Denomination Differences

Church of Christ vs. Baptist Beliefs

Churches of Christ and Baptist churches are very similar on the surface. Both have a very regard of scripture, believing not only in sola scriptura but also in verbal plenary inspiration, making the Bible inerrant as written. Both are typically very conservative denominations in other respects too, generally opposing divorce, homosexuality, and abortion. Both are staunchly independent in governance and oppose any claim to supra-congregational authority. Churches of Christ always worship with only a cappella singing, while Baptists typically use instruments; but both tend to sing traditional hymns, with Primitive Baptists likewise avoiding instruments.

However, underlying their extremely similar cultures, they have some core doctrinal disagreements, primarily concerning baptism. Both practice baptism of believers by immersion, but Churches of Christ do this believing it is a required part of salvation. Baptists do it merely as public demonstration of one's private faith, believing that those who place their faith in Christ are saved whether or not they ever get baptized.

This dispute over one of the most important parts of Christianity causes some tension between the denominations. However, each still acknowledges that believers of the other denomination are still saved and fellow children of God, and the two denominations enjoy fairly close relations for denominations which are typically fiercely independent.

Belief Table

Church of ChristBaptist
Number of Members2,000,000100,000,000
How does one get saved?Repent of your sins, believe in Jesus Christ's death and resurrection, and be baptized.Sola fide: Repent of your sins and believe in Jesus Christ's death and resurrection alone to save you.[1][2]
Who gets saved?Anyone who chooses by his own free will to believe and accept God's gift of grace will be saved.Most believe anyone who chooses by his own free will to believe and accept God's gift of grace will be saved.[3]
Can one lose his salvation?Yes, a Christian can lose his salvation by apostasy.Most believe eternal security: No, once a Christian is saved, he is always saved.[2][4][5]
Who gets baptized and why?The believing but unsaved get baptized as part of their salvation.Saved people get baptized as a public demonstration of their new lives.[6]
How should baptism be done?Baptism should be by immersion.Baptism should be by immersion.[6]
When does one receive the Holy Spirit?The Holy Spirit is received at baptism.The Holy Spirit is received at the moment of salvation.[7]
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.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][7][8]
What is the human nature?Most believe human nature tends to sin, but it's not depraved.Total depravity: Human nature is corrupt, naturally inclined to evil, and incapable of choosing God on his own.[2][8]
Are we guilty of Adam's original sin?No, we are not guilty of Adam's sin, nor did we inherit a sinful nature from him, but we did inherit the consequences.[9][10][11][12]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.
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.
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 merely symbolically represent the body and blood of Christ.
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.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]Cessationism: Spiritual gifts used for serving are available today, while gifts used as signs have ceased.[16][17]
What framework has God used in dealing with man?Dispensationalism: God acts differently with humanity in seven different periods of history.
What is the gift of tongues?The gift of tongues is the ability to speak foreign human languages without knowing how.
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.
How many church ordinances/​sacraments are there?The church has two ordinances: Baptism and Holy Communion.[18]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.[19]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.Congregationalist: Every church congregation should be independent and governed by its members.
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.Sola scriptura: The Bible is the only infallible source of God's revelation, sufficient for all faith and practice.
How was the Bible written?Verbal plenary inspiration: The Bible was written by men who had every word supernaturaly inspired by God.Verbal plenary inspiration: The Bible was written by men who had every word supernaturaly inspired by God.[2][20]
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.Yes, the Bible was written without any error.[2][20]
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.
What is marriage?Marriage is a covenant before God between one man and one woman.[21][22]Marriage is a covenant before God between one man and one woman.[4][23]
Is sex permissible outside marriage?No, sex outside of marriage is not permissible.[24][25]No, sex outside of marriage is not permissible.[4]
When is divorce permissible?Most believe divorce is only permissible for adultery.[26][27]Divorce is only permissible for adultery.
May a Christian remarry while his former spouse is still alive?No, a Christian should not remarry while his former spouse lives.
When does a fetus become human?Humanity begins at conception.Humanity begins at conception.[23][28]
Is contraception permissible?Yes, contraceptives are permissible.Yes, contraceptives are permissible.
Are blood transfusions permissible?Yes, blood transfusions are permissible.Yes, blood transfusions are permissible.
Should women cover their heads?Most believe no, women's long hair is enough of a covering.No, women's long hair is enough of a covering.[29][30]
Should Christians drink alcohol?Most believe no, alcohol should be totally avoided.Most believe no, alcohol should be totally avoided.
Should Christians fight in wars?Yes, Christians should fight in just wars.
How should Christians musically worship God?Worship should be a cappella.Varies widely
Whom does the Holy Spirit come from?No established doctrine
Who can be demon-possessed?Demons can possess unbelievers but not Christians.
Do icons glorify God?No, icons violate the Second Commandment against graven images.
Where does a Christian's soul go after death?Christians immediately go to heaven when they die.Christians immediately go to heaven when they die.[13][31]
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.