Jesus’s words “the poor you will always have with you” (Matthew 26:11) are regularly used to suggest that ending poverty is impossible, that poverty is a result of moral failures, and that the poor themselves have no role in changing their situation. In this book Liz Theoharis examines both the biblical text and the lived reality of the poor to show how that passage is taken out of context, distorted, and politicized to justify theories about the inevitability of inequality.
Theoharis reinterprets “the poor you will always have with you” to show that it is actually one of the strongest biblical mandates to end poverty. She documents stories of poor people themselves organizing to improve their lot and illuminates the implications for the church. Poverty is not inevitable, Theoharis argues. It is a systemic sin, and all Christians have a responsibility to partner with the poor to end poverty once and for all.
Reviews and Endorsements
Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
“Be ready to be stirred up by this scriptural exploration of the meaning of poverty. It challenged me with the moral demand to end poverty now.”
Laura Sumner Truax, LaSalle Street Church, Chicago
“Provocative. Powerful. Persuasive. Liz Theoharis’s fresh reading of a familiar biblical text opens up new ground for preaching, teaching, and activism. This is a book of lived theology and radical compassion.”
Karenna Gore, Center for Earth Ethics, Union Theological Seminary
“Theoharis brings the Bible to life in this exciting study of one of its most famous passages. With a combination of rigorous theological scholarship and personal stories from her life as an organizer, she shows us that the front line in the fight against poverty is not in poor neighborhoods but rather within the assumptions of a society that fosters systemic injustice.”
William J. Barber II (from the foreword), President, North Carolina NAACP
“The contemporary church has become so accommodative to capitalism that its theology is often viewed as a justification of economic injustice. Dr. Theoharis’s work stands as a challenge to such theology and asserts that poverty is an affront to God. The church must be a prophetic witness and actor in the world.”
Englewood Review of Books
“Compels readers to re-examine one of the most widely known passages on poverty in Scripture, and in the process, she helps her audience recover an awareness of the socioeconomic difficulties that Jesus and his early followers faced.”