Difference between Baptist and Pentecostal

Both Baptists and Pentecostals are the two Christian sub-branches that believe in God and his son Jesus Christ. Both denominations also share a similar view on the afterlife. Members of both communities assemble on the first day of the week for church service and prayer. There are, however, some differences between the two denominations and we will explore them in the following article.


Baptist vs Pentecostal
Baptism as depicted in early Christian art

Baptists unite members of various Christian denominations. The common ground for Baptists is the belief that baptism has to be performed only for adults who are professing believers. This practice is known as credopaptism, and is opposed to infant baptism that is common, for example, among Catholics, where a child is baptized if at least one parent professes the belief. Most Baptists belong to various Christian branches associated with the Protestant movement, and many believe that true baptism should be performed with total immersion. That is, the whole body of a baptized person should be under the water while in the process of baptism, as opposed to baptism by only pouring or sprinkling a small quantity of water over the head. The meaning of the total immersion is that a baptized person can actually be a part of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Savior. The founder of  Baptism was the British pastor John Smyth, known for his reforming views.

Members of the Pentecostal Church of God in Lejunior, Kentucky pray for a girl in 1946

The Pentecostal denomination is named after the Jewish festival of the feast of Pentecost, which happened fifty days after Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven. On the day of Pentecost the followers of the Pentecostal movement are “waiting” for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thanks to the praying, the Holy Spirit comes down to the congregation and he speaks in unknown tongues. Pentecostals emphasize the supernatural element of the key event that took place according to the Bible. The distinguishing feature of the movement is the so-called Independent churches. In the United States, there are also Independent Pentecostal Churches, established by the pastors who at some point felt that they were called by God to create a Church.

Comparison chart

Baptist Pentecostal
The role of the Holy Spirit and his gifts is not emphasized The emphasis is on the Holy Spirit and his gifts
Speaking in tongues is part of Christian mythology Speaking in tongues is real
The access to God is via religious authorities Disciples have direct access to God and the Holy Spirit

Baptist vs Pentecostal

What is the difference between Baptist and Pentecostal?

  • For many members of the Pentecostal movement, the Holy Spirit is actually a powerful entity that inhabits them if they pray hard enough. The Holy Spirit gives prayers a number of Spiritual gifts. There is a special spiritual connection between the Pentecostals and the Holy Spirit, which lasts forever from the moment of the actual baptism. Non-Pentecostal Baptists in general tend to view spiritual gifts as being the application of the rites of the Early Christian Church that just do not operate the same way today.
  • A distinguishing feature of the Pentecostal movement is speaking in tongues. Pentecostals believe that a true follower, while in a spiritual experience, is able to vocalize unintelligible sounds that belong to the language previously unknown to the believer. Pentecostals believe that this language was spoken on the day of Pentecost, and it conveys spiritual messages sent by the Holy Spirit. Mainstream Baptism, along with the other Christian denominations, does not share the belief that speaking in tongues still may happen today. They view this phenomenon as a part of a Christian mythology.
  • Pentecostal disciples believe that they have direct access to God. They do not need any other authorities that would guide them and show the way to the Supreme Being. Non-Pentecostal Baptists, on the other hand, tend to get an access to God via priests and other religious authorities.