Ronald Sider is a contributing editor at Sojourners. He is known worldwide for providing leadership to the movement of evangelicals who recognize not just the spiritual, but also the social and political implications of a high view of Scripture.
His book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger was lauded by Christianity Today as being among the top 100 books in religion in the 20th century and the seventh most influential book in the evangelical world in the last 50 years.
In addition to Rich Christians, Dr. Sider has written more than 30 published books, including Evangelism, Salvation and Social Justice; Christ and Violence; Cry Justice: The Bible on Hunger and Poverty; Completely Pro-Life; Good News and Good Works: A Theology for the Whole Gospel; Living Like Jesus; Just Generosity: A New Vision for Overcoming Poverty in America; The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience: Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World?; The Scandal of Evangelical Politics: Why are Christians Missing the Chance to Really Change the World?; I Am not a Social Activist: Making Jesus the Agenda, and Fixing the Moral Deficit: A Balanced Way to Balance the Budget. He also edited The Early Church on Killing: A Comprehensive Sourcebook on War, Abortion, and Capital Punishment.
In the 1970s, Dr. Sider played a key role in the drafting of the historic The Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern, which helped set the direction for evangelicals concerned about the Bible's social implications. He is the founder and President of Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA), which for more than three decades has provided an organizational outlet for Christians committed to holistic ministry.
An ordained minister in the Mennonite and Brethren in Christ Churches, Ron has lectured at numerous educational institutions, including Yale, Harvard, Princeton and Oxford.
William Sloane Coffin Award
Ronald Sider is the recipient of the William Sloane Coffin ‘56 Award for Peace and Justice. The award is given in honor of the life and ministry of William Sloane Coffin, former Chaplain to the University and one of the 20th century’s most significant religious leaders. Recipients of the Coffin award are recognized for sharing Coffin’s passionate and prophetic witness, courageous devotion to the dignity and worth of all persons, and notable contributions to the work of peace and reconciliation.
Sider is Senior Distinguished Professor of Theology, Holistic Ministry, and Public Policy at Palmer Theological Seminary and President Emeritus of Evangelicals for Social Action. A widely known evangelical speaker and writer, Sider has spoken on six continents, published more than thirty books and scores of articles. In 1982, The Christian Century named him one of the twelve “most influential persons in the field of religion in the U.S.” His Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (Intervarsity, 1977) was recognized by Christianity Today as one of the one hundred most influential religious books of the twentieth century and named the seventh most influential book in the evangelical world in the last fifty years.
"One Electorate under God?"
"One Electorate under God?: A Dialogue on Religion and American Politics"
The United States has been described as a nation with the soul of a church. Religion is discussed more explicitly and more urgently in American politics than in the public debates of any other wealthy democracy. It is certain to play an important role in the elections of 2004. Yet debates over religion and politics are often narrow and highly partisan, although the questions at hand demand a broader and more civil discussion. One Electorate under God? widens the dialogue by bringing together in one volume some of the most influential voices in American intellectual and political life.
This book draws on a public debate between former New York governor Mario Cuomo and Indiana congressman Mark Souder, who discuss how their respective faith convictions have been both shaped by and reflected in their careers as public servants. This discussion, in turn, prompted commentary by a diverse group of scholars, politicians, journalists, and religious leaders who are engaged simultaneously in the religious and policy realms. Each contributor offers insights on how political leaders and religious convictions shape our politics. One Electorate under God arises from the idea that public deliberation is more honest—and more democratic—when officials are open and reflective about the interactions between their religious convictions and their commitments in the secular realm.
This volume—the first of its kind—seeks to promote a greater understanding of American thinking about faith and public office in a pluralistic society. Contributors include Joanna Adams, Azizah Al-Hibri, Doug Bandow, Michael Barone, Gary Bauer, Robert Bellah, David Brooks, Harvey Cox, Michael Cromartie, John Dilulio Jr., Terry Eastland, Robert Edgar, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Richard Wightman Fox, William Galston, Robert George, Andrew Greeley, John Green, Anna Greenberg, Susannah Heschel, Representative Amo Houghton (R-New York), Michael Kazin, Martha Minow, Stephen Monsma, Mark Noll, Rabbi David Novak, Ramesh Ponnuru, Representative David Price (D-North Carolina), Jeffrey Rosen, Cheryl Sanders, Ronald Sider, Jim Skillen, Matthew Spalding, Jeffrey Stout, John Sweeney, Roberto Suro, Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, Jim Towey, Doug Tanner, Mark Warren, Alan Wolfe, and Andrew Young.
Pioneer of the Evangelical Left
In 1972 Sider launched Evangelicals for McGovern, the first partisan political organization of the twentieth century formed by evangelicals to elect a president. A year later he organized a series of “Thanksgiving Workshops” out of which the Chicago Declaration, the landmark document of the postwar evangelical left, emerged. His 1977 Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (which has sold over 400,000 copies—not bad for a dark tome!) argued that global economic injustices cannot be addressed simply through individual social ethics. They must be tackled structurally through such actions as lobbying Congress to reduce military spending and to drop barriers to imports from developing nations. In the decades since, Sider’s progressive vision has persisted. With the exception of a vote for George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” in 2000 that he now regrets, Sider has routinely embraced and stumped on behalf of many liberal Democratic policies.
If social action has defined Sider’s career, it has been grounded in an explicitly evangelical spirit. Sider has stressed the evangelical mandate to lead people “to accept Jesus Christ and personal Lord and Savior.” He has affirmed the uniqueness, deity, resurrection of Christ. In apologetics work for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in the 1960s and 1970s, Sider proffered historical and philosophical evidences for theism. In his 2006 jeremiad Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, Sider pushed for sexual holiness and criticized evangelicals for rates of sexual promiscuity and divorce that surpass those of non-evangelicals. Sounding a lot like Joshua Harris (except for the going on dates part), Sider has written, “Could we behave the way we often do in our families and with our dates if we made those decisions with our eyes fixed intently on the Lord?” Elsewhere, he has written about “devotional snuggling,” his practice of starting and ending days praying with his wife while enveloped in each other’s arms.
This combination of conservative evangelical practices and progressive politics has made Sider a religious and political outlier in many respects. Sider’s pro-life, pro-peace activism, pro-poor, pro-racial justice, pro-sexual integrity, pro-family, and pro-environment politics—articulated most clearly in Sider’s 1987 book Completely Pro-Life—fail to conform to platforms of either political party. This mix of ideals, clearly idiosyncratic in the postwar political and cultural climate, has attracted an eclectic and loyal, if not always large, following.
Devotees of Evangelicals for Social Action will be gathering this weekend in Philadelphia to celebrate ESA’s fortieth anniversary. Called Follow.Jesus.2013, the conference will include a gala and roast honoring Sider as well as an impressive list of evangelical speakers including Shane Claiborne, D. Michael Lindsay, Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, Lisa Sharon Harper, Jim Wallis, and Soong Chan-Rah.
Dialog with Russell Moore
In this episode of Signposts, I am joined by Palmer Theological Seminary professor Ronald Sider, Founder and President Emeritus of Evangelicals for Social Action. In this conversation we talk about the importance of integrity for starting, maintaining, and ending a ministry. We also discuss the danger in viewing people based on what they can do for us, rather than through the lens of the Gospel.
Supporting Mark Galli
December 24, 2019 (RNS) — This week Christians around the world will be celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For those of us who choose to follow Jesus in the United States and self-identify as evangelical, Christianity Today magazine has been one of the most significant journalistic outlets for discussion, Christian witness, and concern.
On December 19, 2019, Christianity Today's general editor, Mark Galli, wrote an editorial called “Trump Should Be Removed from Office.” One may or may not agree with Galli’s message regarding impeachment, but the heart of his words encouraged American Christians to spiritually reflect about the repercussions of support of the president:
“To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior.”
Galli’s statement provoked international media attention and a response from President Trump via Twitter that sought to marginalize Christianity Today as “a far left magazine, or very ‘progressive’” media outlet. It is within that context that we, as friends and elders of Christianity Today, make this statement:
The United States evangelical and Christian community is at a moral crossroads. Our country has never been more politically divided with white evangelical Christians at the heart of much of the political discord. Regardless of whether or not one agrees with Galli’s conclusion or his argument, we write to affirm his courage and the bold decision to have Christianity Today officially take a stand regarding the Trump presidency.
As leaders who love Jesus and are committed to the Bible, obedience to the Holy Spirit, spiritual transformation, and Christian witness, we affirm the questions posed by Galli’s editorial and his encouragement for Christians to engage in the public square with their political convictions in ways that are constructive and respectful to others with whom they disagree.
Finally, we affirm faithful evangelical witness, application of Scripture, and spiritual discernment allow for a faithful Christian witness that may come to similar conclusions as Galli’s overt challenges to the policies and actions of the Trump Administration.
The false binary posed by allegiances of certain evangelical Christians to one political party inhibits our ability to be faithful to the witness of Christ and his kingdom. May Christians in the United States enter into the 2020 elections with a recommitment to the Good News of the gospel that calls us to righteousness in Christ, faithful Christian witness, and responding to the needs of our neighbor.
Although one may not agree with Mark Galli, we have an obligation to consider the character and actions of this president. Our faithful witness to Christ and the future legitimacy of American Christianity is at stake.
- Amy Julia Becker, author and speaker
- Dale Hanson Bourke, author
- Mae Elise Cannon, author and executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace
- Rob Dalrymple, author and pastor
- Richard Foster, founder of Renovare
- Marlena Graves, author
- Chris Hall, president of Renovaré
- Daniel Hill, author and pastor of River City Community Church, Chicago
- Evan B. Howard, author
- Sam Logan, president emeritus of Westminster Theological Seminary and associate international director of the World Reformed Fellowship
- George Marsden, professor of history emeritus, University of Notre Dame
- Richard Mouw, president emeritus, Fuller Theological Seminary
- Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, author, diversity consultant and leadership coach
- Ronald Sider, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Theology, Holistic Ministry and Public Policy, Palmer Seminary at Eastern University
- Nikki Toyama-Szeto, executive director, Evangelicals for Social Action and The Sider Center
Evangelicals for Life conference
At the 2016 Evangelicals for Life conference, Daniel Darling moderated a panel discussing how to shape a pro-life, whole-life Christian ethic. The panelists included John Stonestreet, Trillia Newbell, Karen Swallow Prior, Emily Colson and Ronald Sider. They discuss how being pro-life doesn’t mean championing for unborn life alone, but rather, advocating for life at all stages, regardless of race, age and level of ability.
Associates for Religion & Intellectual Life
In the 1980s Associates for Religion & Intellectual Life Advisory Board members included Robert Bellah, Robert Coles M.D., Harvey Cox, James Forbes, Arthur Green, Ronald Sider, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Peter Steinfels, Arthur Waskow.