Two of the larger Protestant movements include the Baptists and Pentecostals. Baptists trace their heritage to 17th-century England. There are hundreds of distinct Baptist denominations, the largest of which is the Southern Baptist Convention. Pentecostals trace their roots to a revival which began in 1900 in Topeka, Kansas. There are over 700 Pentecostal denominations, of which the Assemblies of God is the largest.
As their name implies, Baptists' views on baptism are central to their beliefs. They believe that baptism is symbolic and that only those who have received Christ as savior and made a profession of faith should be baptized (believer's baptism). Most Baptists believe that each person has the ability to choose to accept or reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They believe that salvation is by grace alone, through faith in Jesus Christ alone, and that once a person has accepted Jesus Christ, he can never lose salvation (once saved, always saved).
Assemblies of God
The Assemblies of God is the largest single Protestant denomination in terms of worldwide membership, with over 60 million adherents. They believe that salvation is a gift of God received by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. They further believe that it is God's will for all believers to be sanctified -- to grow in holiness -- and to receive baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Other prominent teachings in the Assemblies of God include the belief that divine healing is provided for in the atonement -- Jesus' death on behalf of sinners -- and the belief that Jesus Christ will return to take His church with Him -- often called the rapture -- prior to a seven-year period of great tribulation.
Both Baptists and the Assemblies of God hold to a strong literal interpretation of the Holy Bible and believe that the Bible is the authoritative, infallible rule of faith and practice. Most Baptists also agree with the Assemblies of God's position on the rapture, though a significant minority of Baptists believe it will happen during or after the tribulation period. Baptists and Assemblies of God both teach that salvation is a free gift purchased for believers by the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross. They share beliefs in heaven and hell and in the bodily resurrection of all to face the last judgment. Both groups also believe in and practice believers' baptism by immersion.
A major difference between Baptists and members of the Assemblies of God is that Baptists believe once someone is saved, he can never lose that salvation. The Assemblies of God believes that people can choose to turn back and reject the gift of salvation after having received it.
Another major difference between the two denominations involves the Assemblies of God's belief that all the gifts of the Spirit described in the Book of Acts and elsewhere in the New Testament -- including speaking in tongues, prophecy and divine healing -- have been restored to the church and should continue to operate in the modern church. Most Baptists believe that these gifts ceased after the Bible was written in its entirety and are no longer necessary.
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