Just Generosity, 2nd Edition

A New Vision for Overcoming Poverty in America

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In this new edition of Just Generosity, Ron Sider, author of the bestselling Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, calls believers to care as much about the poor as Jesus did. Sider's first edition was cited as a Christianity Today Book Award winner and as one of the Top Ten Books in Religion by Booklist. Here he updates his comprehensive yet accessible agenda of ways to reduce poverty in the United States. Using poignant stories to engage the heart and well-documented facts to convince the mind, Sider presents a nonpartisan corrective to poverty in the United States. These concrete suggestions will be an invaluable help to those who wish to understand and join political debates over poverty.


Praise for the first edition:
"On earth as it is in heaven is not just a prayer, we should pursue it. Ron Sider gives the practical implications of living for people with a vision of God's kingdom demonstrated on earth. Government is helpless to respond to the poor without the involvement of people of faith. We have a biblical mandate to do justice. In Just Generosity, Ron Sider shows us how."--Tom Pelton, president, March for Jesus USA

"Drawing creatively from both 'conservatives and liberals,' Sider issues a powerful biblical call to end the scandal of widespread poverty in the richest nation on the earth."--David Beckmann, president, Bread for the World

"This is a paradoxical moment. The stock market soars while the gap between have's and have not's widens. Business and government both seem helpless, and are looking--sometimes with near desperation--to faith-based groups for help. But what should we do? Ron Sider here presents a convincing and workable answer. It will strengthen immeasurably the lively conversation already under way on this issue. Lively, readable, and believable."--Harvey Cox, Thomas Professor of Divinity, Harvard Divinity School

"Just Generosity is Ronald J. Sider's most mature statement on overcoming poverty in this nation. His data is superb. His figures and analysis provide specific information for thought and action. A Bible-based Christian perspective is presented which transcends a narrow political outlook. Sider is a compassionate theologian. He indicates that he cares. Many of his illustrations come from his personal involvement. He is a scholar with a pastor's heart. His proposals for intervention on behalf of the poor are bold and daring. They are, at the same time, practical and comprehensive. This is a must-read volume for all Christians who are concerned about overcoming poverty in a rich nation."--J. Deotis Roberts, research professor of Christian theology, Duke University Divinity School

"Sider has added another poverty-fighting book to the evangelical arsenal. Assessing both the continuing degradation of the inner city as well as social and political changes that give hope, Sider lays out his holistic agenda. School reform, healthcare security, welfare partnerships between government and faith-based organizations--all of these and more give Christians new opportunities to help overcome poverty as part of their service in the name of Jesus Christ."--Jim Skillen, executive director, Center for Public Justice

"For more than fifty years, I have been committed to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Caring for the poor, the orphans, widows, prisoners, and homeless of the world is part of the Great Commission. Ronald J. Sider is a man of sensitivity and Christ-like compassion. In this controversial book, you will become better acquainted with the poor, whom Jesus loved and with whom he identified. You will also learn of some possible modern-day approaches to relieve their suffering, which deserve consideration."--Dr. Bill Bright, founder and president, Campus Crusade for Christ International

"Ron Sider effectively engages the crucial economic and moral question of our times: How can our poor and marginalized participate in the American dream (that is, a decent job, an affordable home, a good education and quality health care)? His book not only makes this case, but also provides useful examples of how to transform these problems."--J. McDonald Williams, chairman, Trammell Crow Company

"If the poor were such a big deal to Jesus, and they were, shouldn't they be to us as well? Just Generosity offers understanding and concrete recommendations of how we can help."--Dr. Gordon England, director of evangelism, Promise Keepers

"How refreshing! Ron Sider's new book emphasizes the importance of both private and public responsibility in ending poverty. Many times in our national debate, one is proclaimed as the sole answer at the exclusion of the other. Ron gets the balance right and then shows us how we can make a difference."--Congressman Tony P. Hall

"In Just Generosity, Ron Sider takes up the important question about the role of faith and the Christian community particularly in addressing the social and human calamity of poverty in America. Well versed in the history of debates between both political and religious liberals and conservatives, Sider dares to frame the question in new ways. His call for a holistic comprehensive framework is worthy of protracted consideration by those who would be faithful to the Jesus who had a special affection, ministry, and identification with the poor. Ron Sider's particular directions and initiatives in health care, education, and welfare will be hotly debated even within church circles. There should be no argument, however, about the church's calling to address poverty in all its human consequence. That human face of poverty remains central in all Ron Sider seeks to do in the name of an incarnate God."--Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, general secretary, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA

"For years Ron Sider has been calling on the Christian community to live its faith by pursuing the cause of justice, but never more eloquently than in this book."--Paul Simon, director, Public Policy Institute, Southern Illinois University

"Ron Sider knows how to lift up people in need, transform their lives, and liberate them from material and spiritual poverty. The answers are in his important and challenging book Just Generosity. Ron's message of conquering poverty with spiritual tools cuts across traditional political and social boundaries. He will challenge you to consider what your role should be in helping the poor. He will remind you that all parts of society--families, churches, schools, and businesses--must care for those in need. He calls for partnerships between government and people of faith, so that our troubled society will have greater access to the healing agents it needs so desperately."--John Ashcroft, former US Attorney General

"One of the most important conversations today is the relationship of faith and faith-based social service programs to the needs of the 30-36 million people living below the poverty line in America. In a time of an expanding economy and unprecedented affluence for so many, the reality of so many poor raises major questions. What is the responsibility of Christians as citizens, as individuals, and as members of the Christian community in addressing and bridging this gap? In this important book, Ron Sider displays a thoughtful commitment to the cause of justice for the poor from a thoroughly biblical perspective. His knowledge of both the public and private sectors of American society gives him a unique vantage point to offer factual information, insight, and help for Christians to think through their opportunities and obligations in church and in society. This is a book we have needed for a long time, in part because of the personal integrity and informed, realistic approaches that the author exhibits. It pulls together many important strands for consideration in a challenging and ultimately encouraging way. It is an important addition to the dialogue on poverty in America."--Roberta Hestenes, senior pastor, Solana Beach Presbyterian Church

"In Just Generosity, Sider combines a near encyclopedic overview of social science data on poverty with his usual prophetic insistence that the church come alive and meet the unprecedented opportunities for social engagement that now confront people of faith everywhere. In his best book yet, Sider incisively identifies what is right and wrong in the approaches of both the Right and Left to poverty and presents a hopeful vision for a potentially historic ideological convergence that could rebound powerfully to the benefit of the poor."--Don Eberly, author, founder of the National Fatherhood Initiative, and director of the Civil Society Project

"Just Generosity dispels the myths about poverty with facts and replaces pious rhetoric with practical action. Today many of us in the church are asking 'What would Jesus do?' Of this we can be sure--Jesus would call his followers living in the affluence of America to a tireless commitment to overcome poverty. Just Generosity shows us how and calls Christians to follow."--Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, general secretary, Reformed Church in America

"Every politician, Republican or Democrat, now espousing faith based solutions to our social problems; every social justice activist, liberal or conservative, seeking to apply religious truths to our contemporary moral challenges should start by delving into Just Generosity. Whether or not you agree with all of Sider's conclusions about how government and religious organizations can work together, there is an excitement in reading such an engagingly written, rigorously researched, eminently practical, and morally powerful approach to contemporary social problems. That rare find--an author as well versed in biblical social ethics as in contemporary social policy--Sider provides a provocative and compelling mix of 'liberal' and 'conservative' solutions in presenting specific and comprehensive proposals for combating poverty."--Rabbi David Saperstein, director and counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

"We are used to great books from Ron Sider, but this is his most important since Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. Ron Sider is a modern day prophet in challenging the outrageous inequalities that have come to be accepted as normal in America. He asks the toughest and most significant question of all: Do Christians care enough to really do something about poverty? I hope every Christian will read this book and give a resounding answer of YES."--Jim Wallis, convener, Call to Renewal

"Ron Sider has written a very thoughtful, earnest, hard-hitting and honest work which deals with both the structural problems and the personal problems which create poverty in this country. Dr. Sider does not pull any punches. His honest assessment of the ongoing problem of racism and the structural inequities which lock African Americans, Latino Americans and minorities out of the 'system' is accurately written. Equally as even handed is his treatment of the poor personal and behavioral choices that persons make in adding to the vicious cycle of poverty in to which they find themselves and their families locked. Dr Sider does not take sides with either the 'conservatives' or the 'liberals', however. He has a 'middle of the road' approach which not only analyzes the causes of the disparities in income in the world's richest country. He does what most scholars do not do. He offers some very practical and pragmatic solutions. Basing his approach on biblical principles, Dr. Sider demonstrates how every institution in society must do its share with each of those institutions doing what it does best. He demonstrates how 'civil society', business, the media, the academy and the government can end the suffering of over 36 million people in this country. I am excited by his work and look forward to seeing many of his policies implemented. He gives local pastors and local people of faith some actual 'how-to's' in terms of addressing such a mammoth problem. We are not left feeling helpless after reading his work. We are left with some actual handles on doing something about ending this massive disparity. I commend him for his work and for his mind."--Pastor Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL

The Author

  1. Ronald J. Sider

    Ronald J. Sider

    Ronald J. Sider (1939-2022; PhD, Yale University) was the founder and president emeritus of Evangelicals for Social Action and served as distinguished professor of theology, holistic ministry, and public policy at Palmer Theological Seminary at Eastern...

    Continue reading about Ronald J. Sider


Praise for the first edition:
Christianity Today 2000 Book Award Winner

"Believing that, faithfully interpreted and lived, the Scriptures can provide the vision and motivation needed to reduce poverty dramatically, Sider spells out a set of proposals for a social policy that works toward that goal. Sider offers broad policy proposals regarding welfare and crime reduction and suggests that societal problems would be best handled by partnerships between governments and philanthropic organizations. Many readers will find his discussion insightful and his proposals for change resonant. . . . An essential purchase whose wide-based discussion reaches many segments of readers."--Library Journal (September 1, 1999)

"Sider's book is well worth wrestling with in response to the biblical call to justice."--Good News (November 1999)

"Ron Sider has for decades been a leading force in prodding, instructing, and inspiring evangelical Protestants in their engagement with the tasks of the public square. His book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger helped form the minds and consciences of a generation of younger evangelicals. The present book demonstrates a greater attentiveness to public policy specifics, while losing none of Sider's evangelical urgency. . . . Sider's persuasiveness is enhanced by his unequivocal recognition that 'the least of these' includes the unborn and others who are too often excluded from the realm of 'just generosity.'" --First Things (January 2000)

"Just Generosity is a hopeful book, built on the recognition that today, in the post-welfare reform period, there is already a growing convergence between conservatives and liberals on the poverty question....Ron Sider has made an important and timely contribution to that growing convergence."--christianityonline.com

"Christians who genuinely care about struggling families in America can and should hear Sider out. He is truly calling for a compassionate, integrated, and biblical response to the poor."--Family Ministry (Spring 2000)

"This book should be welcome in college and seminary classes dealing with urban issues, economics, and ethics. It will also be useful in local church study groups."--Bruce Campbell Moyer, Seminary Studies

"Every Christian committed to social justice will find this book worth reading. You will not agree with every proposal. But you will learn from the many models offered and the summaries of research across a wide spectrum of issues. You will hear the tough policy questions addressed frankly. You will see a new vision for overcoming poverty in America. You may also be moved to take action."--Belle Miller McMaster, Church & Society

"Just Generosity is an important book for mission folk interested in holistic social change in America and for evangelicals who are concerned for the poor, but are not sure how to make a contribution to change."--Bryant L. Myers, Missiology