Greed, complacency, ineptitude; finding how to circumvent these individual and corporate sins is the answer.

The abject plight of the world’s poorest, especially those who cling precariously to the very edge of life, stands as an affront to the conscience of every American. It stands all the more as a perpetual rebuke against Christians.

Unfortunately, none of the evangelical writers on this popular subject (and it is a current fad) have bothered to face squarely the really fundamental issue. They have not asked the truly crucial question about how one goes about actually providing food for the world’s hungry. Indeed, the casual naïveté with which questions of this sort have been waved aside, left unanswered, or provided with silly and unrealistic answers is all too embarrassingly manifest.

But without showing us exactly how the world’s hungry are to be fed, nothing results except the mouthing of pious platitudes and highly emotional exhortations to act. Such well-meaning efforts to help are at best inefficient and wasteful, and, at worst, utterly self-defeating and demoralizing. Often, like the children’s crusades, they end up doing more harm than good.

Fatal Flaws

Take, for example, the work Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (IVP, 1977). I select this because it has won such loud acclaim and because supposedly it represents the best of what Christian thinkers and writers can say on this subject. Despite its heavy emphasis upon scriptural authority and its appeal to the divine commands (which we heartily endorse), the book is fatally flawed.

In the first place, the author fails to delve into scriptural and phenomenological causes of hunger. He almost totally ignores the power of evil and the social consequences of inhumanity ...

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