One of the great champions of a Christianity shaped by peace and justice, Ron Sider, has gone home to God. His 1977 book “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger” has been named one of the most influential religious books of the 20th century, motivating hundreds of thousands to live more simply and help the poor.
This book has sold over 400,000 copies and has been translated into multiple languages. In it, Sider argues that Christians have a moral responsibility to actively work towards ending poverty and economic inequality and that prosperity theology, which teaches that wealth is a sign of God’s favor, is misguided.
Sider’s work has also had an impact on the broader society. He has been a leading voice in the Christian social justice movement for several decades, and has been influential in shaping the thinking of many Christians on issues of poverty, economic justice, and the role of faith in politics and society. He was the founder of Evangelicals for Social Action (nowadays called Christians for Social Action), an organization that works to mobilize evangelicals to advocate for social justice issues. Through his books, speaking engagements, and involvement with this organization, Sider has been instrumental in raising awareness of poverty and economic inequality and encouraging Christians to take action to address these issues.
Ron Sider was also a devoted pacifist and his speech at a Mennonite conference in 1984 that pacifists needed to be as willing to make sacrifices for peace as soldiers led to the founding of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, an organization that sends nonviolent observers to conflict zones.
Ron Sider’s work on nonviolence and peacemaking is centered around his belief that Christians have a moral responsibility to actively work towards peace and justice. He argues that war and violence are not consistent with the teachings of Jesus and that Christians should instead strive for nonviolence and reconciliation.
One of his notable contributions in this area is his book “Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices for Abolishing War” which was first published in 1992. In this book, Sider outlines ten practices that individuals, churches and nations can engage in to work towards the abolition of war and the establishment of just peace. These practices include: nonviolent resistance, conflict resolution, economic alternatives to military spending, and the promotion of democracy and human rights. He also argues that Christians should actively work towards disarmament and the abolition of nuclear weapons, and that the just war tradition has been misused to justify violence and war.
Sider’s work on nonviolence and peacemaking has been influential in shaping the thinking of many Christians on issues of peace and justice. He has been a leading voice in advocating for nonviolence and disarmament, and his work has helped to raise awareness of the moral implications of war and violence.
I listened to him when he visited Gothenburg over ten years ago and I was struck by his passion to follow Jesus and his Sermon on the Mount no matter what it costs us. We need more disciples like Ron!