I have reviewed The End of Hunger here, but there is so much in this book I wanted to keep interacting with some of the key chapters in this book.
In Chapter 4, Ron Sider tackles the subject of “The Bible, Poverty, Justice, and Christian Obedience.” This is a key chapter because older evangelicals tend to see “justice” and add “social” and then dismiss it. Sider is clear: there are hundreds of references to justice and poverty throughout Scripture.
Three keys for Sider:
1. God has a special concern for the poor
2. Sin is both personal AND social
3. Defining economic justice
Sider walks through broad topics that are obvious in Scripture: God is insulted when the poor are opporessed. God acts in history to lift up the oppressed. God casts down the rich and powerful when they acquire their wealth on the backs of the poor. Then a real bombshell: Those who refuse to share God’s concern for the poor are not really God’s people at all.
You can’t oppress the poor and try to worship God at the same time.Tweet
The other key issue is “social sin”. Evangelicals are good at personal sin and remedies. They are terrible at social sin. There is not a solid theology on the sins of the community, though it is clear throughout the Old Testament. So, when we see poverty we tend to fixate on individual responsibility and turn away from systemic issues.
Sider’s call to action is simple:
- We need to live more simply so the poor may simply live.
- Our churches need to change. Are we truly preaching on justice?
- We need action. We need to get into small groups that are dedicated to particular action within the community.
- There is a need for structural change in our society. There are weakness to correct in a market-driven economy. There are international trade issues that have direct impacts on the poor and we need to be aware. We need to preserve the environment. We need to advocate for more effective foreign aid.
There is work to do and the call is GOSPEL. It’s not a “social” gospel. It is GOSPEL.