Luther on big business

Thanks to Tom Hering for this quotation from Martin Luther, On Trading and Usury, 1524:

Of the companies I ought to say much, but that whole subject is such a bottomless abyss of avarice and wrong that there is nothing in it that can be discussed with a clear conscience. For what man is so stupid as not to see that companies are nothing else than mere monopolies? Even the temporal law of the heathen forbids them as openly injurious, to say nothing of the divine law and Christian statutes. They have all commodities under their control and practice without concealment all the tricks that have been mentioned; they raise and lower prices as they please and oppress and ruin all the small merchants, as the pike the little fish in the water, just as though they were lords over God’s creatures and free from all the laws of faith and love …

… How could it ever be right and according to God’s will that a man should in a short time grow so rich that he could buy out kings and emperors? But they have brought things to such a pass that the whole world must do business at a risk and at a loss, winning this year and losing next year, while they always win, making up their losses by increased profits, and so it is no wonder that they quickly seize upon the wealth of all the world, for a pfennig that is permanent and sure is better than a gulden that is temporary and uncertain. But these companies trade with permanent and sure gulden, and we with temporary and uncertain pfennigs. No wonder they become kings and we beggars!

via Comments ‹ Cranach: The Blog of Veith — WordPress.

Now I don’t think this means Luther would Occupy Wall Street if he were here today, but there is quite a bit here:  He opposes monopolies, which are always anti-free-market.   (The paradox that the free market will create businesses that try to prevent the free market from working against them by establishing monopolies was noted by Marx, but I believe conservatives agree with this problem.)  He also seems to want “strong money,” as opposed to inflationary and easily-manipulated soft currency.

Luther speaks as a theologian, not as an economist, as if that field existed then as it does today, but doesn’t this strike a chord?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    Nothing new under the sun.

  • Pete

    Nothing new under the sun.

  • Tom Hering

    “Luther speaks as a theologian, not as an economist …”

    I think, to be sure, that this book of mine will be quite in vain, because the mischief has gone so far and has completely got the upper hand in all lands; and because those who understand the Gospel ought to be able in such easy, external things to let their own conscience be judge of what is proper and what is not. Nevertheless I have been urged and begged to touch upon these financial misdoings and to expose some of them, so that even though the majority may not want to do right, some, if only a few, may yet be delivered from the gaping jaws of avarice. For it must be that among the merchants, as among other people, there are some who belong to Christ and would rather be poor with God than rich with the devil, as says Psalm 37:16, “Better is the little that the righteous hath than the great possessions of the godless.” For their sake, then, we must speak out …

    … In what has been said I have wished to give a bit of warning and instruction to everyone about this great, nasty, widespread business of merchandising. If we were to accept the principle that everyone may sell his wares as dear as he can, and were to approve the custom of borrowing and forced lending and standing surety, and yet try to advise men how they could act the part of Christians and keep their consciences good and safe – that would be the same as trying to teach men how wrong could be right and bad good, and how one could at the same time live and act according to the divine Scriptures and against the divine Scriptures …

    … I know full well that this book of mine will be taken ill, and perhaps they will throw it all to the winds and remain as they are; but it will not be my fault, for I have done my part to show how richly we have deserved it if God shall come with a rod. If I have instructed a single soul and rescued it from the jaws of avarice, my labor will not have been in vain …

    On Trading and Usury (1524)

  • Tom Hering

    “Luther speaks as a theologian, not as an economist …”

    I think, to be sure, that this book of mine will be quite in vain, because the mischief has gone so far and has completely got the upper hand in all lands; and because those who understand the Gospel ought to be able in such easy, external things to let their own conscience be judge of what is proper and what is not. Nevertheless I have been urged and begged to touch upon these financial misdoings and to expose some of them, so that even though the majority may not want to do right, some, if only a few, may yet be delivered from the gaping jaws of avarice. For it must be that among the merchants, as among other people, there are some who belong to Christ and would rather be poor with God than rich with the devil, as says Psalm 37:16, “Better is the little that the righteous hath than the great possessions of the godless.” For their sake, then, we must speak out …

    … In what has been said I have wished to give a bit of warning and instruction to everyone about this great, nasty, widespread business of merchandising. If we were to accept the principle that everyone may sell his wares as dear as he can, and were to approve the custom of borrowing and forced lending and standing surety, and yet try to advise men how they could act the part of Christians and keep their consciences good and safe – that would be the same as trying to teach men how wrong could be right and bad good, and how one could at the same time live and act according to the divine Scriptures and against the divine Scriptures …

    … I know full well that this book of mine will be taken ill, and perhaps they will throw it all to the winds and remain as they are; but it will not be my fault, for I have done my part to show how richly we have deserved it if God shall come with a rod. If I have instructed a single soul and rescued it from the jaws of avarice, my labor will not have been in vain …

    On Trading and Usury (1524)

  • WebMonk

    Not exactly the most knowledgeable on economic matters, was he? Or, was he speaking to a particular set of practices and not the entirety of the economic systems of the world?

  • WebMonk

    Not exactly the most knowledgeable on economic matters, was he? Or, was he speaking to a particular set of practices and not the entirety of the economic systems of the world?

  • Cincinnatus

    This is why governments should stop incorporating limited-liability corporations. Seriously.

    /will never happen

  • Cincinnatus

    This is why governments should stop incorporating limited-liability corporations. Seriously.

    /will never happen

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Luther speaks as a theologian, not as an economist …”

    Right.

    Also, Marx spoke as an economist, not a theologian…

    Much of what Marx writes is just descriptive. He made many useful observations. The problem is that absent true religion, folks will substitute something else, and some of Marx’s work has been formulated by some as a sort of secular religion.

    “This is why governments should stop incorporating limited-liability corporations. Seriously.”

    Back in high school when I first heard that corporations were treated as persons, the first thing I wondered was how in the world did the politicians ever get people to vote for that rule. Why would the regular citizens want that to be the case? How could you convince folks that it would be in their interest to treat companies that way? Then I found out that the politicians actually just got folks to vote for the 14th amendment in which the Supreme Court has been able to find all kinds of stuff that no plain reading of the text would confer or imply.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Luther speaks as a theologian, not as an economist …”

    Right.

    Also, Marx spoke as an economist, not a theologian…

    Much of what Marx writes is just descriptive. He made many useful observations. The problem is that absent true religion, folks will substitute something else, and some of Marx’s work has been formulated by some as a sort of secular religion.

    “This is why governments should stop incorporating limited-liability corporations. Seriously.”

    Back in high school when I first heard that corporations were treated as persons, the first thing I wondered was how in the world did the politicians ever get people to vote for that rule. Why would the regular citizens want that to be the case? How could you convince folks that it would be in their interest to treat companies that way? Then I found out that the politicians actually just got folks to vote for the 14th amendment in which the Supreme Court has been able to find all kinds of stuff that no plain reading of the text would confer or imply.

  • SKPeterson

    Luther was not condemning business or trade or even banking, but he was condemning particular practices that we would typically associate with fraud in relation to these activities, or behavior that was blatantly anti-competitive. In many cases these sorts of fraudulent activities were actively or tacitly approved by the governing authorities, both temporal and religious. It was also the case that, at Luther’s time and for the next few centuries, almost every company that came into being, was explicitly a monopoly and granted such powers by a temporal authority. Good examples: the Hudson Bay Company, East India Company, and the Dutch East India Company. The Genoese and Venetians monopolized (actually, technically cartelized) much of the Mediterranean spice trade passing through Ottoman territory. This, in turn, led the Portuguese to explore down the coast of Africa and eventually into the Indian Ocean and on to the Spice Islands. They were later followed by the Dutch, the French, the English and the Spanish. The discovery of the Americas was directly related to Spanish efforts to circumvent the Genoan and Venetian trade monopolies (also think here of Marco Polo’s travels).

    Luther was dealing with several interesting economic phenomena in his time: the transition away from a guild-dominated medieval economy into a proto-capitalist society, as well as the early stages of a century-plus period of sustained price inflation resulting from the vast amounts of looted New World wealth brought back to Europe by the Spanish. This new money filtered north towards the Netherlands and Germany and disrupted many regional economies. Then, as now, financial manipulation and banking aided and abetted by cash-desperate governments often went hand in hand to the detriment of actual capital formation and smoother pricing signals in the markets, leading to the types of fraud condemned by Luther.

  • SKPeterson

    Luther was not condemning business or trade or even banking, but he was condemning particular practices that we would typically associate with fraud in relation to these activities, or behavior that was blatantly anti-competitive. In many cases these sorts of fraudulent activities were actively or tacitly approved by the governing authorities, both temporal and religious. It was also the case that, at Luther’s time and for the next few centuries, almost every company that came into being, was explicitly a monopoly and granted such powers by a temporal authority. Good examples: the Hudson Bay Company, East India Company, and the Dutch East India Company. The Genoese and Venetians monopolized (actually, technically cartelized) much of the Mediterranean spice trade passing through Ottoman territory. This, in turn, led the Portuguese to explore down the coast of Africa and eventually into the Indian Ocean and on to the Spice Islands. They were later followed by the Dutch, the French, the English and the Spanish. The discovery of the Americas was directly related to Spanish efforts to circumvent the Genoan and Venetian trade monopolies (also think here of Marco Polo’s travels).

    Luther was dealing with several interesting economic phenomena in his time: the transition away from a guild-dominated medieval economy into a proto-capitalist society, as well as the early stages of a century-plus period of sustained price inflation resulting from the vast amounts of looted New World wealth brought back to Europe by the Spanish. This new money filtered north towards the Netherlands and Germany and disrupted many regional economies. Then, as now, financial manipulation and banking aided and abetted by cash-desperate governments often went hand in hand to the detriment of actual capital formation and smoother pricing signals in the markets, leading to the types of fraud condemned by Luther.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Cincinnatus @ 3
    Two thumbs way up on that comment.

    I don’t know why many conservatives can’t see how Big Business and Big Government go hand in hand and that the incestuous relationship between the two is the source of many of our biggest economic issues.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Cincinnatus @ 3
    Two thumbs way up on that comment.

    I don’t know why many conservatives can’t see how Big Business and Big Government go hand in hand and that the incestuous relationship between the two is the source of many of our biggest economic issues.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    We also need to recognize that Luther saw this as an authority problem. For Luther, it is against natural law for businesses to shortly amass more wealth (and power) than kings and emperors. I think the underlying idea is that God has ordained kings to lead (in righteousness), and as a result they deserve wealth and power. Businesses, however, do not exist to serve the people at all, and when they surpass government, they also surpass governance. I’m not sure how Luther’s ideas translates from feudal duchies to capitalist democratic-republics, but it is worth thinking about his authority paradigm.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    We also need to recognize that Luther saw this as an authority problem. For Luther, it is against natural law for businesses to shortly amass more wealth (and power) than kings and emperors. I think the underlying idea is that God has ordained kings to lead (in righteousness), and as a result they deserve wealth and power. Businesses, however, do not exist to serve the people at all, and when they surpass government, they also surpass governance. I’m not sure how Luther’s ideas translates from feudal duchies to capitalist democratic-republics, but it is worth thinking about his authority paradigm.

  • Jon

    That’s a very thoughtful point, John @7.

  • Jon

    That’s a very thoughtful point, John @7.

  • J. Dettmann

    Luther considered the taking of interest, which he defined as usury, as sin. This older definition of usury was the only one until Calvin changed it. Consider hymn #287 in TLH, #331 in LW, and #285 in CW “That Man a Godly Life Might Live” by Luther:

    8. Steal not; all usury abhor
    Nor wring their life-blood from the poor,
    But open wide thy loving hand
    To all the poor in the land.
    Have mercy, Lord!

    from http://www.lutheran-hymnal.com/lyrics/tlh287.htm

    See http://www.lutherquest.org/cgi-bin/discus40/show.cgi?tpc=13&post=257099#POST257099

    So for Luther, economics was all about the seventh commandment. He worded his explanation of the seventh commandment in a way so as to specifically include usury along with other “false” commerce (handel).

  • J. Dettmann

    Luther considered the taking of interest, which he defined as usury, as sin. This older definition of usury was the only one until Calvin changed it. Consider hymn #287 in TLH, #331 in LW, and #285 in CW “That Man a Godly Life Might Live” by Luther:

    8. Steal not; all usury abhor
    Nor wring their life-blood from the poor,
    But open wide thy loving hand
    To all the poor in the land.
    Have mercy, Lord!

    from http://www.lutheran-hymnal.com/lyrics/tlh287.htm

    See http://www.lutherquest.org/cgi-bin/discus40/show.cgi?tpc=13&post=257099#POST257099

    So for Luther, economics was all about the seventh commandment. He worded his explanation of the seventh commandment in a way so as to specifically include usury along with other “false” commerce (handel).

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus @ 3: What do you mean by that? In this litigious age, you would be an idiot to conduct a business, at least in any of the higher risk occupations, without some limitation on your liability, to protect your personal assets. There are corporate veil piercing statutes for intentional torts, such as fraud, or for cases of inadequate capitalization, but you don’t do away with the system that has brought the modern western world to incredible heights of prosperity because of a few bad apples (where the lack of limited liability wouldn’t have made a meaningful difference anyway). Would you buy a share of stock in a company if your ownership of that share subjected you to potential liability for corporate misdeeds? Or agree to sit on their board? I guess I don’t know where you’re going with that comment, but it seems unlike you.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus @ 3: What do you mean by that? In this litigious age, you would be an idiot to conduct a business, at least in any of the higher risk occupations, without some limitation on your liability, to protect your personal assets. There are corporate veil piercing statutes for intentional torts, such as fraud, or for cases of inadequate capitalization, but you don’t do away with the system that has brought the modern western world to incredible heights of prosperity because of a few bad apples (where the lack of limited liability wouldn’t have made a meaningful difference anyway). Would you buy a share of stock in a company if your ownership of that share subjected you to potential liability for corporate misdeeds? Or agree to sit on their board? I guess I don’t know where you’re going with that comment, but it seems unlike you.

  • mrpreacherman

    Steve @ 6- you are right on.

    “I don’t know why many conservatives can’t see how Big Business and Big Government go hand in hand and that the incestuous relationship between the two is the source of many of our biggest economic issues.”

    As a conservative, this is my biggest issue. We do not simply have a big gov’t problem- which is a big problem- but we have a crony-capitalistic nightmare. Where, as we have seen over the past X years, the gov’t deciding when a company is “too big to fail.” This mantra supported by Bush, continued by Obama, is stifling our economy and is propping up the notion that large businesses will be bailed out if they are in a financial mess and yet, the ma and pa local stores will shut down if they endure the same mess (on a smaller scale).

    The best that a conservative can hope for is a group of brave political men and women to take the bull by the horns and begin to eliminate the practice of big gov’t and big business in bed- destroying our country.

  • mrpreacherman

    Steve @ 6- you are right on.

    “I don’t know why many conservatives can’t see how Big Business and Big Government go hand in hand and that the incestuous relationship between the two is the source of many of our biggest economic issues.”

    As a conservative, this is my biggest issue. We do not simply have a big gov’t problem- which is a big problem- but we have a crony-capitalistic nightmare. Where, as we have seen over the past X years, the gov’t deciding when a company is “too big to fail.” This mantra supported by Bush, continued by Obama, is stifling our economy and is propping up the notion that large businesses will be bailed out if they are in a financial mess and yet, the ma and pa local stores will shut down if they endure the same mess (on a smaller scale).

    The best that a conservative can hope for is a group of brave political men and women to take the bull by the horns and begin to eliminate the practice of big gov’t and big business in bed- destroying our country.

  • DonS

    To the larger question, the problem with big business is the unholy cabal between big business, big government, and big labor, which keeps smaller competitors out of the market and limits our choices to avoid these big companies. If you’re really for the 99%, you’re with those of us who want to break down the barriers to competition that these huge institutions impose every day.

  • DonS

    To the larger question, the problem with big business is the unholy cabal between big business, big government, and big labor, which keeps smaller competitors out of the market and limits our choices to avoid these big companies. If you’re really for the 99%, you’re with those of us who want to break down the barriers to competition that these huge institutions impose every day.

  • kerner

    This betrays a really crude understanding of economics. The first thing that jumps out at me is that Luther’s knock on corporations is pretty much the same as his knock on the Jews. What they are doing isn’t “work”, because they don’t have a hoe or flail in their hands. Therefore, any money they make is stolen, because they didn’t do any manual labor to “earn” it. As though working with your brain isn’t work or produces nothing of value.

    Also, I agree with SK that this has a lot to do with the fact that Europe has almost never had free markets. The stratified social system they had almost always generated the Big Government Big Business liasons that are the foundation of Crony Capitalism (which, in 20th Centuty Europe, was called Fascism, i.e government control over corporations but no competition allowed by non-govt. sanctioned companies).

    But I also agree with John that Luther probably saw this as an authority problem. The idea that just anybody could, by having a good idea and the drive and wit to execute it, make more money than the prince maay have been more than he could wrap his mind around. Of course, he was pretty busy with other things.

    I don’t see a big problem with treating an organization as a “person” for legal purposes. That is, an independent entity that has rights, but also duties and responsibilities. I mean, sure, a corporation have some legal rights; it can own property and enter into contracts, etc. But it also has duties and responsibilities. It can be sued, regulated, fined, taxed, etc. And like Don S says, does everyone here who has a retirement plan that owns stock want to be personally liable for everything that stock’s corporate entity does? Our economic system is what makes our people prosperous. Our so-called poor are fat, and we have our economic system to thank for that.

    Another thing. Can anyone here think of a large, non-business organization that we constantly refer to as having a head and a body and many members, as though it were a person? Just sayin’.

  • kerner

    This betrays a really crude understanding of economics. The first thing that jumps out at me is that Luther’s knock on corporations is pretty much the same as his knock on the Jews. What they are doing isn’t “work”, because they don’t have a hoe or flail in their hands. Therefore, any money they make is stolen, because they didn’t do any manual labor to “earn” it. As though working with your brain isn’t work or produces nothing of value.

    Also, I agree with SK that this has a lot to do with the fact that Europe has almost never had free markets. The stratified social system they had almost always generated the Big Government Big Business liasons that are the foundation of Crony Capitalism (which, in 20th Centuty Europe, was called Fascism, i.e government control over corporations but no competition allowed by non-govt. sanctioned companies).

    But I also agree with John that Luther probably saw this as an authority problem. The idea that just anybody could, by having a good idea and the drive and wit to execute it, make more money than the prince maay have been more than he could wrap his mind around. Of course, he was pretty busy with other things.

    I don’t see a big problem with treating an organization as a “person” for legal purposes. That is, an independent entity that has rights, but also duties and responsibilities. I mean, sure, a corporation have some legal rights; it can own property and enter into contracts, etc. But it also has duties and responsibilities. It can be sued, regulated, fined, taxed, etc. And like Don S says, does everyone here who has a retirement plan that owns stock want to be personally liable for everything that stock’s corporate entity does? Our economic system is what makes our people prosperous. Our so-called poor are fat, and we have our economic system to thank for that.

    Another thing. Can anyone here think of a large, non-business organization that we constantly refer to as having a head and a body and many members, as though it were a person? Just sayin’.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “The idea that just anybody could, by having a good idea and the drive and wit to execute it, make more money than the prince maay have been more than he could wrap his mind around.”

    A wealthy company can upset the balance of power between the authorities (who are to promote the general welfare) and the wealthier citizens. And yes, there can be a problem when too many seek to enrich themselves with value transference schemes rather than providing actual goods and services. I am not saying that banking is not a useful service. Safeguarding depositors’ most liquid assets is an important service. That is quite a long way from complex financial instruments the use of which has evolved into an activity that has more in common with gambling than lending capital to businesses that are providing valuable goods and services and promoting the general welfare through the honorable endeavor of business.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “The idea that just anybody could, by having a good idea and the drive and wit to execute it, make more money than the prince maay have been more than he could wrap his mind around.”

    A wealthy company can upset the balance of power between the authorities (who are to promote the general welfare) and the wealthier citizens. And yes, there can be a problem when too many seek to enrich themselves with value transference schemes rather than providing actual goods and services. I am not saying that banking is not a useful service. Safeguarding depositors’ most liquid assets is an important service. That is quite a long way from complex financial instruments the use of which has evolved into an activity that has more in common with gambling than lending capital to businesses that are providing valuable goods and services and promoting the general welfare through the honorable endeavor of business.

  • Grace

    Lending money to a brother, is much different than lending to a stranger.

    22 Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury:

    23 Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
    Deuteronomy 23:20

    Below is Jesus words concerning “usury”

    Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
    Mathew 25:27

    Jesus made it clear that HE could receive usury, it would have been a better option. This was concerning the “talents” –

    Luther made a big thing of “usury” – it all directs back to the Jews who loaned money, the jealousy others had when having to pay “usury” (interest) on monies borrowed. Nothing is different today. People are angry with the banks, they blame them for all their ills, when in fact, it is the norm, of which people spend money they don’t have, blame it on realtors, banks, anyone except themselves.

  • Grace

    Lending money to a brother, is much different than lending to a stranger.

    22 Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury:

    23 Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
    Deuteronomy 23:20

    Below is Jesus words concerning “usury”

    Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
    Mathew 25:27

    Jesus made it clear that HE could receive usury, it would have been a better option. This was concerning the “talents” –

    Luther made a big thing of “usury” – it all directs back to the Jews who loaned money, the jealousy others had when having to pay “usury” (interest) on monies borrowed. Nothing is different today. People are angry with the banks, they blame them for all their ills, when in fact, it is the norm, of which people spend money they don’t have, blame it on realtors, banks, anyone except themselves.

  • Jonathan

    @15, Grace, I agree with you that mortgages are sin. Think of all the churches that have one.

  • Jonathan

    @15, Grace, I agree with you that mortgages are sin. Think of all the churches that have one.

  • Tom Hering

    “This betrays a really crude understanding of economics.”

    Kerner, I don’t think there’s an “understanding of economics” involved here at all. Luther’s concern is with avarice and love of neighbor – the specific ways in which the world is avaricious, and how Christians can’t serve both neighbor and Mammon. He doesn’t write to propose an alternative economic system, but to convict those few Christians who will listen to him.

  • Tom Hering

    “This betrays a really crude understanding of economics.”

    Kerner, I don’t think there’s an “understanding of economics” involved here at all. Luther’s concern is with avarice and love of neighbor – the specific ways in which the world is avaricious, and how Christians can’t serve both neighbor and Mammon. He doesn’t write to propose an alternative economic system, but to convict those few Christians who will listen to him.

  • Tom Hering

    Grace, why am I not surprised you managed to see this as being about Luther and the Jews?

  • Tom Hering

    Grace, why am I not surprised you managed to see this as being about Luther and the Jews?

  • SKPeterson

    If interest rates were in the 5-7% range in Luther’s time, he might not have condemned it so harshly. Instead, rates were often 25+%. In fact, if one reads accounts of the Crusades, it is interesting to see how many of the large monastic houses amassed great wealth by loaning sums to the knights so they could equip themselves to fight. As a result the repayment of these loans often required punitive taxation levied against the peasantry and smallholders, but usually not against the proto-companies then in existence; like the Church they were often exempt. However, the Church did take out large loans to finance the construction of St. Peter’s, which led directly to the sale of indulgences to pay off the loans. Thus, Luther saw the machinations of the bankers (and not just the Jews, but the Italians as well) intimately tied up with the corruption of the theology of the Church and the bill that was being foisted upon the German people in order to make good on the Pope’s loans. Sounds oddly familiar to the current European situation where the German people are looked upon as the cash cows to be milked to pay for Greek, Italian and Spanish excesses.

  • SKPeterson

    If interest rates were in the 5-7% range in Luther’s time, he might not have condemned it so harshly. Instead, rates were often 25+%. In fact, if one reads accounts of the Crusades, it is interesting to see how many of the large monastic houses amassed great wealth by loaning sums to the knights so they could equip themselves to fight. As a result the repayment of these loans often required punitive taxation levied against the peasantry and smallholders, but usually not against the proto-companies then in existence; like the Church they were often exempt. However, the Church did take out large loans to finance the construction of St. Peter’s, which led directly to the sale of indulgences to pay off the loans. Thus, Luther saw the machinations of the bankers (and not just the Jews, but the Italians as well) intimately tied up with the corruption of the theology of the Church and the bill that was being foisted upon the German people in order to make good on the Pope’s loans. Sounds oddly familiar to the current European situation where the German people are looked upon as the cash cows to be milked to pay for Greek, Italian and Spanish excesses.

  • SKPeterson

    Tom @ 18 – Because we know that the Jews were the most popular minority group in all of Western Europe until that bad old German monk came along.

  • SKPeterson

    Tom @ 18 – Because we know that the Jews were the most popular minority group in all of Western Europe until that bad old German monk came along.

  • Grace

    Jonathan @ 16

    YOU WROTE: ” I agree with you that mortgages are sin. Think of all the churches that have one.”

    I didn’t say “mortgages” were sinful. They are not, as long as the individuals buying a home have enough money to put down the down payment, and pay the monthly mortgage. The problem arises when people buy on ‘hope’ that their income will increase, they hope for a ‘raise’ to make the payments, OR they never take into consideration that one of them could lose their job.

  • Grace

    Jonathan @ 16

    YOU WROTE: ” I agree with you that mortgages are sin. Think of all the churches that have one.”

    I didn’t say “mortgages” were sinful. They are not, as long as the individuals buying a home have enough money to put down the down payment, and pay the monthly mortgage. The problem arises when people buy on ‘hope’ that their income will increase, they hope for a ‘raise’ to make the payments, OR they never take into consideration that one of them could lose their job.

  • Tom Hering

    SK, I guess the fact that Luther talks about (A.) the world and (B.) Christians while never once mentioning (C.) the Jews is how I missed the fact that it was the Jews he had in mind. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    SK, I guess the fact that Luther talks about (A.) the world and (B.) Christians while never once mentioning (C.) the Jews is how I missed the fact that it was the Jews he had in mind. :-D

  • SKPeterson

    Just and FYI – the main targets of Luther’s ire were the Fuggers, a non-Jewish banking family. The Fuggers did lobby the Pope to lift the condemnation on usury during Luther’s lifetime, but they were also very big on being middlemen for indulgences and benefices sanctioned by the Church. The family were also big mining monopolists, especially copper. Their monopolistic tendencies were prosecuted by several governments (think of them as a earl modern version of the Hunt brothers).

  • SKPeterson

    Just and FYI – the main targets of Luther’s ire were the Fuggers, a non-Jewish banking family. The Fuggers did lobby the Pope to lift the condemnation on usury during Luther’s lifetime, but they were also very big on being middlemen for indulgences and benefices sanctioned by the Church. The family were also big mining monopolists, especially copper. Their monopolistic tendencies were prosecuted by several governments (think of them as a earl modern version of the Hunt brothers).

  • Jonathan

    @21, Grace, even if one takes into account that, in the next 30 years, one could lose his job (and thus be unable to pay a mortgage), who could possibly know if that would happen? All mortgages are based on hope.

  • Jonathan

    @21, Grace, even if one takes into account that, in the next 30 years, one could lose his job (and thus be unable to pay a mortgage), who could possibly know if that would happen? All mortgages are based on hope.

  • Grace

    Jonathan @ 24

    YOU WROTE: “Grace, even if one takes into account that, in the next 30 years, one could lose his job (and thus be unable to pay a mortgage), who could possibly know if that would happen? All mortgages are based on hope.”

    “Hope” is a good thing, but when you’re contemplating, buying a home, with a small down payment, or no downpayment, no savings, living month to month – it’s not only risky but unwise. The economy we see now has many of these stories. Granted there are those who have lost everything, through illness, loss of job, but many through risky ideas of “I want it now, it will work out somehow” –

    Those who ‘short sale’ their homes, condos, after taking out an equity loan earlier, when everything appreciated,… buying cars, trips, etc., …. then when the economy took a dive, turning around leasing another home or condo for just about the price of their previous mortgage…. that’s just one of the scenarios. It STINKS, the banks take the loss, they are made to sell the property for much less, while the previous owner spent the ‘equity line’ on whatever they wanted.

  • Grace

    Jonathan @ 24

    YOU WROTE: “Grace, even if one takes into account that, in the next 30 years, one could lose his job (and thus be unable to pay a mortgage), who could possibly know if that would happen? All mortgages are based on hope.”

    “Hope” is a good thing, but when you’re contemplating, buying a home, with a small down payment, or no downpayment, no savings, living month to month – it’s not only risky but unwise. The economy we see now has many of these stories. Granted there are those who have lost everything, through illness, loss of job, but many through risky ideas of “I want it now, it will work out somehow” –

    Those who ‘short sale’ their homes, condos, after taking out an equity loan earlier, when everything appreciated,… buying cars, trips, etc., …. then when the economy took a dive, turning around leasing another home or condo for just about the price of their previous mortgage…. that’s just one of the scenarios. It STINKS, the banks take the loss, they are made to sell the property for much less, while the previous owner spent the ‘equity line’ on whatever they wanted.

  • J. Dettmann

    Grace, the NT passage you cited confirms that Jesus and his disciples treated usury as a sin, as would ordinary 1st century Jews. See my explanation here which proves it: http://www.lutherquest.org/cgi-bin/discus40/show.cgi?tpc=13&post=257123#POST257123

  • J. Dettmann

    Grace, the NT passage you cited confirms that Jesus and his disciples treated usury as a sin, as would ordinary 1st century Jews. See my explanation here which proves it: http://www.lutherquest.org/cgi-bin/discus40/show.cgi?tpc=13&post=257123#POST257123

  • Grace

    J. Dettmann @ 26

    YOU WROTE: “See my explanation here which proves it”

    I’ll stick to the Bible and what Jesus stated.

    It isn’t what Luther stated, it IS what the LORD Jesus Christ made clear. Christ would not have suggested “usury” if it had been a sinful practice. “Usury” is sinful when one charges “usury” to a brother – It’s clear in Deuteronomy.

    22 Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury:

    23 Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
    Deuteronomy 23:20

    ~~

    24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:

    25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

    26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:

    27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

    28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.

    29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. Matthew 25

  • Grace

    J. Dettmann @ 26

    YOU WROTE: “See my explanation here which proves it”

    I’ll stick to the Bible and what Jesus stated.

    It isn’t what Luther stated, it IS what the LORD Jesus Christ made clear. Christ would not have suggested “usury” if it had been a sinful practice. “Usury” is sinful when one charges “usury” to a brother – It’s clear in Deuteronomy.

    22 Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury:

    23 Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
    Deuteronomy 23:20

    ~~

    24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:

    25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

    26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:

    27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

    28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.

    29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. Matthew 25

  • JunkerGeorg

    How about our current monetary system (unbacked fiat currency). Anyone? “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight.” (Prov. 11:1)

  • JunkerGeorg

    How about our current monetary system (unbacked fiat currency). Anyone? “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight.” (Prov. 11:1)

  • J. Dettmann

    My explanation mainly quoted commentaries & cross references:

    Matthew 25:26-27:
    His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

    And here is the parallel passage:

    Luke 19:22-23:
    And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?

    The Matthew Henry commentary has this to say on the Luke passage, “I feared thee, because thou art an austere man, rigid and severe, anthropos austeros. Austere is the Greek word itself: a sharp man: Thou takest up that which thou laidst not down. He thought that his master put a hardship upon his servants when he required and expected the improvement of their pounds, and that it was reaping where he did not sow;”

    Barnes writes, “An austere man – Hard, severe, oppressive. The word is commonly applied to unripe fruit, and means sour, unpleasant; harsh. In this case it means that the man was taking every advantage, and, while he lived in idleness, was making his living out of the toils of others.”

    Kretzmann’s Popular Commentary reads as following: “But with a third servant things did not look well from the start. With slinking gait he approached, with whining voice he attempted to excuse his failure. He brought back the one piece of money which the lord had entrusted to him, having had it wrapped up and carefully laid away in a napkin. As in the case of the average useless servant, his excuse contained an accusation against the master. He had been afraid on account of the austerity of the lord, literally, because he was such an exacting employer. Besides, he took things which he had not laid down, and harvested where he had not sowed. The servant had, from the start, despaired of pleasing the master, since he was afraid of an exorbitant demand for profit. This was a feeble and unjust accusation, merely calculated to cover over the servant’s laziness. It was his business to serve the master to the best of his ability. The useless servant was condemned by his own. words; by them he was convicted as lazy and wicked. If he had had that honest conviction that the master was actually so strict and exacting that he expected to get blood out of a stone, he should have remembered his station and acted in accordance with his conviction. It would have been a perfectly simple matter for him to have taken the money which he feared to invest of his own responsibility and put it into the bank. With sarcastic emphasis the lord says that he, upon his arrival, might have taken his own with interest. Then the servant would have kept his fingers and his conscience unsoiled.”

    In the Old Testament, sowing and reaping is a classic example of just cause and effect, as in these few examples out of many: Hosea 10:12, “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy” Psalm 126:6 “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” This idea is repeated again and again in the New Testament, to name a few: Matthew 6:26 “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap” in John 4:36 “he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.” Galatians 6:7 “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

    In Exodus 23:10, the people already were told that “And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof”. So they could expect to reap what they had sown. Leviticus 25:3 repeats this.

    The exception to this natural cause and effect relationship is the blessed yields of the sabbath year: Lev 25:20-21 “And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase: Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years.” So God commands them to reap without sowing on the sabbath year. Was this is what the servant meant when he claimed his master reaped where he did not so? While this might seem to fit, it is important to notice that the servant is making an accusation against his master in both the Matthew and Luke passages. Since keeping the sabbath year was obviously not an immoral thing, the servant character in both these parables could not have been referring to it. Therefore, he must have been talking about something else–the theft of another man’s standing crop. The only place that I am aware of in which this is specifically forbidden in the OT is Deuteronomy 23:24-25:

    “When thou comest into thy neighbour’s vineyard…thou shalt not put any in thy vessel…thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour’s standing corn.”

    This passage was apparently familiar to the the disciples, given that they are recorded taking advantage of the walk-through-and-eat provision in Matthew 12:1, Mark 2:23, and Luke 6:1. Since it seems that for both of these parables Jesus is speaking to his disciples (Matthew 24:3, Luke 19:11), the fact the disciples were aware of this passage is significant. It means Jesus didn’t have to explain it any further–simply to allude to it would be sufficient.

    It is clear here that the servant is making an accusation against his master in both of these parables. The servant claims in Matthew 25:24 “Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed” and in Luke 19:21, “thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.” The term austere is strange to our ears today, but surely it meant nothing good. Instead, he was directing an accusation of seventh-commandment violations as justification for fearfully hiding the money.

    The master is angry about this and replies in the Luke passage, “Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant”. By saying this, he is not admitting guilt. Instead he is arguing that, if hypothetically the servant was right about his purloining tendency to reap what he didn’t sow, why didn’t he put “my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?”–since, after all, a wicked master would have no moral qualms about usury, in which a man does in fact get money he hasn’t labored for. In this way, the servant’s own words condemn him either way–if his master was righteous, he should have gone into honest business, if his master was wicked, why didn’t he conspire with bankers to put the money out on usury?

    Clearly the servant must really be interested about rebellion more than anything else, and thus he must be slain as a traitor. The Matthew passage follows the same line of thought, even though the master doesn’t state quite as clearly that he is citing the servant’s opinion of him rather than admitting he is a thief that reaps where he does not sow.

    Therefore, this passage only confirms that Jesus and his disciples viewed usury-the taking of interest-as a sin. It is implicit and taken for granted in the parable. If Jesus and his disciples were considering banking a morally positive, or even neutral activity, the parable gets confused.

  • J. Dettmann

    My explanation mainly quoted commentaries & cross references:

    Matthew 25:26-27:
    His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

    And here is the parallel passage:

    Luke 19:22-23:
    And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?

    The Matthew Henry commentary has this to say on the Luke passage, “I feared thee, because thou art an austere man, rigid and severe, anthropos austeros. Austere is the Greek word itself: a sharp man: Thou takest up that which thou laidst not down. He thought that his master put a hardship upon his servants when he required and expected the improvement of their pounds, and that it was reaping where he did not sow;”

    Barnes writes, “An austere man – Hard, severe, oppressive. The word is commonly applied to unripe fruit, and means sour, unpleasant; harsh. In this case it means that the man was taking every advantage, and, while he lived in idleness, was making his living out of the toils of others.”

    Kretzmann’s Popular Commentary reads as following: “But with a third servant things did not look well from the start. With slinking gait he approached, with whining voice he attempted to excuse his failure. He brought back the one piece of money which the lord had entrusted to him, having had it wrapped up and carefully laid away in a napkin. As in the case of the average useless servant, his excuse contained an accusation against the master. He had been afraid on account of the austerity of the lord, literally, because he was such an exacting employer. Besides, he took things which he had not laid down, and harvested where he had not sowed. The servant had, from the start, despaired of pleasing the master, since he was afraid of an exorbitant demand for profit. This was a feeble and unjust accusation, merely calculated to cover over the servant’s laziness. It was his business to serve the master to the best of his ability. The useless servant was condemned by his own. words; by them he was convicted as lazy and wicked. If he had had that honest conviction that the master was actually so strict and exacting that he expected to get blood out of a stone, he should have remembered his station and acted in accordance with his conviction. It would have been a perfectly simple matter for him to have taken the money which he feared to invest of his own responsibility and put it into the bank. With sarcastic emphasis the lord says that he, upon his arrival, might have taken his own with interest. Then the servant would have kept his fingers and his conscience unsoiled.”

    In the Old Testament, sowing and reaping is a classic example of just cause and effect, as in these few examples out of many: Hosea 10:12, “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy” Psalm 126:6 “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” This idea is repeated again and again in the New Testament, to name a few: Matthew 6:26 “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap” in John 4:36 “he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.” Galatians 6:7 “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

    In Exodus 23:10, the people already were told that “And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof”. So they could expect to reap what they had sown. Leviticus 25:3 repeats this.

    The exception to this natural cause and effect relationship is the blessed yields of the sabbath year: Lev 25:20-21 “And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase: Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years.” So God commands them to reap without sowing on the sabbath year. Was this is what the servant meant when he claimed his master reaped where he did not so? While this might seem to fit, it is important to notice that the servant is making an accusation against his master in both the Matthew and Luke passages. Since keeping the sabbath year was obviously not an immoral thing, the servant character in both these parables could not have been referring to it. Therefore, he must have been talking about something else–the theft of another man’s standing crop. The only place that I am aware of in which this is specifically forbidden in the OT is Deuteronomy 23:24-25:

    “When thou comest into thy neighbour’s vineyard…thou shalt not put any in thy vessel…thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour’s standing corn.”

    This passage was apparently familiar to the the disciples, given that they are recorded taking advantage of the walk-through-and-eat provision in Matthew 12:1, Mark 2:23, and Luke 6:1. Since it seems that for both of these parables Jesus is speaking to his disciples (Matthew 24:3, Luke 19:11), the fact the disciples were aware of this passage is significant. It means Jesus didn’t have to explain it any further–simply to allude to it would be sufficient.

    It is clear here that the servant is making an accusation against his master in both of these parables. The servant claims in Matthew 25:24 “Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed” and in Luke 19:21, “thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.” The term austere is strange to our ears today, but surely it meant nothing good. Instead, he was directing an accusation of seventh-commandment violations as justification for fearfully hiding the money.

    The master is angry about this and replies in the Luke passage, “Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant”. By saying this, he is not admitting guilt. Instead he is arguing that, if hypothetically the servant was right about his purloining tendency to reap what he didn’t sow, why didn’t he put “my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?”–since, after all, a wicked master would have no moral qualms about usury, in which a man does in fact get money he hasn’t labored for. In this way, the servant’s own words condemn him either way–if his master was righteous, he should have gone into honest business, if his master was wicked, why didn’t he conspire with bankers to put the money out on usury?

    Clearly the servant must really be interested about rebellion more than anything else, and thus he must be slain as a traitor. The Matthew passage follows the same line of thought, even though the master doesn’t state quite as clearly that he is citing the servant’s opinion of him rather than admitting he is a thief that reaps where he does not sow.

    Therefore, this passage only confirms that Jesus and his disciples viewed usury-the taking of interest-as a sin. It is implicit and taken for granted in the parable. If Jesus and his disciples were considering banking a morally positive, or even neutral activity, the parable gets confused.

  • Tom Hering

    Grace, how can God both forbid the practice among the Jews in Deuteronomy, and commend it to them in Matthew?

  • Tom Hering

    Grace, how can God both forbid the practice among the Jews in Deuteronomy, and commend it to them in Matthew?

  • Grace

    J. Dettmann @ 30

    YOU WROTE: “Therefore, this passage only confirms that Jesus and his disciples viewed usury-the taking of interest-as a sin. It is implicit and taken for granted in the parable. If Jesus and his disciples were considering banking a morally positive, or even neutral activity, the parable gets confused.”

    The parable isn’t confused, it is man who is confused. We are not to lend our brothers in the same way we would lend to others. To our brother there is no usury, to others one can charge usury. Why did God allow this? I don’t know,…. it is however clear in Deuteronomy 23.

    22 Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury:

    23 Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
    Deuteronomy 23:20

    Too many people are confusing the situation within the U.S. as being the banks fault, now looking for someone to blame, EXCEPT themselves – buying that which they cannot afford, using credit cards, etc.

    The United States under Obama’s rule has borrowed billions, and now blames the people they borrowed from.

  • Grace

    J. Dettmann @ 30

    YOU WROTE: “Therefore, this passage only confirms that Jesus and his disciples viewed usury-the taking of interest-as a sin. It is implicit and taken for granted in the parable. If Jesus and his disciples were considering banking a morally positive, or even neutral activity, the parable gets confused.”

    The parable isn’t confused, it is man who is confused. We are not to lend our brothers in the same way we would lend to others. To our brother there is no usury, to others one can charge usury. Why did God allow this? I don’t know,…. it is however clear in Deuteronomy 23.

    22 Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury:

    23 Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
    Deuteronomy 23:20

    Too many people are confusing the situation within the U.S. as being the banks fault, now looking for someone to blame, EXCEPT themselves – buying that which they cannot afford, using credit cards, etc.

    The United States under Obama’s rule has borrowed billions, and now blames the people they borrowed from.

  • fws

    Kerner @ 14

    You are ignoring the breathtaking and terrifying demands of the Law here. I suggest you are reading the Law in the 7th commandment as you would read civil law. Permissible=lawful.

    Try reading the Law this way: we are to do mercy and goodness to others as we would most deeply desire it to be done unto us.

    Mercy is not justice. Mercy is undeserved. So this looks like treating everyone with generosity. It looks like you probably treated your wife when you were wooing her and trying to get her to fall in love with you and hopefully still treat her. It would look like “sucking up” to people or “kissing their a**” materially.

    It looks like charging someone what you would think was a generous price in relation to what you get. It does not look like charging what the market would bear.

    We have no idea what such a world would look like do we? We are stuck with our Old Adam in ALL we can see and do.

    It looks like the parables. In the parables God is not just. God is absurdly and unreasonably good.

    Yet the Law demands this sort of behavior out of us. Further God promises to punish those who do not keep the Law in this way. God says that the fruit he wants to see result from keeping the Law is Mercy and not Sacrifice. It is good to ponder what he meant by that.

    Lord have mercy!

    Justice is what deserve measured upon a scale, and justice is blindfolded. We reap precisely what we sow. Nothing personal! But you get what you deserve.

  • fws

    Kerner @ 14

    You are ignoring the breathtaking and terrifying demands of the Law here. I suggest you are reading the Law in the 7th commandment as you would read civil law. Permissible=lawful.

    Try reading the Law this way: we are to do mercy and goodness to others as we would most deeply desire it to be done unto us.

    Mercy is not justice. Mercy is undeserved. So this looks like treating everyone with generosity. It looks like you probably treated your wife when you were wooing her and trying to get her to fall in love with you and hopefully still treat her. It would look like “sucking up” to people or “kissing their a**” materially.

    It looks like charging someone what you would think was a generous price in relation to what you get. It does not look like charging what the market would bear.

    We have no idea what such a world would look like do we? We are stuck with our Old Adam in ALL we can see and do.

    It looks like the parables. In the parables God is not just. God is absurdly and unreasonably good.

    Yet the Law demands this sort of behavior out of us. Further God promises to punish those who do not keep the Law in this way. God says that the fruit he wants to see result from keeping the Law is Mercy and not Sacrifice. It is good to ponder what he meant by that.

    Lord have mercy!

    Justice is what deserve measured upon a scale, and justice is blindfolded. We reap precisely what we sow. Nothing personal! But you get what you deserve.

  • fws

    kerner@ 14

    And this all looks too, just as Luther said, like society giving priviledged status to the poor, the disabled, and widows and orphans. And society as God as organized it, is family, church and government. All three of these governments.

    The Scriptures gives the poor and those fallen on hard times like widows and orphans and the disabled a special preferencial claim on the wealth of the world. Again this is about Mercy as opposed to sacrifice. Mercy is always, by definition, undeserved, and it is what God desires, always to be the fruit of the workings of the Law.

    Sacrifice, I would suggest, where God and Christ contrast sacrifice to mercy, is justice. It is the Letter of the Law. It is what we deserve without any judicial descretion allowed. Abd God says that he never wants sacrifice done as a way to conform to the Law.

    Try substituting the words ” Fatherly Goodness and Mercy” wherever you see the Bible command that we “love” one another. We often are worried that Love can be misunderstood to mean self indulgence or lawlessness, or licentiousness. ok. I get that . I think that is the point you were trying to drive to in our previous discussions.

    So try to get that same reading out of “fatherly goodness and mercy” as it is described in the 1st article of the Small Catchism.

    I think this will help you see things alot differently. And please do take some time to work through what Christ meant as the contrast between mercy and the sacrifice that never is God pleasing. Christ broke the letter of the Sabbath Law. He did. And he underlined that fact by bringing up the shobread that David ate. That too was a clear breaking of the Letter of the Law. That was the entire point of the passage. Yet Christ “broke” the Law by keeping it if Love IS the sum of the Law.

  • fws

    kerner@ 14

    And this all looks too, just as Luther said, like society giving priviledged status to the poor, the disabled, and widows and orphans. And society as God as organized it, is family, church and government. All three of these governments.

    The Scriptures gives the poor and those fallen on hard times like widows and orphans and the disabled a special preferencial claim on the wealth of the world. Again this is about Mercy as opposed to sacrifice. Mercy is always, by definition, undeserved, and it is what God desires, always to be the fruit of the workings of the Law.

    Sacrifice, I would suggest, where God and Christ contrast sacrifice to mercy, is justice. It is the Letter of the Law. It is what we deserve without any judicial descretion allowed. Abd God says that he never wants sacrifice done as a way to conform to the Law.

    Try substituting the words ” Fatherly Goodness and Mercy” wherever you see the Bible command that we “love” one another. We often are worried that Love can be misunderstood to mean self indulgence or lawlessness, or licentiousness. ok. I get that . I think that is the point you were trying to drive to in our previous discussions.

    So try to get that same reading out of “fatherly goodness and mercy” as it is described in the 1st article of the Small Catchism.

    I think this will help you see things alot differently. And please do take some time to work through what Christ meant as the contrast between mercy and the sacrifice that never is God pleasing. Christ broke the letter of the Sabbath Law. He did. And he underlined that fact by bringing up the shobread that David ate. That too was a clear breaking of the Letter of the Law. That was the entire point of the passage. Yet Christ “broke” the Law by keeping it if Love IS the sum of the Law.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    What SKP & Webmonk said, way back there in the beginning, before the sideshow. Historical context is important.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    What SKP & Webmonk said, way back there in the beginning, before the sideshow. Historical context is important.

  • Tom Hering

    “We are not to lend our brothers in the same way we would lend to others. To our brother there is no usury, to others one can charge usury.” – Grace @ 32.

    So, if a banker is a Christian, he’s to discriminate between Christian loan applicants and non-Christian loan applicants, and show the favor of a zero-interest loan to the one but not the other. Hmmm. That’s a pretty low view of what it means to love your neighbor, because it’s a restricted view.

    Now, I know you won’t answer me, but I’ll ask you again: how is it that God forbids the practice of usury among the Jews in Deuteronomy, but commends it to them in Matthew (according to your interpretation)?

  • Tom Hering

    “We are not to lend our brothers in the same way we would lend to others. To our brother there is no usury, to others one can charge usury.” – Grace @ 32.

    So, if a banker is a Christian, he’s to discriminate between Christian loan applicants and non-Christian loan applicants, and show the favor of a zero-interest loan to the one but not the other. Hmmm. That’s a pretty low view of what it means to love your neighbor, because it’s a restricted view.

    Now, I know you won’t answer me, but I’ll ask you again: how is it that God forbids the practice of usury among the Jews in Deuteronomy, but commends it to them in Matthew (according to your interpretation)?

  • Grace

    Tom,

    YOU WROTE: “Now, I know you won’t answer me, but I’ll ask you again: how is it that God forbids the practice of usury among the Jews in Deuteronomy, but commends it to them in Matthew (according to your interpretation)?”

    God does not forbid “usury” to those who are not a brother, in Deuteronomy.

    22 Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury:

    23 Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
    Deuteronomy 23:20

    Are you unable to see the clear distinction between a brother and a stranger?

  • Grace

    Tom,

    YOU WROTE: “Now, I know you won’t answer me, but I’ll ask you again: how is it that God forbids the practice of usury among the Jews in Deuteronomy, but commends it to them in Matthew (according to your interpretation)?”

    God does not forbid “usury” to those who are not a brother, in Deuteronomy.

    22 Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury:

    23 Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
    Deuteronomy 23:20

    Are you unable to see the clear distinction between a brother and a stranger?

  • fws

    Grace,

    Please define for us: Who is your brother as defined by the Bible?

    please confer: Mark 3:35, 1 cor 8:13, Gen 4:9 (“am I my brother’s keeper” means only brother by birth or?….) , matt 18:15, 1 john 3:15, matt 5:43-45 (if we are sons and daughters of God, then what is our relationship to each other Grace?)

  • fws

    Grace,

    Please define for us: Who is your brother as defined by the Bible?

    please confer: Mark 3:35, 1 cor 8:13, Gen 4:9 (“am I my brother’s keeper” means only brother by birth or?….) , matt 18:15, 1 john 3:15, matt 5:43-45 (if we are sons and daughters of God, then what is our relationship to each other Grace?)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@32):

    The parable isn’t confused, it is man who is confused. We are not to lend our brothers in the same way we would lend to others.

    Except that most of Deuteronomy (especially the verses in chapter 23 under consideration here) quite explicitly only applies to the Israelites, not to modern Christians:

    Do not charge your brother interest, whether on money or food or anything else that may earn interest. You may charge a foreigner interest, but not a brother Israelite, so that the LORD your God may bless you in everything you put your hand to in the land you are entering to possess.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@32):

    The parable isn’t confused, it is man who is confused. We are not to lend our brothers in the same way we would lend to others.

    Except that most of Deuteronomy (especially the verses in chapter 23 under consideration here) quite explicitly only applies to the Israelites, not to modern Christians:

    Do not charge your brother interest, whether on money or food or anything else that may earn interest. You may charge a foreigner interest, but not a brother Israelite, so that the LORD your God may bless you in everything you put your hand to in the land you are entering to possess.

  • fws

    grace, or what to make of these passages…

    Matthew 7:3-5 ESV Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

    Luke 6:31 ESV And as you WISH that others would do to you, do so to them.

    Matthew 7:12 esv so whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

    1 John 4:20-21 ESV If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

    Romans 12:10 ESV Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

    Matthew 7:3-5 ESV Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

    James 2:1-13 ESV My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? …

    Grace, biblically, WHO is your brother? Only Christians? Christians and Jews only? Your brothers that are the sons of your biological father? Step brothers? All men?

  • fws

    grace, or what to make of these passages…

    Matthew 7:3-5 ESV Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

    Luke 6:31 ESV And as you WISH that others would do to you, do so to them.

    Matthew 7:12 esv so whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

    1 John 4:20-21 ESV If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

    Romans 12:10 ESV Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

    Matthew 7:3-5 ESV Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

    James 2:1-13 ESV My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? …

    Grace, biblically, WHO is your brother? Only Christians? Christians and Jews only? Your brothers that are the sons of your biological father? Step brothers? All men?

  • J. Dettmann

    Grace,

    C.F.W. Walther explained in his Die Wurcherfrage (see Google Books) that the reason God allowed the Jews to take interest from strangers was because this was to aid in their economic conquering of the foreigners in the land that the Lord was to give them. If the Israelites were faithful, God would expand their wealth and lands while decreasing those of the foreigners. This exception for the Jews was a relatively narrow exception, but it is why Jews of the middle ages were permitted to take interest from Christians, both by their own rabbis and by Christian rulers who forbade Christians to charge each other interest.

    From A.L. Graebner’s Outlines of Doctrinal Theology (A.L. Graebner was a young man when Walther was old. He learned to hate usury from Walther):

    SEVENTH COMMANDMENT.

    Sec. 83. The Law condemns every one who by theft, fraud,
    usury, or aleatory devices obtains, or seeks to obtain, what is,
    or should be, another’s property,[1] all covetousness,[2] prodi-
    gality,[3] idleness,[4] and him by whose fault his neighbor suf-
    fers loss or want.[5]

    Down below, he posts this verse as a prooftext:

    Ps. 15, 5: He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh
    reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never
    be moved.

  • J. Dettmann

    Grace,

    C.F.W. Walther explained in his Die Wurcherfrage (see Google Books) that the reason God allowed the Jews to take interest from strangers was because this was to aid in their economic conquering of the foreigners in the land that the Lord was to give them. If the Israelites were faithful, God would expand their wealth and lands while decreasing those of the foreigners. This exception for the Jews was a relatively narrow exception, but it is why Jews of the middle ages were permitted to take interest from Christians, both by their own rabbis and by Christian rulers who forbade Christians to charge each other interest.

    From A.L. Graebner’s Outlines of Doctrinal Theology (A.L. Graebner was a young man when Walther was old. He learned to hate usury from Walther):

    SEVENTH COMMANDMENT.

    Sec. 83. The Law condemns every one who by theft, fraud,
    usury, or aleatory devices obtains, or seeks to obtain, what is,
    or should be, another’s property,[1] all covetousness,[2] prodi-
    gality,[3] idleness,[4] and him by whose fault his neighbor suf-
    fers loss or want.[5]

    Down below, he posts this verse as a prooftext:

    Ps. 15, 5: He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh
    reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never
    be moved.

  • J. Dettmann

    Here’s what C.S. Lewis says in his Mere Christianity:
    http://www.truthaccordingtoscripture.com/documents/apologetics/mere-christianity/Book3/cs-lewis-mere-christianity-book3.php

    “Now another point. There is one bit of advice given to us by the ancient heathen Greeks, and by the Jews in the Old Testament, and by the great Christian teachers of the Middle Ages, which the modern economic system has completely disobeyed. All these people told us not to lend money at interest: and lending money at interest-what we call investment-is the basis of our whole system. Now it may not absolutely follow that we are wrong. Some people say that when Moses and Aristotle and the Christians agreed in forbidding interest (or “usury” as they called it), they could not foresee the joint stock company, and were only dunking of the private moneylender, and that, therefore, we need not bother about what they said. That is a question I cannot decide on. I am not an economist and I simply do not know whether the investment system is responsible for the state we are in or not. This is where we want the Christian economist. But I should not have been honest if I had not told you that three great civilisations had agreed (or so it seems at first sight) in condemning the very thing on which we have based our whole life.”

  • J. Dettmann

    Here’s what C.S. Lewis says in his Mere Christianity:
    http://www.truthaccordingtoscripture.com/documents/apologetics/mere-christianity/Book3/cs-lewis-mere-christianity-book3.php

    “Now another point. There is one bit of advice given to us by the ancient heathen Greeks, and by the Jews in the Old Testament, and by the great Christian teachers of the Middle Ages, which the modern economic system has completely disobeyed. All these people told us not to lend money at interest: and lending money at interest-what we call investment-is the basis of our whole system. Now it may not absolutely follow that we are wrong. Some people say that when Moses and Aristotle and the Christians agreed in forbidding interest (or “usury” as they called it), they could not foresee the joint stock company, and were only dunking of the private moneylender, and that, therefore, we need not bother about what they said. That is a question I cannot decide on. I am not an economist and I simply do not know whether the investment system is responsible for the state we are in or not. This is where we want the Christian economist. But I should not have been honest if I had not told you that three great civilisations had agreed (or so it seems at first sight) in condemning the very thing on which we have based our whole life.”

  • Grace

    Mix it up as you wish – Change banking to suit yourself, …. the Bible isn’t speaking of banking, it’s become an issue only because people have misspent the money they borrowed. SO…. now you people are going to whine over banking, being charged interest on your unpaid balance, or home mortgages?

    Deuteronomy fits, and so does the passage in Matthew. Christ was speaking of the talents and “usury” –

    Luther complained loudly regarding “usury” and the Jews – so why did anyone borrow from the Jews?

    I would loan money to my family, and brothers in Christ. I would not charge them interest -

  • Grace

    Mix it up as you wish – Change banking to suit yourself, …. the Bible isn’t speaking of banking, it’s become an issue only because people have misspent the money they borrowed. SO…. now you people are going to whine over banking, being charged interest on your unpaid balance, or home mortgages?

    Deuteronomy fits, and so does the passage in Matthew. Christ was speaking of the talents and “usury” –

    Luther complained loudly regarding “usury” and the Jews – so why did anyone borrow from the Jews?

    I would loan money to my family, and brothers in Christ. I would not charge them interest -

  • fws

    grace @ 43

    “I would loan money to my family, and brothers in Christ. I would not charge them interest -”

    So let me get this right… christian bankers are supposed to inquire whether someone is a christian or not? and if they are christian it would be immoral or biblically wrong to charge them interest in that case? what about jews? would you charge them interest or not? are they not also your brothers?

  • fws

    grace @ 43

    “I would loan money to my family, and brothers in Christ. I would not charge them interest -”

    So let me get this right… christian bankers are supposed to inquire whether someone is a christian or not? and if they are christian it would be immoral or biblically wrong to charge them interest in that case? what about jews? would you charge them interest or not? are they not also your brothers?

  • Grace

    I have never loaned money and expected interest, or return of the funds … but I also am very leary about loaning money, having said that – if someone is in need, as in food, etc., it is only right to help them.

  • Grace

    I have never loaned money and expected interest, or return of the funds … but I also am very leary about loaning money, having said that – if someone is in need, as in food, etc., it is only right to help them.

  • J. Dettmann

    Luther explained that many people were forced to borrow on interest when they were starving or could not pay bills. It is because there wasn’t enough charity to go around.

    Jesus had the master complain that if the servant thought he was really the bad, bad man that the servant claimed he was, he should have put the master’s money on usury. The implication is that is what that kind of person would do to get more money.

    “I would loan money to my family, and brothers in Christ. I would not charge them interest”

    I’m glad you are charitable. See Luke 5, though, which suggests you should be prepared not to receive it back afterwards.

  • J. Dettmann

    Luther explained that many people were forced to borrow on interest when they were starving or could not pay bills. It is because there wasn’t enough charity to go around.

    Jesus had the master complain that if the servant thought he was really the bad, bad man that the servant claimed he was, he should have put the master’s money on usury. The implication is that is what that kind of person would do to get more money.

    “I would loan money to my family, and brothers in Christ. I would not charge them interest”

    I’m glad you are charitable. See Luke 5, though, which suggests you should be prepared not to receive it back afterwards.

  • fws

    grace @ 45

    so you would LOAN “food,etc”? why not give it to them? and why not just give people money if they need that rather than contemplating a loan. no need to be leery then!

  • fws

    grace @ 45

    so you would LOAN “food,etc”? why not give it to them? and why not just give people money if they need that rather than contemplating a loan. no need to be leery then!

  • Grace

    fws @ 44

    You wrote: “So let me get this right… christian bankers are supposed to inquire whether someone is a christian or not? and if they are christian it would be immoral or biblically wrong to charge them interest in that case? what about jews? would you charge them interest or not? are they not also your brothers?”

    This is a silly question – one I’m not interested in wasting time, in one of your endless posting crusades.

    You don’t understand the difference between a brother in Christ, a family member, and a none Christian acquaintance?

  • Grace

    fws @ 44

    You wrote: “So let me get this right… christian bankers are supposed to inquire whether someone is a christian or not? and if they are christian it would be immoral or biblically wrong to charge them interest in that case? what about jews? would you charge them interest or not? are they not also your brothers?”

    This is a silly question – one I’m not interested in wasting time, in one of your endless posting crusades.

    You don’t understand the difference between a brother in Christ, a family member, and a none Christian acquaintance?

  • Grace

    J. @ 46

    YOU WROTE: “I’m glad you are charitable. See Luke 5, though, which suggests you should be prepared not to receive it back afterwards.”

    No, I don’t exect to get back that which I’ve given. I have given gifts, not loans.

  • Grace

    J. @ 46

    YOU WROTE: “I’m glad you are charitable. See Luke 5, though, which suggests you should be prepared not to receive it back afterwards.”

    No, I don’t exect to get back that which I’ve given. I have given gifts, not loans.

  • fws

    j dettman @ 46

    I am a CPA. It was explained to me that interest is really just what you pay to rent money. If you think this through, then how is charging interest really at all different from renting property or some other asset that you own?

    Secondly, a fair (note that word fair please) rate of interest is a function of only two factors: risk and time. If there is no risk then the rate should be far lower. If the risk is very high then…. and then of course time.

    So use that analogy then again of renting out your property. say a car. You might be more hesitant to rent out your car to a teen with a bad driving record. BUT, if he offered you enough money…… but then let’s consider the unrealistic idea of renting your car out where there is NO risk. you are giving up the time and use of your car, there is wear and tear and maintenance. should you make this loan of your goods at NO “interest”? Or… would it be fair to charge “USEary?”

    The spirit (read intent and God-desired result) of ALL the commandment is this: we are not to covet. This has a negative part and a positive part pastor:

    we are not to desire to gain, especially by “sh0w of right” (that is by legal means) what does not belong to us rightfully. I would suggest that that word “rightfully” can ONLY be understood by understanding the positive part of the commandment:

    We are to help our neighbor improve and protect his property and business, we are to urge those who are his family or employees to stay do do their duty to him, we are to help and befriend him in EVERY bodily need.

    Now we can go back to that example of my borrowing from my friend. Just how would I be keeping the commandments if I were to allow him to loan me money and not charge me interest? And if the sum of money was considerable, which it was, then what kind of criminal mind would I have to not do everything I could (life insurance with him as the beneficiary, will, power of attorney, etc) to make sure that he could, in fact, expect to get his loan back should I die unexpectedly etc……

    Pastor, you see there is no need to be a professional economist or “christian”economist to sort this out. One only needs to follow the Golden Rule in an intelligent, wise, and worldly (in the good sense) way to get what Luther was driving at.

    I DO wish that the government would forbid interest rates be higher than say the prime rate plus a couple points to allow for risk. It would really contract and limit credit. but at the same time it would not be confiscatory.

    finally, I would point out that the most predatory “interest” is not even called interest. it is the practice of check cashing places to cash checks for the poor who have no bank account. usually these are social securrity checks and there is little or no risk if they insist on proper identification. They discount the face value of the checks at some absurd rate…. so what I am inviting is “define interest” and relate that to biblical “usary”.

    Here is another think to consider: A good friend offered to loan me a considerable sum of money for a 5 year period to buy some property. He offered the loan without interest. As his friend I had to refuse for reasons of conscience! Why?

    1) inflation. Over a 5 year period he would be losing about 3 percent of the buying power of the money per year! So he would not come out even at the end.

    2) opportunity cost. he could park that money in the very safest investment , say a CD or FDIC savings account or something that is rock solid secure but also , because of that , also low interest. so he would be losing at least 3% on top of the loss to inflation. so he would be losing 3% per year, compounded over 5 years, on the money he would be loaning me.

    So we finally agreed to a 6% simple interest rate. That really means that he made NO money off of me even though he was charging me interest. And , as his friend, I was making sure that he was not losing any substantial money either. The fact is, he still lost money. why? He could find other investments that would have yielded him more than the 6% he got from me.

  • fws

    j dettman @ 46

    I am a CPA. It was explained to me that interest is really just what you pay to rent money. If you think this through, then how is charging interest really at all different from renting property or some other asset that you own?

    Secondly, a fair (note that word fair please) rate of interest is a function of only two factors: risk and time. If there is no risk then the rate should be far lower. If the risk is very high then…. and then of course time.

    So use that analogy then again of renting out your property. say a car. You might be more hesitant to rent out your car to a teen with a bad driving record. BUT, if he offered you enough money…… but then let’s consider the unrealistic idea of renting your car out where there is NO risk. you are giving up the time and use of your car, there is wear and tear and maintenance. should you make this loan of your goods at NO “interest”? Or… would it be fair to charge “USEary?”

    The spirit (read intent and God-desired result) of ALL the commandment is this: we are not to covet. This has a negative part and a positive part pastor:

    we are not to desire to gain, especially by “sh0w of right” (that is by legal means) what does not belong to us rightfully. I would suggest that that word “rightfully” can ONLY be understood by understanding the positive part of the commandment:

    We are to help our neighbor improve and protect his property and business, we are to urge those who are his family or employees to stay do do their duty to him, we are to help and befriend him in EVERY bodily need.

    Now we can go back to that example of my borrowing from my friend. Just how would I be keeping the commandments if I were to allow him to loan me money and not charge me interest? And if the sum of money was considerable, which it was, then what kind of criminal mind would I have to not do everything I could (life insurance with him as the beneficiary, will, power of attorney, etc) to make sure that he could, in fact, expect to get his loan back should I die unexpectedly etc……

    Pastor, you see there is no need to be a professional economist or “christian”economist to sort this out. One only needs to follow the Golden Rule in an intelligent, wise, and worldly (in the good sense) way to get what Luther was driving at.

    I DO wish that the government would forbid interest rates be higher than say the prime rate plus a couple points to allow for risk. It would really contract and limit credit. but at the same time it would not be confiscatory.

    finally, I would point out that the most predatory “interest” is not even called interest. it is the practice of check cashing places to cash checks for the poor who have no bank account. usually these are social securrity checks and there is little or no risk if they insist on proper identification. They discount the face value of the checks at some absurd rate…. so what I am inviting is “define interest” and relate that to biblical “usary”.

    Here is another think to consider: A good friend offered to loan me a considerable sum of money for a 5 year period to buy some property. He offered the loan without interest. As his friend I had to refuse for reasons of conscience! Why?

    1) inflation. Over a 5 year period he would be losing about 3 percent of the buying power of the money per year! So he would not come out even at the end.

    2) opportunity cost. he could park that money in the very safest investment , say a CD or FDIC savings account or something that is rock solid secure but also , because of that , also low interest. so he would be losing at least 3% on top of the loss to inflation. so he would be losing 3% per year, compounded over 5 years, on the money he would be loaning me.

    So we finally agreed to a 6% simple interest rate. That really means that he made NO money off of me even though he was charging me interest. And , as his friend, I was making sure that he was not losing any substantial money either. The fact is, he still lost money. why? He could find other investments that would have yielded him more than the 6% he got from me.

  • fws

    grace @ 48

    No. its not my fault that your reading comprehension skills failed you.

    the hypothetical I set up is this: you are a christian banker. How would you decide which clients to charge interest to? would you expect the money back?

    how would you know whether or not they are christian? ask them ? and if they said “yes” then charge no interest and per luke 5 not expect the money to be returned?

    whatever would you do Grace?

  • fws

    grace @ 48

    No. its not my fault that your reading comprehension skills failed you.

    the hypothetical I set up is this: you are a christian banker. How would you decide which clients to charge interest to? would you expect the money back?

    how would you know whether or not they are christian? ask them ? and if they said “yes” then charge no interest and per luke 5 not expect the money to be returned?

    whatever would you do Grace?

  • fws

    grace @ 45

    do you own rental property? if you did would it be ok to charge “usary” for renting out the property?

  • fws

    grace @ 45

    do you own rental property? if you did would it be ok to charge “usary” for renting out the property?

  • Grace

    fws,

    “whatever would you do” fws, if you couldn’t wile away your time with hypothetical posts – :lol:

  • Grace

    fws,

    “whatever would you do” fws, if you couldn’t wile away your time with hypothetical posts – :lol:

  • fws

    grace @53

    sigh. yeah I agree. hypotheticals are incomprehensible for you so it is truly a waste of time to throw one at you. We know that Grace. Thanks for the reminder.

  • fws

    grace @53

    sigh. yeah I agree. hypotheticals are incomprehensible for you so it is truly a waste of time to throw one at you. We know that Grace. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Grace

    fws @ 54

    LOL, you do have your moments – when all else fails, hoist yourself up on whatever highchair is readily available.

  • Grace

    fws @ 54

    LOL, you do have your moments – when all else fails, hoist yourself up on whatever highchair is readily available.

  • fws

    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/30619/30619-h/30619-h.htm#serm22

    Luther sermon, 20th sunday after trinity. epistle lesson. ephesians 4

    33. When the apostle says, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have whereof to give to him that hath need,” he indicates the true fruit of repentance, which consists in abandoning and utterly abstaining from evil and in doing good.

    He at the same time attacks and reproves the sin of theft so common in all walks of life.

    And them who idle away their time and neglect their duty of serving and helping their fellow-beings, he calls—and rightfully—thieves in God’s sight.

    34. For the right interpretation of the commandment, Thou shalt not steal, is this:

    Thou shalt live of thine own work, that thou mayest have to give to the needy.
    This is your bounden duty, and if you do not so God will pronounce you not a Christian but a thief and robber.

    In the first place, because you are an idler and do not support yourself, but live by the sweat and toil of others;

    in the second place, because you withhold from your neighbor what you plainly owe him.

    Where now shall we find those who keep this commandment?

    Indeed, where should we dare look for them except where no people live? [ ie NO one keeps this commandment] But such a class of people should Christians be. Therefore, let each of us beware lest he deceive himself; for God will not be mocked nor deceived. Gal 6, 7.

  • fws

    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/30619/30619-h/30619-h.htm#serm22

    Luther sermon, 20th sunday after trinity. epistle lesson. ephesians 4

    33. When the apostle says, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have whereof to give to him that hath need,” he indicates the true fruit of repentance, which consists in abandoning and utterly abstaining from evil and in doing good.

    He at the same time attacks and reproves the sin of theft so common in all walks of life.

    And them who idle away their time and neglect their duty of serving and helping their fellow-beings, he calls—and rightfully—thieves in God’s sight.

    34. For the right interpretation of the commandment, Thou shalt not steal, is this:

    Thou shalt live of thine own work, that thou mayest have to give to the needy.
    This is your bounden duty, and if you do not so God will pronounce you not a Christian but a thief and robber.

    In the first place, because you are an idler and do not support yourself, but live by the sweat and toil of others;

    in the second place, because you withhold from your neighbor what you plainly owe him.

    Where now shall we find those who keep this commandment?

    Indeed, where should we dare look for them except where no people live? [ ie NO one keeps this commandment] But such a class of people should Christians be. Therefore, let each of us beware lest he deceive himself; for God will not be mocked nor deceived. Gal 6, 7.

  • fws

    here is the full luther sermon if it has not be previously linked…

    http://luke1242.com/usury/?page_id=7

  • fws

    here is the full luther sermon if it has not be previously linked…

    http://luke1242.com/usury/?page_id=7

  • Joanne

    The Bible says we must feed the poor and hungry. The Bible says we should not feed those who will not work. So what do we do when one who will not work is also poor and hungry?

    Someone above said that Jesus broke the law to teach us to love. The ELCA breaks the law to teach us to love gay people. How confusing!

    I choose to be poor and hungry in order to have a claim on your money. My Romini parents send me to beg at church doors every Sunday. That is my job.

    The economic ecology is a force of nature, just like the ecology of the plants and animals. And, just like government and earthly authority. Sin has corrupted it, but still economic behavior flows like a river, over and around barriers. Husband economic processes and opportunities as you would any other of God’s natural creations.

    Remember that business is business. Keep your emotions at bay. The primary thing that a business owes to society is to be successful, to create value.

    The Jerusalem Commune was an economic disaster, they were always starving. The rest of the churches were constantly sending them food. The Commune was not reaping what it didn’t sow. There is an economic limit for how long a scheme that pauperized its members can survive. The day comes when all the members have nothing and new members giving all that they have cannot make up the need for enough money to keep the group fed. But this only happened because, just as in the case of Lazerus, Jesus didn’t come back quickly enough, before the money ran out.

  • Joanne

    The Bible says we must feed the poor and hungry. The Bible says we should not feed those who will not work. So what do we do when one who will not work is also poor and hungry?

    Someone above said that Jesus broke the law to teach us to love. The ELCA breaks the law to teach us to love gay people. How confusing!

    I choose to be poor and hungry in order to have a claim on your money. My Romini parents send me to beg at church doors every Sunday. That is my job.

    The economic ecology is a force of nature, just like the ecology of the plants and animals. And, just like government and earthly authority. Sin has corrupted it, but still economic behavior flows like a river, over and around barriers. Husband economic processes and opportunities as you would any other of God’s natural creations.

    Remember that business is business. Keep your emotions at bay. The primary thing that a business owes to society is to be successful, to create value.

    The Jerusalem Commune was an economic disaster, they were always starving. The rest of the churches were constantly sending them food. The Commune was not reaping what it didn’t sow. There is an economic limit for how long a scheme that pauperized its members can survive. The day comes when all the members have nothing and new members giving all that they have cannot make up the need for enough money to keep the group fed. But this only happened because, just as in the case of Lazerus, Jesus didn’t come back quickly enough, before the money ran out.


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