Assemblies of God vs Presbyterian: What’s the Difference?


The Assemblies of God denomination and the Presbyterian tradition are two of the most prominent branches of Protestant Christianity. These churches have many similarities, yet their differences are important and significant.

The Assemblies of God is a Protestant Christian denomination that subscribes to Arminian, Pentecostal, and premillennial theology. Presbyterianism, which is also Protestant, subscribes to Calvinism, isn’t Pentecostal, and holds to amillennial theology. The traditions have other important differences as well.

Is Assemblies of God or Presbyterianism older? Which is larger? Which has experienced more division? Do they both believe in the Trinity and teach and preach from Scripture? Do they believe similarly about Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit? See the comparison charts below to learn more.

Assemblies of God chruch service
Is the Assemblies of God or Presbyterian church bigger globally? See below

Assemblies of God vs Presbyterian: Comparison Chart

The Assemblies of God and Presbyterian traditions have more in common with each other than with other religions, even those that are historically Christian like, Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox. Yet they each have more in common with other Protestant traditions than with each other. For example, the Assemblies of God has more in common with Methodism and Presbyterianism has more in common with Lutheranism.

OVERVIEWAssemblies of GodPresbyterianism
FounderPentecostal pastors and leaders who had strong convictions about speaking in tongues being the evidence of a post-conversion baptism of the Holy Spirit.John Calvin (1509-1564)
OriginHot Springs, Arkansas in America; 191416th-century France
Early influencer(s)Charles Fox Parham (1873-1929), Agnes Ozman (1870–1937), William Joseph Seymour (1870-1922)John Knox (1514-1572), Scotland
Meaning of name“Assemblies” refers to individual churches. “God” refers to the denomination’s beliefs about God as he is revealed in the Bible.The term “Presbyterian” is derived from the Greek word presbyteros, meaning “elder.” In New Testament context, the word refers to a form of church government that is elder-led.
Significant writing outside the BibleThe 16 Fundamental Truths is the name of the denomination’s belief statementThe Westminster Confession of Faith of 1647
OrganizationAssemblies of God churches are organized according to prebyterian polity (though not theology) at the national level as well as the regional or district level. Individual churches, however, are self-governing.Calvin taught that there are elders who preach and teach and others elders who help rule over the church. Elders in a local church comprise a session. Elders in the same geographical location form a presbytery. Groups of presbyteries form a synod.
DivisionsCompared with other large Protestant denominations, the Assemblies of God has been free of significant splits. Internal debate has occurred over a number of issues, but the denomination has avoided large protesting factions.Division has occurred in the Presbyterian tradition several times and over a lot of issues, especially in America. Disagreement over conservative and liberal theological and social issues is the source of much division.
Theological and social worldviewThe Assemblies of God denomination is evangelical and conservative, theologically and socially. The denomination ordains women to be pastors, which some Christians consider liberal and progressive.It depends on the denomination. The PCUSA welcomes liberal and progressive theological positions and social causes. The PCA maintains conservative positions on theological and social matters.

Size comparison:

  • Global membership of the Assemblies of God: estimated 69 million [1]
  • Global membership of all Presbyterian denominations: estimated 74 million [2]
  • American membership of the Assemblies of God: over 3 million
  • Presbyterian Church (USA) membership: 1.7 million
  • Presbyterian Church in America membership: 370,000
  • Evangelical Presbyterian Church membership: 150,000
Presbyterian church
How does the Assemblies of God and Presbyterianism differ in their beliefs about the end times?

Assemblies of God vs Presbyterian beliefs, theology, and doctrine

Does the Assemblies of God denomination recognize Presbyterians as fellow Christians? Yes. Do Presbyterians recognize those in Assemblies of God churches as fellow Christians? Yes. The similarities that make each tradition are clearly seen in the chart below. Their differences on secondary matters are evident, too.

BELIEFSAssemblies of GodPresbyterian
Theology (general)Assemblies of God is Protestant. They believe that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone, and not according to works.Presbyterianism shares the same core beliefs as the Assemblies of God because they are both Protestant Christian.
Theology (specific)Assemblies of God is Arminian. Within the framework of Arminianism, their belief systems is often referred to as “Pentecostal theology.”Presbyterianism is Calvinist.
GodTrinitarian. There is one God who exists in three persons.Presbyterians share the same core beliefs about the Trinity as the Assemblies of God.
JesusJesus is the second person of the Trinity. He is God in human flesh. He is 100% God and 100% man. Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died as an atonement for sin, and physically resurrection on the third day.Presbyterians have the same core beliefs as the Assemblies of God about the nature and life of Christ. Since one is Arminian and Pentecostal, the other is Calvinist, they interpret some of his teaching differently.
Is the Holy Spirit God?The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is fully divine. The Spirit applies the salvation that the Father planned and that the Son earned for sinners. He bestows spiritual gifts on believers that they are to use for the edification of the Church.Presbyterians, like the Assemblies of God, believe that the Holy Spirit is God and the third person of the Trinity. They don’t believe the Spirit equips believers today with all the spiritual gifts the church had in the first century.
Speaking in tonguesThe Assemblies of God believes that speaking in tongues is the initial evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit, which occurs after conversion.Presbyterians believe that baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at the time of conversion. They don’t believe speaking in tongues is the sign of the baptism.
The Bible#1 of The 16 Fundamental Truths state, “The Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are verbally inspired of God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct.”Presbyterians believe in the inspiration and authority of Scripture. Many conservatives accept and defend the terms “inerrancy” (i.e. Scripture has no errors) and “infallibility” (i.e. Scripture can’t lead astray in belief or practice). Moderate-liberal denominations read and teach Scripture selectively.
View of the atonementAssemblies of God believes that in the penal-substitutionary atonement of Christ. His death was the punishment for sin and he took the place of sinners on the cross. Assemblies of God believes the application of the atonement occurs within the framework of Arminian theology.Presbyterians believe in the penal-substitutionary atonement of Christ as well. They understand the application of the atonement within the framework of Calvinist theology.
Salvation#5 of The 16 Fundamental Truths state, “Salvation is received through repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, being justified by grace through faith, man becomes an heir of God, according to the hope of eternal life.”Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved. As Calvinists, Presbyterians believe in predestination, holding that God has selected some, but not others, to salvation.
Spiritual giftsAssemblies of God believes that all spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible are operational today, including speaking in tongues, divine healing, and miracles.Presbyterians don’t believe that all spiritual gifts are available for believers today. Some gifts, such as speaking in tongues, were only for the first-century church.
OrdinancesThere are two: baptism and the Lord’s Supper or communion; they don’t automatically convey graceLike the Assemblies of God and other Protestant traditions, and unlike Catholicism, Presbyterians believe that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the only two ordinances.
Water BaptismBeliever’s baptism; only professing believers, therefore not infants, are baptized. Baptism isn’t necessary for salvation.Presbyterians practice infant baptism (and adult baptism) by means of sprinkling. Baptism signifies inclusion into the Covenant community.
The Lord’s Supper#6 of The 16 Fundamental Truths state, “The Lord’s Supper, consisting of the elements — bread and the fruit of the vine — is the symbol expressing our sharing the divine nature of our Lord Jesus Christ, a memorial of his suffering and death, and a prophecy of His second coming, and is enjoined on all believers ’till He come!'”Presbyterians believe Christ is spiritually present in the bread and cup. The elements aren’t merely symbols or reminders.
EschatologyPremillennial; #14 of The 16 Fundamental Truths state, “The second coming of Christ includes the rapture of the saints, which is our blessed hope, followed by the visible return of Christ with His saints to reign on earth for one thousand years.”Amillennial; the Presbyterian tradition teaches that the 1,000-year reign of Christ (Rev. 20:1-6) doesn’t occur after the Second Coming, but is presently occurring. Unlike the Assemblies of God, Presbyterians don’t believe in a rapture, but like them, they affirm Christ’s Second Coming.

References:
[1] Source
[2] Source
[3] Source

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel has been in Christian ministry for 25 years. He has been an Associate Pastor and a Senior Pastor. Currently in higher education, Daniel has taught more than 25 different undergraduate courses in Bible and theology-related topics.

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