Baptist vs. Methodist: Are they really different?

Methodists and Baptists are two denominations with many similarities. Through church planting and community service, both have significantly contributed to Christianity’s growth in the Western world.

However, they differ enough for them to remain distinct entities, and to understand them better, one needs to compare Methodist vs. Baptist churches.

Methodists and Baptists profess belief in God, the Bible, and Jesus’ teachings. The main distinction between these two denominations is that, for the Methodists, baptism is permitted for all ages, from babies to adults.

The Baptists only permitted baptism for youth and adults.

Read on to find out some interesting information about the two, including their other differences, if they have other similarities, which of the two came first, what Methodists think of Baptists, whether they can attend Baptist churches, and if they are both Christians.

What is the difference between Baptists and Methodists? 

Baptism is one of the main differences between Baptists and Methodists. According to the Baptists, confession and repentance are prerequisites for baptism. Since infants and small children are not capable of repenting, they cannot be baptized.

This means that only youth and adults are eligible if they believe. Methodists, however, baptize people of all ages, from infants to adults.

For them, baptism marks entry into the church, and they base their belief on Acts 10:47-48 that says, “‘Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.’ So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.”

Here, Peter baptized the entire house of Cornelius.

The two are said to also differ in the ritual practice of baptism. To the Methodists, sprinkling, pouring, and immersion are all acceptable methods of baptizing.

However, the Baptists only baptize by total immersion, and it is said that this is how they got the name Baptist in the first place. They base their belief solely on the baptism of Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 3:13-17.

It reads, “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.””

When it comes to communion, the Methodists practice “open communion” and offer it to all. Not so the Baptists. Their communion is said to be a closed affair. You need to be a baptized member practicing the Baptist faith to be allowed to receive communion.

Methodist church governance follows a methodical system of Episcopal hierarchy. Simplified, the structure suggests that the bishop appoints elders and determines where they perform their ministry, usually for an extendable 4-year term.

Pastors manage the church, and deacons assist them. The Baptists, by comparison, are not as methodical. One of their defining practices is rejecting any type of hierarchical governance and figures such as bishops.

Local churches are reported to be autonomously governed by the believers, who independently appoint elders who are also pastors.

The Methodists are also on record as having ordained women to be pastors, which is unheard of in the Baptist church. According to the latter, only men can take up such roles, and such appointments are only a clear sign of apostasy.

They also disagree on doctrine. Methodists hold that it is the individual’s choice whether or not to be saved by not following the teaching.

Baptists reportedly believe in the perseverance of the saints, which means that once saved, one is always saved.

The other difference is about the place of tradition in the church. According to the Baptists, the Scripture holds absolute authority.

The Methodists, who always approach a situation pragmatically, refer to tradition alongside Scripture and believe that tradition has authority.

Overall, then, when comparing the two, the Methodists seem to be more liberal compared to the Baptists, as their Methodist faith is based upon personal experience and traditions.

Baptists are strict fundamentalists because the Bible is the only guide for all matters of faith and practice.

The only instance where Methodist churches seem stricter compared to Baptist ones is regarding church membership.

The Methodists are known to purge their membership rolls every so often and remove the names of those who never show up. Most Baptist churches are said to typically have a membership of almost double the number of regular attendees.

Baptist vs. Methodist: Are they really different?
What are the similarities between Baptist and Methodist beliefs? See below

What are the similarities between Baptist and Methodist beliefs?

Both Methodist and Baptist seem to be Christian denominations that believe in God, the Bible, and Jesus’ works and instructions.

Both recognize Jesus as Christ, the savior of mankind, as recorded in Luke 2:11. “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

Both claim baptism is a fundamental sacrament, but their views differ on who and how to go about it.

Baptist and Methodist churches practice confession of Jesus Christ as savior and accept communion, in which the bread and wine represent Christ’s blood and body.

Which came first, Baptist or Methodist?

The Baptists came earlier than the Methodists. History shows that the first Baptist congregations were established by English speakers in Holland between 1609-1612.

The first Baptist church in America is said to have been founded in 1638 by Roger Williams.

By comparison, John Wesley brought his evangelical type of methodical Anglicanism to settlers in Georgia between 1735 and 1737, almost a century after Baptists had landed.

Records show that he went on to charter the first Methodist Church in the US on February 28, 1784.

The Baptist church is said to have been weakly organized as a fellowship. Despite this, Baptist churches flourished and spread during the settler and federal periods.

The Baptist Denomination’s General Missionary Convention in 1814 was reported to have been the first concise national organization. A central governing authority does not govern Baptists, and Baptist beliefs may differ slightly from one Baptist church.

Commonalities include beliefs around one God, the virgin birth, impeccability, supernatural events, vicarious atoning death, and bodily resurrection of Christ, the need for redemption, divine grace, the church, God’s kingdom, evangelism, and mission.

It has also been observed that although Baptists share the same tenets as most Protestants, Baptists believe that only believers should be baptized and that this should be done by immersion rather than sprinkling or pouring water.

On the other hand, Methodism is a collective of historically related protestant Christian denominations that are said to have generated their doctrine of faith and practice from the teachings of John Wesley.

The Methodist Churches support Wesleyan theology, which focuses on sanctification by faith and Christian character.

Methodists believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for all and that salvation is accessible to everyone. Methodism underscores charity and assistance for the sick, poor, and afflicted through works of mercy and evangelism, as instructed in James 2:14. It says, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?”

They put into action these ideals, known collectively as “social gospel,” by establishing hospitals, orphanages, soup kitchens, and schools to fulfill Christ’s instruction to share the good news and serve all people.

What do Methodists think of Baptists? 

Many Methodist congregations emphasize the Bible’s teaching in conjunction with the church tradition as the guide for matters of faith and practice.

Baptists, on the other hand, emphasize Scripture as the sole guide. This is said to result in the Methodists viewing the Baptists as rigid and less accommodating.

Some Methodists also find Baptists less liberal in their beliefs, having no room for reason. Some issues that set them apart, including not allowing women to be pastors, are seen as retrogressive.

Although several Baptist churches commission parents as missionaries to their homes to bring up their children right, some Methodists feel this is not enough.

They view the baptism of children as a christening, a way to welcome them into the church, and an essential step in which the Baptists do not involve their children.

Can Methodists attend Baptist churches?

Methodists can attend Baptist churches just as much as Baptists can attend Methodist churches. However, a Methodist at a Baptist church will not be able to take communion as it is available to Baptist church members only.

Are Baptists and Methodists Christians? 

By their beliefs and practices, Baptists and Methodists can be said to be Christians who trust God, the Bible, and Jesus’ instructions and works. Both recognize Jesus as Christ, the redeemer of humankind, which is in line with John 14:6: “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”


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