These groups are not “strange” not because they are unusual or quirky, on the contrary all four are considered very normal, especially by people from their own group. The strangeness is in the fact that an alliance between these groups seems impossible. Were they asked, they would never agree to be allies, in fact they would argue they are polar opposites. And on many issues they are, however, their end result on the authority of the Bible is ultimately the same. All four groups attack the Bible, through different means, and remove Scripture from being the highest authority for our life and practice. John, under the Spirits inspiration, writing the final book of the Bible, warns that there are two different attacks on the Bible, adding and removing. (Revelation 22:18-19).
1. Ignorant Christians
These are people who are dangerous because they profess to be authentic and loving Christians. They claim that they want to live like Jesus and follow in his example. While this group has a great deal of variety, many who state they want to live like Jesus, and are quite serious about it, don’t’ understand how to treat the Bible. While they don’t always remove the actual words that are included in the Bible, they often remove the human authorship and human context of the Bible. This causes all manner of interpretations; in fact, there are ‘officially’ some 33,000 denominations of the Christian faith because people interpret the Bible so differently. So thus, by removing the reality of the biblical words and assuming they are something other than what they are, people in this category remove valuable and beautiful ideas that are found in the Bible.
2. Militant Atheists
There are two separate categories of people who disbelieve in God, atheists and agnostics. Most agnostics don’t think Christianity is correct, but still hold on to the idea that there are mysteries out there which we don’t know. Militant atheism is not like this, but on the contrary, firmly states that Christianity is wrong and the Bible is full of contradictions. I once fell for the claims of this group, and read many of the Bible contradictions they point out and quite frankly I was unprepared for the seriousness of their knowledge of the Bible. I was somewhat of an atheist for a time, until I read responses from conservative scholars and found that the contradictions were possible to reconcile. The assault on the Bible happens because this group is certain the Bible is wrong, and works diligently to prove that.
3. Fundamentalist Legalists
These people market themselves as those who are truly obeying God. In fact, when they make up rules and regulations, which are not found in the Bible, these people genuinely follow these rules in order to obey God. The problem is, however, it does not matter how genuine my heart is, the Bible is the only source of Gods truth, and truth cannot be replaced by an untruth. If I make a statement that the Bible says women must wear skirts, that is a lie; the Bible does NOT say that. One culture may prefer that, and if I simply state we like skirts, there is no harm. Yet when I claim it comes from God, we have a huge problem. My well-meaning heart cannot overcompensate for the fact that I spoke a falsehood, and claimed God said it. It is a terrible sin. I would argue adding to God’s word is worse than the vilest sexual sins people can think of. This group wants to obey God, but in foolishness lays an assault on the Bible. They claim things that are not in Scripture, they add to Gods word things that He did not say.
4. Hyper-Charismatic Prophets
I was once involved in ecstatic prophetic movements, and really loved the feeling of having such supernatural experiences. It consistently drew me away from the Bible and towards modern prophets. Both the Old and New testaments talk about “prophecy” a word which means “telling God’s truth.” In the OT there are over 400 hundred statements that start with “Thus says the Lord,” and all of them are “Scripture.” In NT prophecy, we do not see even one statement that says “Thus says the Lord.” Yet we still call the writings of the Apostles “Scripture.” In hyper-charismatic churches, when someone stands up and says “Thus says the Lord” they are claiming to speak Scripture because they talk like an Old Testament prophet. If it’s really true that “Thus says the Lord” then it does not matter whether those words are in the Bible or from a modern mouth. Does God lie? No! Does he give only 100% truth in modern “Thus says the Lord” prophecies? If not then he is a false prophet (Deut. 18:20-22). If yes, we MUST write it down and add it to the Bible, no? Both are Gods word, no? Both are things that start with “thus says the Lord,” no? (And indeed, I know many people that do write prophecies down, and instead of turning to the Bible, they pass around these “new prophecies”). Modern “Thus says the Lord” statements are a huge attack on the authority of the Bible; it adds words to the Bible. It makes us trust those “prophets” in the same way we trust the Bible. So the Bible is no longer the ONLY source of God’s Word, and modern day “Thus says the Lord” type of Prophets become another EQUAL source of Gods revelation.