- Paperback: 144 pages
- Publisher: Baker Books (February 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0801065410
- ISBN-13: 978-0801065415
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 33 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #625,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World?
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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.)
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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 (anewkindofchristian.com)
"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
Top customer reviews
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As they are the spiritual leaders of our communities, we expect simple, small scale, community values to be taught by our Church Leaders. But they are in a tough position (which brick and mortar churches have ALWAYS been in) because taking ANY action that could substantially reduce tithing means that their church is less able to compete with the church down the street (that just expanded their building, youth ministry and bought new sound equipment).
As a result, simple living, one parent at home, maybe just one car in the carport, a small, modest home, and perhaps lots of home cooking and home schooling, is a message that will rarely get more than a sentimental reference in our Western Churches.
So, no, the problem isn't simply that Christians need to buckle down, appreciate what they have, and get a better attitude towards saving the lost and helping the poor. The problem isn't just that pastors just need to start teaching the right things. The problem just may be that there is very little chance that those messages, which could put the church and our world back on track, are going to get much playing time in our current brick and mortar churches. The conflict of interest is nearly insurmountable.
At the end of the day, it IS about Jesus and his death on the cross. But any Christian scholar can tell you that the nearly exclusive focus on personal salvation of the last two centuries is a very modern shift. The Scientific Revolution, enabled by the new ease with which ideas could be spread, has caused a shift in the level of personal fulfilment and self-actualization desired by most people. As a result, all the Christian teachings about the sanctification process of living in a close knit community have slowly disappeared leaving only the message of personal salvation.
Most Christian families are doing things the world's way. High School Athletics and Extracurricular (with the kids spending an incredible number of additional hours each week at school events-often with minimal supervision before and after the event), cars for wife AND children, both parents working long hours, going out to eat constantly, going to movies, going on big vacations, buying big houses (have to be in the right neighbourhood for public schools) with 30 years loans, ummmm - that way of living is awfully expensive. Neither does it help that everyone in the family; Dad, Mom, and the kids, all have their own bosses with their own expectations for how the family should spend its time. Any chance that this way of living is going to create happy families?? Not a chance.
Just ask Paul. Getting churches started and people saved at first was the "easy" part. Preventing the Gospel from being twisted into strange and perverted theologies and getting people to successfully maintain the ekklesia without them descending into strife and immorality was incredibly hard.
The Kingdom of Heaven IS a significant part of Jesus' message, not just individual salvation.
And, yes, it is elusive.
I felt that Sider's identification of the personal AND social nature of sin was a timely and much-needed revelation. Like Sider, I agree that, too often, evangelicalism focuses on personal conversion at the expense of understanding the surrounding social climate, which must also be formed in the image of the kingdom of God. I also appreciate Sider's honesty about the abundance of "cheap grace" that many evangelical pastors espouse to the masses in this day and age.
One thing that bothered me was that Sider's oft-espoused "faith alone" passages sprinkled throughout the book were presented somewhat inconsistently. He often presents justification as "faith alone", but then goes on immediately to explain the importance of obedience. I understood what he was trying to say from his Protestant view of soteriology, but it seemed a rather sloppy exposition.
Overall, the book is average. It is too short to truly get into a detailed study of the problems described within, and because Sider tries to cover so much ground in so few pages, it feels somewhat amateurish. It's a decent introductory piece, to be sure, and if you can get this book cheap, I would recommend it. Coming from a college professor, however, I expected a bit more.
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.
I read this one after listening to audio of "Myth of a Christian Nation" and this seemed much better of book. While it does good job in certain areas, due to its size author did not address other problematic issues. For example, as mentioned by other reviewer, author did not point to nationalism as one of the problems.
If you have read this one, the book I would recommend is Hidden Worldviews: Eight Cultural Stories That Shape Our Lives. Hidden Worldviews covers many cancerous ideologies that infect and immobilize Church.
The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience is a short read to make you think, and perhaps read some more to diagnose the problems and work on solutions. Don't expect it to be comprehensive, as it is only 130 pages. But nonetheless, I would recommend it!
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