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Baptist, Roman Catholic Church, and Episcopal Church: Comparison Research Paper

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Updated: Nov 15th, 2021

“Baptist” is a term that referring to an individual who trusts in the established and adult “baptism of believers” in Jesus Christ (Walter, 1993). Baptists are also those believers who declare that they have a personal faith in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation and redemption. They are against the baptism of infants since they believe only mature people are mature enough to believe in Christ. Their belief demands that anyone who has to be baptized has to be old enough to understand what it means to trust in Jesus Christ. They don’t believe that one can obtain salvation and cleansing of sins by baptism alone. “Catholic” on the other hand refers to “Universal”. Generally (Alan, 1984), it stands for the “Roman Catholic Church” which has been the biggest and well organized Christian and religious group for the last two millenniums. The Episcopal Church is also referred to as the Episcopal Protestant Church in the USA. It evolved immediately after the American Revolution after a forced break from the Church of England due to the penalty of disloyalty as the clergy of the Church of England were obliged to swear their loyalty to the Monarchy in Britain (Webber, 1999). It became the first Anglican Province outside the British Isles.

In the medieval era, some bible scholars were persuaded that the baptism of infants by sprinkling water on them was not a biblical doctrine. Consequently, they started re-baptizing each other. “Ana-Baptist” or “Anabaptist” are words referring to a “re-baptizer” (Walter, 1993). They were sprinkled with water when they were infants, hence the Roman Catholic Church referred to them as re-baptizers. The number of Anabaptists grew tremendously between the Middles Ages and the Reformation Era.

Roman Catholic was rebelled by the Anabaptists on the baptism of infants based on the following points:

  • Small children/infants are not referred to anywhere in the Bible, regarding baptism (The Bible does not record any incidences where infants have been baptized).
  • “Baptize”, originally a Greek phrase, refers to “be completely immersed in water” and therefore the sprinkling was not unacceptable and not biblical.
  • According to the bible, someone to be baptized should be someone who is a believer. However, babies are not able to believe or understand anything let alone make a decision to be baptized. Therefore, baptism must only be for mature people, adults (Walter, 1993).

Infant baptism was a practice that was always taking place throughout Europe at that particular time in history. In some cases, it was even considered as a rite to citizenship hence those rebelling against it were taken to be disloyal to the government. As a result, the Roman Catholic Church hated and persecuted the Baptists because of their rebellion against infant baptism which was considered an attack on the Roman Catholic Church. The fact that the Baptists insisted on the baptism of believers only gave the Roman Catholic Church another reason to persecute them. The Roman Catholic Church took it to be an attack on the theological lessons about “salvation by works” that were being taught. The Baptists had many of their property taken away and millions were agonized (Walter, 1993). Hundreds of thousands were killed under the influence of the Roman Catholic Church.

The beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church differ in many ways from those of the Baptist Church. For example, the Catholic Church believes in the principle of “salvation by works” (Alan, 1984). This means that someone is saved through such actions as taking sacraments such as infants’ baptism, attending the mass, and partaking of the communion. Baptists on the other hand believe that salvation is by the grace of God alone and to have complete faith in Christ in addition to works. The Roman Catholic Church maintains the principle of the “Mass” must be followed in which they believe to be the actual sacrificing of the body by the believers and the blood of Jesus Christ by the Priest (Alan, 1983). Baptists believe that Jesus Christ is in heaven and is not on earth on the Holly Communion Table. They believe that the whole idea of Mass is blasphemy to God (Walter, 1993). The Baptists also believe that only the death of Jesus Christ could save mankind from sins.

“Purgatory” is another belief of the Roman Catholic Church that differs from that of the Baptist’s beliefs. They believe it is a place the people who go after death (Alan, 1984), (Apart from hell and heaven), while the Baptists believe in life after death with two places that people go to Heaven or Hell. The Purgatory that the Roman Catholics believe in is like a third option to departed souls. Catholics also believe in the universal church, which is said to have been founded by Peter the Apostle, whom they refer to as the 1st “Pope”-keeper of the keys to Heaven or Hell. The Baptists on the other hand believe in the independence of the local church. Offering prayers to the Saints and Mary (Alan, 1984) is another practice and belief of the Catholics that is different from that of Baptists who insist that prayers should be made in the name of Jesus Christ and directed to God (Walter, 1993).

The Episcopal Church which is the third group of believers considered in this research has beliefs different from those of both the Catholic and the Baptist Church. It was a very active participant in the Social Gospel movement that took place in the late 19th century. It has played a role a political role in the change of several political issues like the death penalty. They are against the death penalty and are strong supporters of affirmative action and the fight for civil rights. They advocate for full equality of all the civilians together with the lesbians and the gay people. Most of their dioceses have been known to openly ordain gay men and lesbians in positions of leadership and priesthood. They celebrate same-sex marriages with blessings to the married and some of the marriages are permitted in the states they are in. All these practices are very different from those of the Catholic Church and the Baptist Church who both don’t allow same-sex marriages (Webber, 1999). The Episcopal Church has adopted the issue of abortion by taking a nuanced position. They allow the ordaining of women to the priesthood as well as episcopate and diaconate in the Episcopal Church. This is due to the belief they have of full participation of women in all features of the church and recognizing their gifts and talents as something bestowed upon them by the Spirit and must be respected. They, however, believe in the scripture, reason, and traditions but they are not sure of what they believe in where these three issues are involved. They believe that healthy living, good life, and faith are enhanced by the availability of food and drinks except for tropical punch, canned fish in any form, or lime-carrot Jello (Webber, 1999).

There are a lot of differences in the beliefs and doctrines of the Baptist Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Episcopal Church. However, new preachers of the Gospel like Billy Graham and Rick Warren have called for cooperation between different churches in the body of Christ. However, Baptists have always preached that they are detached from the Roman Catholic Church while both of them cannot stomach some of the doctrines and beliefs held by the Episcopal Church believers. Whichever the case, people have their own beliefs and have a right to worship and believe whatever they want, thus, the beauty in diversity.

Reference List

  1. Dr Alan Schreck, (1984). Catholic & Christian; Servant Publications, 232 pages. ISBN-10: 0892831812
  2. Walter B. Shurden, (1993).”The Baptist identity: four fragile freedoms”; Smyth & Helwys Pub. Pgs 119. ISBN188083720X, 9781880837207
  3. Webber Christopher, (1999). Welcome to the Episcopal Church: an introduction to its history, faith, and worship; PublisherChurch Publishing, Inc., 1999ISBN0819218200
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IvyPanda. "Baptist, Roman Catholic Church, and Episcopal Church: Comparison." November 15, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/baptist-roman-catholic-church-and-episcopal-church-comparison/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Baptist, Roman Catholic Church, and Episcopal Church: Comparison." November 15, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/baptist-roman-catholic-church-and-episcopal-church-comparison/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Baptist, Roman Catholic Church, and Episcopal Church: Comparison'. 15 November.

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