There are many churches in the world today, and most seek the righteousness of God and His kingdom. Christianity comprises different denominations with unique beliefs, traditions, religious rituals, and practices.
However, although churches may differ in beliefs, practices, and traditions, they are one. Jesus Christ is the head of the church, and every church is under Him. The Bible says He is the bridegroom, and the church is the bride. It does not mention a particular denomination but says, “The church.” This means that all churches are equal before Christ regardless of their different beliefs and theological foundations as long as they are Bible-preaching churches.
Baptist vs Presbyterian are among the denominations debated worldwide today, deeply rooted in theological foundations. Baptists and Presbyterians share many beliefs and practices but differ in some.
In this article, we will discover what Baptists and Presbyterians are and delve deep into the similarities between these denominations. We will also look at the differences between Baptist and Presbyterian beliefs.
Baptists are Protestant Christians who believe in credo-baptism. They believe in the practice of adult baptism by immersion. Baptists believe that for a Christian to be baptized, they must first profess their faith in Jesus and pledge their loyalty to Christianity.
This makes them different from other Christian denominations, which baptize people by sprinkling water on their foreheads. Other denominations also baptize believers of different ages, including infants. All Baptists are members of the Baptist church.
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On the other hand, all Presbyterians are members of the Presbyterian church. The name Presbyterian originates from the name Presburetos, which means elder. Their origin traces back to John Knox, a Scottish Reformer. Their church governance structure distinguishes Presbyterians, who are elected and governed at various levels.
These local leaders are known as presbyters, and their leadership roles vary because of the different levels in their leadership structure. Some lead at local congregations, while others head presbyteries, which are regional governing bodies. The elders make decisions and regulations that govern the church.
Similarities Between Baptist and Presbyterian
The Holy Trinity
Baptists and Presbyterians believe in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. They all believe God is in three forms, and He is the head of the Trifold: God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
Inspiration of the Word of God
Baptists and Presbyterians believe in the authority and power of the Word of God. They believe in the inspiration of God’s Word and entirely rely on it for wisdom and guidance in their journey of faith.
Mission and Outreach
Baptists and Presbyterians actively share the Gospel of Jesus worldwide through missions and outreach services.
They all engage in charitable work to help the needy and to extend the love and kindness of Jesus Christ.
Baptists and Presbyterians believe a church must celebrate two ceremonies. The Baptists call these ceremonies ordinances, while the Presbyterians call them sacraments. These two ceremonies are the Lord’s Supper and Baptism.
They also believe that even though these ceremonies are meaningful in the church’s life, they don’t guarantee salvation to anyone.
They can serve as a means of grace but cannot justify anyone before God.
Read Also: Why I Left the Church of Christ
Differences Between Baptist vs Presbyterian
Baptists believe that God gifted the gift of salvation to humankind, and it cannot be earned through good works but by faith in God.
On the other hand, Presbyterians believe that believers receive salvation through repentance of sin and by taking a step to turn back to God.
Baptists believe that faith in God can bring salvation to believers and liberate them from the consequences of sin.
If a believer has strong faith in God, they believe that the believer will go to heaven.
Presbyterians believe that nothing a believer does can save them from God’s punishment if God had already planned to punish them.
They believe God already knows who He will punish and save, and nothing can change this.
According to them, God has already made plans for believers’ destinies, and they have no power to alter the plan of God.
Baptism in Baptist churches is administered by complete immersion of a mature believer in water. They believe only those who professed their faith in Jesus are fit for baptism.
Infants baptized in other denominations must be baptized again when they join the Baptist church as grown-ups.
Baptists rely on passages like Acts 2:38-39 which relate baptism to repentance to support their beliefs.
“Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”Acts 2:38-39
Additionally, they also claim that there are no Scriptures that support or encourage the baptism of infants. On the other hand, Presbyterians practice the baptism of infants. They believe that this symbolizes a sacred covenant between God and the child. Additionally, Presbyterians believe that this baptism is a symbol of the promise of faith that is to come. They view baptism as a continuation of the practice of circumcision that was done in the Old Testament.
Read Also: Why I Left the Assemblies of God
Circumcision in the Old Testament was done on an infant on the eighth day after their birth. They seek to keep the covenant that God made with Abraham in Genesis 17:9-12; “Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come.
This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.
For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring.” They believe that when an infant is baptized, they are included in this covenant along with all their family members.
Baptist churches are autonomous, and their leadership structure is characterized by congregationalism. Members of Baptist churches have a say in the decisions and regulations that govern the church. The majority wins if more church members support a motion than those who oppose it.
Members are free to choose their pastor by casting votes. Pastors in Baptist churches are responsible for overseeing the church’s operations, preaching, teaching, and meeting other shepherding needs of their congregation. Presbyterian churches, however, are governed by a structural hierarchy. The presbytery selects pastors.
The Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Super, which many refer to as the Holy Communion, has different meanings across the Christian denominations. Baptists believe that the Holy Communion symbolizes the body and blood of Jesus, while Presbyterians believe that it represents the blood and body of God.
Baptist’s worship style is informal and varies from traditional hymns to other music categories. Presbyterian worship style is formal and follows a liturgical setup. It is more structured and puts more emphasis on the Word of God.
The Death and Resurrection of Jesus
Baptists do not believe that Jesus died on the cross for the salvation and redemption of a chosen group of people. Presbyterians believe that Jesus died on the cross to bring salvation to a chosen group of people.
Baptists strictly adhere to every Word written in the Bible. They believe that every Word in the Scriptures must be followed with utmost respect and obedience. This adherence explains their stand on credo-baptism. They don’t practice infant baptism since they believe it is not written in the Bible.
On the other hand, Presbyterians acknowledge the significance of God’s Word in their faith journey but also embrace human reasoning in realizing their beliefs and Christian doctrines.
As earlier mentioned, the church is one body before God. All churches must submit to Jesus Christ since He heads all churches. For instance, Baptists may differ from Presbyterians in terms of beliefs and leadership, but that doesn’t mean that any of them is better. When Christ comes to take the church, He will take believers from all denominations who walked in line with the will of God. He will not look at our chosen denominations but how we lived our lives on earth. Baptist and Presbyterian churches are great – pick the denomination that best suits your spiritual needs.