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christians and usury

Jason.Wike

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Usury is denounced in the OT and NT bunches, so why do Christians participate in it? I've noticed Muslims have created their own banking systems even in the west to avoid being involved in usury but it seems like Christians have not. There are banks which have some kind of vaguely Christianity identity in their name but they still charge interest and there's nothing actually Christian seeming about them.
 

Jetavan

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Jason.Wike said:
Usury is denounced in the OT and NT bunches, so why do Christians participate in it? I've noticed Muslims have created their own banking systems even in the west to avoid being involved in usury but it seems like Christians have not. There are banks which have some kind of vaguely Christianity identity in their name but they still charge interest and there's nothing actually Christian seeming about them.
Why is this topic of interest to you?
 

Jason.Wike

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Because it is glaring failure of Christians to pay attention to the commands in the Bible. There's over 1 billion Christians and they're all just ignoring it? Plus it effects a lot of people who loose everything they have because they cannot afford interest (whether it was wise for them to be involved with it or not).

 

Asteriktos

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Jason.Wike said:
Because it is glaring failure of Christians to pay attention to the commands in the Bible. There's over 1 billion Christians and they're all just ignoring it? Plus it effects a lot of people who loose everything they have because they cannot afford interest (whether it was wise for them to be involved with it or not).
Fwiw, the Roman Catholic John Noonan wrote a book on the subject, titled The Scholastic Analysis of Usury. The same author also touches on usury in the book A Church That Can and Cannot Change, though that one is primarily about slavery.
 

orthonorm

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Jetavan said:
Jason.Wike said:
Usury is denounced in the OT and NT bunches, so why do Christians participate in it? I've noticed Muslims have created their own banking systems even in the west to avoid being involved in usury but it seems like Christians have not. There are banks which have some kind of vaguely Christianity identity in their name but they still charge interest and there's nothing actually Christian seeming about them.
Why is this topic of interest to you?
Interesting how no one asks this about the myriad of threads on homosexuality, birth control, abortion, etc.

Christians should have nothing to do with usury. Period.

We don't just apply "economia", we have Christians who proudly declare their lifestyle choice by openly participating in public by going to and from banks. Working at them.

Even owning them.

Many wealthier Christians have mortgages and have no problem talking about this in public no matter whether they will scandalize their brothers and sisters.

Some Christians have gone so far as to create organizations at the nearly every level of the Church hierarchy which meet explicitly to deal with how to more effectively engage in usury.

It is quite disheartening actually. I've even heard such things mentioned openly by Priests, Bishops, and Metropolitans. They don't even struggle with this sin quietly.

Some Christians actually promote this lifestyle and encourage their fellow Christians to follow them.

Lord have mercy. 
 

Ioannis Climacus

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orthonorm said:
Jetavan said:
Jason.Wike said:
Usury is denounced in the OT and NT bunches, so why do Christians participate in it? I've noticed Muslims have created their own banking systems even in the west to avoid being involved in usury but it seems like Christians have not. There are banks which have some kind of vaguely Christianity identity in their name but they still charge interest and there's nothing actually Christian seeming about them.
Why is this topic of interest to you?
Interesting how no one asks this about the myriad of threads on homosexuality, birth control, abortion, etc.
I could be mistaken entirely, but I believe that Jetavan's response was a light-hearted reference to the double meaning of the word "interest" and not a serious inquiry pertaining to the OP's motives.
 

orthonorm

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Ioannis Climacus said:
orthonorm said:
Jetavan said:
Jason.Wike said:
Usury is denounced in the OT and NT bunches, so why do Christians participate in it? I've noticed Muslims have created their own banking systems even in the west to avoid being involved in usury but it seems like Christians have not. There are banks which have some kind of vaguely Christianity identity in their name but they still charge interest and there's nothing actually Christian seeming about them.
Why is this topic of interest to you?
Interesting how no one asks this about the myriad of threads on homosexuality, birth control, abortion, etc.
I could be mistaken entirely, but I believe that Jetavan's response was a light-hearted reference to the double meaning of the word "interest" and not a serious inquiry pertaining to the OP's motives.
And I wonder if people understand I dove-tailed off of that?
 

JamesR

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It is actually quite funny and saddening at the same time. So many "Christians" absolutely despise homosexuality, yet for some reason they have no problem participating in usury. We pick and choose what we think is a "bigger sin" and brag about not participating in the "bigger one".
 

Shanghaiski

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I love how people get on their high horses about Christians doing banking and getting loans, but then get loosey-goosey on other things which are not only condemned in Scripture, but by centuries of tradition. Yes, let's ban usury and allow infanticide. That way we'll cover what really matters.
 

Hinterlander

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Calvin argued 5 percent interest was the acceptable maximum btw christians
 

orthonorm

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Hinterlander said:
Calvin argued 5 percent interest was the acceptable maximum btw christians
We talking compound?

Cause even the Romans thought that was cruel at nearly any rate.
 

Jason.Wike

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Shanghaiski said:
I love how people get on their high horses about Christians doing banking and getting loans, but then get loosey-goosey on other things which are not only condemned in Scripture, but by centuries of tradition. Yes, let's ban usury and allow infanticide. That way we'll cover what really matters.
Who said that?

I'm surprised it seems like almost no one considers this as anything other than worthy of derision.
 

JamesR

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This is something I sort of don't understand. Now don't get me wrong, I highly oppose excessive interest and usury. But, how are people and business supposed to make money if they give out loans to people and do not make a profit from it? Maybe on an individual level we could not charge any interest, but what about on a business level? I mean lets face it, there are not many individual people who could loan you $10,000+--you would have to consult a business like a bank. In which case, wouldn't it be fair for business to charge at least a tiny, fair interest rate so that they could make a profit in the end?
 

Asteriktos

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Stop posing 21st century questions when we are talking about 1st century solutions!  8)
 

Achronos

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JamesR said:
This is something I sort of don't understand. Now don't get me wrong, I highly oppose excessive interest and usury. But, how are people and business supposed to make money if they give out loans to people and do not make a profit from it? Maybe on an individual level we could not charge any interest, but what about on a business level? I mean lets face it, there are not many individual people who could loan you $10,000+--you would have to consult a business like a bank. In which case, wouldn't it be fair for business to charge at least a tiny, fair interest rate so that they could make a profit in the end?
Because it shouldn't be about profit.
 

Shanghaiski

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Achronos said:
JamesR said:
This is something I sort of don't understand. Now don't get me wrong, I highly oppose excessive interest and usury. But, how are people and business supposed to make money if they give out loans to people and do not make a profit from it? Maybe on an individual level we could not charge any interest, but what about on a business level? I mean lets face it, there are not many individual people who could loan you $10,000+--you would have to consult a business like a bank. In which case, wouldn't it be fair for business to charge at least a tiny, fair interest rate so that they could make a profit in the end?
Because it shouldn't be about profit.
And yet profits often get re-invested. Profit allows businesses to hire more people. Without profits, we'd need death-camps and few people really want those.
 

OrthoNoob

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Whilst I hesitate to make any kind of definitive statement on the accuracy of the term "bunches," I am aware of the condemnation (not universal, it's interesting to note) of usury in the OT, as well as the Thomist argument against it (which I find unconvincing for reasons I'll elaborate on later if the debate gets into that territory). But where in the NT is usury condemned?
 

Shanghaiski

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OrthoNoob said:
Whilst I hesitate to make any kind of definitive statement on the accuracy of the term "bunches," I am aware of the condemnation (not universal, it's interesting to note) of usury in the OT, as well as the Thomist argument against it (which I find unconvincing for reasons I'll elaborate on later if the debate gets into that territory). But where in the NT is usury condemned?
In that parable where the Lord tells the bad servant that he should have invested his talent with the bankers and gotten back as much with interest....oh wait.
 

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neon_knights said:
So, none of you guys have money in banks I suppose?
We do, but we told the lady at the bank to take all interest earnings off our account because of usury.
 

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yeshuaisiam said:
neon_knights said:
So, none of you guys have money in banks I suppose?
We do, but we told the lady at the bank to take all interest earnings off our account because of usury.
Presumably, they still lend your money at interest.
 

Asteriktos

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I wonder how the Parable of the Unjust Steward fits in here...
 

Second Chance

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Achronos said:
JamesR said:
This is something I sort of don't understand. Now don't get me wrong, I highly oppose excessive interest and usury. But, how are people and business supposed to make money if they give out loans to people and do not make a profit from it? Maybe on an individual level we could not charge any interest, but what about on a business level? I mean lets face it, there are not many individual people who could loan you $10,000+--you would have to consult a business like a bank. In which case, wouldn't it be fair for business to charge at least a tiny, fair interest rate so that they could make a profit in the end?
Because it shouldn't be about profit.
However, it is always about profit, if one defines profit as the difference between cost of production and price. There must be money earned and set aside for emergencies, to compensate the owner/s for risk-taking, for research and development, marketing costs, etc... No profit equals the poor house.
 

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In OT or NT times, usury was different than earning interest on a savings account today. There was no concept of inflation or time-value of money. It was a completely different economy. Gold just sat and was still gold. It's value didn't change. So a fee charged for it's use was just a fee. Receiving interest on a savings account today is less than inflation, you're not receiving anything, you're just being partially compensated for the loss in value of your money.

Even if you buy a bond, it isn't really usury. Usury is illegal in Canada and the U.S. and has specific definitions for what rate counts as usury. It's is excessive interest, praying on the desperate (think payday loans), similar to what the Bible condemns.

If a farmer was desperate for money, and went to a money lender, and had to give up farm instruments to pay for the loan (what else would they have, if they need to borrow money, they obviously don't have any to pay usury, unlike modern moderate interest), and wouldn't get them back until they could repay the loan, they were then prevented from carrying out their livelihood. That's usury.
 

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Jonathan said:
In OT or NT times, usury was different than earning interest on a savings account today. There was no concept of inflation or time-value of money. It was a completely different economy. Gold just sat and was still gold. It's value didn't change. So a fee charged for it's use was just a fee. Receiving interest on a savings account today is less than inflation, you're not receiving anything, you're just being partially compensated for the loss in value of your money.
The science of economics may not have developed to the point where time preference or inflation was well understood, but the practice of debasing the currency certainly existed and I guarantee you that people then as now preferred goods now to those same goods later, ceteris paribus.
 

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Shanghaiski said:
OrthoNoob said:
Whilst I hesitate to make any kind of definitive statement on the accuracy of the term "bunches," I am aware of the condemnation (not universal, it's interesting to note) of usury in the OT, as well as the Thomist argument against it (which I find unconvincing for reasons I'll elaborate on later if the debate gets into that territory). But where in the NT is usury condemned?
In that parable where the Lord tells the bad servant that he should have invested his talent with the bankers and gotten back as much with interest....oh wait.
High five.
 

Apples

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Some of the opinions in this thread are pretty HH.
 

yeshuaisiam

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OrthoNoob said:
yeshuaisiam said:
neon_knights said:
So, none of you guys have money in banks I suppose?
We do, but we told the lady at the bank to take all interest earnings off our account because of usury.
Presumably, they still lend your money at interest.
Then they are sinning.  I am not collecting usury.
 

OrthoNoob

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yeshuaisiam said:
OrthoNoob said:
yeshuaisiam said:
neon_knights said:
So, none of you guys have money in banks I suppose?
We do, but we told the lady at the bank to take all interest earnings off our account because of usury.
Presumably, they still lend your money at interest.
Then they are sinning.  I am not collecting usury.
Wouldn't this qualify as presenting an occasion of sin?
 

Shanghaiski

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OrthoNoob said:
yeshuaisiam said:
OrthoNoob said:
yeshuaisiam said:
neon_knights said:
So, none of you guys have money in banks I suppose?
We do, but we told the lady at the bank to take all interest earnings off our account because of usury.
Presumably, they still lend your money at interest.
Then they are sinning.  I am not collecting usury.
Wouldn't this qualify as presenting an occasion of sin?
According to some, the mere act of walking outside the house does this. There are limits, really.
 

OrthoNoob

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Shanghaiski said:
OrthoNoob said:
yeshuaisiam said:
OrthoNoob said:
yeshuaisiam said:
neon_knights said:
So, none of you guys have money in banks I suppose?
We do, but we told the lady at the bank to take all interest earnings off our account because of usury.
Presumably, they still lend your money at interest.
Then they are sinning.  I am not collecting usury.
Wouldn't this qualify as presenting an occasion of sin?
According to some, the mere act of walking outside the house does this. There are limits, really.
Of course there are. And yet if a person's primary business necessarily involves sin, and one knowingly and voluntarily provides him with the means of doing his business, it would seem that this qualifies as at least presenting an occasion, if not being an accessory.

Of course, the Thomists would disagree, I think. Now, where are they?
 

Apples

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Shanghaiski said:
William said:
Some of the opinions in this thread are pretty HH.
HH? Hilariously horrible?
Hyperdox Herman.

"Refuses to use banks. It's usury!"

"Won't talk to accountant relative."

Etc.
 

yeshuaisiam

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OrthoNoob said:
Shanghaiski said:
OrthoNoob said:
yeshuaisiam said:
OrthoNoob said:
yeshuaisiam said:
neon_knights said:
So, none of you guys have money in banks I suppose?
We do, but we told the lady at the bank to take all interest earnings off our account because of usury.
Presumably, they still lend your money at interest.
Then they are sinning.  I am not collecting usury.
Wouldn't this qualify as presenting an occasion of sin?
According to some, the mere act of walking outside the house does this. There are limits, really.
Of course there are. And yet if a person's primary business necessarily involves sin, and one knowingly and voluntarily provides him with the means of doing his business, it would seem that this qualifies as at least presenting an occasion, if not being an accessory.

Of course, the Thomists would disagree, I think. Now, where are they?
Well there are several functions of a bank.

First it can keep your money safe (without you charging them usury).
Second they can issue you a debit card where you can slide it for fast purchases and buy online.
Third they also have stuff like safety deposit boxes.
Fourth they can cash checks for you for free.

They do earn most of their money through usury though.

We were commanded as Christians not to charge usury.

I am a Christian and I do not charge usury.

If the bank I am affiliated with charges usury, then that is their issue.  Do I enable them?

The long list of complexities of this can go far.

For example:
IF you run Microsoft Windows on your computer, you also help support Planned Parenthood
If you have an HP or Compaq system, you too support Planned Parenthood
If you have directTV or dish network, you support a business that streams pornography

I mean, where does it stop?

I dunno.  I respect your opinion though.  It does actually bother me a bit to keep money in the bank.  You've given me something to think about for sure.

(Solutions to the examples -- Run Linux, buy dell, and dump TV)
 

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yeshuaisiam said:
OrthoNoob said:
Shanghaiski said:
OrthoNoob said:
yeshuaisiam said:
OrthoNoob said:
yeshuaisiam said:
neon_knights said:
So, none of you guys have money in banks I suppose?
We do, but we told the lady at the bank to take all interest earnings off our account because of usury.
Presumably, they still lend your money at interest.
Then they are sinning.  I am not collecting usury.
Wouldn't this qualify as presenting an occasion of sin?
According to some, the mere act of walking outside the house does this. There are limits, really.
Of course there are. And yet if a person's primary business necessarily involves sin, and one knowingly and voluntarily provides him with the means of doing his business, it would seem that this qualifies as at least presenting an occasion, if not being an accessory.

Of course, the Thomists would disagree, I think. Now, where are they?
Well there are several functions of a bank.

First it can keep your money safe (without you charging them usury).
Second they can issue you a debit card where you can slide it for fast purchases and buy online.
Third they also have stuff like safety deposit boxes.
Fourth they can cash checks for you for free.

They do earn most of their money through usury though.

We were commanded as Christians not to charge usury.

I am a Christian and I do not charge usury.

If the bank I am affiliated with charges usury, then that is their issue.  Do I enable them?
It would seem that you do. But see below.

yeshuaisiam said:
The long list of complexities of this can go far.

For example:
IF you run Microsoft Windows on your computer, you also help support Planned Parenthood
If you have an HP or Compaq system, you too support Planned Parenthood
If you have directTV or dish network, you support a business that streams pornography

I mean, where does it stop?
The difference, I think, is that support for Planned Parenthood and the streaming of pornography are incidental to the primary business of Microsoft, HP, Compaq, or DirecTV, whereas lending for a profit is by nature the business of a modern bank. It's not just that they happen to do it (at least IMO); if that were our standard, I'd have to interrogate you rather thoroughly before I could do business with you; but rather, it seems to me, that it's a question of the nature of the business itself. It's the difference between buying a book from a man you know employs prostitutes and renting a condo you own to a pimp to use as a place of business.

yeshuaisiam said:
I dunno.  I respect your opinion though.  It does actually bother me a bit to keep money in the bank.  You've given me something to think about for sure.

(Solutions to the examples -- Run Linux, buy dell, and dump TV)
Yeah. And FTR, I'm far from committed to the position that usury is wrong, and in fact lean against it. But I am interested in a thorough examination of the question, so I hope you won't take anything I say personally.
 

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Shanghaiski said:
OrthoNoob said:
yeshuaisiam said:
OrthoNoob said:
yeshuaisiam said:
neon_knights said:
So, none of you guys have money in banks I suppose?
We do, but we told the lady at the bank to take all interest earnings off our account because of usury.
Presumably, they still lend your money at interest.
Then they are sinning.  I am not collecting usury.
Wouldn't this qualify as presenting an occasion of sin?
According to some, the mere act of walking outside the house does this. There are limits, really.
And throughout time they strangely fit almost identically with the prevailing mores of the time.

Weird that.
 
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