Author of “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger” argued poverty was a moral issue.
Ronald J. Sider, organizer of the evangelical left and author of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, died on Wednesday at 82. His son told followers that Sider suffered from a sudden cardiac arrest.
For nearly 50 years, Sider called evangelicals to care about the poor and see poverty as a moral issue. He argued for an expanded understanding of sin to include social structures that perpetuate inequality and injustice, and urged Christians to see how their salvation should compel them to care for their neighbors.
“Salvation is a lot more than just a new right relationship with God through forgiveness of sins. It’s a new, transformed lifestyle that you can see visible in the body of believers,” he said. “Sin is a biblical category. Given a careful reading of the world and the Bible and our giving patterns, how can we come to any other conclusion than to say that we are flatly disobeying what the God of the Bible says about the way he wants his people to care for the poor?”
Sider was a key facilitator of the born-again left that emerged in the 1970s. But he lived to see American evangelicals largely turn away from concerns about war, racism, and inequality. He continued to speak out, however, and became, as a Christianity Today writer once described it, the “burr in the ethical saddle” of the white evangelical horse.
His landmark book, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, inspired generations of young Christians, selling 400,000 copies in nine languages. CT ranked it as one of the most influential evangelical titles of the 20th century, right after J. I. Packer’s Knowing God and Kenneth Taylor’s The Living Bible.
Rich Stearns, president emeritus of World Vision, called Sider …