(Let me start this by saying that I don’t believe for one moment that there is an issue about “methodists versus baptists” in any warlike or affronting sense. I chose the title of this article simply because of the Google Search relevance.)
The foundations for me writing this article are too many to list and might would offend some, turning them away from the content and focusing them instead on my personal beliefs. Rather than explain them here I’m just going to begin by saying the discussion has come up lately often between “Flavor 1” and “Flavor 2” of Christianity and rather than speaking out of turn on something I’m not educated in, such as Lutheranism, I’ll just voice my thoughts on the flavors I DO know.
Why this is important to me:
A friend of mine, who recently got saved, was talking to me about Christianity, asking questions, and just generally discussing the concept. (this is before he got saved.) In his questions, he mentioned that he had recently been talking to a person about it, talked to that person’s pastor about it, and he was starting to form opinions on the matter that I felt might solidify into concrete beliefs that just might shape the future of his Christian life. Anyone who is familiar with me knows that I am opinionated anyway, overly much so, and because of that I was hesitant to say anything, but the conviction of my feelings on the matter convinced me to speak up and be sure he understood the true meaning of salvation, of being a Christian, of what it involves, what is expected, etc. As I thought about it I was suddenly worried that if I didn’t take the time to tell him right then what I thought he needed to know, that he might instead accept the other things he was hearing as “gospel” and form a belief structure around them that would be (pardon the phrase) incorrect. If there is one thing you don’t want to get wrong, it’s the eternal status of your immortal soul. God doesn’t give us a do-over. We don’t get to try it again or pick door number three if we get it wrong in our lives. We have the manual (the Bible) and we’re instructed to read it and follow its teachings.
So, it all began with “Well, Tommy, what IS the difference between your religion and Methodists? Oh no.. here we go I thought. The Carolina baptist redneck is going to have to explain christianity and as soon as I mention the word Baptist, all credibility is going to go out the window. The truth is, many people I’ve spoken to stop at the word “Baptist” and start thinking snake-charming, Bible-beating, unorthodox heathen rednecks. This of course offends me.. as it would you were your religious beliefs summarily cast into a melting-pot of others that had so recently come under fire from media in recent decades.
Rather than tell the whole story here, I’m going to instead outline the differences in what I believe and what Methodists believe.
What am I?
I am a fundamental independent Baptist.
What does that mean?
Skipping the entire history lesson, it means two things:
- Fundamental: We believe the Bible. All of it. Cover to cover. We believe it is the unadulterated, infallible word of God.
- Independent: We are part of no coalition, no group of churches, and our pastors are elected by the congregation and God alone.
These two things separate us from the other flavors of Baptist that have spread throughout recent history.
Why is the distinction important?
The distinction of Fundamental Independent Baptist is important because there are many flavors of the Baptist faith that are so far removed from the original new testament doctrine, that they might as well change their name to Methodist, or some other variation, rather than call themselves Baptists at all.
So, what separates Baptists from Methodists
Methodists: The Methodist religion tends to have a more “loose” translation of the Bible and from that tend to practice some things that baptists wouldn’t.
Baptists: Tend to believe the Bible exactly and without altering the meaning to what they feel is more accepted in modern society. Example: Methodist churches tend to have women preachers, where Baptists usually won’t. They will have women teachers, but not preachers. (This particular practice is something you won’t ever seen in a Fundamental Independent Baptist church, but in recent years has become accepted in some Baptist churches.)
Security of the Believer:
Methodists: Believe you can lose your salvation.
Baptists: Believe in once saved, always saved, often called “Security of the Believer.”
Baptism (the process):
Methodists: practice baptism by immersion, sprinkling, and immersion.
Baptists: practice only immersion.
Baptism: The meaning
Methodists: They baptize ay infancy and then later in life as an adult. They baptize infants to protect them and assure they enter heaven if they die young.
Baptists: Only baptize once and it’s usually only confession youth or adults. They believe a person must know what baptism symbolizes and choose to do it of their own will as a profession of faith. The death of a young child is covered under the idea of the “age of accountability” which is a completely different subject altogether.
Methodists: Their preachers are sent from a governing board to direct a church, not elected by the church. They answer to others, to bishops, and to a governing body.
Baptists: Their preachers are usually selected by the congregation; the belief being that God will send them the right man to lead their church and they’ll know it when they’ve found him. (I say usually here because some Baptists are fundamental but not Independent. The “independent” means there is no other governing body over a church except God, meaning no conventions or other affiliations through which practices are outlined or defined.)
A personal thought on preaching differences:
I can’t vouch for this from any reference in scripture or doctrine of either religion, so understand that this is only my experience. Compared to some I’ve experienced much while against others I’ve experienced very little, so take this with a grain of salt. My biggest complaint against some religions (and I include Methodists in this, not as an offront, but only as what seems to be factual based on my experience) is that they only preach God’s Love. I haven’t ever seen anyone come out of a Methodist sermon feeling “talked down to” or scolded, or angered. They tend to preach all the wonderful parts of God and leave out the uncomfortable parts they don’t like. (They are not at all alone in this. Many religions do this same thing, some baptist churches I’ve been to seem to be this way too.)
Baptists (most of ‘em) tend to get the opposite reaction, often being called “Fire and Brimstone” preachers because of the veracity of their sermons. Baptists DO preach God’s love, but it is my understanding that we are to use the Bible as a rule-book, an instruction manual, and if you can spend your entire Christian life without ever learning that you’re doing something wrong, then you’re not hearing ALL of the word of God. You’re not hearing the things you’re doing wrong, not being taught what is right. It’s like taking a test and always making an “A” because they take off the questions that you didn’t like and got wrong.
We all make mistakes, and it has been my experience that Baptist preachers seem much more like a father, and less like a jovial uncle, which is what I tend to relate Methodists to. Everyone likes the jovial uncle. He gives you gifts, tells you what a good boy or girl you are, and pats you on the back for your good deeds. The father figure loves you just as much, but has to be stern when you’ve made mistakes. It is the job of a pastor to teach and to guide and in doing that they are GOING to offend you from time to time. Happens to me all the time. I often get reminded of the things I do that I’m not supposed to do. That’s how it’s supposed to be. If I’m never told it’s wrong, how will I know not to do it? When is the last time YOU got scolded at church? If you’ve never been scolded then you’re not hearing ALL the Bible, just the feel-good parts that people want to share… something to think about I hope.