Always with Us? What Jesus Really Said about the Poor

by Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis

A strong theological call for ending the abomination of systemic poverty, out from Eerdmans now!

Available April 2017 ISBN 978-0- 8028-7502- 0 6” x 9” paperback 194 pages / $25.00 [£17.99]

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 Rev. Dr. 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.

At the Kairos Center we understand this book to be a vital contribution to building the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, which we see as a critical step in the broader movement to end poverty.

With its publication we are seeing this year (2017) as an opportunity to advance the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival by visiting many of the leaders and communities that inspired and helped to create the book for a series of discussions, sermons, collaborative study of the Bible, and support of local struggles. Keep up with this space to learn more.

Read an excerpt from the book in The Christian Century here. Watch Rev. Dr. Theoharis speak about the book at Syracuse University here.

Order the book now!

[aesop_video align=”center” src=”youtube” id=”Es1j2XxgqGU” disable_for_mobile=”on” loop=”on” autoplay=”on” controls=”on” viewstart=”on” viewend=”on” revealfx=”off”]

Sponsor Always with Us?

We are seeking a sponsor or sponsors to support the distribution of Always with Us? If you or someone you know has the ability to contribute a bulk order of books for the Kairos Center to sell at a discounted rate to religious and community leaders, please email us at

Getting the Word Out

In the coming year, connected with the Kairos Center’s participation in helping to build the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, we will be visiting communities across the country to share and engage the ideas in the book. Please consider helping us in this effort. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Reach out to the Kairos Center to discuss the possibility of Rev. Dr. Theoharis and others visiting your community for speaking engagements, Bible studies, sermons, etc.
  2. Organize reading groups of the book in your congregation, community organization, denomination, class, etc. Contact Bob Hetico at Eerdmans Press for special deals on bulk orders at:
  3. Spread the word about the book and its contents. One way to do this is to write a review for your blog, column, media outlet or on the Amazon webpage. Let us know if you want to request an advance copy by sending the Kairos Center your mailing address or by emailing:


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.”

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.”

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.”

Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis is the Co-Director of the Kairos Center and a Founder and the Coordinator of the Poverty Initiative. She has spent the past two decades organizing amongst the poor in the United States, working with and advising grassroots organizations with significant victories including the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Vermont Workers Center, Domestic Workers United, the United Workers Association, the National Union of the Homeless and the Kensington Welfare Rights Union. She has led hundreds of trainings, Bible studies, and leadership development workshops; spoken at dozens of conferences and keynote presentations across the US and globally; and published several articles and book chapters sharing her vision that poverty can be ended and that the poor can be agents of social change. Liz received her BA in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania; her MDiv from Union Theological Seminary in 2004 where she was the first William Sloane Coffin Scholar; and her PhD from Union in New Testament and Christian Origins. Liz is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA).