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Compare and contrast the Roman Catholic Church with the Baptist Church

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Baptists, Protestant Christians who accept the basic doctrine of the 16th-century Reformation but have added other beliefs and practices, including baptism of believers by immersion only, the separation of Church and state, and the autonomy of the local church. The Baptists are important for their emphasis on these and other beliefs and for their numbers.

The history of the Baptist Church is traced to the early days of the Protestant Reformation-specifically, the division of the Reformation. John Smyth and Thomas Helwys founded the first Baptist church on Dutch soil at Amsterdam in 1609. Smyth returned to England and there in 1611 or 1612, he led a small group of Christians in establishing the first Baptist church on English soil, at Spitalsfield, near London. As they grew in number, English Baptists came to be divided between General Baptists and Particular Baptists. Roger Williams, an English Puritan clergyman, founded the first Baptist church in America at Providence, Rhode Island, 1639. About the same time, John Clarke established a Baptist congregation at Newport, Rhode Island. Baptist growth increased in the 18th century. Later in the same century, the Baptists eagerly supported the American War of Independence and therefore became more popular. In the 19th century the Baptists, split over the issue of slavery, lead to the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845. In 1907 the northern Baptists formed the Northern Baptist Convention.

Before the Reformation, the major divisions within Christianity were between those who accepted the Council of Chalcedon and those who did not. The Protestant Reformation was the conclusion of forces that had been calling for reform within the Western church for centuries. The consequence was an explosive breakage of Christian groups. One of the main streams of the Protestant Reformation is the Reformed Calvinist, Baptist Church.

The structures of both the Baptist Church and the Roman Catholic Church are quite dissimilar. Generally Baptists only recognize two Scriptural offices, those of pastor-teacher and deacon. The office of elder, is typically the same as that of pastor. The office of overseer or bishop is always believed to be the same as that of pastor or presbyter. Some Southern Baptist and other Baptistic churches may ordain bishops over small regional groups of churches. The primary role of the pastor is to distribute the weekly sermon. In smaller churches, the pastor will often visit homes and hopsitals to call on ill member, as well as homes of potential members. The pastor will also carry out weddings and funerals for members, and at business meetings serve as the moderator. Larger churches will usually have one or more “associate” pastors, each with a specific area of responsibility, whereby the overall pastor is considered the “senior” pastor. Often, the pastor will be married with children. The main role of the deacon is to assist the pastor with members’ needs.

Deacons also help during communion. However, in many more modern Baptist churches, deacons have become administrators or governing body of the church. In many churches, the pastor takes on the role of spiritual leadership, while a deacon serves as moderator of board meetings. A common practice is for each family to be assigned a specific deacon, to be the primary point of contact whenever a need arises. In contrast, the Pope is the Head of the Catholic Church; he is elected by the cardinals and remains Pope for life. After the Pope are the Cardinals, when a Pope passes away one of them is elected as the new pope. Archbishops are in charge of an archdiocese (a large area). They ensure that the bishops follow the Catholic Churches’ rules. The bishop is accountable for a diocese (smaller area). The diocese is the main unit of the church. The Bishop manages all the activities of his church, visits religious institutions and is accountable for teaching the Christian faith in his diocese. Bishops also have a responsibility of organizing charity work and speaking up for the poor in their diocese.

Like the Catholic Church, the common view among Baptists is that the offices, those of pastor-teacher and deacon are limited to men only. However, Baptist pastors can be married and have children, this is very common. Women have served faithfully in Baptist life. They have nurtured, sustained, encouraged, and preserved the Baptist churches. Women have attended Baptist churches, prayed at their ministries, given sacrificially to their causes, taught at their Sunday Schools, influenced the content and tone of our worship services, sung in their choirs, and opened their homes for the visiting preachers.

Even though Baptist churches have been repeatedly split and separated over the centuries, there are a number of extensive characteristics which are common to most if not all. These characteristics include adult baptism through full immersion, pietism, evangelism, and sectarianism. All of these are closely related to another characteristic: radical voluntarism and the independence of local churches. Voluntarism is the most important characteristic of the Baptist Church, Baptist tradition holds that authority in matters of religion and faith rests first with the individual baptized believer and second with the local congregation of believers — not a religious hierarchy, religious tradition, or even religious texts. Pietism highlights a person’s direct encounter with God, something which is thought to protect believers against autocratic and dictatorial powers that would threaten true religion. Baptist sectarianism can be traced directly to Baptist voluntarism. Baptists have usually been doubtful of other beliefs, even when it comes to other Baptists.

Baptists and Roman Catholics are both comparable and dissimilar with their beliefs. Baptists and Catholics are comparable in that they both believe that people are fallen beings. They both believe that sin must be confessed in order to attain forgiveness. They also share the sacraments of communion and baptism, yet they regard them very differently in a formal church service. People believe that Baptists and Catholics are alike in their beliefs when it comes to the sacrament of communion, baptism and sin. However, there are differences in belief as too. Baptists believe in a theory known as Sola Scriptura, which means the Bible is the sole rule of faith. However, Roman Catholics, believe that the Word of God is transmitted through Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and is interpreted by the teaching authority of the Church. Baptists believe that the Word of God is limited to the Bible. Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Baptists view communion and all sacraments as symbolic. Catholics view all Sacraments as actual means of grace in which Christ acts through the Church which is His Body.

Baptists and Roman Catholics are contrasting when it comes to their number of ordinances, but they both practice Communion and Baptism. Generally, most Baptist churches distinguish two ordinances that are to be preformed on a usual basis by churches: baptism and closed communion, although some Baptist churches do have open communion policies. Some churches also practice foot washing as a third ordinance. However, the Catholic Church teaches that there are seven sacraments: Baptism, the Eucharist (Communion), Confirmation, Penance, Marriage, Holy orders, and Anointing the sick.

Roman Catholicism and Baptism are both similar when it comes to some of their beliefs, role of women and ordinances (Eucharist and baptism). But then again they are also contrasting when it comes to their history, structure, some beliefs and number of ordinances.

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