Monthly Archives: September 2013

Review of Mark Roncace’s “Raw Revelation: The Bible They Never Tell You About”

Having recently read Mark Roncaces’ Raw Revelation: The Bible They Never Tell You About, I felt compelled to review it and to promote it to as wide an audience as possible. I’ve come across few books–Christian or otherwise–as compelling as this one, even if I no longer share the author’s Christian worldview. Mark Roncace is associate professor at Wingate, a Baptist college in North Carolina.

I recently posted my review on Amazon and will include it below in its entirety:

Roncace “Gets It”, September 2, 2013

As a former evangelical turned unbeliever, I felt myself wondering how my journey away from faith might have differed had I come across this book during my “deconversion” process over 13 years ago. Would it have accelerated or put the brakes on my departure from faith? Whatever the case, I welcome this book as a searingly honest reckoning with the true nature of the Bible on the part of a scholar who has somehow managed to remain a part of the community of faith.

If there’s one theme that Roncace strives to communicate to his intended fundamentalist audience, it’s that the Bible isn’t what they think it is. Most believers haven’t taken the time to read it cover to cover, but even for those who have, there is an almost universal failure to recognize just how different the Bible is from what they believe. During my years as an evangelical, I naively considered my theology and practice to line up more or less with what the authors of scripture intended. Sure, I knew there were controversies on the margins of topics like the end times (pre-trib, post-trib, etc.) and predestination vs. free will, but by and large I considered the Bible to be straightforward enough so that honest souls like the theologians and pastors and laity of the evangelical community to which I belonged could more or less converge on a proper understanding of the Bible, given enough study, prayer, and humility.

What a surprise it was to me, then, to discover that the Bible is so much more diverse and troublesome than our neat evangelical categories had led us to believe! Those who think their fundamentalist theologies are biblical just don’t “get it.” Sure, their theology may line up with SOME of what the Bible teaches, but I have never encountered a fundamentalist who squares her beliefs with ALL or even MOST of what the Bible teaches. Modern American fundamentalism–the brand I grew up in–is a distillation of generations of theologizing that takes into account bits and pieces of the Bible it prefers and explains away the rest, without realizing the extent of its selectivity.

Those who conceive of God in the OT as an all-knowing, all-good disembodied Spirit don’t get it. Those who fancy that the Bible merely tolerated slavery but did not support it don’t get it. Those who maintain that the kind of slavery God advocated was gentle don’t get it. Those who disavow that God commanded child sacrifice in the Law don’t get it. Those who insist God merely allowed the Israelites to commit genocide (killing all the men, women, and children but keeping the virgins for themselves) don’t get the fact that God commanded it. Those who don’t find a prosperity gospel in the OT don’t get it. Those who have the impression that most of the OT authors believed in heaven and hell, Satan, and demons don’t get it. Those who think the OT condemns prostitution don’t get it. Those who maintain that God merely permitted but did not condone polygamy in the OT don’t get it (see 2 Sam. 12:8). Those who think that Daniel makes predictions about the end times (in our future) don’t get it. Those who insist that Jesus was foretold in the OT don’t get it. Those who don’t realize that God in the OT calls for the execution of rebellious children (not to mention unbelievers and Sabbath breakers) don’t get it, nor do those who overlook Jesus’ validation of this law in the NT.

Those who think Jesus would have approved of retirement accounts or wealth don’t get it. Those who insist that Jesus would have advocated resisting an evil person like Saddam Hussein don’t get it. Those who believe the Trinity is clearly taught in scripture don’t get it. Those who think the Synoptic Gospels never deny the divinity of Jesus don’t get it. Those who consider that the Synoptic Gospels and James teach salvation by faith alone and not by works don’t get it. Those who believe that all the NT authors allowed for Jesus’ return in any generation other than than that of the NT authors don’t get it. Those who think the Bible supports only their own particular views on the end times, predestination, free will, eternal security, the role of women in the church, divorce, tongues, etc., don’t get it.

In short, many fundamentalists don’t realize how diverse the Bible truly is, because they have developed clever techniques for explaining away or ignoring the inconvenient bits, and as a result they consider the Bible to be a unified whole that reflects their opinions and theology. They don’t get it, but Roncace does. And I applaud him for not sweeping the inconvenient bits under the rug (as so many pastors and apologists have done) but for boldly and relentlessly exposing them to light of day. Thank you, Roncace, for providing this immense service to the truth, delivered in such an accessible and entertaining package! And thanks for the 99 cent price tag!

Ken Daniels, author of Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary

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