Ron Sider loves scripture, embraces traditional values, and puts his money where his mouth is in terms of Christian responsibility for the poor: he lives in a low-income urban community and has ministered face-to-face among needy individuals for years. He is also the most tireless statement-monger in evangelicaldom. From the “Chicago Statement” to the “Oxford Declaration” to the “Generous Christians Pledge,” Sider has labored endlessly to get liberal and conservative Christians to agree on what's to be done about the poor. His latest book, Just Generosity: A New Vision for Overcoming Poverty in America (Baker), is the most balanced and practical effort he has offered to date on that subject. Though not without weaknesses and some controversial proposals, the book is worth reading and could be a starting point for achieving Sider's long-sought consensus among evangelicals.

In his signature style, Sider starts with biblical analysis and develops a set of general principles around which he orders his policy prescriptions. Just Generosity’s “foundational framework” includes several assertions that Christians from across the political spectrum ought to be able to affirm: the sovereignty of God over all things; the worth of the material creation; the holistic nature of human beings (we are physical, emotional, and spiritual beings); and the reality of sin. Christians enthusiastic about the free market will cheer Sider’s embrace of the importance of human creativity (and the resulting ability to create new wealth); his affirmation of economic freedom; and his emphasis on the dignity of work.

Sider’s familiar explication of biblical justice is more controversial. ...

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