Many people around the world find comfort in practicing a religion. In fact, there are over 4,000 religions recognized around the world.

Two common religious groups are the Baptists and the Southern Baptists. People often see these groups as the same, but they have differences that set them apart. Baptist vs. Southern Baptist churches each have their own backgrounds and religious ideas.

If you’re wondering what sets these groups apart, you’ve come to the right place. We explore the characteristics of these two faiths in our article below.

The History of Baptist Religious Groups

You can trace the history of the Baptist church to the very early 17th century. It was then that people started rebelling against the Church of England. These people started calling for religious reform.

The first Baptists emphasized baptism for all its members. They also wanted local church autonomy and leadership for all the believers.

Many early Baptist people fled to the American colonies. Baptist groups started popping up amongst the colonists.

The Baptist faith grew and started merging into different branches. This is where the Southern Baptist church came from.

The Southern Baptist church has a darker history involving slavery. In the 1800s, debates over slavery caused a rift between Baptist groups. The Southern Baptist church had most of its locations in the slave states of the South.

The Southern Baptist church has since denounced slavery. The group has also publicly apologized for any involvement that members of its group have had during this horrifying time in history.

Baptist Church

The Baptist religion stems from the Protestant Christian church. Baptists are Christian, so they share many beliefs of other Christian religious groups. 

Although there are several branches of the Baptist faith, there are some common beliefs held among this group. These beliefs are what set them apart from other Christian religions. 


The fundamental belief of Baptist people is that the Bible is key to how they experience their life. Baptists believe that the Bible is the direct Word of God. This means it is the ultimate guide for how to practice and live as Baptists.

The Bible is the guide that Baptists use to live their life. It also gives information about God’s character and plans for salvation. By following the word of the Bible, people can get closer to God.

Most Baptists encourage the study of the Bible. They see this as a way to deepen their understanding of the Word of God.


Another cornerstone of the Baptist faith is baptism. Baptize means a person has chosen to dedicate themselves fully to their faith. Baptists see the act of getting baptized as a spiritual rebirth.

Church Leaders

Baptist followers don’t have traditional priests. They believe that each member of the Baptist faith can communicate with God directly. Each Baptist follower handles their relationship with God.

Salvation Beliefs

Salvation is another key belief in the Baptist faith. Baptists see salvation as the gift of God’s grace. 

In this faith, salvation is not something you can gain through action. It, instead, comes from the personal decision to trust wholeheartedly in Jesus Christ. Salvation also means repenting of your sins using the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Church Structure

Baptists feel that their churches should get to make their own decisions. They run independently and are self-governed.

Baptist churches also believe in democracy. Each member has a say in how the church is run.

Southern Baptist Church

Southern Baptist churches are part of the larger Baptist group. This means the difference between Baptist and Southern Baptist groups is subtle.

Southern Baptist churches tend to be stricter than other Baptist branches. There are several other beliefs that differ from the Baptist branch.  


Salvation is a key belief of Southern Baptists. The way to get salvation is through the grace of God.

Southern Baptists believe that all people need to put their faith in their belief in Christ. If they don’t, they are destined to spend eternity in Hell.


Another difference in the Southern Baptist church is that the Bible is not the only place to get the Word of God. Although the Bible is a great avenue for getting the Word of God, they can hear it in other places, too.

Free Will

Free will is a concept that Southern Baptists hold very highly. Free will means that God has granted people the freedom to make choices about their faith. People can choose to respond to the gospel messages that they get in the way they see fit.

Southern Baptists feel that the decisions that each person makes based on their free will shape their eternal destiny. It is up to each person to decide the choices they will make and how they will respond to the grace of God.


Predestination is a concept that Southern Baptists believe in. The idea is that God already knows who He will choose for salvation.

Even though God predestines those whom He will save, each person has the freedom to choose or reject God’s offer of salvation. Ultimately, it will be God who grants a person their salvation.

Baptist vs. Southern Baptist Churches: Telling the Difference Can Be Tricky

Understanding various religions can be challenging if you don’t practice them. When trying to figure out the difference between Baptist vs. Southern Baptist churches, it can be hard to tell how they differ. Although the variations are slight, they are there.

Are you hoping to learn more about the Baptist faith? If so, ClearView Baptist church can’t wait to meet you! Contact us today for more information!