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Ronald Sider: Nonviolent Action

Sider invites Christians to lead nonviolent social action.

And to theologians and ethicists who may wish to quickly dismiss Sider’s appeal as pacifistic, Sider’s evenhanded treatment of just war vs. pacifism, albeit in its too condensed version, deserves a second read. More importantly, he has provided enormous examples from across the globe and across various decades of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries to support his case. Whether or not one agrees with micro-details of his historical treatment, the macro-story of his historical survey has been reasonably researched and analyzed. Thus, Sider’s sustained anecdotal account cannot easily be ignored.

Let’s join Sider in seeking to make the world a better place, as our response to the imperfections of the world, and as our witness of God’s love and the call of the gospel to serve and save the world.

On the whole, the book is easy to read, and many emotionally-moving and attention-grabbing stories filled the pages. The book is geared towards inspiring Christian participation and it will also interest ethicists and social/moral activists. Leaders of Christian traditions are likely to receive Sider’s appeal favorably. Sider carefully annotates references from the World Council of Churches, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, Pope John Paul II, the National Association of Evangelicals in the USA, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and many more in the notes. I wish that Sider provided a moral philosophical treatment of the two positions (just war and pacifism) to introduce the lay of the land. That said, the fascinating account from the grassroots have already provided a compelling case for taking the mix-bag of just war and nonviolent approach seriously.

Time will tell, if Nonviolent Action will produce the same results as what he had achieved in Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (W Publishing, 1997; 6th ed., 2015). The latter was a bestselling book that mobilizes affluent Christians to help resolve poverty on a global scale. Let’s join Sider, and many others, to make the world a better place, as our response to the imperfections of the world, and as our witness of God’s love and the call of the gospel to serve and save the world.

Review by Timothy T. N. Lim


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Category: Ministry, Summer 2018

About the Author: Timothy Teck Ngern Lim, M.Div. (BGST, Singapore), Ph.D. (Regent University), is a Visiting Lecturer for London School of Theology and Research Tutor for King's Evangelical Divinity School (London). He is on the advisory board of One in Christ (Turvey) and area book review editor for Evangelical Review of Society & Politics. He is an evangelical theologian ordained as a Teaching Elder with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He has published in ecclesiology, ecumenical theology, and interdisciplinarity. A recent monograph published entitled Ecclesial Recognition with Hegelian Philosophy, Social Psychology, and Continental Political Theory: An Interdisciplinary Proposal (Brill, 2017).

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