The Rejection of Pascal's Wager
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The "Fringe" Churches

I have grouped the following churches under the heading of “fringe churches” because their theologies are not easily pigeon-holed into any of the above three groups. The fringe churches themselves have as little in common with one another as they have with the other groups.

The largest of the fringe churches is the Jehovah's Witnesses. It claims more than six million followers worldwide.[1] Again the U.S.A. claims the most numerous Witnesses. Jehovah's Witnesses are also called "International Bible Students" and "Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society". [2] The Jehovah's Witnesses is strictly fundamentalist sect. The fact that its theology is so different from many of the Protestant fundamentalist churches show how much interpretation of the Bible plays a role even among people who believe in its absolute truth. The Witnesses rejects all forms of political organization and sees modern secular government as agents of the devil. Most Witnesses refuse to serve in armed forces.

Their theology is an apocalyptic one, i.e. they believe in the imminent end of the world. Jehovah will very soon conduct his victorious battle over Satan and a new Kingdom of God will be established on earth. [3] The sole duty of the witnesses is to gather God's harvest to live in a renewed world after the return of Jesus. Hence proselytizing takes precedence over all acts of charity. [4] Witnesses also do not allow blood transfusion based on biblical verses such as Leviticus 17:10, where God forbade Noah to eat the blood of animals. Needless to say this prohibition has brought about many needless deaths. [5] Jehovah's Witnesses hold a fundamentally different view of Jesus from the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches: they believe that Jesus was the earthly incarnation of the archangel Michael. Thus, they do not accept the doctrine of the Trinity , a fundamental doctrine accepted by all Catholics, Orthodoxs and Protestants.

Next in line, in term of numbers of adherents, is the Mormons or more properly, The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints.[6] The Mormon Church claim four and a half million followers. The church is predominant mainly in the state of Utah in the U.S.A.. The location of the chief Mormon temple is in Salt Lake City, capital of Utah. The Mormon theocracy is headed by the President, his two Counsellors and twelve Apostles. The Mormon has no professional priesthood. All adult males are considered priests. All Mormons are required to give two years of their lives in service of the church. Although Mormons accept the Bible as the word of God they have another holy book called The Book of Mormon. This is accepted as holy scriptures alongside the Bible. Mormon theology taught that Jesus appeared to the early American immigrants after his resurrection and told them that he will build the new Jerusalem in the western hemisphere. Mormons avoids any kind of stimulants, including Coke and coffee. Apart from these differences, Mormon theology is traditionally protestant.[7]

The next church we will look at is the Unitarian Churches.[8] There are about three quarters of a million Unitarians throughout the world. Unitarians reject the divinity of Jesus and asserts the unipersonality of God. Which is different from almost all Christian churches. Modern Unitarianism is a very diverse sect. There is a strong rationalist and liberal tradition in Unitarian churches. [9] Indeed many Unitarian churches today no longer consider themselves as Christians.

The last group of the fringe Christian churches we will look at is The Society of Friends or, as they are more normally referred to, Quakers. There are only about half a million Quakers worldwide.[10] Quakers believe that the message of Jesus is immediate and direct. They therefore have no use for churches and ordained ministers. Similarly the Quakers reject all forms of sacraments. The central doctrine of Quaker theology concerns the "inner light". This inner light comes from the divine presence in the believer. With this inner light the believer will be able to free himself from sin and perform good works. Quaker worship is largely in form of silent contemplation.[11]

References

1 Barret, The World Christian Encyclopedia: p792-793
2 Livingstone,Dictionary of the Christian Church: p270
3 Summerscale, The Penguin Encyclopedia: p328
4 Harrison, Visions Of Glory: p123
5 ibid: p97-106
6 Barret, The World Christian Encyclopedia: p792-793
7 Livingstone,Dictionary of the Christian Church: p346; Hinnels, Dictionary of Religions: p220
8 Barret, The World Christian Encyclopedia: p792-793
9 Livingstone,Dictionary of the Christian Church: p527; Hinnels, Dictionary of Religions: p340
10 Barret, The World Christian Encyclopedia: p792-793
11 Livingstone,Dictionary of the Christian Church: p202-203; Hinnels, Dictionary of Religions: p262

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