What are the differences between Baptists and the Church of God?

It may be more useful to begin first by distinguishing the two denominations’ similarities before discussing their differences.  Both denominations agree on the following items, which are absolutely essential to be considered an orthodox Christian:  The Deity of Jesus Christ, the fall of mankind and Original Sin, the Canon of Scripture and its authority in the life of the believer, the doctrine of the Trinity, the Incarnation of Christ, the new birth of the believer, and the final judgment of sin and wickedness.  With these things in place, both denominations are squarely within the realm of orthodoxy.

However, there are certainly differences between the two.  Local autonomy of Baptist congregations is one.  The Baptist denomination supports the freedom of the local church, and as such, are not controlled by the denomination, persay.  In the Church of God, you have a defined leadership structure outside of the churches, much like the United Methodists.  Another difference is in the area of spiritual gifts.  While the Church of God emphasizes spiritual gifts today, including prophecy and speaking in tongues, they are of diminished importance, and in some cases taught as having ceased after the first century in Baptist churches. Another difference is in the area of baptism.  For Baptists, infant baptism is not permitted, as each believer must make the choice to be baptized.  In the Church of God, infant baptism is allowed.  Another difference is in end times views.  Baptist churches tend to not emphasize any certain view of eschatology, the doctrinal statements of the Church of God specifically state their support for a pre-tribulational rapture and Jesus’ return to earth for a 1,000 year reign as king before the final eternal state.  Another difference between the two denominations is that Baptists trace their routes from the Anabaptist movement, whereas the Church of God can trace its history to the Wesleyan/Arminian tradition of the 1700s.  It is out of these two diverse historical backgrounds that their differences can be understood to arise out of.

Both denominations have produced quite a number of contributions to our current theology in America, and both denominations have some solid viewpoints.  As with all things, it is best to take what we get from any denomination or church body and examine it in light of our final authority on earth, the written Word of God.

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  1. #1 by Andrew Terry on February 23, 2010 - 9:02 am

    I believe you are refering to the church of God of Clevland TN. I am a minister within this movement. I can’t say I have heard of infant baptisms in our churches nor have I encountered it in my teaches. Though we do practice infant dedication where no baptism is involved. As for end time I believe our statement does not emphasize a pre-trib rapture but emphasizes the return of Christ as being pre-millinial. There are many in the movement that believe in the pre-trib rapture and teaches it. O agree the movement is very much an Armenian type of theology. However, I believe this will change as lines are drawn between the universalists and the reformed. Sorry I am so sporatic, I am trying to type on my iPod.

  2. #2 by donaldsullivan on February 23, 2010 - 12:07 pm

    Thanks for commenting, Andrew. While many churches may not PRACTICE infant baptism, it is not disallowed in the Church of God. That was my point. Many pastors do not do this, and when my wife and I were attending Renovatus, a Church of God affiliated church in Charlotte pastored by Jonathan Martin, we watched him perform a baby dedication, which is much like what you were saying.

    My interpretation of the CoG doctrinal statement led me to the conclusion that the Church held to a belief in the pre-trib rapture in the way it was stated. If, however, you do not, then I totally apologize for drawing that conclusion. Thanks for commenting in, though, and helping to clarify a few issues!

  3. #3 by Carl on August 16, 2011 - 3:11 pm

    There are varieties of Baptist, therefore, I can’t answer for all of them. Being under the Baptist name each church has the freedom to believe and practice as they please, having local autonomy, as you pointed out. Although, I believe most Baptist Churches would hold to a Pre-Mil, Pre-Trib Position followed by a literal 1000 year reign of Christ on Earth and say they are Dispensationalists.

    The issue I have with a lot of Baptist Churches is what’s called King James Onlyism! Which is a sect that has sprung up in the last few decades. This Belief holds that the King James Translation is just as accurate as the original and is the most accurate of all the translations worldwide. Which means that the 4,500 languages that have the whole Bible or portions of the Bible translated into them, don’t actually have the Word of God, their Bible may contain the words of God but they don’t have The Word of God, unless they had their Bible translated, not from Greek and Hebrew, but from the English, King James Version! How absurd is that? A Church that believes this way is reluctant to supp

    There are Independent Baptist, Bible Baptist, Southern Baptist, Reformed Baptist, King James only Baptist (although not a denomination in itself), Seventh-Day Baptist, Missionary Baptist. There is bound to be differences in what is taught. Just look at this list on Wikipedia

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Baptist_denominations

    • #4 by Noonoo on October 31, 2013 - 12:43 pm

      VERY few KJVO’s say the Authorized Version is the only perfect version for all languages. The overwhelming majority of the people in the KJVO “movement” say it’s perfect for english speakers, and other languages have their own Bibles based off the same manuscripts the A.V. comes from. You have faulty info.

  4. #5 by 1creativegrl on March 17, 2013 - 11:06 am

    I was raised in the Church of God, Anderson, IN – the NACOG, W. Middlesex, PA (African-American) 4th generation on my Mom’s side, and at our church we never did infant baptisms. In fact, although I gave my heart to the Lord at age 11, I didn’t get baptized until I was 23, because of the emphasis that was placed on the importance of knowing what you were committing to the Lord in that public confession of faith. We have baptized children though. We did baby “blessings,” or dedications, which entailed dedicating a new life to the Lord and praying for that child’s family & life. The same emphasis was placed on taking communion. Before you partook of Holy Communion, you were expected to understand the sacrifice Christ made and what the shedding of His blood meant for you and mankind. I also have a lot of Baptist people on my Dad’s side of the family, and I never saw at the Baptist churches I visited them baptizing babies. At almost all (African-American) Baptist churches I visited growing up, children would be baptized more readily than at my church.
    At my church, we also were not at all taught that there was a rapture or millennial reign. I didn’t start hearing about “the rapture” until I was a little older and exposed to other theology. We were taught that Jesus would come back in the clouds w/ the sound of the trumpet, and the dead in Christ would rise (which is a rapture, but not “the rapture”), and we will ever be with the Lord, and that would begin eternity. No reign on this Earth. I agree with you here, my experience has shown me that Baptist people don’t emphasize end – time theology.
    At any rate, I’m not even close to an authority in this, and my knowledge is limited to the African-American experience. I just wanted to comment on what I’ve experienced. Kudos to you author on even tackling this question! God’s blessings!!

  5. #6 by Pastorswife on July 11, 2013 - 10:31 pm

    I am also Church of God affiliated with Anderson, Indiana. Their theology does not support baby baptisms, but as Creativegrl said, baby dedications are very much encouraged. These are merely a time when parents bring their child before the congregation and promise to faithfully do everything they can to raise the child as God would want them to. Also the congregation pledges to support the parents and child in this endeavor. This in no way means that the child has obtained salvation. In fact, a child must have an understanding of salvation and take that step for himself before being baptized. For me, this was a very young age. I was only five, but did indeed understand that I wanted Jesus to forgive my sins and be the Leader of my life. That was about all that I understood at that time. I was baptized a few weeks later as a public demonstration of my faith.

    Our particular movement does not believe that we will be raptured or that there will be a thousand year reign here on earth. We believe that there are going to be some pretty tough times here on earth before Jesus comes, but that all Christians will have to endure this together with non-believers. Then Jesus will come in the clouds, trumpets will sound, all the dead shall rise, and we get to go to heaven. We don’t spend a lot of time on end-time theology, though, because no matter how it happens, we all need to be ready.

    As far as spiritual gifts, we do believe in these. But our movement does not emphasize speaking in tongues. In fact, this can be a very controversial subject in many Churches of God (Anderson, Indiana). Most of the time, we discourage speaking in tongues during services. This would be a very private thing between the believer and God. The spiritual gifts that are emphasized most of the time are teaching, preaching, serving, encouragement, etc. We kind of ignore the gift of prophecy (somebody else can comment on that).

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