Archive for October 18th, 2007

Sider on the evangelical conscience

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

I am most familiar with the author Ronald J. Sider as an evangelical Christian who emphasises the social issues, with his books like “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger”, so I was interested to come across a reference to his 2005 book, “The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience: Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World?“.

I haven’t read it, but based on an interview in Christianity Today, I think I’ll add it to my To-Read list.

Some statements from the interview

The heart of the matter is the scandalous failure to live what we preach. The tragedy is that poll after poll by Gallup and Barna show that evangelicals live just like the world. Contrast that with what the New Testament says about what happens when people come to living faith in Christ. There’s supposed to be radical transformation in the power of the Holy Spirit. The disconnect between our biblical beliefs and our practice is just, I think, heart-rending.

We need to rethink our theology. We need to ask, “Are we really biblical?” Cheap grace is right at the core of the problem. Cheap grace results when we reduce the gospel to forgiveness of sins only; when we limit salvation to personal fire insurance against hell; when we misunderstand persons as primarily souls; when we at best grasp only half of what the Bible says about sin; when we embrace the individualism and materialism and relativism of our current culture. We also lack a biblical understanding and practice of the church.

I would think that evangelicals would want to get biblical and define the gospel the way Jesus did—which is that it’s the Good News of the kingdom. Then we see that it means that the way to get into this kingdom is through unconditional grace because Jesus died for us. But it also means there’s now a new kingdom community of Jesus’ disciples, and that embracing Jesus means not just getting fire insurance so that one doesn’t go to hell, but it means embracing Jesus as Lord as well as Savior. And it means beginning to live as a part of his new community where everything is being transformed.

Full interview here.