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Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  2,786 ratings  ·  164 reviews
Do you want to make a true difference in the world? Dr. Ron Sider does. He has, since before he first published Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger in 1978. Despite a dramatic reduction in world hunger since then, 34,000 children still die daily of starvation and preventable disease, and 1.3 billion people, worldwide, remain in abject poverty. So, the professor of theology ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published April 12th 2005 by Thomas Nelson (first published 1977)
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Thorin Just began reading Productive Christians after finishing this one. My class was assigned both. It's interesting hearing from someone else who has gone…moreJust began reading Productive Christians after finishing this one. My class was assigned both. It's interesting hearing from someone else who has gone down the same path, but even not having read Productive Christians yet, I'd have to disagree with you about Rich Christians not being all bad. He argues his point terribly, based on ungrounded assertions (such as claiming that certain passages are unequivocally meant literally) and dogmatic theology. Whether you agree with him or not, this book is a mess.(less)

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Jun 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Wow! I figured that if I actually read this book, I would have a responsibility to act on what I learned. I am still processing what that might look like, but it's definitely true. American Christians are woefully out of touch with the situation of many in the world. My eyes were opened not only to the plight of a "billion hungry neighbors", but also to the concern that God has for the poor of this world, as evidenced in His word. It seems that almost every time I open my Bible now, I am seeing ...more
Sep 15, 2010 rated it liked it
A passionate plea for social justice, this book, first published in 1967 but regularly revised and updated, still stirs the conscience. Is still powerful. Unfortunately it can longer be read with the degree of hope that originally greeted it, with the hope that all Christians could unite in changing society - that the hungry would be fed, the wounded healed, the oppressed freed. Reading it today is depressing because it describes a road not taken. The intervening years have destroyed any hope th ...more
Jun 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is a MUST READ for every Christ follower (particularly those in the affluent West). With a title like this, you would expect the author to be mostly led by warm fuzzy feelings and few pieces of scripture twisted out of context. This book really gave new meaning to the old saying "you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover!"

This book is loaded with scripture which I found just about completely in context (A few passages on environmentalism I could not connect a proper exegesis). I took more n
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: blog
I was really floored by this book. The author first presents some startling and informative statistics on world hunger and poverty, where we have been and what is projected. Then he talks about God's intense love for the poor, and that if we want to "be imitators of God" we must as Christians learn to share in that love. I left this book really wanting to do more to make a difference... even with specific ideas how! The best thing about this book was also the worst thing - sooo much information. ...more
Frits Haverkamp
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
I think this book is right on. However, my adult discussion group I read it with struggled with it. They questioned the very backbone of the book biblical analysis, especially the concept of the Jubilee. The book starts with Biblical analysis from an evangelical conservative perspective. Moves to an economic review of the world which the author reminds us is much less trustworthy than his biblical analysis and then to prescriptions for Christians. Demanding without being overbearing the 5th edit ...more
Justin Tapp
Jan 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing

"Can overfed, comfortably clothed, and luxuriously housed persons understand poverty?" is how the book opens. The first chapter closes with this summary of what the book talks about:

"Imagine what one quarter of the world's Christians could do if they became truly generous. A few of us could desperately poor areas. The rest of us could defy surrounding materialism. We could refuse to let our affluent world squeeze us into its consumeristic mold. Instead, we could become generous non-co
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ronald Sider is nothing short of a modern day prophet. The fact that this book has been in print for over 40 years (with meaningful updates), and continues to go mostly unheeded in most of western Christianity says more about the audience than the author. Much like the experience of Biblical prophets, hard truths are easy to ignore and rationalize away.

I have some theological quibbles with the author, but they don’t detract too much from the overall message of the book. And early on I was concer
Sep 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: game-changer, poverty
Reading this book was amazingly awkward and uncomfortable for me and, yet, exactly what I needed to hear. I read a copy published in 1979 so some of the stats were off. Off, but still alarming. The world Sider writes about is a terrible place to be poor. And at the time of publication, many Christians were doing little to change the structures that kept poor people poor.

What's disturbing to me is the realization of how little has changed since "Rich Christians" came out. If anything, the divide
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-booklist
This book has taken me months to finish. Sometimes the reasons were as simple as I was too tired to invest energy into learning more about Gross National Incomes, Foreign Polices or Multinational Corporations in Developing Countries. However, most of the time it was because it was difficult to read. Not difficult because it had complicated words, but difficult because it presented complicated problems and even more complicated suggestions for personal change.
The original book was written more
Jan 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whether or not you agree with all of his assertions or proposals, Ronald Sider forces Christian readers to confront the reality of poverty and our responsibility to the poor and dispossessed. This is important in a self-satisfied age such as ours that, to quote Amitav Ghosh, "so congratulates itself on its self-awareness" and, I would add, its 'woke' empathy. As Sider points out, charitable donations have dropped significantly compared to the spring of my grandparents' generation (late 1960s).

Rachel B
May 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
A much-needed book for today's Christians, especially those living in the West. Sider invites readers to compare their budgets and lifestyles not to their affluent neighbors, like usual, but to the poorest half of the world's people.

This book makes some very good, important points. The focus is on extreme, global poverty, and the large systems that perpetuate deep poverty; problems and solutions are both very big-picture.

Certainly, systemic issues need to be brought to light and remedied, but I
This book was kind of what I expected. Long, confusing at times, but also full of lots of information.

We can all do a lot more to change our lifestyles to be less wasteful and more generous to help the world's poor.

Cultural and institutional change is a big project to manage and he offers some good ideas and suggestions; but I felt that his description of the massive, complex problems was underscored by what I considered simplistic answers and solutions - ("end corruption, decrease military spen
Oct 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics
A convicting and unapologetic call to "rich" Christians living in the affluent global superpower of the United States to take seriously the claims of the Bible in general and Jesus in particular relevant to money, the poor, and economic justice. Sider makes a strong biblical case spanning throughout Scripture from Levitical "Jubilee" law to Jesus' words to the rich young ruler, from Amos' scathing critique of Israel's unchecked material prosperity at the expense of the poor, to Paul's plea to th ...more
Mike E.
Apr 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Sider calls for rich Christians to live modestly and give generously. In general, Sider is against charity/handouts. He is for wealth-generating micro-enterprsies.

I recommend this highly for all Christians--especially those of us who teach and disciple others about stewardship. This book should be read along with John R. Schneider's book, "The Good of Affluence." The combined reading of these two opposing books will help Christ's servant discern both biblical teaching on wealth as well as assist
Sep 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, money
Every western follower of Jesus should read this book, but beware: don't read it if you're not open to having your mind changed by Scripture. It's not a comfortable book, but has been a crucial part of my discipleship--it's shaped my worldview profoundly. The book has 3 parts: Sider does a fantastic job of exploring (1) the biblical teaching on wealth and poverty, (2) the realities of wealth and poverty in our world, and (3) creative ways of responding as believers. His biblical work was well-ba ...more
Nov 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Much info, inspiring, Biblical, whet my appetite to learn more about what we can do in America to not ignore the billions of our neighbors around the world who are barely or not surviving, and how our actions affect them without our even realizing it. Great balance of evangelical and social justice, and advocacy of capitalism with some restraints. Primary theme seems to be the idea of the Jubilee from the Old Testament where some type of redistribution needs to happen, otherwise the rich will ge ...more
Apr 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Are you a Christian? Do you live in one of the G8 countries? You're wealthy. Get over yourself and help end hunger.

I tend to be impressed when a Christian book deviates from fluffy, regurgitated religious topics. While some might say quoting the Bible extensively is classic regurgitation, this one does so with practical conviction and a format for enacting real, worldwide change.

Full of facts and yet amazingly humble, I can't believe I hadn't read this book before now. Ronald Sider's opponents a
Oct 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am being totally rocked by this book. It's radical and I love it, but am simultaneously challenged by its Truth. The statistics in Section One are outdated due to this edition's publish date of 1984... Yet, the other sections relay timeless Biblical Truths and Sider highlights lots of Scripture. I've also found a great Appendix of Social Action Organizations (many of them Christian), which I am particularly excited about. I feel stirred to personalize and apply these principles in my life and ...more
Jul 31, 2007 rated it really liked it
Some say his controversial or communist. Perhaps in earlier editions he was more radical. This seemed to me to be balanced and sensible. I may contend with some of his interpretations, but the general tenor, I don't contend with. If anything, I would say the Scriptures are more radical. His call for Christians to move past their mass consumption to concern and sacrificial generosity for the poor is biblical. But he doesn't even ask us to sacrifice all that much. He is asking for the biblical min ...more
Jacob Aitken

Some Good Points

He has a fairly decent take on the Sabbatical year (83ff). I don’t think he realizes that his master, The United Nations, isn’t that concerned with biblical law. Further, I like how he notes that Scripture “prescribes justice” (83; cf. Dt 15:9-10). Sider even approaches (and at times affirms) the godly principle that “sinful persons and societies will always produce poor people” (83). Amen, and amen. I have to ask though, if Sider can name some societies in the 20th century that
Aug 10, 2022 rated it really liked it
I flip-flopped a lot about how many stars to give this book. I thought that its strengths were very strong and need desperately to be heard across the Christian community. But then, there would be small sus comments or assumptions that would really throw me for a loop and disappoint me. Overall, I love that this book called attention to the hypocrisy of Christians and the Church and asked people to more closely examine their giving, their environmental footprint, and their engagement in dismantl ...more
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017
Poorly thought out solutions to very real issues.
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“God wants every person and family to have equality of economic opportunity, at least to the point of having access to resources necessary (land, money, education), so that by working responsibly they can earn a decent living and participate as dignified members of their community.” –Sider xiv

Ron Sider presents several complex arguments. Early in his book, he speaks about world hunger, free trade and the wealthy elites. In the end of his book, he speaks more about Policy and change. No matter o
Feb 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Rich Christians contains no surprises for Christians today, though when it was originally published in 1977 it may have caught quite a few people off guard. World poverty is a common theme in the news and in many Christian circles today, perhaps due in part because of the efforts of the author and those like him who promoted the cause of the poor. The book is easy to skim for those familiar with the general themes - the distribution of wealth between rich and poor is unhealthy, we need to invest ...more
Feb 21, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The books is divided into three parts, I'll explain each section from his point of view.

1)Poor Lazarus and Rich Christians, or I don't understand what causes poverty: There are currently 218 gizmos running around and America is currently using 130 of them. We're such jerks. If we distributed the gizmos evenly, everything would be peachy fine.

2)A Biblical Perspective on the Poor and Possessions, or I don't know what the Bible says about mammon: Look! Woe unto you rich folkies! Take that!... hmmm?
Aug 24, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is certainly well researched and includes a lot of valuable information. I believe there was too much trying to be accomplished by this one book, however, so I really look forward to reading his others where I can get a more comprehensive look at the different aspects he brought up in this book. This should be required reading for anyone, not just Christians. Ideally we would all be convicted in a sense that if we were to try and live more simply, we could aid others to simply live. A ...more
Greg Taylor
Aug 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
One of the most interesting things about this book is Sider's views and edits that he made in the 20th anniversary edition. The earlier edition was decidedly more liberal policies leaning, but in later editions it seems some faith had been lost in the political answers to the problems of hunger, poverty, and injustice. Of course politics in its raw form simply means "public life" and certainly to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God we are also called to walk with others who are mist ...more
Feb 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book while I was in Scotland taking a class that had to do with Christianity and social justice issues.

This book became very important to me that semester because it was the only book I could find about the subject that represented the evangelical perspective. Even though some of Sider's ideas might be naive, I still think that Rich Christians is worth the read, simply because it makes you think. It really helped shape my thoughts about Christianity as it relates to poverty and just
Mar 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book really opened my eyes to the reality of hunger in the world, and the affluence with which we, here in the US, have become so comfortable with (at the expense of other people, other nations, and economies).
I read it many years ago, and it inspired my husband and myself to propose to our friends, the concept of living in a "communal neighborhood" (sharing resources in order to free more resources to help others). However, we had no idea how hard it would be to sell this idea.
I encourage
Oct 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: christian, injustice
It's good for those who haven't engaged the topic before, and perhaps for those who aren't doing enough on their own to help the poor. However, it doesn't try to make an argument for why Christians should engage our government and encourage them to stand up for the poor. Perhaps this was obvious for many people, but I've ran into so many people recently who drag their heels on trying to make real change that I believe there needs to be more written to reach them. But perhaps that wasn't the focu ...more
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Ronald J. Sider (PhD, Yale University) is the founder and president emeritus of Evangelicals for Social Action and distinguished professor of theology, holistic ministry, and public policy at Palmer Theological Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. He is the author of numerous books, including The Early Church on Killing, the bestselling Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, and The Scandal of the E ...more

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158 likes · 11 comments
“God's Word teaches a very hard, disturbing truth. Those who neglect the poor and the oppressed are really not God's people at all—no matter how frequently they practice their religious rituals nor how orthodox are their creeds and confessions.” 21 likes
“What an ironic tragedy that an affluent, “Christian” minority in the world continues to hoard its wealth while hundreds of millions of people hover on the edge of starvation!” 12 likes
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