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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Hungry for change

Rich Christians again calls us to action

The great irony of issuing a 20th-anniversary edition of Ronald J. Sider's Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger is that it is even more dramatically relevant now than when first published. Sider thoroughly revised this essential book (Word, 1997; paper, $15.99) to reflect current economic and social conditions, as well as changes in his thinking about how to address the world's hunger.

The author is professor of theology and culture at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wynnewood, Pa., and president of Evangelicals for Social Action.
The author is professor of theology and culture at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wynnewood, Pa., and president of Evangelicals for Social Action.

Rich Christians is an uncomfortable book to read. Sider's definition of "rich" is relative and includes North Americans living on what this nation regards as an average income. According to Sider: "When I speak of rich Christians ... I include myself. ... I mean, 1.3 billion people in the world today live on a dollar a day. So anybody with our incomes is incredibly rich."

Sider's message is a radical call to change how we live. He writes about all the causes of poverty, as well as listing specific suggestions for what individuals and groups can do. It's difficult to classify his message as "liberal" or "conservative." It is, rather, biblical and prophetic:

"We need to change at three levels. Appropriate personal lifestyles are crucial to symbolize, validate and facilitate our concern for the hungry. The church must change so that its common life presents a new model for a divided world. Finally, both here and abroad, we must make the structures of society more fair."

Study questions at the end of each chapter provide opportunities for individuals or groups to reflect on their feelings and practices. There is no better book for both explaining and challenging the hunger that continues to gnaw at the belly of the world.


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