Did you know the Baptist denomination was founded in the 16th century? While you may think you know everything about the church around the corner, the Baptist and Assemblies of God denominations have key similarities and differences. There are many Christian denominations that classify themselves as Baptist, the largest of which is the Southern Baptist Convention. The Baptists trace their roots to the Separatist movement in 16th century England. In contrast, the Assemblies of God is a single denomination and the largest denomination to come from the early 20th century Pentecostal movement that began in the United States. Baptist and Assemblies of God churches do share key teachings but also have significant differences.
Commonalities in Christ
The Assemblies of God and Baptists share many significant doctrines. Both believe all of mankind is sinful by nature and in a literal hell as the ultimate punishment for sin. Both denominations believe Jesus Christ paid the penalty for sins at his crucifixion and that forgiveness of sin and eternal salvation is freely given to those who accept Him as their savior. Both believe that sanctification – the process of becoming godly – begins when a person accepts Jesus as their savior and continues progressively throughout the believer's life. Baptists and Assemblies of God members also both hold the Bible to be the inspired word of God and ultimate authority for all teaching and practice.
Security of Salvation
Baptists believe once a person has received Christ as their personal savior, they are "saved". Being saved is defined as being guaranteed eternal life in heaven without being able to ever lose that salvation under any circumstance. By contrast, the Assemblies of God teaches that nothing external can take away a believer's salvation; but that the believer can fall away from grace by making willful choices to walk away from God. The Assemblies of God is careful to distinguish between simply sinning and willfully turning from God. Instead, they teach that those who have turned away from God – often called backsliding – must repent and rededicate their lives to Christ to regain their salvation.
Restored or Ceased Spiritual Gifts
Assemblies of God and Baptist churches both teach the miracles and supernatural signs recounted in the Bible actually happened. Baptists believe these miracles ceased when the New Testament was completed. This teaching is known as "cessation." The Assemblies of God follow the Pentecostal movement beliefs founded on the idea Biblical spiritual gifts only ceased because Christians stopped seeking them while God wants to restore these gifts. Assemblies of God churches teach that supernatural gifts such as divine healing, prophecy and speaking in tongues have been "restored" and should continue to be utilized in the church today.
Governments of Denominations
One of the main distinguishing characteristics of Baptist churches is their congregational form of government. Baptists do form larger denominations with common teachings and practices. Most actual church government and authority including pastor ordination is handled at the local church level by congregationally-electected deacons or elders. Assemblies of God congregations have a hybrid form of government that mixes features of congregational government with some fixtures of Presbyterian government. Assemblies of God churches govern with boards of ministers elected as "presbyters." In the Assemblies of God, the presbytery governs matters concerning acceptable doctrine and the ordination of ministers. Local congregations handle their own business affairs and choose which ordained ministers are appointed to lead and serve their congregations.