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                            What’s the Difference? A Comparison of the Faiths Men Live By
	What’s the Difference? A Comparison of the Faiths Men Live By
	What’s the Difference? A Comparison of the Faiths Men Live By
	What’s the Difference? A Comparison of the Faiths Men Live By
	What’s the Difference? A Comparison of the Faiths Men Live By
	What’s the Difference? A Comparison of the Faiths Men Live By
	What’s the Difference? A Comparison of the Faiths Men Live By
	What’s the Difference? A Comparison of the Faiths Men Live By
	What’s the Difference? A Comparison of the Faiths Men Live By
	What’s the Difference? A Comparison of the Faiths Men Live By
	What’s the Difference? A Comparison of the Faiths Men Live By
	What’s the Difference? A Comparison of the Faiths Men Live By
	What’s the Difference? A Comparison of the Faiths Men Live By
	What’s the Difference? A Comparison of the Faiths Men Live By
                        
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What’s the Difference? A Comparison of the Faiths Men Live By

return to religion-online

What’s the Difference? A Comparison of the Faiths
Men Live By by Louis Cassels

Louis Cassels was for many years the religion editor of United Press International. His column "Religion in
America" appeared in over four hundred newspapers during the mid-nineteenth century.

What’s the Difference was published in 1965 by Doubleday & Company, Inc. This book was prepared for
Religion Online by Harry W. and Grace C. Adams.

(ENTIRE BOOK) Cassels provides a useful guide to understanding the beliefs and unique
characteristics of the different religious groups in the United States.

Forward
Coming from a background of religion editor of United Press International as well as a
committed Protestant Christian, the author proposes to present the distinguishing beliefs of the
varying theistic religions with emphasis on Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Chapter 1: The Varieties of Faith
An outline of the rudimentary beliefs of atheists, hedonists, humanists, materialists (communists),
pantheists, animists, polytheists and monotheists.

Chapter 2: The Jewish-Christian Heritage
The survival of the Jews as a self-conscious entity for forty centuries – twenty of them in often
bitter estrangement from Christianity – is a historical mystery, and deserves careful analysis of
the evolution of Semitic monotheism both in the Jewish understanding of covenant, Torah,
messiah and obedience as well as Christian concepts of new covenant, atonement, sin and grace.

Chapter 3: The Catholic-Protestant Differences
Although Catholics and Protestants have been moving cautiously toward each other, real minor
and major differences still separate them, including their understandings and interpretations of
grace, faith, authority in governance and teaching as it relates to scripture, the role of Mary, and
the sacraments.

Chapter 4: Is the Bible Infallible?

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What’s the Difference? A Comparison of the Faiths Men Live By

The Protestant embracing of the principle of private interpretation of scripture instead of the
Catholic teaching of acceptance of its doctrine led to the development of "verbal inerrancy" and
Fundamentalism as answers to the loss of authority symbolized on one side by Papal inerrancy
and on the other by the demythologizing of liberalism. In the process Protestantism received
benefits in the form of the social gospel, modern orthodoxy, and evangelicalism.

Chapter 5: The Protestant Faith Families: The Great Reformation
Churches
While noting the blurred lines separating Protestant denominations in our mobile society, Cassels
goes on in this chapter to describe important differences among Lutherans, Presbyterians and
Anglicans by tracing their origins and particular characteristics.

Chapter 6: The Puritan Heritage
The English Reformation produced Catholic and Calvinist factions. In this chapter Cassels traces
the Calvinists who evolved in American Protestantism as Congregationalists with their emphasis
on democratic government, individual freedom and social concern, and Baptists with their
insistence on adult baptism by immersion, congregational autonomy and church-state separation.

Chapter 7: More Movements Born of the Church of England
Of the offshoots of the Church of England, Methodists grew greatly from humble beginnings
under Anglican priest John Wesley to become the second largest Protestant denomination in
America, first as a kind of "poor man’s" church and more recently as a middle class church. The
Society of Friends with their emphasis on simplicity of life and faith has remained small but
influential, as did the Mennonites from continental Europe with their anabaptist roots and pacifist
beliefs.

Chapter 8: The Faiths Born in America
America has eight native religious movements, each centered around a central doctrine or
emphasis, including the Disciples of Christ and nondenominationalism,
Unitarianism/Universalism and creedlessness, Mormons and the Book of Mormon, Seventh-Day
Adventists and the sabbath, Christian Science and Science and Health, Pentecostals and the "gift
of tongues," Church of the Nazarene and sanctification, and Jehovah’s Witnesses and
Armageddon.

Chapter 9: The Eastern Orthodox
Six million Americans count themselves adherents of the Eastern Orthodox Church in its various
national expressions imported by immigrant groups, all of which evolved from the "Great
Schism" between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches mainly over the issue of
papal authority.

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nationality, and economic group — living refutations of the old "class
church" label.

The Episcopal Appeal

If the Episcopal Church still has a special appeal for any one group of
Americans, it is for the academic-intellectual-professional community.
Large numbers of scientists, doctors, lawyers, writers, college
professors, and the like, are to be found in the pews of Episcopal
churches.

One reason is that Episcopal clergymen are notably well educated, and
their sermons rarely if ever insult the intelligence of any listener,
however learned he may be.

Episcopalians probably do not drink any more than the members of
some Protestant churches that are officially committed to total
abstinence; but they are less furtive about it. The Episcopal Church
condemns any use of alcohol that leads to drunkenness or impairs a
person’s ability to discharge his responsibilities, but sees no sin in
moderate drinking at an appropriate time and place.

Episcopalians also take a relaxed attitude toward card-playing, dancing,
Sunday golf, and other social activities that cause the blood pressure of
a strict Calvinist to rise.

This should not be taken, however, as indicating a laissez-faire attitude
toward moral issues. No other non-Roman church takes such a dim view
of divorce as does the Episcopal Church. And Episcopalians have been
in the front ranks of the fight for racial justice.

To outsiders, the most conspicuous virtue of the Episcopal Church is the
beauty of its liturgy. Although many other churches have borrowed
liberally from the Book of Common Prayer, its majestic cadences still
sound most at home in an Episcopal setting. If you have never heard a
good choir leading an Episcopal congregation in the Venite, or a strong-
voiced Episcopal priest standing before the altar to open the
Communion service with the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ’s
Church, you do not know how poetic and uplifting corporate worship
can be.

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Why Christians Can’t Compromise

Thus, Christianity professes to be precisely what the syncretist seeks —
a universal faith. It does not assert that the religion of Christians is
superior to the religion of Jews, Moslems, or Buddhists, but rather that
Jesus Christ is "Lord of all men."

There is no way in which Christians can compromise on this assertion.
Either it is the most important truth ever proclaimed — or it is a
damnable falsehood which has led hundreds of millions of people
astray. In neither case can it be fitted into a neat synthesis with other
religions.

"We cannot participate in the search for a common denominator of all
the religions," says Dr. Visser ‘t Hooft. "The claim which the Church
makes for its Lord has its origin, not in any religious pride or cultural
egocentricity, but in the message of the New Testament. For the whole
New Testament speaks of the Saviour whom we have not chosen, but
who has chosen us. It is possible to reject Him, but it is not seriously
possible to think of Him as one of the many prophets or founders of
religion."

The real tragedy of syncretism, Dr. Visser ‘t Hooft concludes, is that
while it professes to be a bold advance beyond Christianity, "it leads in
fact to a regression." For in denying that God has made a decisive self-
disclosure in history, the syncretist is saying that man must rely on his
own insights, speculations, and guesses for whatever clues he may have
to the ultimate meaning of life.

He may put together bits and pieces of various historical religions, and
call the result a "universal faith." But he can repose no more confidence
in this faith than he has in the infallibility of his own judgment — for it
will necessarily be his judgment that is the ultimate criterion of what is
included in the synthesis, and what is left out.

Dr. Visser ‘t Hooft goes on to point out that syncretism is never, in
practice, as all-embracing as it sounds in theory. It can include within its
synthesis only those religious viewpoints that are consonant with its
own fundamental denial of a definitive divine revelation. The usual
formula for compounding a syncretism is to take a base of Hindu
pantheism and season it with a few quotes from Moses, Christ, Buddha,

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and Mohammed to give it an appearance of inclusivism.

"The demand for a world faith is comprehensible," says Dr. Visser ‘t
Hooft. "But it must not be answered in such a way that we destroy the
very foundations of faith." Syncretism, with its pretensions to go beyond
Christianity, is in fact a retreat into pre-Christian darkness. It confronts
men with an "It," an impersonal power which they must try to figure out
for themselves, rather than a "Thou," the living God who cared enough
for His human creatures to take the initiative in revealing Himself to
them in His Son, Jesus Christ.

If a person elects to bet his life on Christ, does it follow that he must
despise and look down upon other religions? By no means. From the
Apostle Paul to Pope Paul VI, leaders of the Church have taught just the
opposite. The Christian has a particularly clear obligation to look with
reverence and respect upon Judaism — the religion, which Jesus said he
came "not to destroy but to fulfill." But, as Pope Paul said on his visit to
India in 1964, Christians also have "the duty of knowing better" the
hundreds of millions of fellow human beings who are Moslems, Hindus,
Buddhists, or followers of other faiths, "recognizing all the good they
possess, not only in their history and civilization, but also in the heritage
of moral and religious values which they possess and preserve.

The New Testament puts it quite succinctly: "God has not left Himself
without witness at any time." In every age, in every nation and in every
culture, the Christian should expect to find glimpses, find often much
more than glimpses, of the Light which was focused so brilliantly in
Jesus of Nazareth. But to say t:his is very far from saying that "all
sources of Light are the same." There is a difference between a light
bulb, even a very big light bulb, and the sun.

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