Recently Ron Sider asked me if I would care to write the foreword to the new edition of his volume Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. I was just a little surprised, but immensely pleased that he should ask me to do this. After some preliminary discussion to make sure that he would feel comfortable with what I might say, I gladly agreed to write the foreword.

Sider’s volume has been severely criticized by many conservative evangelicals (including me on a few occasions). But I have also read his volume and strongly urged many others to read it. It is a good book, and one that needs to be read because it deals head-on with the most serious problem facing the Christian church today.

Not long ago I was invited to speak at a retreat for evangelical university students. They asked me: What is the greatest problem facing the church today? Without any hesitation I answered: It is not what you might expect me to say. It is not liberalism or neo-orthodoxy or wrong views of revelation or inspiration or other controversial points in theology (the sort of topics, incidently, I spend most of my time talking and writing about). Nor is it the sort of problems you hear discussed daily in your university classes in sociology. It’s not that these issues are unimportant or that Christians—including evangelical Christians—are uninterested in them. They are important, and we are deeply concerned about them. I hope we are concerned enough to be willing to do something about them. But these definitely do not constitute the overriding problems of the evangelical church today—not as I observe it in North America and Western Europe.

The Pressing Problem

The most serious problem facing today’s church is materialism—materialism ...

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