Baptists and Charismatics are among the largest Christian groups in the world. Baptists trace their heritage to early 17th Century England. The relatively new Charismatic movement has seen explosive growth since its beginnings in the 20th Century U.S. The two groups hold many beliefs in common, but they also have significant differences.
There are more than 200 Christian denominations that consider themselves Baptist. The largest is the Southern Baptist Convention. Baptists disagree with one another on many issues, but all hold to the teaching that salvation is received by grace thorough faith in Jesus Christ. Baptists practice adult baptism, which is only administered to those who have made a profession of faith. Most Baptists also believe that a person who has truly accepted Jesus Christ as savior is saved and can never lose that salvation.
The Charismatic movement began in the mid-20th Century. While there are denominations that can legitimately be considered Charismatic, the movement is largely nondenominational. There are also charismatic movements within many Christian denominations that are not considered Charismatic, including the Baptist denomination. Charismatics believe in the renewal of the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the initial physical evidence of speaking in tongues. They also believe in the renewal of other spiritual gifts such as prophecy and healing.
The Charismatic movement is an offshoot of Pentecostalism, a movement that emphasizes a personal relationship with God through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Charismatics vary widely in their teachings. Charismatic movements within existing churches tend to agree with their church's teachings except in matters pertaining to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Most Charismatic denominations are similar to Pentecostals in teaching and practice.
Most Charismatics agree with Baptists that salvation is received by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Many also agree with the Baptist teaching that once a person has been saved, they are always saved. Most Charismatics practice adult baptism of converts who have made a profession of faith. Baptists and Charismatics both tend to be zealous in sharing their faiths in Jesus Christ with others, believing that He is the only way to salvation. Both believe that the Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God.
The main difference between Baptists and Charismatics has to do with the Charismatic teachings regarding the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Most Baptists believe that speaking in tongues, prophesy, healing, and other spiritual gifts were in operation in the early Church, but that the gifts were no longer necessary after the Bible was completed. Charismatics believe that these gifts have been restored to the church and continue to operate as they walk in faith and obedience to God.
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