a Scotsman, returned to his homeland, where he spread Calvin's teachings throughout the land. In doing so, he founded the first Presbyterian churches.
— The church got its name primarily from its system of governance, which gives elected laity known as "presbyters" the ability to govern in conjunction with ordained ministers.
4. Spread to America
— The faith was spread to the Americas in large part by Scottish immigrants, and the first official Presbytery was established in Philadelphia in 1703. It spread to New Castle and Long Island by 1716.
5. First Great Awakening
— Beginning around 1730, the American colonies experienced a revitalization of religious piety across many faiths. Reverend William Tennent, a Scots-Irish immigrant living in Pennsylvania, and his four clergyman sons, boosted Presbyterianism during this period by founding the Log College, which trained a number of revivalist preachers.
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6. John Witherspoon
— As a representative to the Continental Congress from New Jersey, Presbyterian Minister John Witherspoon, another Scottish immigrant, was the only Christian minister to sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
7. Norman Vincent Peale
— Pastor of Marble Collegiate Church in New York City for 52 years, Peale became highly influential across the U.S. upon the publishing of his bestselling book, "The Power of Positive Thinking," in 1952. While Marble Collegiate, founded in 1628, was originally affiliated with a Calvinist church in the Netherlands, it later became affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, and features a Presbyterian polity.
8. Trump Family
— Donald Trump's parents, Fred and Mary, worshipped at Marble Collegiate, and both of their funeral services were held there. Donald and both of his sisters were married in the church. "I still remember [Peale’s] sermons," Trump told the Iowa Family Leadership Summit in July, Politico reported
. "You could listen to him all day long. And when you left the church, you were disappointed it was over. He was the greatest guy."
9. Famous Presbyterians
— Lucile Ball married her second husband, Gary Morton, at Marble Collegiate, in 1961. Other famous people of the faith include President Andrew Jackson and astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
10. Role in Ecumenical Movement
— Presbyterians played an important role in establishing interfaith dialog in the 20th century. Among their achievements in this sphere is the founding of the interfaith World Council of Churches (WCC) in 1948, whose members include most mainline Protestant churches (Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Moravian and Reformed), some evangelical Protestant churches (such as the Baptist and Pentecostal), as well as the Anglican Communion, the Assyrian Church of the East, and almost all jurisdictions of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Old Catholic Church, and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.
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