Author: Aaron Armstrong
Publisher: Cruciform Press
Buy Awaiting a Savior
Reading Level: Easy
If you recall I reviewed When Helping Hurts this last December and was impressed with the practicality provided by it. Awaiting a Savior in contrast would be a theological foundation for dealing with poverty which “is fundamentally a spiritual issue” (p. 20). Aaron connects poverty with the gospel story. He looks at the fall (p. 18 “the fall has made poverty the default setting” emphasis original; p. 22), redemption (p. 45), and consummation (pp. 11, 97) as they relate to poverty. Says Aaron, “The root cause of poverty is sin” (p. 8) and
Therefore, the basic premise of this book is that our good faith efforts to address legitimate questions of poverty and injustice must never lose sight of the fact that poverty will persist as long as the heart of man is ruled by sin. (pp. 9-10).
While we are responsible for pursuing biblical solutions to poverty, our only hope for an ultimate solution is in the return of Christ, when he will put an end once and for all to sin, suffering, and death, and bring about the new creation. (p. 11)
You can taste the flavor of Awaiting a Savior through these statements.
What I also appreciate is Aaron’s faithfulness in expounding the gospel and making sure the issue of social justice is emphasized in a way which honors the gospel while also not downplaying the importance Scripture places on serving the poor. Let me provide you an example. Aaron says,
Those whose hearts are inclined to the Lord will seek true justice on earth as it is in heaven. Covenant faithfulness always leads to ethical faithfulness. (p. 56 emphasis original)
Such a small phrase but so important--“covenant faithfulness.” He connects the issue of poverty and the Christian duty to combat poverty within the larger theme of covenant in Scripture. It’s how the OT attacks the issue and provides continuity with a New Covenant ethic. A few pages later he fleshes this out,
We are called to care for the poor because God is glorified in our doing so. We care for the poor because we know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of grace. We were the poor in spirit. We were lost and without hope. We were separated from God and enslaved to sin. (pp. 67-68)
Social issues are important not because it’s popular amongst hipsters but because justice is important to God. Justice is part of who he is. You cannot preach the gospel in word without demonstrating its transformative effect in deeds. The one without the other is empty (James 2). Aaron has written a balanced and engaging book. And if justice is important to God then understanding foundational issues related to it should be important to Christians.