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Old 3rd December 2007, 03:59 PM
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What are the differences between Baptist and Methodist beliefs?

Hello to my Methodist brothers & sisters in Christ!

I've been a Baptist for many years but joined a Reformed Christian church for a while. I am considering attending a Methodist church but I want to know some of the differences between our denominations first.

The only ones that I am aware of are:
- Infant baptism (Methodists) versus Baptism by immerson upon profession of faith (Baptists)
- Centralized, interconnected church leadership/hierarchy (Methodists) versus independent churches with association memberships (Baptists)
- Preachers often move to another church after 2-3 years (Methodists) versus preachers who often stay at one church for life (Baptists)
- Someone can willfully reject their faith in Christ and lose their salvation (Methodists; Armenianism?) versus Once Saved, Always Saved (Baptists; If they reject Christ, they never really were a Christian in the first place; Calvinism?)

It seems like Baptists are stricter on drinking, although few Baptists have an issue with dancing these days.

Can you think of other theological differences (in particular) that I may be missing?

Thanks!
e4
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  #2  
Old 3rd December 2007, 05:32 PM
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Methodists use something called the Wesleyan Quadrilateral when trying to decided issues regarding how to implement and practice one's faith. That means that we don't just look at scripture and say, "God said it, I believe it, that settles it." Rather we believe that one must use Scripture, Reason, Tradition, and Experience. (Personally, I find that most people appeal to these others as well, but just don't realize that they do.) The question that continues to be debated between Methodists is whether all are of equal footing or if scripture should be considered primary. You can tell the difference between a liberal and a conservative Methodist by which way they answer that question.


You will also find some liturgical differences. Methodist services are often set up as a liturgy of prayers, while Baptist services are often set up as a liturgy of the word. Methodists tend to recognize the different Sundays of the Church year, and I don't mean just Christmas and Easter, but they will keep Advent, Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy Week, Pentecost, perhaps even World Communion Sunday, All Saints' Day, and Christ the King Sunday; and depending on the congregation might be a little less likely to recognize national patriotic celebrations as being something to also recognize in the church service (though the latter varies considerably).



Mission giving is often done through the connectional system rather than with each church selecting its own favorite mission projects. Though each church will often do this too, especially with regard to local missions. Support of additional ministries beyond the local church through various apportionments set by the connectional structures is mandatory, not voluntary on the part of the local church and can run anywhere from 10-30% of a local church budget depending on where you live and a number of factors.
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Old 4th December 2007, 08:41 AM
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While I know Baptists can also be varied in their beliefs about such things, in terms of eschatology (end times), it may be rather tough to find Methodists that hold to dispensationalism (i.e. Left Behind theology) - you'll still find a wide array of opinions on the topic, but that one doesn't seem to be very common (probably due to other underlying theology which precludes it - I would expect low percentages of dispensationalism in most Methodist or Wesleyan denominations, but your mileage may vary, and it would probably be more common in areas where that view has a strong presence in general, like the Deep South). For instance, my family could be generally described as premillennialists, possibly of the more historic variety, whereas I'm an amillennial preterist - which is almost at the opposite end of the spectrum on that issue.

Baptism and Communion are sacramental rather than merely ordinances. This I would think is a big one. Both are viewed as means of grace, and as things that God does in the person rather than something the person does strictly out of remembrance or obedience (although both are certainly aspects of it as a whole).

Particular issues that get controversial in different areas (on a social level or even in terms of interpretation, like on Origins, etc.) may not have an official stance, and are left to the individual to form their own convictions about. Generally speaking, I guess it would be safe to say that there isn't a lot of pressure about knowing exactly every little detail of your beliefs - it doesn't get uncomfortable if the best response a person can give to a question is "I don't know."

For more specifics (both from the UMC's official website):
MethoPedia
InfoServ (more in-depth, although has a slightly less intuitive layout; if you use Firefox and the extension NoScript, you'll need to add umc.org to the allow list in order to select from the questions that appear in the left 'Top Questions' column).
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Old 4th December 2007, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Ephesians4 View Post
Hello to my Methodist brothers & sisters in Christ!

I've been a Baptist for many years but joined a Reformed Christian church for a while. I am considering attending a Methodist church but I want to know some of the differences between our denominations first.

The only ones that I am aware of are:
- Infant baptism (Methodists) versus Baptism by immerson upon profession of faith (Baptists)
- Centralized, interconnected church leadership/hierarchy (Methodists) versus independent churches with association memberships (Baptists)
- Preachers often move to another church after 2-3 years (Methodists) versus preachers who often stay at one church for life (Baptists)
- Someone can willfully reject their faith in Christ and lose their salvation (Methodists; Armenianism?) versus Once Saved, Always Saved (Baptists; If they reject Christ, they never really were a Christian in the first place; Calvinism?)

It seems like Baptists are stricter on drinking, although few Baptists have an issue with dancing these days.

Can you think of other theological differences (in particular) that I may be missing?

Thanks!
e4
Background: I am United Methodist and my experience with the Baptist Church has been limited to Southern Baptist and Independent Baptist here in South Carolina.

We do believe in infant baptism. This goes back to the roots of the faith found in circumcision among babies in the OT. But we have no problem with believers baptism. In the UM we expect for children who are baptized as infants to eventually go through confirmation. I know that this has been a problem, partially due to the fact that people are no longer loyal to the church that they have membership, much less are they loyal to a particular denomination.

At any rate, we do believe in sprinkling, pouring, and immersion as methods for baptism. At the church I am a part of we are going to baptize 7 people next Sunday. One of the teens is requesting to be immersed instead of being sprinkled and we have made plans to do so.

Moving 2-3 years is not nearly as common. In the SC Conference where I reside we have pastors staying around 5-8 years. The current pastor I work for is in his 7th year and expects to stay another 4-6.

Overall, the UMC tends to be more of a "highchurch" than the Baptist.

I have done a lot of work along side of Baptist. I think that within reason we are able to do a lot of great work together in our communities. I am grateful to my Baptist brothers and sisters that have helped me in my ministry. We are not so different that we cannot work with one another in ministry.
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Old 4th December 2007, 11:56 AM
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This is fascinating! I'm now seeing more differences than I had realized, but in some respects, I'm share the theology of Methodists more than Baptists. I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) that Methodists have held more to the tradition of the Church prior to the Reformation than the Baptists have (e.g. style of worship, etc.)

A bit of background about me:
I am a Southern Baptist but would be considered a "moderate" in Southern Baptist circles (a euphemism for "liberal"). I do believe in Old Earth Creation, that social drinking is OK, abortion is OK in certain circumstances (e.g. rape, incest) and that baptism and communion are more than symbolic. I'm against the death penalty. I sometimes vote Democrat - gasp! I'm a bleeding-heart liberal when it comes to poor people, disenfranchized peoples and the environment. I also don't believe in the Rapture and would not be surprised one bit if the Millennium were symbolic and that we're actually in a postmillennial phase. As a result, I do think it's possible that we're living in the very end of times; yet, regardless of whether or not we are, evangelism is incredibly urgent (since people die everyday without knowing Jesus!).

Another couple of questions for you all:

Do you think that most Methodists would consider themselves "Evangelical Christians" (I would definitely consider myself to be this.)? Do Methodists tend to be passionate about what they believe or more likely to "go through the motions"?

How much has the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement begun to infiltrate (for lack of a better word) the Methodist church?

Thanks so much! I'm learning a lot!
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Old 4th December 2007, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Ephesians4 View Post
Do you think that most Methodists would consider themselves "Evangelical Christians" (I would definitely consider myself to be this.)? Do Methodists tend to be passionate about what they believe or more likely to "go through the motions"?
'Evangelical' as a social demographic, probably not, although again, there are a lot of different camps within Methodism - some of which would not be, and some which could probably be seen that way.

Specifically, the UMC is not (or at least, not listed as) a member of the National Association of Evangelicals, although the Free Methodists, Wesleyan Church, and Church of the Nazarene all are - I got this from the list on the Wikipedia article. I personally don't identify as Evangelical.

Now, 'evangelical' as an adjective, I can see Methodism falling into that easily. There's a long history of outreach and evangelism.

Another comprehensive article, specifically on the UMC:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Methodist_Church

How much has the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement begun to infiltrate (for lack of a better word) the Methodist church?
As this gets pointed out, there are Charismatic Methodists, but someone else will have to point out how common it is. Apparently there are large numbers in places like Asia, but around here I've not seen it (my grandmother has related stories of one of our church's pastors some 20-30 years ago being Charismatic).

As a denomination, though, Pentecostalism has some influences from Wesleyan churches. A big part is especially in that it was heavily influenced by the Holiness movement, of which Methodism both was influenced by and contributed to. That said, though, there's still some rather marked differences.

I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) that Methodists have held more to the tradition of the Church prior to the Reformation than the Baptists have (e.g. style of worship, etc.)
Well, this is attributable to Methodism being part of the Church of England initially, and separated due to a combination of national and internal politics in Anglicanism rather than mostly theological ones like what sparked the Reformation (the big theological issue that arose, breaking of Anglican Apostolic Succession, came about because of the aforementioned problems, as the American Revolution was going on at the time; John Wesley remained an Anglican priest, however). Hence why some Methodist services can be very reminiscent of Episcopal services, although this is by no means the only thing seen - there's also a variety of worship styles that occur, some are very traditional, others would seem very casual.
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Old 4th December 2007, 03:56 PM
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This thread has been quite informative!
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Old 4th December 2007, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Ephesians4 View Post
Another couple of questions for you all:

Do you think that most Methodists would consider themselves "Evangelical Christians" (I would definitely consider myself to be this.)?
Pretty much every Methodist I know, be they Free Methodist or United Methodist, considers him/herself to be "Evangelical". But what one person means by that term and what another person means can be strikingly so different as to not be intelligible to the other.


Do Methodists tend to be passionate about what they believe or more likely to "go through the motions"?
YES. (to both, just depends on where you settle)



How much has the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement begun to infiltrate (for lack of a better word) the Methodist church?
A better question might be how much of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement was born out of Methodist revivals in the the 1800s? And the answer would be, quite a bit.

Today the relationship between the two is more hit and miss. In one area you won't be able to tell much difference between a Methodist campmeeting and one organized by a Pentecostal/Charismatic congregation. In another area, Methodists will use the term "holyrollers" to derisively describe pentecostals of any denominational stripe, including their own.


To learn more about the "evangelical" side of the United Methodist Church, let me refer you to Good News, "a voice of evangelical Christianity within the United Methodist Church," and Good News Magazine


Now imagine the above groups, very popular at the grass roots level of United Methodism, and yet the following group, Evangelicals for Social Action, get about an equal level of support from within United Methodist Circles. Despite them both using the term "evangelical" to describe themselves, in many ways, they couldn't be father apart.

Another way to look at the diversity (or polarity, depending on which connotation you prefer to adopt) within United Methodism is to realize that Don Wildmon, founder of AFA - The American Family Association and Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush are each respected faces within United Methodism. And just to mix you up some more, Oral Roberts, George McGovern, George Wallace, and Bobby Knight are all United Methodist laymen, who have at one time or another served as members of General Conference, the highest office of service available for a layperson in the United Methodist Church.

Last edited by GraceSeeker; 4th December 2007 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 4th December 2007, 05:31 PM
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Wow - this is fantastic info. Actually, I was completely ignorant to the fact that any of the Pentecostal movement had originated from the Methodist church. I've had a Baptist church history class (in college) but only vaguely know about other denominations. I guess I need a refresher!
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Old 4th December 2007, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by GraceSeeker View Post
Another way to look at the diversity (or polarity, depending on which connotation you prefer to adopt) within United Methodism is to realize that Don Wildmon, founder of AFA - The American Family Association and Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush are each respected faces within United Methodism. And just to mix you up some more, Oral Roberts, George McGovern, George Wallace, and Bobby Knight are all United Methodist laymen, who have at one time or another served as members of General Conference, the highest office of service available for a layperson in the United Methodist Church.
Wow - that is diversity! Offhandedly, it's hard for me to think of such radically different examples among Southern Baptists, but I'm sure if I looked hard enough, I'd find them.

BTW, I always thought Oral Roberts was Assembly of God. Guess I need to do my homework.
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