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A Tribute To Ron Sider

Five terms, two books, and one tribute

Ron Sider, a faithful servant and inspiring Christian intellectual, is now with Jesus—that is, now with Jesus in person. What a humble and yet vastly influential believer he was! His faith was active, leading, among other places, to practical political involvement. He challenged fellow Christians, including himself, to stay biblical, not swept along by other currents. His activism was hopeful, for, whatever the present results, he knew that King Jesus would triumph. He was a bridge builder in politics, despite deep polarization. He was indefatigable, never ceasing to act and persuade. 

Seen by many as a liberal Christian, it is striking that he always defended religious hiring by faith-based organizations: they are vital for social and political justice and need the freedom to have faithful staff. Sider was a longtime friend of IRFA and wrote The Freedom of Faith-Based Organizations to Staff on a Religious Basis (2004) with Esbeck and me. When I taught a class on political obedience at my conservative church, I used Ron’s The Scandal of Evangelical Politics(2008). I didn’t always agree with his positions, but he made himself, and thus us, reflect deeply on biblical teaching.

John DiIulio, Catholic U of Penn politics professor and proponent of the faith-based initiative, said of Ron in 2014, “In every dimension of his life, Ron is a justice-seeking, generous, and gentle Christian giant: a giant intellectually, a giant as a religious-political leader, and a giant in the smallest recesses of personal relationships that bring people blessed enough to know him to see to know and love God” (in Following Jesus, essays in honor of Ron, ed. P. Alexander and A. Tizon). Amen.

– Stanley Carlson-Thies

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