Christianity is an exciting religion with many sects and belief systems practiced among different denominations, and among these are the Presbyterians and the Baptists. Both are products of The Reformation and have similar fundamental beliefs. Still, they also have a few significant differences, so it is worth it to take some time to explore Presbyterian vs. Baptist denominations.
Presbyterians and Baptists have several differences that cover their beliefs on baptism, worship styles, adherence to doctrine, and tithing.
By the end of this article, you will have a better idea of the unique traits of Presbyterians and Baptists and their similarities. It is worth remembering that their approaches to faith and worship are different, but since they are Christians, they will share some fundamental beliefs.
What is the difference between Christianity and Presbyterian?
There are a few differences between Christianity and the Presbyterian Church since the Presbyterian Church is a branch of the Christian Reformation Movement.
According to the Bible, the people that were followers of Jesus Christ were referred to as “Christians” in Acts 11:26.
And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. They met with the church for a whole year and taught many people. And in Antioch, the disciples were first called Christians. Acts 11:26
The definition of Christianity lies in its foundation, which is that it is a religion that focuses on the life, death, and teachings of Jesus Christ (also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth), with these events happening in the 1st Century CE. It is the largest major global religion, with its largest groups comprising the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant churches, and the Eastern Orthodox churches. These main churches then split into denominations based on the interpretation of elements in the faith, such as Pentecostalism and fundamentalism.
On the other hand, the Presbyterian Church is a part of the Christian Protestant churches. Still, it focuses on creating a structure of government that was developed in the 16th Century by Rhineland and Swiss Reformers – particularly John Calvin (1509-1564) and John Knox (1514-1572). It follows a democratic system of church government, in which local congregations elect deacons and elders to oversee the affairs of the church, and the elders, in turn, elect moderators who oversee regions of the church.
The fundamental beliefs of Christianity and Presbyterianism are the same, so the only difference between them is their scope. Christianity encompasses many practices and beliefs ranging from Catholics, Orthodox churches, and Protestants. At the same time, the Presbyterian Church is a specific denominational group of Christians that follow the church government system of a “presbytery,” in which churches are under the authority of elders and deacons.
What are the similarities between Baptists and Presbyterians?
It is worth noting that the similarities shared between Baptists and Presbyterians also feature in other Christian denominations. These similarities are:
The view of God
Baptists and Presbyterians hold the same view of God, placing Him as the core of their faith in a monotheistic fashion. They believe He is the creator of all things and has authority over all the world. This leads to both denominations referring to God as “The Father,” “Our Father,” or “God, such as stated in Galatians 4:6:
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6
Jesus and Salvation
Baptists and Presbyterians believe that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, was sent into the world for the atonement of sin. They both believe that He lived as a human being but was entirely God, performed numerous miracles, and died on the cross for the salvation of many, as stated in John 3:16. They also believe that He rose again and ascended to Heaven and sits at the right of God the Father.
For God so loved the world, He gave His Only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12
While the interpretation of certain Bible scriptures differs in both denominations, they still hold the Bible in high regard as their Holy Book. They both rely on the Old and New Testaments and derive their teachings from them, as shown in 2 Timothy 3:16:
All scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and training in righteousness… 2 Timothy 3:16
A significant topic that has divided Christendom for centuries is the concept of The Trinity, but Baptists and Presbyterians agree. While it is not a universal concept among all denominations, the two groups agree that the Bible implies in several passages that Jesus, The Father, and the Holy Spirit are distinct persons in the Godhead, such as John 14:16-17:
And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:16-17
Both Baptists and Presbyterians hold to the belief of original sin. That is when the first humans, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God’s instructions and ate the fruit of the forbidden tree, according to Genesis 3:6. They agree with the Bible’s account that this was the first sin committed, and the implication that sin came into humanity, as the Apostle Paul talks of in Romans 3:23.
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6
For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
Which came first between Baptists and Presbyterians?
The Presbyterian Church is the older denomination of the two, with its beginnings going back to the mid-16th Century, while the Baptist church began in the initial years of the 17th Century.
The initial church that was identified as Baptist was formed around 1609 in the Netherlands. The founders were English speakers who separated from the Church of England due to their interpretation of baptism, in which they believed that only believers could be baptized. The denomination then spread its roots to North America shortly after this, thanks to the work of Roger Williams, who established the first American Baptist church in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1612.
On the other hand, the Presbyterian Church was founded by the Swiss theologian John Calvin and his Scottish Counterpart John Knox. The church’s earliest years go back to the middle years of the 16th Century (around 1550). It was eventually adopted into the Scottish Parliament in 1560, and it arrived in North America in the 1630s, with Richard Denton establishing the first Presbyterian Church in New York.
What do Presbyterians think of Baptists?
While Presbyterians agree with Baptists on many issues, they are aware of differences in how Baptists view the sacrament of baptism, as well as other issues, such as the continuity between the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
Presbyterians will view Baptists as fellow believers and another reformed church denomination, but with specific differences that come down to interpreting certain scriptures. These differences include the following:
Baptists have a more informal and relaxed mode of worship services, while Presbyterians follow a structured form of worship due to their emphasis on liturgy.
Adherence to doctrine
Presbyterians emphasize orthodox Christian beliefs, while they may view Baptists as more tolerant of divergent Biblical interpretations.
Presbyterians believe that the Old and New Testaments are unified in their purpose and will tend to follow certain practices using Old Testament principles – such as tithing. Baptists do not practice tithing as much.
This is the main difference between the two denominations. The view of Presbyterians on it is that baptism is a sacrament that signifies the grace of God, and infants should go through it. Their parents then teach the child until they come to a saving knowledge of Jesus, and then they go through confirmation.
On the other hand, Baptists do not allow for infant baptism, stating that it must only be done on individuals who profess to be born-again Christians – in other words, they view it as a public confession and declaration that they have placed their faith in Christ.
Can Presbyterians attend Baptist churches?
Yes, Presbyterians can attend Baptist churches – and Baptists can attend Presbyterian churches as well. The view of both denominations is that they are not very different from each other because they share many basic beliefs, but they can give each other room to disagree on certain things.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.