Item description for The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World? by Ronald J. Sider...
Overview Subtitled "Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World?" this book makes a strong case for why faith should make a difference in areas such as racism, materialism, hedonism, egotism, and more. Are we truly dedicated to the Lord or simply questing after money, sex, or personal self-fulfillment?
Publishers Description Ron Sider asserts that "by their daily activity, most 'Christians' regularly commit treason. With their mouths they claim that Jesus is their Lord, but with their actions they demonstrate their allegiance to money, sex, and personal self-fulfillment." In this candid and challenging book, Sider addresses an embarrassing reality: most Christians' lives are no different from the lives of their secular neighbors. Hedonism, materialism, racism, egotism, and many other undesirable traits are commonplace among Christians. Rather than simply a book bemoaning the state of American Christianity today, The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience offers readers solutions to repair the disconnect between belief and practice. While it's not easy medicine to take, this book is a much-needed prophetic call to transformed living.
From Publishers Weekly This stinging jeremiad by Sider (Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger) demands
that American Christians start practicing what they preach. Evangelical
Christians, says Sider, are very much like their non-Christian neighbors in
rates of divorce, premarital sex, domestic violence and use of pornography,
and are actually more likely to hold racist views than other people. Why the
discrepancy between American Christians' practices and what the Bible teaches?
Sider decries the materialism of most churches, marshaling evidence to
demonstrate that American Christians' charitable giving has decreased even
while their income has risen. Although they are collectively the wealthiest
Christians in the history of the world, they don't take care of the poor, he
says. Sider reviews the New Testament to argue that Christians can't accept
Jesus as their Savior without also honoring him as their Lord and obeying his
teachings. In the final chapters, he insists that Christians must strengthen
their accountability to the church and "dethrone mammon" (money) as the real
object of worship. Sider's issues are of course selective; despite careful
attention to the subject of racial inequality, there is no mention of gender
inequality, and Sider quotes no women alongside such heavyweights as Wesley
and Bonhoeffer. Still, his criticisms are incisive and prophetic. (Feb.)
Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Awards and Recognitions The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World? by Ronald J. Sider has received the following awards and recognitions -
Christianity Today Book Award - 2006 Winner - Christian Living category
Citations And Professional Reviews The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World? by Ronald J. Sider has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
CBA Retailers - 03/01/2005 page 38
Publishers Weekly - 01/17/2005 page 53
Christian Retailing - 02/07/2005 page 13
Christianity Today - 03/01/2005 page 84
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Studio: Baker Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.5" Width: 5.54" Height: 0.36" Weight: 0.48 lbs.
Release Date Feb 1, 2005
Publisher Baker Publishing Group
ISBN 0801065410 ISBN13 9780801065415
Availability 0 units.
More About Ronald J. Sider
Ronald J. Sider (PhD, Yale University) is the founder and president emeritus of Evangelicals for Social Action and professor of theology, holistic ministry, and public policy at Palmer Theological Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many books, including the bestselling Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger and The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience.
Ronald J. Sider currently resides in Philadelphia, in the state of Pennsylvania.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World??
A Real Scandal Mar 2, 2007
THE SCANDAL OF THE EVANGELICAL CONSCIENCE: Ronald J. Sider
Ron Sider has drawn a line in the sand for the evangelical church. He argues that the church has two options, live like the culture around them or live like the church. As a pastor in one of the "evangelical" churches that Sider refers to, I strongly resonate with his statements. I agree that we can tell little difference today between those in the world and those in the church. Sider refers several times to George Barna and the work he has done in measuring where the church is today. It might have been good idf he had included some statitics from other pollsters as well in order to make some comparison. Sider issues a call to the church. He says we must rally around six very important issues. · Jesus is our source and center. · The church is holy. · The church is a community · The church is counter-cultural in lifestyle (This is the point I think the church misses, and therefore succumbs to culture.) · Mutual accountability and responsibility are essential.
In the light of these issues Sider does go on and say that there is hope. Christ Jesus is willing to transform and re-form His church. Renewal and revival are not enough. This is a book that every Christian leader should read. If you disagree with Sider, or accept all that he says will make no difference. What is important is that today's church be challenged, chastised, and corrected, and this book will help in all three areas.
Tedious Yet Telling Feb 28, 2007
In Ronald J. Sider's, The Scandal of Evangelical Conscience: Why are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World?, the reader is ushered through a score of statistics regarding lamentable Christian lifestyle choices (chapter one) and a overview of the New Testament books as they relate to expectations regarding Christians and the way the early Christians usually lived out the Jesus-lifestyle (chapter two). Sider insists that the "whole gospel" of Jesus Christ encompasses social dynamics that stretch beyond individualized and individualistic methods of regarding sin and salvation (chapter three). He then suggests some practical ways that the church can and should be a true community that is not ashamed to live counterculturally (chapter four). Finally, Sider underscores his message by reminding Christians of the need and the opportunity to repent of sinful lifestyles by more fully embracing the "full biblical Christ" (131).
Although the number of statistics provided are a little tedious they are quite telling. The review of the books of the New Testament, furthermore, reads a little much like an encyclopedia article for my taste - yet clearly serves the author's overall intention of providing a layered discussion of his thesis. Moreover, the content of chapters three and four: the whole gospel and the countercultural community of the church, provides rich and helpful discussion and action material for the church that wants to disciple Christians to make a difference in the world. In the end, the book is worth reading once and then shelving and periodically un-shelving as a resource for statistical information or just an occasional kick-in-the-pants reminder that Christ intends the church to be Christ-like.
when the salt loses its taste Jan 18, 2007
In 1947 Carl Henry (1913-2003), a leading light in the evangelical movement, published an important book entitled The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism in which he challenged conservative Christians to move beyond their personal and privatistic Gospel ghetto to engage the broader issues of society and culture. Exactly thirty years later, Ron Sider of Eastern Seminary in Philadelphia published a similar book that should be on every believer's short list of "must-reads," entitled Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (1977). Both books are still in print, but judging from Sider's dismay in his most recent book, conservative believers have ignored their message. Sider's Scandal is a short, popular level, and fiery manifesto that does for evangelical social ethics what Mark Noll did for our paltry intellectual life in his book (also a must read) The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (the scandal, according to Noll, is evangelicalism's rampant anti-intellectualism).
Drawing upon scientific polling from groups like Gallup and Barna, Sider takes the measure of American evangelicals on five data points: divorce, care for the poor, sexual infidelity, racism, and physical abuse in marriage. He is appalled. People who claim to be born again divorce at a slightly higher rate than the general population. Evangelicals give a meager 4% from their income. The most likely people to object to neighbors of a different race are white evangelicals. Sexual promiscuity among evangelical kids is rampant. Is it any wonder that "a mere 22% of people have a positive view of evangelicals" (p. 28)? Sider contrasts these findings from Chapter 1 with an overview in Chapter 2 of the Biblical vision of what God's kingdom on earth ought to look like, with successive paragraphs full of Scripture quotations from the Gospels, the book of Acts and the Epistles. In stark contrast to our current reputation, Sider notes that the early Christians had a well-known and well-deserved reputation for integrity and care for the weak. Tertullian (AD 155-220), for example, wrote, "Our care for the derelict and our active love have become our distinctive sign before the enemy...See, they say, how they love one another and how ready they are to die for each other." Even the pagan emperor Julian the Apostate (ruled AD 361-363) acknowledged the radically counter cultural life of the early Christians: "The godless Galileans feed not only their poor but ours" (p. 52).
Chapters 3 and 4 explore the causes of this demise, which Sider finds in "a cluster of unbiblical ideas and practices" that center around the notion of what the German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace" and which express themselves in our relativism, individualism, and materialism. Instead of costly self-sacrifice, today the Gospel is construed as self-fulfillment. Not all Sider's news is so bleak, however, and in a final, fifth chapter he turns to "Rays of Hope." There are, in fact, "heroic and faithful" individual believers (p. 126). I count Sider as one of them. In his own effort to dethrone and desacralize the power of mammon, he was once in a small group that used annual IRS tax returns to discuss how families were spending their money (p. 113)! Clearly, many might find that invasive or extreme, but if Sider is right, we need a powerful antidote for a dreadful sickness.
Ron Sider shows his dark, irrational side Dec 13, 2006
I have known of Ron Sider by reputation for two decades, but have never before read one of his books. When I saw this one I expected it to be a discussion of how conservative churches have historically ignored social justice issues to focus on sex. With this idea in mind I eagerly purchased it.
Unfortunately, after finishing it, I must say that Sider simply fails to say very much at all that is accurate or relevant, though he does manage to be humorous in a bumbling, 3 Stooges fashion.
But on to the analysis. Sider's primary concern is that Evangelicals are not living like Christ wants them to. The only evidence he cites for this is a handful of surveys of people who profess to be "born again."
The results of this sparse data are admittedly disturbing. Assuming that they are accurate, most evangelical Christians are unconcerned about the Bible's moral commands. They run around on their spouses, are stingy in giving to their local churches, beat their wives and are more likely to be racist than their secular neighbors.
The main problem with this position is that statistics alone are a very shaky basis for any argument. Anyone doubtful of this should read the classic work "How to Lie with Statistics." But Sider bases the rest of the book on this very weak foundation.
His answer to this dilemma he perceives is a call for Christians to get serious about their faith. For Sider, this can be achieved by Christians recognizing "godly authority" and learning that the Gospel is more than the forgiveness of sins.
His thinking is simplistic in the extreme and is more akin to fundamentalist writers than someone who is supposedly a progressive thinker.
An example: he decries the fact that, in his local church, two married individuals began to have an affair, eventually left their respective spouses, and remarried each other. Okay, that's not really the way married people should behave. But exactly what factors were involved in this incident? Was there verbal or physical abuse in either of the marriages? What led the original couples to wed in the first place?
Were their personalities inherently incompatible? Were they rushed into marriage by peer pressure or parents eager for grand children? What do occurences like this tell us about the pressure to marry, which is so prevalent in Evangelical culture?
Sider ignores all of these questions. For him the parties were "sinners" and should be "disciplined," period. His remedy for divorce is miserable marriages.
This is the same easy answer Sider proposes throughout this book. At times his zeal for authoritarian church government leads him to propose ideas that are downright stupid and potentially very harmful. For example, on page 113 he writes approvingly of how the early Methodists would sit around a table and cross - examine each other over how much they had sinned the previous week!
It would take only one neurotic control freak to turn such a practice into a nightmare. Imagine one person saying to another, "Well, Brother Smith, I didn't sin at all last week, but you committed three grievous offenses against God - you looked at an attractive woman, you reused a cancelled postage stamp, and you spoke the `d' word when you hit your thumb with that hammer! It's obvious that you need to submit to my spiritual authority and example, if you're ever to be a real Christian. You can start by drinking this glass of Kool-Aid!"
Following are some disturbing quotes from the book, followed by my own thoughts:
"Charles Darwin argued that all that exists is merely the result of a blind evolutionary process." - page 87.
My response: This is a gross misrepresentation of Darwin's theory, which says that living things have evolved by random mutations filtered through natural selection. Darwin never attempted to explain the origin of life itself, much less "all that exists." Ignorant statements like these greatly impair the ability of Christians to defend their faith from the attacks of scientifically literate skeptics.
"A very effective ad produced by a Philadelphian bank used the big lie that love comes from material things like a bank account. `Put a little love away,' ran the ad." - page 89.
My response: I really don't think the bank literally meant that money is equivalent to love. In any event, Sider here is condemning what most of us would regard as a positive value - thrift.
This is interesting in light of the fact that, just before this statement, he spends several paragraphs condemning undisciplined spending! Apparently Sider thinks that anything that can be done with money is wrong - except for giving it away or buying his books.
On page 93 he criticizes the song "As a Deer Panteth for the Water" for its line "to you alone does my spirit yield." He says, "Oops; Should I not listen carefully and indeed yield to other mature brothers and sisters in the body of Christ?"
My response: get real, Ron. The song is talking about the unique place Christ occupies as Lord of the believer, a role which ONLY He should occupy.
In other places Sider says that Christians shouldn't be loners; he condemns those who seek an individual experience with God. As an Anglo-Catholic Christian I found these remarks to be particularly offensive. Hermits, monks and nuns have sought throughout the ages to find God in isolation, and theirs is a deeply rich spiritual tradition. Jesus himself often sought isolation from others.
I suppose one cannot truly appreciate just how dangerous Sider's nonsense is without having experienced spiritual abuse firsthand, as I have. Both the Evangelical college I attended and a church I was a member of for a year were led by authoritarian figures who preached much the same drivel as Sider does. Their response to free thinking members who criticized their mistakes was identical to what Sider says: "submit and yield to me as your superior! God doesn't like individualism!"
My response: Bull s***, pure, unadulterated BS.
To summarize: I found this book very disappointing in every way. Sider may have once been a great intellect, but he, unlike wine, isn't improving with age. I suspect he should retire to a small town where he can sit on a bench with the other bitter old men and complain about "those damnable young people" to his heart's content. That's all he managed to do in this sorry excuse for a book.
For REAL help with living the Christian life, I strongly recommend two classics: "The Calvary Road" and "We Would See Jesus," both by Roy Hession. True self-examination should lead us, not to Sinai, the place of the law, as Sider claims, but to Calvary, the place of the cross; not to greater human effort, but to the cessation of human effort, replaced by humble trust in God's grace. It is there only that Christ may be found.
Why are christians living like the rest of the world? Nov 21, 2006
Because we are human!! We have the same greedy and lustful desires as everyone else. Anyone who disagrees and uses some theology on why we don't and how and why everyone can and should resist this is a hypocrite. Evangelicals are the epitomy of hypocrisy.