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The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World? [Paperback]

by Ronald J. Sider
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 1, 2005 0801065410 978-0801065415
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 selffulfillment."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.

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Editorial Reviews

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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Back Cover

Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World?

Evangelical Christians say they believe in biblical moral standards and the power of God to transform lives--yet recent surveys show that most are not living any differently than the rest of the world. From money to sex to racism to personal self-fulfillment, a scandalous percentage of Christians are violating biblical standards with barely a twinge of conviction.

Ron Sider takes a painfully honest look at this disconnect to reveal the depth of the problem and contrast it with biblical teaching on the transforming power of genuine faith. When we apply these biblical teachings to our lives, we will be more suited to close the gap between who we are and who God calls us to be.

"Every now and then, somebody needs to step on the toes of the body of Christ. Reading this book may make you wince, but the pain of self-examination is worth it."-David Neff, editor and vice president, Christianity Today

"The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience summons us to take the gospel seriously. For the good of society-and perhaps even for the sake of our souls-we had better take notice."-Randall Balmer, author, Growing Pains: Learning to Love My Father's Faith

"When the behavior of members of a religious movement turns out to be little better, and sometimes worse, than that of its neighbors, leaders and members of that movement should take notice. They should ask some deep questions not only about that behavior but also about the systems that produce or support it. Ron Sider has me asking those kinds of questions, thanks to his clear diagnosis and thoughtful prescription."-Brian McLaren, pastor, author (

"If you've ever wondered why today's evangelicals lack the societal influence their numbers would seem to bestow, Ron Sider offers an answer."-Duane Litfin, president, Wheaton College

"The conscience of many evangelicals has been programmed more by social patterns than by the Scripture. In this work Ron Sider gives us an impressive critique of this scandal and calls us to a rediscovery of the ethics of Christ."-Myron S. Augsburger, president emeritus, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities

"Ron Sider's greatest gift to the church is his willingness to tell us the hard, obvious truth about ourselves. This book is strong medicine-a diagnosis that will take your breath away, but also a prescription that could make the difference between life and death
for biblical faith in America."-Andy Crouch, former editor, Re:generation Quarterly

Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Books (February 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801065410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801065415
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #403,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Message that needs to be heard! March 31, 2005
By S Nyles
A much needed view of Christianity in our current "Purpose Driven" individualistic culture. Sider points out that most evangelicals emphasize a one-sided gospel of forgiveness of sins without equal emphasis of repentance and discipleship. He goes on to state that evangelism is often defined primarily as "saving souls" calling that, "flatly unbiblical", since we are in the biblical sense "body-soul unities made for community". What a good point. Much is preached at least in my own Mennonite congregation about saving souls and coming to Jesus and little if anything taught about the costly obedience and radical discipleship of following Jesus and the social implications that brings. I agree with Sider in his statement that evangelicals need to grasp the biblical teaching that sin is social as well as personal. This is an excellent book which is easy to understand and deeply challenges the conventional evangelical wisdom of our time.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
I first picked up this book, "scandal of the evangelical conscience: why are christians living just like the rest of the world," while browsing half-asleep at a Borders Book Store. Wow, did it wake me up! Over the years I haven't been much of a Ronald Sider fan, mostly because I felt he used his own social and political views to judge Christians for not holding to his own social and political views. But this book is really enough to win me over. It is so clear and just comes right out and says things that are obvious upon reflection, but not many people just come out and say, at least not many christian writers who want to sell books to the christian public, or christian speakers who want to get invited back to speaking engagements. he says that christians in this country think and act nearly the same as non-christians; and then he gives statistics to prove it. he then says that the main reason for this is a faulty gospel is being preached in christian churches that fails to produce truly converted people. the false gospel teaches that one need not actually turn away from sins and turn to christ, but that one need only believe in christ to be saved. and people are doing it but nothing profoundly changes in their attitudes and actions -- that's the problem. as a result, religion is up, morality is down. sider delivers a prophetic message that every christian leader as well as every christian should be alarmed about. it should cause us to rethink what we are really calling the gospel and compare it to what the new testament calls the gospel, and rethink conversion in the same way. as john the baptist says to anyone who claims a spiritual conversion: "bring forth the fruit that is keeping with repentance." if enough christian churches begin preaching and teaching true christian gospel conversion, maybe christians would begin to look different from the rest of the world. the book makes this very clear.
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143 of 174 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It perpetuates the evangelical dysfunction September 30, 2005
The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience:

Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World

Author: Ronald J. Sider is professor of theology, holistic ministry, and public policy as well as director of the Sider Center on Ministry and Public Policy at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also a president of Evangelicals for Social Action.

Thesis: Within evangelical Christianity there is a gross inconsistency between Christian beliefs and Christian living. Ronald Sider argues that for Christian faith to survive an understanding and an uncovering of the depth of this dichotomy is in order. Recognizing the rationale behind this crisis serves as a catalyst for a faithful corrective calling all to prophetic awareness, repentant obedience, vivid honesty, and compassionate love.

Structure: Ronald Sider introduces The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience by reciting a brief history of evangelical Christians. He explores the call of evangelicals as christianizing Christianity by living out fundamental Christian values. He begins to argue that this attempt was a huge success initially but as time continued it became increasingly evident that there was incongruency between evangelical values and evangelical behavior. This behavior mirrored that of the rest of world. This book begins examining the depth of the crisis by exploring evangelical behavior of values in which evangelicals find essential. He places importance of holding beliefs, values, and practices together to witness to a Christian God. He argues this as he examines the New Testament passages, philosophy, and theology.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A brief but vital read for every Christian July 6, 2005
In an increasingly self-centered society, Christians fail to follow the admonition of the Apostle Peter to be the "peculiar people" (1 Peter 2:9) set aside for God's work. As Mr. Sider did in his "Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger", the average American Christian is taken to task for his/her lack of distinction from the rest of society. Mr. Sider provides a vast ammount of data to prove that the true tragedy of our time is the inability of Christians to act and think differently from unbelievers. The scope of this tragedy is reinforced by Mr. Sider's use of scripture to underline just where today's Christians have fallen short and how far we must go to change things. The book's shortcommings are only that some of the material is clearly reused from other books by Mr. Sider, and it is somewhat short incomparison to the depth of the subject matter.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but the solutions miss the mark.
I agree with the problem that Ronald Sider describes. However, when the church is reluctant to encourage their faithful to scale back their lifestyles (don't want to offend the... Read more
Published 19 months ago by I. Traylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Quckly became one of my favorites
This is a short book addressed for Christians.
It is a quick read, and worth your time. I wish it were 4-5 times the size it is to address issues in more thorough way. Read more
Published on September 19, 2011 by Konstantin
3.0 out of 5 stars Just okay...
This book is a relatively good primer that brings to light many of the problems that evangelical Christendom has been facing since the mid-twentieth century. Read more
Published on January 8, 2010 by G. Watson
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy answer......
(I didn't read the book. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt with 5 stars)

The reason Christians are living just like the rest of the world is that there is only ONE... Read more
Published on June 15, 2009 by James R. Walker
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed, but without a doubt should still be read
Sider is probably best known for his book Rich Christians In an Age of Hunger, which ranked seventh on Christianity Today's list of "The Top 50 Books That Have Shaped... Read more
Published on April 27, 2009 by Drew Miles
1.0 out of 5 stars Inability of Christianity to Produce Moral Behavior
The author's first chapter is devastating to the point of view that the route to moral behavior lies in Christianity of any flavor. Read more
Published on February 15, 2009 by Charles Grayson
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
Interesting book.

I'm pretty conservative politically, so I think the author and I probably have differing opinions. Read more
Published on January 17, 2009 by M. Howell
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good
Overall, an interesting and quick read. It is from an evangelical perspective, so if you are not steeped in the lingo and doctrine of this type, it may take some "outside... Read more
Published on January 9, 2009 by Historian
4.0 out of 5 stars Scores Direct Hits
Hard to deny that Sider scores hits on evangelic Christianity in this book. American Christians are soft, and that's all there is to it. Read more
Published on February 29, 2008 by Dennis McCallum
3.0 out of 5 stars A Challenging Read But Asks Some Good Questions
Jesus gave a stern description and warning to His disciples: "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? Read more
Published on November 16, 2007 by David A. Vosseller
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