by Al Benson Jr.
Regarding all this, a case in point is a book, originally written in 1977 by Ronald J. Sider and called Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. It was published by Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of Downer’s Grove, Illinois. I understand this book has gone through several printings and some of the later ones are not quite as left-leaning as the earlier printings. I wonder, did some folks catch on and complain and so the publisher decided to tone it down a bit? Nonetheless, something like 350,000 copies of the earlier left-leaning printings still went out to a mostly evangelical audience. In the copy I have, which is the 1977 printing, Mr. Sider is quite hard on anyone that didn’t immediately sell all that he had over and above the bare subsistence level and give it away to the poor. On pages 75-76 he wrote about rulers cheating the poor. What else is new? Surely this isn’t “news” to Mr. Sider. This has gone on in every culture and in every century of human history. It’s not a peculiarly American problem. On page 76 he wrote about the “God of the poor” as though God were not God to anyone but the poor. Somehow you get the impression from Sider’s comments that no one but the poor deserved to have God be concerned about them. In John’s Gospel, in chapter 3, we are told that God loved the world, not just the poor that happened to be in it.
On pages 84 and 85 Sider seemed to be indicting all rich people as oppressors–and to be sure, some of the political rich, many of them ideological leftists or corporate fascists, do oppress the poor–and those that oppress them the most are usually those that prattle about how much they are concerned over the plight of the poor. Concern for “the poor” is often the last refuge of scoundrels. However, one should not just issue a blanket condemnation of all rich people for the sole reason that they are rich. On page 116 Sider made distinctions between property rights and human rights. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to him that property rights are also human rights. He is forced to admit that the Bible allows for private property. There are just too many instances in Scripture proving that for him to deny it, but he seemed to admit it grudgingly. One wonders if he went out and sold all his extra goods and donated the receipts of it to the poor before he wrote the book.
Among his ideas for combating world hunger, Sider proposed more foreign aid (pages 218-219) and he proposed a “national food policy” on pages 214 and 215. In other words, Sider promoted the idea that governments get into setting “food policy” which is an area governments have no business being in. From some of what I have read lately, this seems to at least be on the minds of some in Obama’s Marxist administration. I’ve read articles talking about the government limiting the amount of food one can store in their homes. The government, in some cases, even seems to be going after people that grow their own food–making them “food criminals” because they have home gardens–something that was encouraged during World War 2 when I was a youngster. They called them “victory gardens” back then. One can only wonder what draconian title the Obama regime will levy on them. One thing you can be sure of, once the federal government really gets into implementing “national food policies” everyone’s rights will be trampled on–even more than they already have been. Yet this sort of thing seems to be part and parcel of the mindset of many evangelicals, who, again, don’t know history. Stalin did the same thing in the Soviet Union–and starved millions to death, but you can figure that many evangelicals haven’t figured that out yet. They may be well intentioned, but their solutions to some problems are as draconian as those of the Marxists.
I remember, and maybe some of you all do too, back in the 1980s, they had a famine in Ethiopia and all the evangelicals rushed to collect money to send. We all saw pictures of the starving kids on television–that was part of the game to help to keep that evangelical money streaming in. The only fly in this jug of buttermilk was that the government of Ethiopia was Marxist, and all that money that was collected by the evangelicals to help the starving kids had to be turned over to the Ethiopian government, to be supposedly dispersed so starving families could be helped. Guess what? Like most Marxist regimes, the one in Ethiopia did not use all that food money to help the starving. Rather, they used it to improve their armaments and for other purposes “in the national interest.” Later, I read about tons of food that had been sent to Ethiopia to help the hungry and much of it was left rotting on wharves or in warehouses because no one could be bothered to load it on trucks and take it to where there were hungry people. This was what the concerned evangelicals contributed their money to–a Marxist government that really had no interest in helping the starving, but rather used them as a pawn to obtain foreign aid for their own purposes. A great big Marxist scam on the West–and the evangelicals went for it, hook, line and sinker!
Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) is another prime example of this. It used to be a country, when it was ruled by the dreaded white man, that exported food. Now that it is a black Marxist regime (they tell us how good that is) it is an economic basket case. Once the Marxists took the country over and started redistributing all the farmlands to their friends, all of a sudden Zimbabwe found it couldn’t feed itself anymore, let alone export anything. It has been proven over decades that most Marxist countries can’t feed themselves. Why should American evangelicals continue to throw money and food at Marxist dictatorships that, if they simply allowed their people some liberty, would be able to take care of themselves? According to evangelicals like Mr. Sider, American Christians should be ashamed that they have so much and Marxist countries have so little. Has it ever occurred to some of these folks that the Marxist countries have so little exactly because they are Marxist and their limitations on personal liberty guarantee that those living under their regimes will continue to have little. Why should we finance that as Christians?
Sider’s book made enough of a dent in the evangelical world that, in 1981, David Chilton wrote a rebuttal to it called Productive Christians in an age of Guilt Manipulators. Chilton called Sider “one of the new voices in evangelicalism.” Sider was a professor of theology at Eastern Baptist Seminary in Philadelphia and the president of Evangelicals for Social Action. Chilton asked the question of Sider whether he was a Marxist or not. Sider claimed he wasn’t, but the policies he advocated lead you to wonder. Chilton said of Sider that: “he has allowed his economic views to be shaped by an increasingly vocal, socialistic element in our society, not by the Word of God.” And Chilton also quoted writer John Chamberlain, author of The Roots of Capitalism who said: “Thou shalt not covet’ means that it is sinful even to contemplate the seizure of another man’s goods–which is something which socialists, whether Christian or otherwise, have never managed to explain away.”
And Chilton continued: “That is the issue: Socialism is theft. I am not speaking of the voluntary sharing of goods, but rather the state-enforced ‘redistribution’ of wealth. If someone, even the government–takes your property against God’s Word, it is theft. And Sider advocates state socialism.” Chilton noted that Sider has used the concepts of guilt and envy “to manipulate ‘rich Christians’ into accepting socialism.” Unfortunately, many evangelical Christians have accepted socialism at some level without realizing it. Dressing socialist concepts up with a few Bible verses (usually out of context) is often enough to gull unsuspecting Christians into buying into it, because, although we have learned to be as “harmless as doves” we somehow have never learned to be as “wise as serpents” (Matthew 10:16).
Even though Sider’s book was first published back in 1977 and David Chilton’s rebuttal was printed in 1981, this sort of thing still continues today in the evangelical world. Author Gary North wrote in 1997 that: “Rich Christians represented what I regard as the second-worst aspect of neo-evangelicalism: its middle class sell-out to liberation theology.”
And the neo-evangelicals today, as represented by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) continue down this path. In true “liberation theology” style they are now endorsing amnesty for over 12 million illegal aliens because high immigration seems to be increasing the membership roles in evangelical churches and is, therefore, “good for the economy.”
To be continued.