Difference between Baptist and Southern Baptist

The American Baptist Church and The Southern Baptist Convention share many beliefs, but differ in some of them. We will take a look at the differences between these denominations in the following article.


Baptist vs Southern Baptist
The First American Baptist Church in Providence, Rhode Island

The first American Baptist Church was founded by Roger Williams in 1638 in Providence, Rhode Island. The Baptist Church became a community center for Baptists, and its teachings and congregations soon drew a large number of Christians from all over America. Being a sub-branch of the Protestant movement, Baptists believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and an ultimate guide to live a decent life and to earn a place in Heaven. Baptists offered a liberated approach to a relationship with God for each individual, leaving room for an individual to decide how to interpret passages from the Scriptures and how to build a personal relationship with God. Local churches were established and became centers for believers. Today, Baptists are estimated to be roughly one third of all United States Protestants.

Southern Baptist
Members of a Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief team prepare to cook food after the Greensburg, Kansas Tornado in 2007.

The Southern Baptist Convention is sixth in size among the largest Baptist sub-branches. The history of the Southern Baptist Convention goes back to 1845, when the American Baptist Home Mission Society made a decision to divide the unified Convention because of the slavery issue. The Southern States Georgia and Alabama communities wanted to promote several slaveholders as missionaries, but the promotion was turned down by the leaders of the Society. Southern Baptists in general have more conservative rules and approach missionary and teachings in a more rigid way than traditional Baptists do.

Comparison chart

Baptist Southern Baptist
The Bible is the authority The Bible is without error
People are encouraged to accept Jesus Christ and his teachings People must accept Jesus Christ and his teachings
Allow women to become clergy Do not allow women to become clergy
Accept same sex relationships Against same sex relationships

Baptist vs Southern Baptist

  • There is a subtle difference in how Baptists and Southern Baptists view the Holy Texts. Baptists see the Bible and Scriptures as the most authoritative guide on how to serve God and to be a dedicated Christian follower. Southern Baptists, on the other hand, have a more rigid view of the Holy Scriptures. They believe that every word written in the Bible is true, and every passage is without an error. All Scriptures for Southern Baptists are not so much a guide as a collection of trustworthy messages.
  • Baptists teach that people should become disciples of Jesus Christ and follow his teachings. Southern Baptists, on the other hand, think about Jesus Christ in a much more peremptory way. The followers of the Southern Baptist Convention believe that they have to either accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, or after death they will go to Hell for eternity.
  • Baptists allow women to become clergy members. Southern Baptists, on the other hand, do not allow women to become clergy.
  • Baptists promote their community as welcoming anyone, including those who live in a same sex marriage. Southern Baptists, on the other hand, condemn same-sex relationships and marriage. Southern Baptists would never allow homosexual or lesbian people to be a part of their religious community.