Monday, August 24, 2009

Methodist vs Baptist

(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.)

 

Introduction:

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:

  1. Fundamental: We believe the Bible. All of it. Cover to cover. We believe it is the unadulterated, infallible word of God.
  2. 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

 

Doctrinal Discipline:

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.

 

Structure:

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.

 

8 comments:

  1. I am methodist and maybe the methodist ministers you encountered were jovial uncles, but mine were not. Methodist ministers must have degrees to be a shepherd and as such approach teaching from more of an accountability and awareness of your Bible as a life guide instead of treating a sermon like a tool to scare a congregation into submission. Reverance is the driving force for your walk with God and with that reverance comes humility and faith. If you cannot see that the Bible not only provides discipline but parallel experiences to help you know and recognize His perfect will.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're delusional and need to do your homework...there are so many wrong statements here but the one I must point out is infant baptism. Methodist do baptize to keep a baby out of hell...God would not send a baby to hell. In the early church the people were told by Paul to baptize their entire households....Methodists still practice this because baptism does not symbolize what we do, but what God does. His grace us what gets us to Heaven/

    ReplyDelete
  3. I was baptized Methodist and do agree that I always felt God's grace and love after a sermon, compared to when I would visit a Baptist Church I never felt that same grace, softness or love that is Jesus Christ. We are all sinners and Jesus did not have an aggressive approach in his teachings, he was always kind, soft, Holy and embodied the meaning of love.

    ReplyDelete
  4. As a person who adheres to a Reformed view of Baptist theology, I have to say you have a lot wrong about Baptists. I'm not sure about your geographic location, but in mine, the (Southern) Baptists preach the same "God will never violate your free will" sermons that the Methodists preach. You say how great being a fundamental Baptist is, but the one thing the Southern Baptist Convention has that you don't is a family, or network of churches. Are they perfect? Lord no, but I'd rather fly with them than with some renegade church that preaches and teaches potentially harmful theology.

    Having been to a Methodist church for about a month, they do not open the Bible during the sermon. There's a Scripture Reading but no exegesis on a text, no expository preaching. And they do tend to be more liberal by the way I might add.

    My main other beef with your post is the age of accountability. Nowhere is this idea found in Scripture and you'd have a hard time defending it from there. I believe if a baby dies that it goes to Heaven, not because of some infant sprinkling, but because God is a good, sovereign Father who knows the hearts of all, so for you to make that call is a) out of your intellect, and b) plain ignorant.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ryan,
    I believe you're exactly right on the Age of Accountability comment and I didn't mean to imply otherwise. I'm currently working in the woodshop and sans bible, but I'll go ahead and make a quick response nonetheless.

    Yes, all babies are God's children, and yet we are all born into sin, like it or not it's our nature as described many times in scripture. I think we probably agree on that point. Without having the bible to reference I'll just mention my own personal thoughts on the subject.

    The "age of accountability" as a term appears nowhere in the bible, though the concept does more than once. Basically it means that yes, as you mentioned, all babies, infants, etc that pass away from this earth are God's children and bound for Heaven. Neither of us disputes that.

    However you would agree that the same doesn't stand true for you and I (as adults), right? We have to be "saved" to go to Heaven. We have to accept Christ as our savior to receive Heaven's gift.

    At some point in each of our lives (and there's no age or number of years we can cite as reference) we become old enough to know right from wrong, to feel God's calling in our lives, and to know sin for sin when we commit it. That point is the age of accountability. Let's say I'm 16 years old and a blatant sinner who denies God. We'd agree I'm bound for Hell right? How about if I'm 3 and say the same thing? Well of course not because I'm not old enough to know what I'm saying/doing/feeling, but somewhere in there is a point, and I believe it's different for each of us, where God and only God knows whether we do or do not know the difference between right and wrong and when we have the innate ability to either accept Christ as our savior or to reject him. I don't know what "age" it is.. I don't think anyone can. I was saved at 12 years old, February 26th, 1989. I knew enough long before that to have made the decision to accept Christ... I'd probably say since I had been 10 years old, maybe earlier. However I waited to do so. It is my belief that if I'd died on February the 24th of that year, I'd have gone to Hell. I was old enough to feel God calling me and yet refused him out of embarrassment and not wanting to be "uncool." I knew what I was supposed to do and didn't do it. In my mind I was beyond the point at which God forgives ignorance because I was no longer ignorant. I was beliggerent. Do you agree?

    ReplyDelete
  6. And in response to the Southern Baptist "family" of churches, I disagree on that point. Baptist churches, or ANY church I guess really, often have like-minded churches, what I've often heard called a Sister-Church. These are other churches who preach the same gospel, believe the same thing, and who our pastor or others will recommend to us if we're going out of town and can't be at our local church.

    What we do NOT believe in is a governing body (and the SBC is a governing body) of individuals of disparate religions and faiths deciding what should and shouldn't be preached in churches.

    I've recently been going to a Southern Baptist Church because there's not a fundamental Church where I live now and I can see a huge difference. I admire the preacher here at the new Church because he joined the SBC just to have a voice to speak out against some of the things they dictate, but I still think it's not the right way to go and if I were to find a fundamental christian church I'd go there instead.

    As a member of a mission church, one of my main arguments is that SBC churches are not allowed to independently support missionaries of their choosing. Are you telling me God can't reach out to a small church and convict them to support a missionary without the approval of the SBC? Instead the SBC collects the money from member churches and distributes it how they see fit.

    And to be clear, before I jump too far off track; I'm not saying Southern Baptist churches aren't bible believing christian churches, but I have a problem with the Southern Baptist "Convention" as a body that governs and suggests dogmatic practices for fellowship. I believe and was raised to believe that a church gets its leadership from God, through their spiritually elected pastor as head of the church, not through the "handbook" of another body.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am neither Methodist nor Baptist, though I have attended both. (attended a in the closet SBC church unknowingly) The SBC church I recently attended for 2 years is being heavily infiltrated with New Age doctrines. It seems to be a widespread occurrence within the SBC. They are mixing in everything from Scientology to numerology, metaphysics, especially Law of Attraction to meditation, consciousness, global oneness and the list goes on. While I am not in agreement with "once saved, always saved", I strongly agree with churches being independent and free from a governing body. That's where things get dangerous. When someone at the top decides to accept and teach such strong heresies, (or gets paid off to do so) it begins to spread through other churches like wildfire. You then have an epidemic of sick churches teaching doctrines of devils from the pulpits. Jesus warned of such people and so did Paul.

    These are definitely the last days and people need to lay aside all distractions and get passionate about God's Word. Pray for discernment and don't go to church with itching ears looking for only "feel good" sermons. The bible says in Proverbs 3 not to despise the chastening of the Lord. "For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth." Put on the full armor of God, seek the Lord while He may be found, acknowledge Him in everything you do.

    God Bless!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I agree with pretty much everything you've said! You've clearly stated the facts for both sides fairly and equally. The only thing I'd like to point out, is when you said in your last comment there something about SBC churches having to get permission to fund a missionary (or anything else I guess). SBC churches DO NOT have to get permission from the SBC, or anyone, to fund anything. All churches which are affiliated with the SBC are independent churches. They can spend their monies on whatever and whoever they want. They are not required to give any money at all to the SBC. The one thing that the churches do have in common, however, is they all believe the same things. They have united together under the SBC so that they can cooperate as one body of Christ to carry out the message of Christ around the world!

    As you can probably tell, I'm a Southern Baptist. And I'm in no way saying that there's something wrong with Independent Baptists. I'm just trying to clear up the SBC for you :)

    Thank you again for this helpful post!

    In Christ's secure salvation,
    Luke, NC

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking a moment to leave a comment! Please keep the language clean. (If you are considering spamming the blog, don't bother. It's going to be deleted anyway.)