Christianity is the largest religion on earth with over 2.6 billion followers. It is based on the teachings of Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus is the son of God who was born of the virgin Mary and who came died and rose again for the remission of man’s sins. Baptists are a group of Christians (denomination) that puts emphasis on the doctrine of adult water baptism. They believe that baptism is a covenant between an individual and God and that every believer should be Baptized by immersion.
Differences between Baptism and Christianity
The main difference between Baptisma and Christianity is their view on baptism. Baptists believe in adult baptism while other Christians practice infant baptism. Baptists are also more conservative which shows in their leadership, theology, and worship style.
Leadership and Governance
Baptist churches take a congregational polity structure. This means that each individual church is self-governing and somewhat autonomous. Every Baptist church has a board of elders and deacons that are in charge of church administration and leadership. This is not the norm for other Christians who mostly use Presbyterian or episcopal leadership structures. These structures are hierarchical with bishops and other members of the clergy at the forefront of the decision-making chain.
The Baptist doctrine of Autonomy of the Local Church stems from the belief that the Bible is the sole authority for Christian faith and practice. Every local church is expected to be responsible for its own Bible interpretation and application. Baptists ultimately believe that the local church is the basic unit of the Christian organization.
The Baptist doctrine emphasizes water baptism. Baptists believe that every Christian should be baptized by immersion in water. However, they also believe that baptism should only be practiced by adults who have made a public confession of their faith in Jesus Christ. As such, baptists only baptize adults.
The emphasis on baptism is what separates Baptists from other Christians. Even though all Christians believe in baptism, only Baptists treat it as a priority. Additionally, most other Christian denominations practice infant baptism. This is because they look at baptism as a way of introducing someone to Christianity. For Baptists, however, baptism is a way of affirming one’s faith in Jesus Christ.
Social and moral issues
Baptists are generally more conservative than most Christians. Baptists typically interpret the Bible literally and they may not agree with some stands taken by other denominations on moral and societal issues. For instance, the view taken by some Christian denominations to embrace gays is not welcome for Baptists.
Baptists take a traditional view of marriage and family. They believe that marriage can only be between one man and one woman. As such, the Baptist doctrine emphasizes the importance of heterosexual unions and advocates for practices and policies that uphold this view.
The conservative stand of the Baptist church is also reflected in their view of personal morality. Baptists believe that every believer should take a personal responsibility to live according to the moral standards of the Bible. This encompasses aspects like sexual purity and all other things that are considered sinful.
Separation of church and state
Baptists believe in the separation of church and state. In fact, they believed it to be the first denomination that pushed for it. Up until the Baptist church was born, the church was considered to work hand in hand with the state and it was not uncommon for certain regions to have churches that were representative of them. Examples include the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England, etc. Baptists believe that church and state should be separate in order to give autonomy to the church and be safe from undue political influences.
Priesthood of All Believers
Baptists believe in the priesthood of all believers. This means that every Christian is a priest in the eyes of God. This doctrine is based on the teaching of the Apostle Peter who taught that all Christians belong to the royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9). As such, baptists believe that every Christian has a right to access God’s presence without having to go through an intermediary.
Here are some of the implications of the Priesthood of All Believers:
- All Christians are equal before God.
- All Christians have the right to participate in worship and church leadership.
- All Christians are called to minister to the world.
- All Christians are called to live a holy life.
Not all Christians believe in this doctrine though. Most Christians believe that the clergy are the special mediators that God has raised who can then represent them to God. For instance, Catholics do not confess to God but rather to their priest.
Similarities between Baptist and Christianity
Even though there are lots of differences between Baptists and other Christians, they also share some common beliefs and practices. These include:
The Bible is the word of God.
Even though the different denominations may not agree with the Baptist concept of the authority of the Bible, they all agree that the Bible is God’s word. Both Baptists and Christians believe that the scriptures were written by various authors who were divinely inspired by God to write what God revealed to them. As such, the Bible is used in the development of doctrine as well as as a general guide for Christian living.
There are two kinds of Bibles – the Catholic Bible and the protestant Bible. The Catholic Bible has the same books found in the protestant Bible except that also includes seven deuterocanonical books. Baptists, therefore, use the same Bible used by all the other protestants.
Jesus as savior
All Christians agree on the doctrine of Jesus as the savior of the world. As Apostle John explains in his Gospel account, God sent his only begotten son to be the ultimate sacrifice on the cross. As such, those who believe in him can access eternal life. Baptists may not necessarily agree with other Christians on how salvation is attained. For instance, Presbyterians believe that this gift of salvation can only be accessed by a chosen few who are predetermined by God. However, they still concur on the fact that salvation comes only by believing in Jesus Christ as the only mediator and savior of mankind.
To sum it up, Baptists and christianities have some similarities but they also have several differences. For starters, Baptists are congregational in polity, while most Christians are episcopal or Presbyterian. Another important difference is the conservative nature of Baptists. Some of the other Christian denominations are more adaptive to the changing times but Baptists retain a traditional and conservative view on societal issues.