Christians believe the Bible is God’s revelation to humanity. As we read in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. There certainly are passages of the Bible that invoke in the reader a sense of inspiring, and perhaps even inspired, literature. One thinks, for example, of God’s magisterial speech in Job, or the Sermon on the Mount or Paul’s famous chapter on love in 1 Corinthians.
But large portions of the Bible do not readily invoke in the reader a sense of inspiration. Indeed, some appear to be in flat contradiction to this claim. Most glaring are those passages that present God commanding or commending moral atrocities. The fact is, however, that many Christians have never seriously grappled with the moral challenge presented by these texts. While they profess belief in the authority of all scripture, they read it selectively if at all.
In this episode of The Tentative Apologist Podcast we sit down with Mark Roncace, the Associate Professor of Religion at Wingate University in North Carolina, to discuss the way that Christians read the Bible. As the author of Raw Revelation: The Bible They Never Tell You About, Mark is well equipped to address the topic. In the book, Mark chronicles many of the morally problematic texts that Christians frequently misinterpret, or avoid altogether. And he insists that we must not shield ourselves from these problematic aspects of scripture. Rather than cooking the book by removing all that strikes us as offensive, he advises that we must read the Bible raw.
I find Mark to be an outstanding provocateur, and even if one ends up dissatisfied with some aspects of his analysis or proposed solutions, I think we are nonetheless indebted to him for forcing us to address the important questions. Those who profess the Bible as God’s revelation can no longer afford to read it selectively, or with the rose-tinted glasses of popular piety. You can learn more about Mark by watching this YouTube video. To read my review of Raw Revelation click here.