Mark Roncace, professor at Wingate University in NC, sent me a review copy of his newest book, Raw Revelation: The Bible They Never Tell You About. After reading it, it is hard for me to recommend it, for I disagree so strongly with much of what he wrote.
But on the other hand, one of the things I value most in books, is when they make the reader think. Raw Revelation certainly does that!
If you can keep yourself from throwing the book across the room in rage and frustration at what Mark Roncace writes, you will be challenged to rethink what you believe about the Bible and how you teach it.
His basic premise is that the Bible is full of ideas and stories which most people never hear about because pastors and Bible teachers strip these difficult sections out of Scripture and feed us only the nice, clean, well-prepared, happy, untroubling portions of Scripture. Roncace argues that the Bible is raw, uncooked, unprocessed, and full of dirt and gristle, and we do ourselves and God a disservice when we try to make the Bible more palatable for modern ears.
After presenting his case, the author looks at several areas in which this happens most often. Through the writing is not academic and doesn’t contain footnotes or in-depth analysis of texts, the chapters are extremely challenging to read in that they bring into question almost everything you know and believe about the Bible itself, God, Jesus, Doctrine, and Morality.
The author shows some of the seeming inconsistencies and contradictions in the Bible, states that God isn’t perfect and He makes mistakes and is learning along with the rest of us (p 80),, that Jesus is not someone we should worship (p. 120), that homosexuality is not sinful, and neither is premarital sex (p. 170. This idea is likely quite popular among the college students where the author teaches).
In the end, I don’t know whether to recommend or condemn this book. It was written in a refreshing style, with down-to-earth humor, and the book definitely raises some good questions and challenges the reader to think. But I so strongly objected to many of the conclusions, that it scares me to think about what people will think and do if they read this book.
But I suppose that is the author’s main point. Bible teachers (I consider myself one) are always trying to protect others from the difficult potions of Bible (of which there are many). But is this really helpful? If God wants us to think, and engage with Him in the troubling portions of the text, are we hiding an aspect of God from people by hiding portions of Scripture from them? Possibly so.
And then, when people hear about these tough texts from atheists or Bible critics, they feel that we have betrayed them or have not given them the “whole truth.” so it might be better to open up about the Bible, and speak the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.
Mark Roncace invites us to consider the difficulties of the text. You won’t agree with his conclusions, his take on various passages, his theology of God, or his morals, but you will learn to view Scripture in a new light — the unadulterated, unprocessed Bible which God has given to us. For that alone, Raw Revelation might be worth reading.
And hey! If you are trying to decide whether or not to buy the book, he says on the back cover that fully 100 percent of the proceeds from this book will be given to international Christian organizations.