'Methodist' vs 'Baptist': What's the Difference?

By Katie Moore, updated on September 7, 2023

‘Methodist’ vs ‘Baptist’: What’s the difference? Learning new words through writing can sometimes take us on journeys that teach us way more than just definitions. This article will provide you with a historical understating of the difference between ‘Methodist’ vs ‘Baptist’.

Are you in a rush? Here’s a quick preview of what’s to come: 

  • ‘Methodist’ is a word that describes a Christian denomination focused on evangelism
  • ‘Baptist’ is a word that describes a Christian denomination focused on baptism

What’s the Difference Between ‘Methodist’ vs ‘Baptist’

Sometimes, the best way to learn basic differences between subjects is to first see how they are the same. ‘Methodist’ vs ‘Baptist’ are both words that describe religious denominations, particularly of the Christian Protestant faith. 

Both denominations believe in baptism and partaking in communion as holy sacraments of faith, but they differ in their rules about who can partake. 

  • ‘Methodists’ allow all to partake in communion and baptism regardless of age.
  • ‘Baptists’ have more strict age limits. 

Another main difference between these denominations is in the governance of the members of the church. ‘Methodists’ have a system of Episcopal Hierarchy, while ‘Baptists’ have congregational independence.

  • This means that ‘Methodists’ have Bishops who are a part of an Episcopal organization that appoints pastors to various ‘Methodist’ churches.
  • Meanwhile, ‘Baptist’ congregations vote to choose and appoint their pastors. 

The final main difference that will give us a foundation of understanding is that ‘Methodists’ are generally more free-thinking, while ‘Baptists’ are primarily fundamentalists. 

  • Fundamentalism advocates for a strict and literal interpretation of scripture, often seen as a more extreme view. 

These general similarities and differences help us compare these two denominations more easily — but they don’t give us the full picture. Let’s take a closer look at the meanings of ‘Methodist’ vs ‘Baptist’.

Definition of ‘Methodist’: What Does it Mean?

According to Oxford Languages, ‘Methodist’ is a noun that means:

  • A member of a Christian Protestant denomination originating in the 18th-century evangelistic movement of Charles and John Wesley and George Whitefield
    • “It is next to impossible to swerve a determined Methodist from his path.”

Note that evangelism means the spreading of the Christian gospel by preaching or personal witness.

As an adjective, ‘Methodist’ can also mean:

  • Relating to Methodists or Methodism
    • “A Methodist chapel.”

History and Origin of ‘Methodist’

The ‘Methodist’ church was started by brothers Charles and John Wesley, and ‘Methodist’ was a name that came from the methodical way in which they carried out their Christian faith. The denomination originated as a revival within Anglicanism originating out of the Church of England, but separated from the church after Wesley’s death. 

Charles Wesley first started practicing Methodism at Oxford University with a small group of friends and believers who were known as the Holy Club. His brother John soon took over the club, and it was regarded as the first expression of ‘Methodism.’ 

  • While Charles is known as the first founder of the ‘Methodist' denomination, his brother John would grow to become the face of the religion when they traveled to America. 

‘Methodist’ Beliefs

  • Baptism may be administered at any age and can be done by sprinkling, pouring, or being fully submerged in water. 
  • Communion is a rite open to all, where the body (bread) and the blood (wine or juice) of Christ are symbolically taken. 
  • ‘Methodists’ believe that there is one triune God, who exists as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 
  • ‘Methodists’ must use logic and reason in all matters of faith. 
  • People can be saved through faith in Jesus Christ, but not by any other acts of redemption such as good deeds. It is a person’s choice to be saved. 
  • Bishops have the authority to assign pastors to a congregation. 

Definition of ‘Baptist’: What Does it Mean?

According to Oxford Languages, ‘Baptist’ is an adjective that means:

  • Relating to or belonging to a Protestant Christian denomination that advocates baptism only of adult believers by total immersion 
    • “He was a member of the Oak Grove Baptist Church.”

As a noun, the word ‘Baptist’ can also mean:

  • A member of a Protestant Christian denomination that advocates baptism only of adult believers by total immersion, Baptists form one of the largest Protestant bodies and are found all around the world, especially in the United States
    • “Generations of Baptists sent their children to college.”
  • A person who baptizes someone

History and Origin of ‘Baptist’

The word ‘Baptist’ comes from the Greek ‘baptizein,’ which means “immerse,” hence the connection to baptism by total immersion. While some believe ‘Baptists’ have an unbroken line from the apostles of Jesus Christ and John the Baptist, the church is most commonly agreed to have appeared in the 17th century as an offshoot of Congregationalism. They were led mainly by John Smyth in their early years in Amsterdam. 

‘Baptists’ were originally divided into two belief systems — the Particular Baptists and the General Baptists — who each forged their own paths and lost adherents to other religious denominations, such as the Quakers and the Unitarians.

  • Yet, by the end of the 19th century ‘Baptists’ had established their presence globally, and were a major presence in the years before the American Revolution in a period known as the “Great Awakening.”

There became, and still is, a large division between Northern and Southern ‘Baptist’ churches in America, which has caused internal controversy within the denomination over the years. Some of this was due to a large number of Black Baptist Churches and churchgoers who helped build religious ties to the Civil Rights Movement. 

‘Baptist’ Beliefs

  • Baptism is for adults only and is done by full immersion, not sprinkling or pouring. Infant baptism is rejected. 
  • Communion is a closed practice, and only those confirmed to the ‘Baptist’ church may participate.
  • The Bible is the ultimate authority and is seen as true, trustworthy, and without error. 
  • Each ‘Baptist’ church is autonomous, operating under the lordship of Christ through democratic processes. 
  • Pastoral leadership is reserved for men
  • Salvation is based solely on faith, and those who are saved go to Heaven. This will be judged during the literal Second Coming of Christ, who will say who is saved. 
  • ‘Baptists’ believe in a triune God, who exists as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce ‘Methodist’ vs ‘Baptist’

Since many religious practices take place orally, it is important to know how to properly pronounce these new words. The guides below will give you the tools to feel comfortable discussing these denominations aloud

Use this phonetic spelling of ‘Methodist’ as a guide:

  • ‘Meh-thuh-dih-st’ (all vowels are flat, and note that the “o” is pronounced like “fun”)

Use this phonetic spelling of ‘Baptist’ as a guide:

  • ‘Bap-tih-st’ (note that the “a” is a wide vowel as in the word “apple”)

How to Use ‘Methodist’ vs ‘Baptist’ in a Sentence

While these words are almost always found in a religious setting or discussion, they can be used in a variety of contexts. To ensure you feel confident navigating a variety of scenarios, take a look at the sample sentences below for reference. 

‘Methodist’ Example Sentences

  • Her family belonged to a Methodist congregation, but they only ever attended church services on big holidays such as Christmas and Easter. 
  • Methodist congregations are typically linked to each other and all are a part of a wider United Methodist organization

‘Baptist’ Example Sentences

  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a member and eventually a preacher in his local Baptist church. 
  • Due to their congregational styles of governance, Baptist churches vary greatly in their collective opinions on topics such as eschatology. 
  • According to the Bible, John the Baptist was the one to bestow the sacrament of baptism on Jesus Christ.

‘Methodist’ vs ‘Baptist’ Example Sentences

  • Although they are both sects of Protestant Christianity, Baptists and Methodists do not have the exact same belief systems. 
  • While in the Methodist church, infant baptism is not only allowed but encouraged, the Baptist church forbids it. 

Final Advice on ‘Methodist’ vs ‘Baptist’

Learning new words often means going beyond basic definitions and taking a more intentional look at the terms’ history. For concepts like religion in particular, this helps us see not only where the words come from, but how they relate to each other. 

Need a quick recap? Here’s an overview of what we learned:

  • ‘Methodist’ is a noun that describes a protestant denomination that emphasizes evangelism and a focus on logic and reason.
  • Meanwhile, ‘Baptist’ is a noun that describes a protestant denomination that emphasizes adult membership and a literal trust and translation in The Bible. 

We hope this article can serve as a good foundation for understanding the differences between these religions, but you can also continue to do more research. Meanwhile, be sure to check out other confusing word articles to get a grasp on other overlapping topics. This will help you build a more well-rounded knowledge base and expand your vocabulary.

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Written By:
Katie Moore
Katie is a recent graduate of Occidental College where she worked as a writer and editor for the school paper while studying linguistics and journalism. She loves helping others find their voice in writing and making their work the strongest it can be. Katie also loves learning and speaking other languages and wants to help make writing accessible for everyone.

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