Question: "What is the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA), and what do they believe?"
Answer: The Presbyterian Church of America, or PCA, is an evangelical denomination in the Reformed, Calvinistic tradition. The Presbyterian Church of America is one of the conservative groups within Presbyterianism. Their headquarters are in Atlanta, Georgia, and the denomination has over 1,450 churches and missions in the U.S. and Canada.
All Presbyterian churches, including the Presbyterian Church of America, have their roots in the 16th-century Protestant Reformation, specifically the work of John Knox in Scotland and John Calvin.
The Presbyterian Church of America was organized in December 1973 when a group of conservative Presbyterians broke away from the Presbyterian Church in the United States (Southern). At issue was the theological liberalism of the larger group—specifically, a denial of the deity of Jesus Christ and the inerrancy of the Bible. At that time, the new denomination was known as the National Presbyterian Church, but they changed the name in 1974 to the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). In 1982, the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, joined the Presbyterian Church in America. Since its founding, the Presbyterian Church of America has sought to be “faithful to the Scriptures, true to the reformed faith, and obedient to the Great Commission” (“A Brief History of the Presbyterian Church in America,” from the PCA website).
The Presbyterian Church of America is guided by the Bible, the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America, the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Book of Church Order. The church constitution is “subject to and subordinate to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, the inerrant Word of God” (“What We Believe,” ibid.). The Book of Church Order includes bylaws that detail the form of church government and other areas of church organization.
Like other Presbyterian churches, the Presbyterian Church of America practices a representative form of church government: members elect presbyters (elders) who form regional presbyteries and participate in a General Assembly.
The Presbyterian Church of America is an example of committed Christians practicing ecclesiastical separation. When their parent denomination drifted into theological liberalism and persisted in its denial of biblical truth, faithful believers left and formed their own denomination. In so doing, they retained their connection to historic Presbyterianism, honored Reformed theology, contended for the faith (Jude 1:3), and preserved their good conscience. Sometimes God’s people must “come out from them and be separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17), and that is what the Presbyterian Church of America has done.