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Author Topic: christians and usury  (Read 1168 times) Average Rating: 0
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Jason.Wike
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« on: December 15, 2012, 03:22:43 PM »

Usury is denounced in the OT and NT bunches, so why do Christians participate in it? I've noticed Muslims have created their own banking systems even in the west to avoid being involved in usury but it seems like Christians have not. There are banks which have some kind of vaguely Christianity identity in their name but they still charge interest and there's nothing actually Christian seeming about them.
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« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2012, 03:25:22 PM »

Usury is denounced in the OT and NT bunches, so why do Christians participate in it? I've noticed Muslims have created their own banking systems even in the west to avoid being involved in usury but it seems like Christians have not. There are banks which have some kind of vaguely Christianity identity in their name but they still charge interest and there's nothing actually Christian seeming about them.
Why is this topic of interest to you?
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« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2012, 03:30:54 PM »

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

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« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2012, 03:41:07 PM »

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

Fwiw, the Roman Catholic John Noonan wrote a book on the subject, titled The Scholastic Analysis of Usury. The same author also touches on usury in the book A Church That Can and Cannot Change, though that one is primarily about slavery.
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« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2012, 06:47:38 PM »

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

Interesting how no one asks this about the myriad of threads on homosexuality, birth control, abortion, etc.

Christians should have nothing to do with usury. Period.

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

Even owning them.

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

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

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

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

Lord have mercy. 
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« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2012, 06:54:42 PM »


« Last Edit: December 15, 2012, 06:55:06 PM by NicholasMyra » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2012, 06:58:39 PM »

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

Interesting how no one asks this about the myriad of threads on homosexuality, birth control, abortion, etc.
I could be mistaken entirely, but I believe that Jetavan's response was a light-hearted reference to the double meaning of the word "interest" and not a serious inquiry pertaining to the OP's motives.
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« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2012, 07:00:43 PM »

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

Interesting how no one asks this about the myriad of threads on homosexuality, birth control, abortion, etc.
I could be mistaken entirely, but I believe that Jetavan's response was a light-hearted reference to the double meaning of the word "interest" and not a serious inquiry pertaining to the OP's motives.

And I wonder if people understand I dove-tailed off of that?
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« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2012, 07:04:56 PM »

It is actually quite funny and saddening at the same time. So many "Christians" absolutely despise homosexuality, yet for some reason they have no problem participating in usury. We pick and choose what we think is a "bigger sin" and brag about not participating in the "bigger one".
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« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2012, 07:53:29 PM »

So, none of you guys have money in banks I suppose?
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« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2012, 08:05:27 PM »

I love how people get on their high horses about Christians doing banking and getting loans, but then get loosey-goosey on other things which are not only condemned in Scripture, but by centuries of tradition. Yes, let's ban usury and allow infanticide. That way we'll cover what really matters.
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« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2012, 08:43:07 PM »

So, none of you guys have money in banks I suppose?

I actually don't...
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« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2012, 11:16:00 PM »

Calvin argued 5 percent interest was the acceptable maximum btw christians
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« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2012, 11:30:22 PM »

Calvin argued 5 percent interest was the acceptable maximum btw christians

We talking compound?

Cause even the Romans thought that was cruel at nearly any rate.
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« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2012, 11:45:24 PM »

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

Who said that?

I'm surprised it seems like almost no one considers this as anything other than worthy of derision.
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« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2012, 11:59:45 PM »

This is something I sort of don't understand. Now don't get me wrong, I highly oppose excessive interest and usury. But, how are people and business supposed to make money if they give out loans to people and do not make a profit from it? Maybe on an individual level we could not charge any interest, but what about on a business level? I mean lets face it, there are not many individual people who could loan you $10,000+--you would have to consult a business like a bank. In which case, wouldn't it be fair for business to charge at least a tiny, fair interest rate so that they could make a profit in the end?
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« Reply #16 on: December 16, 2012, 12:02:06 AM »

Stop posing 21st century questions when we are talking about 1st century solutions!  Cool
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« Reply #17 on: December 16, 2012, 04:52:12 PM »

This is something I sort of don't understand. Now don't get me wrong, I highly oppose excessive interest and usury. But, how are people and business supposed to make money if they give out loans to people and do not make a profit from it? Maybe on an individual level we could not charge any interest, but what about on a business level? I mean lets face it, there are not many individual people who could loan you $10,000+--you would have to consult a business like a bank. In which case, wouldn't it be fair for business to charge at least a tiny, fair interest rate so that they could make a profit in the end?
Because it shouldn't be about profit.
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« Reply #18 on: December 16, 2012, 06:15:24 PM »

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

And yet profits often get re-invested. Profit allows businesses to hire more people. Without profits, we'd need death-camps and few people really want those.
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« Reply #19 on: December 16, 2012, 08:55:49 PM »

Whilst I hesitate to make any kind of definitive statement on the accuracy of the term "bunches," I am aware of the condemnation (not universal, it's interesting to note) of usury in the OT, as well as the Thomist argument against it (which I find unconvincing for reasons I'll elaborate on later if the debate gets into that territory). But where in the NT is usury condemned?
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« Reply #20 on: December 16, 2012, 09:40:21 PM »

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

In that parable where the Lord tells the bad servant that he should have invested his talent with the bankers and gotten back as much with interest....oh wait.
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« Reply #21 on: December 16, 2012, 11:57:33 PM »

So, none of you guys have money in banks I suppose?

We do, but we told the lady at the bank to take all interest earnings off our account because of usury.
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« Reply #22 on: December 17, 2012, 01:16:21 AM »

Calvin argued 5 percent interest was the acceptable maximum btw christians

We talking compound?

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

Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century, Vol. II: The Wheels of Commerce
By Fernand Braudel

http://books.google.com/books?id=WPDbSXQsvGIC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

page 568, you can read the paragraph in good book preview.
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« Reply #23 on: December 17, 2012, 01:58:47 AM »

So, none of you guys have money in banks I suppose?

We do, but we told the lady at the bank to take all interest earnings off our account because of usury.

Presumably, they still lend your money at interest.
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« Reply #24 on: December 17, 2012, 12:02:55 PM »

Calvin argued 5 percent interest was the acceptable maximum btw christians
At first, I thought you were making a pun (Five Percent Calvinism?).
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« Reply #25 on: December 17, 2012, 12:04:49 PM »

I wonder how the Parable of the Unjust Steward fits in here...
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« Reply #26 on: December 17, 2012, 03:32:22 PM »

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

However, it is always about profit, if one defines profit as the difference between cost of production and price. There must be money earned and set aside for emergencies, to compensate the owner/s for risk-taking, for research and development, marketing costs, etc... No profit equals the poor house.
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« Reply #27 on: December 17, 2012, 05:07:54 PM »

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

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

If a farmer was desperate for money, and went to a money lender, and had to give up farm instruments to pay for the loan (what else would they have, if they need to borrow money, they obviously don't have any to pay usury, unlike modern moderate interest), and wouldn't get them back until they could repay the loan, they were then prevented from carrying out their livelihood. That's usury.
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« Reply #28 on: December 17, 2012, 06:09:28 PM »

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

The science of economics may not have developed to the point where time preference or inflation was well understood, but the practice of debasing the currency certainly existed and I guarantee you that people then as now preferred goods now to those same goods later, ceteris paribus.
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« Reply #29 on: December 17, 2012, 07:46:47 PM »

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

In that parable where the Lord tells the bad servant that he should have invested his talent with the bankers and gotten back as much with interest....oh wait.

High five.
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« Reply #30 on: December 17, 2012, 07:49:29 PM »

Some of the opinions in this thread are pretty HH.
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« Reply #31 on: December 17, 2012, 09:38:35 PM »

Some of the opinions in this thread are pretty HH.

HH? Hilariously horrible?
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« Reply #32 on: December 17, 2012, 10:33:31 PM »

So, none of you guys have money in banks I suppose?

We do, but we told the lady at the bank to take all interest earnings off our account because of usury.

Presumably, they still lend your money at interest.

Then they are sinning.  I am not collecting usury.
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« Reply #33 on: December 17, 2012, 10:43:36 PM »

So, none of you guys have money in banks I suppose?

We do, but we told the lady at the bank to take all interest earnings off our account because of usury.

Presumably, they still lend your money at interest.

Then they are sinning.  I am not collecting usury.

Wouldn't this qualify as presenting an occasion of sin?
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« Reply #34 on: December 17, 2012, 11:00:14 PM »

So, none of you guys have money in banks I suppose?

We do, but we told the lady at the bank to take all interest earnings off our account because of usury.

Presumably, they still lend your money at interest.

Then they are sinning.  I am not collecting usury.

Wouldn't this qualify as presenting an occasion of sin?

According to some, the mere act of walking outside the house does this. There are limits, really.
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« Reply #35 on: December 17, 2012, 11:02:31 PM »

So, none of you guys have money in banks I suppose?

We do, but we told the lady at the bank to take all interest earnings off our account because of usury.

Presumably, they still lend your money at interest.

Then they are sinning.  I am not collecting usury.

Wouldn't this qualify as presenting an occasion of sin?

According to some, the mere act of walking outside the house does this. There are limits, really.

Of course there are. And yet if a person's primary business necessarily involves sin, and one knowingly and voluntarily provides him with the means of doing his business, it would seem that this qualifies as at least presenting an occasion, if not being an accessory.

Of course, the Thomists would disagree, I think. Now, where are they?
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« Reply #36 on: December 17, 2012, 11:14:57 PM »

Some of the opinions in this thread are pretty HH.

HH? Hilariously horrible?

Hyperdox Herman.

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

"Won't talk to accountant relative."

Etc.
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« Reply #37 on: December 18, 2012, 12:11:19 AM »

So, none of you guys have money in banks I suppose?

We do, but we told the lady at the bank to take all interest earnings off our account because of usury.

Presumably, they still lend your money at interest.

Then they are sinning.  I am not collecting usury.

Wouldn't this qualify as presenting an occasion of sin?

According to some, the mere act of walking outside the house does this. There are limits, really.

Of course there are. And yet if a person's primary business necessarily involves sin, and one knowingly and voluntarily provides him with the means of doing his business, it would seem that this qualifies as at least presenting an occasion, if not being an accessory.

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

Well there are several functions of a bank.

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

They do earn most of their money through usury though.

We were commanded as Christians not to charge usury.

I am a Christian and I do not charge usury.

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

The long list of complexities of this can go far.

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

I mean, where does it stop?

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

(Solutions to the examples -- Run Linux, buy dell, and dump TV)
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« Reply #38 on: December 18, 2012, 12:19:17 AM »

So, none of you guys have money in banks I suppose?

We do, but we told the lady at the bank to take all interest earnings off our account because of usury.

Presumably, they still lend your money at interest.

Then they are sinning.  I am not collecting usury.

Wouldn't this qualify as presenting an occasion of sin?

According to some, the mere act of walking outside the house does this. There are limits, really.

Of course there are. And yet if a person's primary business necessarily involves sin, and one knowingly and voluntarily provides him with the means of doing his business, it would seem that this qualifies as at least presenting an occasion, if not being an accessory.

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

Well there are several functions of a bank.

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

They do earn most of their money through usury though.

We were commanded as Christians not to charge usury.

I am a Christian and I do not charge usury.

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

It would seem that you do. But see below.

The long list of complexities of this can go far.

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

I mean, where does it stop?

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

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

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

Yeah. And FTR, I'm far from committed to the position that usury is wrong, and in fact lean against it. But I am interested in a thorough examination of the question, so I hope you won't take anything I say personally.
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« Reply #39 on: December 18, 2012, 04:58:50 AM »

So, none of you guys have money in banks I suppose?

We do, but we told the lady at the bank to take all interest earnings off our account because of usury.

Presumably, they still lend your money at interest.

Then they are sinning.  I am not collecting usury.

Wouldn't this qualify as presenting an occasion of sin?

According to some, the mere act of walking outside the house does this. There are limits, really.

And throughout time they strangely fit almost identically with the prevailing mores of the time.

Weird that.
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« Reply #40 on: December 18, 2012, 08:43:02 PM »

So, none of you guys have money in banks I suppose?

We do, but we told the lady at the bank to take all interest earnings off our account because of usury.

Presumably, they still lend your money at interest.

Then they are sinning.  I am not collecting usury.

Wouldn't this qualify as presenting an occasion of sin?

According to some, the mere act of walking outside the house does this. There are limits, really.

Of course there are. And yet if a person's primary business necessarily involves sin, and one knowingly and voluntarily provides him with the means of doing his business, it would seem that this qualifies as at least presenting an occasion, if not being an accessory.

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

Well there are several functions of a bank.

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

They do earn most of their money through usury though.

We were commanded as Christians not to charge usury.

I am a Christian and I do not charge usury.

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

It would seem that you do. But see below.

The long list of complexities of this can go far.

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

I mean, where does it stop?

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

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

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

Yeah. And FTR, I'm far from committed to the position that usury is wrong, and in fact lean against it. But I am interested in a thorough examination of the question, so I hope you won't take anything I say personally.

According to our scriptures, we should not be charging usury period.   So I'm definitely in the realm of thinking that usury is wrong to practice.  The banks are absolutely doing wrong by charging it.  The question exists if "we" are doing wrong by putting our money in the banks (or credit unions).   We are not directly lending to others with interest, but thank banks/credit unions are.  They lend them OUR money at interest they gain for themselves.

In reality, when I think of banks this way, they are really pretty bad businesses.

 
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« Reply #41 on: December 19, 2012, 01:59:58 PM »

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

Really one of the most uncharacteristic passages in the NT IMO. I think Matthew's inner tax collector was coming out seriously.

"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."


Really? Blessed be the poor, Jesus is going to take what you have and kick you to the curb?
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« Reply #42 on: December 19, 2012, 02:03:13 PM »

I'm not sure what you mean Smiley Parable of the Unjust Steward
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« Reply #43 on: December 19, 2012, 02:07:51 PM »

Really one of the most uncharacteristic passages in the NT IMO. I think Matthew's inner tax collector was coming out seriously.

"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.
For what it's worth, the Parable of the Talents/Minas (and reference to usury) is also in Luke.
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« Reply #44 on: December 19, 2012, 03:52:44 PM »

Quote
Usury (play /ˈjuːʒəri/[1][2]) is defined either as the practice of making loans with excessive or abusive interest rates, or simply the practice of loaning money with interest. [3][4][5]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usury

So...which one of the above definitions for usury are we using?  Or are we mixing and matching them?
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« Reply #45 on: December 19, 2012, 04:09:42 PM »

Quote
Usury (play /ˈjuːʒəri/[1][2]) is defined either as the practice of making loans with excessive or abusive interest rates, or simply the practice of loaning money with interest. [3][4][5]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usury

So...which one of the above definitions for usury are we using?  Or are we mixing and matching them?

The one the Christian tradition upheld for some time, hence the "need" for the Jews. (Doesn't matter, since in the US you can lend at rates which anyone would consider predatory especially given their compound nature.)

Again, when is comes to certain sins, people go bananas about them. Others, they will bend over backwards, coincidentally, attempting to defend.

Let's count the threads on usury versus those on homosexuality. Since the former is much more widespread and basically endemic to our culture you would think it would get the most attention.

But it might cause Christians some actual pain to act like Christians. You know carry that cross they are always telling others to carry.

Good luck with that. No they will carry the Cross of paying their taxes, raising their kids, retiring, you know behave within the slightly more conservative and acceptable area of American cultural norms.

Oh, they fast or something, but can't be sure cause you don't talk about that.

You take my point. It's the same made earlier in this thread.
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« Reply #46 on: December 19, 2012, 04:22:52 PM »

Were Orthodox countries the same as Catholic ones in that only Jews were allowed to charge usury?
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« Reply #47 on: December 19, 2012, 04:33:47 PM »

Were Orthodox countries the same as Catholic ones in that only Jews were allowed to charge usury?

I think in Catholic countries, Catholics could charge usury to Jews and vice versa...
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