Ron Sider and this book is the main reason why I chose to go to seminary to prepare for the ministry, why I do music ministry among the homeless, and why I chose the Mennonite Church as my home denomination (freedom to focus on issues of compassion in tandem with evangelism). That's the hand of God in all of this. I'm amazed to see some STILL haven't made their peace with scripture's view of materialism and justice for the poor, but I shouldn't be surprised, because Jesus said there definitely would be goats to weed out in the end times!
Just looking over the "attack reviews" here is pretty revealing. One reviewer seethes with anger over the idea of putting others interests ahead of his own. Have you never read Paul? To wit:
Ro 9:3 "For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen by race."
Php 2:3 "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves."
Or how about Jesus:
Mt 16:24 "Jesus told his disciples, 'If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'"
Lu 6:20 "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God."
Matt 25:44 "Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?' 45 Then he will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.' 46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
Along with all of this are the typical misrepresentations of Sider's theology: he advocates Marxism (no, he actually supports local-government control of affairs as the best way to bring about change); he thinks people should eat even if they don't work (never said that? where?); he is a liberal (actually he was schooled in Christian apologetics early on by John Warwick Montgomery); he is against earning a living (so laughable as to not even deserve a response). To those who persist in these ad hominem attacks, I say one thing: Ex 20:16!
So the idea of America being "rich because others are poor" is sheer nonsense, eh? Tell this to the Native Americans who were the victims of a near-genocidal attempt at taking away their homeland? (If you think I'm parroting what I know nothing about, look at Klamath County, Oregon, which in the days before the white settlers was a land rich in the fishing industry. Look at the area's current struggles SINCE we took over.) Tell this to African slaves who were used to practically build this country- to a large degree. Look into the history of things like "insurance policies" taken out on slaves as if they were property. Then look at how British and American interference in the Mid-East is STILL resulting in a turbulence- we build up dictatorial regimes & wonder why we are still hated over there & in other parts of the world as well. Bottom line: The U.S. is not perfect, not the "New Israel", not above committing sheer evil. Stop acting as if we are.
What bothers me the most about Sider's opponents is this: what if we really ARE wrong in the way we approach public policy in regards to poverty & wealth and the Bible has something to say about it? Not an outlandish idea since this happened to Israel. The detractors of this theology would have us bury our heads in the sand & not search our hearts & the scriptures & listen to the Spirit, since our Capitalism has already been "justified" in our eyes.
Go ahead and buy your books by dominionist heretics like Chilton. You need your conscious salved between now and the separation of sheep and goats. Make sure you stock up on some good systematic theology to keep you with the illusion that you are "predestined" to go to heaven and nothing you will do can keep you from that destiny, so you won't have to spend your nights awake bothered by the verses that place responsibility to repent on YOU. You don't want God to tell you that he is lord even of your wallet, so why bother? OR...maybe you would like to approach books like Sider's with an attitude of humility and resolve that you will do whatever GOD wants you to do with your life. Who knows, you might like submitting to God? His yoke is always easy!