Like the Lutherans, Presbyterian churches have traditionally emphasized doctrine. Also like Lutherans, Presbyterians have produced several confessions expressing the doctrines of their denomination. Among the most important historical confessions for the Presbyterian and Reformed traditions are the Second Helvetic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Westminster Confession of Faith.
Presbyterian beliefs are rooted in the thought of the French reformer John Calvin. In addition to the common Reformation themes of justification by faith, the priesthood of all believers, and the importance of the Bible, Presbyterianism also reflects Calvin’s distinctive emphasis on the sovereignty of God and a representational form of church government.
The PC(USA) summarizes Presbyterian beliefs this way:
God is the supreme authority throughout the universe. Our knowledge of God and God’s purpose for humanity comes from the Bible, particularly what is revealed in the New Testament through the life of Jesus Christ. Our salvation (justification) through Jesus is God’s generous gift to us and not the result of our own accomplishments. It is everyone’s job – ministers and lay people alike – to share this Good News with the whole world. That is also why the Presbyterian church is governed at all levels by a combination of clergy and laity, men and women alike.