Denomination Differences

Baptist vs. Reformed Beliefs

Baptist and Reformed churches share very similar views on most issues and practices. Both are very Bible-focused and concerned with seeking biblical theology. Both are typically very informal and non-liturgical ("low church"). Baptist theology had much Calvinist influence, and Baptists agreed on most points. In fact, some churches claim both names as "Reformed Baptists".

However, of the five points of Calvinism, there is typically one main point on which Baptists disagree: Limited Atonement. Where Reformed theology states that Christ died only for the elect—those God chose to go to be saved—Baptists typically believe in something akin to Amyraldism, which is essentially Calvinism but without predestination. Baptists typically believe Christ died for all and calls all while still holding to the Reformed doctrines of eternal security and total depravity. This means they disagree with Irresistible Grace as well.

Churches vary though. As mentioned, some Baptist churches are Reformed churches as well, while some are fully Arminian, believing that man is only partially depraved and able to seek God on his own and that salvation is conditional upon continued righteous living. Ultimately, as Baptist and Reformed churches are both highly independent, it is hard to ascribe beliefs to the entirety of either denomination.

Belief Table

BaptistReformed
a.k.a.Calvinist
Number of Members100,000,00075,000,000
How does one get saved?Sola fide: Repent of your sins and believe in Jesus Christ's death and resurrection alone to save you.[1][2]Sola fide: Repent of your sins and believe in Jesus Christ's death and resurrection alone to save you.
Who gets saved?Most believe anyone who chooses by his own free will to believe and accept God's gift of grace will be saved.[3]Those who God chooses to call will be saved and no one else.
Can one lose his salvation?Most believe eternal security: No, once a Christian is saved, he is always saved.[2][4][5]Eternal security: No, once a Christian is saved, he is always saved.
Who gets baptized and why?Saved people get baptized as a public demonstration of their new lives.[6]Saved people and their infant children get baptized as a sign of God's grace.[7]
How should baptism be done?Baptism should be by immersion.[6]Baptism can be by immersion, pouring, or sprinkling.
When does one receive the Holy Spirit?The Holy Spirit is received at the moment of salvation.[8]The Holy Spirit is received at the moment of salvation.[9]
What is the trinity?The Trinity is God existing as one god in three equal, eternal, cosubstantial persons: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit.[4][8][10]The Trinity is God existing as one god in three equal, eternal, cosubstantial persons: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit.
What is the human nature?Total depravity: Human nature is corrupt, naturally inclined to evil, and incapable of choosing God on his own.[2][10]Total depravity: Human nature is corrupt, naturally inclined to evil, and incapable of choosing God on his own.
Are we guilty of Adam's original sin?No, we are not guilty of Adam's sin, but we did inherit the consequences and a corrupt human nature from him, causing us all to sin.Federalism: Yes, Adam represented all of the human race, and all are guilty of his sin.
Are Christians required to keep the Old Testament ceremonial laws?No, the ceremonial laws of Judaism were fulfilled and done away with by Jesus.No, the ceremonial laws of Judaism were fulfilled and done away with by Jesus.
Can Christians become sinless in this earthly life?No, although Christians can and should sin less, they can never become sinless in this life.No, although Christians can and should sin less, they can never become sinless in this life.
Do the elements of communion become the body and blood of Christ?No, the elements merely symbolically represent the body and blood of Christ.No, the elements do not become the body and blood of Christ, but Christ is present in an unknown way.
Can one be baptized of behalf of someone who has died?No, the dead cannot be baptized.No, the dead cannot be baptized.
What happens if a saved person dies without being perfect?Once Christians leave their sinful bodies, nothing else is needed to receive glorified, sinless bodies.[11][12]Once Christians leave their sinful bodies, nothing else is needed to receive glorified, sinless bodies.[13][14]
Did Mary ever sin?Yes, Mary sinned like all other humans except Jesus.Yes, Mary sinned like all other humans except Jesus.
What spiritual gifts are available today?Cessationism: Spiritual gifts used for serving are available today, while gifts used as signs have ceased.[15][16]Cessationism: Spiritual gifts used for serving are available today, while gifts used as signs have ceased.[17]
What framework has God used in dealing with man?Dispensationalism: God acts differently with humanity in seven different periods of history.Covenant theology: God acts either within the covenant of works or the covenant of grace.[18]
What is the gift of tongues?The gift of tongues is the ability to speak foreign human languages without knowing how.The gift of tongues is the ability to speak foreign human languages without knowing how.[19]
What are the requirements for clergy?Experienced men above reproach, faithful to their wives and with with obedient children if applicable, and able to teach are to be appointed as pastors.Experienced men above reproach, faithful to their wives and with with obedient children if applicable, and able to teach are to be appointed as pastors.
How many church ordinances/​sacraments are there?The church has two ordinances: Baptism and Holy Communion.The church has two ordinances: Baptism and Holy Communion.
To whom do Christians need to confess their sins?Confession should be made directly to God, but confession to another believer is beneficial for some sins.Confession should be made directly to God, but confession to another believer is beneficial for some sins.
How should a church be structured?Congregationalist: Every church congregation should be independent and governed by its members.Varies widely
What day of the week should Christians worship?Christians worship on Sunday.Christians worship on Sunday.
How does God's revelation come to us today?Sola scriptura: The Bible is the only infallible source of God's revelation, sufficient for all faith and practice.Prima scriptura: There are many sources of God's revelation, although none can contradict the Bible.
How was the Bible written?Verbal plenary inspiration: The Bible was written by men who had every word supernaturaly inspired by God.[2][20]Verbal plenary inspiration: The Bible was written by men who had every word supernaturaly inspired by God.[21]
How many books are in the Bible?There are 66 canonical books of the Bible: 39 Old Testament books and 27 New Testament books.There are 66 canonical books of the Bible: 39 Old Testament books and 27 New Testament books.
Is the Bible inerrant?Yes, the Bible was written without any error.[2][20]Yes, the Bible was written without any error.[21]
Who can speak with God's authority today?Nobody today can speak for God.Nobody today can speak for God.
How was the earth created?Creationism: The earth was spoken into existence by God.Creationism: The earth was spoken into existence by God.
What is marriage?Marriage is a covenant before God between one man and one woman.[4][22]Marriage is a covenant before God between one man and one woman.[23]
Is sex permissible outside marriage?No, sex outside of marriage is not permissible.[4]No, sex outside of marriage is not permissible.[24][25]
When is divorce permissible?Divorce is only permissible for adultery.Divorce is permissible for adultery or desertion.[26][27]
May a Christian remarry while his former spouse is still alive?No, a Christian should not remarry while his former spouse lives.The innocent party to the adultery may remarry.[28]
When does a fetus become human?Humanity begins at conception.[22][29]Humanity begins at conception.[30][31]
Is contraception permissible?Yes, contraceptives are permissible.Yes, contraceptives are permissible.[32]
Are blood transfusions permissible?Yes, blood transfusions are permissible.Yes, blood transfusions are permissible.
Should women cover their heads?No, women's long hair is enough of a covering.[33][34]
Should Christians drink alcohol?Most believe no, alcohol should be totally avoided.Varies widely
Should Christians fight in wars?Yes, Christians should fight in just wars.Yes, Christians should fight in just wars.[35]
How should Christians musically worship God?Varies widely
Whom does the Holy Spirit come from?No established doctrineThe Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.[36]
Who can be demon-possessed?Demons can possess unbelievers but not Christians.Demons can possess unbelievers but not Christians.
Do icons glorify God?No, icons violate the Second Commandment against graven images.Most believe no, icons violate the Second Commandment against graven images. Icons of Christ are especially prohibited.[37][38][39]
Where does a Christian's soul go after death?Christians immediately go to heaven when they die.[11][40]Christians immediately go to heaven when they die.[13][41]
When does the Tribulation happen?Futurism: The Tribulation will happen at a time in the future which no man knows the time of.
When will the church be raptured?Pretribulationism rapture: The church will be raptured sometime before the Tribulation.
When is the millennial reign of Christ happen?Premillennialism: The millennial reign of Christ will be the 1,000 years immediately after the Tribulation.