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John Wilson, Managing Editor
Stranger in a Strange Land
Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: a title that immediately gets under the skin. Me, rich? That's a joke. But there are those inconvenient passages in the Gospels--quite a lot of them, actually.
So far so good. Ron Sider wants to prick our consciences, maybe even embarrass us. But if we stop there, merely feeling guilty--or, even worse, feeling virtuous because we have just written an article calling for vast "systemic" economic change--Sider will not be satisfied. As his most recent book, Genuine Christianity (Zondervan, 183 pp.; $9.99, paper), makes clear, Sider is a man who genuinely believes that "if we embrace the fullness of biblical truth about God, sin, and salvation, we will be a mighty people that God will use to change our world."
Sider's views about what form such change might take have evolved in the 20 years since the original publication of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. In June, Word Publishing is reissuing Sider's landmark book in a Twentieth Anniversary Edition (280 pp.; $14.99), extensively revised.
In the preface to this new edition, Sider sketches developments in his thinking and in the world at large that have altered his outlook. The collapse of communism and the success of market economies in creating wealth and reducing poverty--Sider notes in particular a "dramatic drop in poverty" in Asia--have changed the world picture. (That doesn't mean, Sider adds, that we should be complacent about the glaring flaws of market-driven economies.)
If Sider's perspective has altered in part in response to world events, it has also been modified by continuing study of Scripture. He is less concerned than he used to be with disparities in wealth. A biblical approach to these issues, he now believes, will focus more on fairness than on equality of outcome:
I feel absolutely confident . . . that the biblical understanding of "economic equality" or equity demands at least this: God wants every person or family to have equality of economic opportunity at least ...