Author Topic: Church Fathers on Usury  (Read 950 times)

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Offline Iconodule

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Church Fathers on Usury
« on: August 31, 2015, 08:01:09 PM »
Saint Gregory of Nyssa

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   You whom I address, whomever you are, forsake the habits of a petty thief. Love man, not riches, and resist this type of sin. Say with John the Baptist to those who love usury, "Depart from me, 'you brood of vipers'" (Mt 3.7). You are cursed by those who have you at their disposal. Although you allow a trifling [pleasure] to delight you now, a poisonous serpent later brings harm upon your soul. You hinder the road of life and close the doors to the kingdom [of heaven]. Fascination with trivial matters makes your ears tingle and subjects you to eternal distress. The following words which pertain to accumulation [of wealth] and usury ought to inspire your love for the poor: "Do not refuse him who would borrow from you" (Mt 5.42). The destitute person is making supplication and is seated outside your door; in his need he seeks your wealth to bring relief. However, you do just the opposite and turn him into an adversary. You fail to assist him and free him from necessity while you indulge in personal wealth. Furthermore, you sow evils in this afflicted wretch, remove the clothes from his nakedness, cause him harm and heap one care and grief upon another. Whoever takes money from the practice of usury secures a pledge of poverty and brings harm upon his home through a superficial good deed. A [J.197] person burning with fever has an unquenchable thirst and earnestly begs wine. Although the cup given him out of charity satisfies for a while, the raging fever soon returns [M.437] with a ten-fold vengeance. Thus whoever lends money to a destitute person intensifies his misery instead of relieving distress.

Do not live with feigned charity nor be a murderous physician with the pretence to heal for a profit; if you do this, a person trusting in your skill can suffer great harm. Money lending has no value and is rapacious. It is unfamiliar with such trades as agriculture and commerce; like a beast, usury dwells in one place and delights in banquets. Money lending wants everything to be wild and begets whatever has been untilled. It has a reed for a plough, papyrus for a field and black ink for seed. Rain and the passage of time yield money while the scythe demands compensation. Usury's home is a threshing-floor upon which the fortunes of the oppressed are winnowed and where it considers everything as its own. It prays for afflictions and misfortunes in order to destroy such persons. Money lending despises people contented with their possessions and treats them as enemies because they do not provide money. It watches courts of law to find distress in persons who demand payment and follows tax collectors who are a nest of vultures in battle array prepared for war. Money lending carries a purse and dangles bait as a wild beast to those in distress [J.198] in order to ensnare them in their need. Daily it counts gain and cannot be satisfied. It is vexed by gold hidden in a person's home because it remains idle and unprofitable. Usury imitates farmers who immediately plant crops; it takes and gives money without gain while transferring it from one hand to another. You often see wealth and riches among persons who lack a single coin. Instead their hope lies in a piece of paper which represents their wealth by mutual agreement; these persons have nothing yet possess everything. On the other hand we have the Apostle's admonition concerning persons who give not through charity but out of greed (cf. Mt 5.42). Usury opts for a convenient form of destitution in order to have money as a constantly toiling slave. In this manner money lending obtains what it has lent out. You can thus observe how hope for the future empties one's house and renders temporary wealth useless.

https://www.sage.edu/faculty/salomd/nyssa/usury.html
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“A goose to hatch the Crystal Egg after an Eagle had half-hatched it! Aye, aye, to be sure, that’s right,” said the Old Woman of Beare. “And now you must go find out what happened to it. Go now, and when you come back I will give you your name.”
- from The King of Ireland's Son, by Padraic Colum

Offline Iconodule

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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2015, 09:28:45 AM »
Saint John Chrysostom
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And let us make a little chest for the poor at home; and near the place at which you stand praying, there let it be put: and as often as you enter in to pray, first deposit your alms, and then send up your prayer; and as you would not wish to pray with unwashen hands , so neither do so without alms: since not even the Gospel hanging by our bed  is more important than that alms should be laid up for you; for if you hang up the Gospel and do nothing, it will do you no such great good. But if you have this little coffer, you have a defence against the devil, you give wings to your prayer, you make your house holy, having meat for the King  there laid up in store. And for this reason let the little coffer be placed also near the bed , and the night will not be troubled with fantasies. Only let nothing be cast into it, which is the fruit of injustice. For this thing is charity; and it cannot be that charity should ever spring out of hardheartedness.

Will you have mention also of the resources out of which you should make your deposits, so as in this respect also to make this kind of contribution easy? The handicraft man, for instance, the sandal-maker, or the leather-cutter, or the brass-founder, or any other artificer—when he sells any article of his trade, let him give the first-fruits of its price unto God: let him cast in a small portion here, and assign something to God out of his portion, though it be rather scanty.  For neither do I ask any great thing; but so much as the childish ones among the Jews , full as they are of innumerable evils, just so much let us cast in, we who look forward to heaven. And this I say not as laying down a law, neither as forbidding more, but as recommending a deposit of not less than a tenth part. And this also do thou practise not in selling only, but also in buying and receiving a recompense. Let those also who possess land observe this law in regard to their rents: yea, let it be a law for all who gather their incomes in an honest way. For with those who demand usury I have no concern, neither with soldiers who do violence to others and turn to their own advantage their neighbors' calamities. Since from that quarter God will accept nothing. But these things I say to those who gather their substance by righteous labor.

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/220143.htm
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“A goose to hatch the Crystal Egg after an Eagle had half-hatched it! Aye, aye, to be sure, that’s right,” said the Old Woman of Beare. “And now you must go find out what happened to it. Go now, and when you come back I will give you your name.”
- from The King of Ireland's Son, by Padraic Colum

Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2015, 12:08:45 PM »
Powerful words.

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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2015, 01:36:54 PM »
Saint Basil the Great

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In depicting the character of the perfect man, of him, that is, who is ordained to ascend to the life of everlasting peace, the prophet reckons among his noble deeds his never having given his money upon usury. This particular sin is condemned in many passages of Scripture. Ezekiel reckons taking usury and increase among the greatest of crimes. The law distinctly utters the prohibition ‘Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother’ and to thy neighbour. Again it is said, ‘Usury upon usury; guile upon guile.’ And of the city abounding in a multitude of wickednesses, what does the Psalm say? ‘Usury and guile depart not from her streets.’ Now the prophet instances precisely the same point as characteristic of the perfect man, saying, ‘He that putteth not out his money to usury.’ For in truth it is the last pitch of inhumanity that one man, in need of the bare necessities of life, should be compelled to borrow, and another, not satisfied with the principal, should seek to make gain and profit for himself out of the calamities of the poor. The Lord gave His own injunction quite plainly in the words, ‘from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.’ But what of the money lover? He sees before him a man under stress of necessity bent to the ground in supplication. He sees him hesitating at no act, no words, of humiliation. He sees him suffering undeserved misfortune, but he is merciless. He does not reckon that he is a fellow-creature. He does not give in to his entreaties. He stands stiff and sour. He is moved by no prayers; his resolution is broken by no tears. He persists in refusal, invoking curses on his own head if he has any money about him, and swearing that he is himself on the lookout for a friend to furnish him a loan. He backs lies with oaths, and makes a poor addition to his stock in trade by supplementing inhumanity with perjury. Then the suppliant mentions interest, and utters the word security. All is changed. The frown is relaxed; with a genial smile he recalls old family connexion. Now it is ‘my friend.’ ‘I will see,’ says he, ‘if I have any money by me. Yes; there is that sum which a man I know has left in my hands on deposit for profit. He named very heavy interest. However, I shall certainly take something off, and give it you on better terms.’ With pretences of this kind and talk like this he fawns on the wretched victim, and induces him to swallow the bait. Then he binds him with written security, adds loss of liberty to the trouble of his pressing poverty, and is off. The man who has made himself responsible for interest which he cannot pay has accepted voluntary slavery for life. Tell me; do you expect to get money and profit out of the pauper? If he were in a position to add to your wealth, why should he come begging at your door? He came seeking an ally, and he found a foe. He was looking for medicine, and he lighted on poison. You ought to have comforted him in his distress, but in your attempt to grow fruit on the waste you are aggravating his necessity. Just as well might a physician go in to his patients, and instead of restoring them to health, rob them of the little strength they might have left. This is the way in which you try to profit by the misery of the wretched. Just as farmers pray for rain to make their fields fatter, so you are anxious for men’s need and indigence, that your money may make more. You forget that the addition which you are making to your sins is larger than the increase to your wealth which you are reckoning on getting for your usury. The seeker of the loan is helpless either way: he bethinks him of his poverty, he gives up all idea of payment as hopeless when at the need of the moment he risks the loan. The borrower bends to necessity and is beaten. The lender goes off secured by bills and bonds.

http://www.earlychurchtexts.com/public/basil_homily_psalm_14_against_usury.htm
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“A goose to hatch the Crystal Egg after an Eagle had half-hatched it! Aye, aye, to be sure, that’s right,” said the Old Woman of Beare. “And now you must go find out what happened to it. Go now, and when you come back I will give you your name.”
- from The King of Ireland's Son, by Padraic Colum

Offline Luke

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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2017, 11:41:17 AM »
Is "usury" being used as excessive or normal interest?

Offline scamandrius

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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2017, 11:45:00 AM »
And what exactly do you want to discuss? 
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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2017, 11:49:21 AM »
Is "usury" being used as excessive or normal interest?

Usury is usury.
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“A goose to hatch the Crystal Egg after an Eagle had half-hatched it! Aye, aye, to be sure, that’s right,” said the Old Woman of Beare. “And now you must go find out what happened to it. Go now, and when you come back I will give you your name.”
- from The King of Ireland's Son, by Padraic Colum

Offline scamandrius

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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2017, 11:50:26 AM »
Is "usury" being used as excessive or normal interest?

Usury is usury.

so, the illegal lending of money at exceedingly high interest rates. 
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2017, 11:52:22 AM »
Is "usury" being used as excessive or normal interest?

Usury is usury.

so, the illegal lending of money at exceedingly high interest rates.

Is that how your god Mammon defines it?
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“A goose to hatch the Crystal Egg after an Eagle had half-hatched it! Aye, aye, to be sure, that’s right,” said the Old Woman of Beare. “And now you must go find out what happened to it. Go now, and when you come back I will give you your name.”
- from The King of Ireland's Son, by Padraic Colum

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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2017, 11:54:45 AM »
Is "usury" being used as excessive or normal interest?

Usury is usury.

so, the illegal lending of money at exceedingly high interest rates.

Is that how your god Mammon defines it?

Calm down, guys. 
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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2017, 12:04:48 PM »
I have seen usury defined as "normal interest" and "excessive interest"  I have to write a short paper on whether the Bible prohibits interest or not, so I find this discussion very interesting.  So far I am seeing the word used in a negative way in the Old Testament, although some passages refer to charging interest on the poor.  I only see the word used twice in the New Testament.  Both times the word is used in the Parable of the Talents, where interest is used as a normal function of life. :-\

Offline xOrthodox4Christx

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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2017, 12:11:17 PM »
I'm sure it prohibits interest. That said, I think using interest to save up funds for personal use or for others is okay provided it's not in excess. Meh, it's not like my opinion has any relevance anyway.
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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2017, 12:35:55 PM »
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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2017, 12:42:26 PM »
A related book review from Metropolitan Hierotheos:

http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/01/interest-usury-capitalism.html
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“A goose to hatch the Crystal Egg after an Eagle had half-hatched it! Aye, aye, to be sure, that’s right,” said the Old Woman of Beare. “And now you must go find out what happened to it. Go now, and when you come back I will give you your name.”
- from The King of Ireland's Son, by Padraic Colum

Offline scamandrius

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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2017, 12:50:30 PM »
Is "usury" being used as excessive or normal interest?

Usury is usury.

so, the illegal lending of money at exceedingly high interest rates.

Is that how your god Mammon defines it?

Its how the dictionary defines it.
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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2017, 01:00:18 PM »
Both times the word is used in the Parable of the Talents, where interest is used as a normal function of life. :-\
Yes, but you must remember parabolic language also depicts Christ as a thief and as a bad steward.
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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2017, 01:05:03 PM »
Is "usury" being used as excessive or normal interest?

Usury is usury.

so, the illegal lending of money at exceedingly high interest rates.

Is that how your god Mammon defines it?

Its how the dictionary defines it.

Saint Webster, pray for us
Quote
“A goose to hatch the Crystal Egg after an Eagle had half-hatched it! Aye, aye, to be sure, that’s right,” said the Old Woman of Beare. “And now you must go find out what happened to it. Go now, and when you come back I will give you your name.”
- from The King of Ireland's Son, by Padraic Colum

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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2017, 02:12:04 PM »
Is "usury" being used as excessive or normal interest?

Usury is usury.

so, the illegal lending of money at exceedingly high interest rates.

Is that how your god Mammon defines it?

Its how the dictionary defines it.

Saint Webster, pray for us

May he enlighten you with definitions.
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Offline Gunnarr

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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2017, 01:45:15 AM »
This is all irrelevant,this is the post-patristic age you know!

They are from another historical context, and should be interpreted differently. We live in a different time with different issues. Time to move on.

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Thanks for posting these texts!
« Last Edit: January 24, 2017, 01:47:00 AM by Gunnarr »
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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2017, 05:02:42 AM »
It needs discrimination:

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But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
Luke 6:35

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Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.
Matthew 25:27

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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #20 on: January 24, 2017, 05:56:02 AM »
I can't help seeing a difference between a 20-year mortgage at 4% (pretty much adjusting for the changing value of money over time and the cost of maintaining the bank) and a payday loan at 600%. But that's just me.
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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #21 on: January 24, 2017, 08:03:21 AM »
Well, you either have cash or don't. Pretty simple
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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #22 on: January 24, 2017, 08:50:36 AM »
What's excessive? 1.5%? 27%? 12.9%?

Don't use credit cards or other "financing" and avoid the issue altogether.

Well, you either have cash or don't. Pretty simple
^ what he said.
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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #23 on: January 24, 2017, 01:17:02 PM »
Well, you either have cash or don't. Pretty simple

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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #24 on: August 22, 2017, 07:14:41 PM »
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As for those who are unwilling to lend to borrowers who promise to repay in full and on time, but demand payment with interest, and high interest at that, and without it will not allow their tax or their money to be seen, they are almost lawless and worse than sinners, obeying neither the old law nor the new covenant. For this latter exhorts us to lend even to people from whom we cannot hope to receive back the loan, whereas the ancient law states, "Thou shalt not lend thy money upon usury", commends the man who "putteth not out his money to usury", and considers it necessary to flee from the city where interest and guile are at work in the streets, that is to say, openly. Do you observe how the usurer deprives not only his own soul but also the community of its good reputation, inflicting on it the charge of inhumanity, and doing the whole city in general a considerable injustice? He is one of its citizens and everything he has was acquired from it, but he does not use his possessions for its good. To those who have nothing he is unwilling to lend, and to those who have something, however meager, he lends at interest, in order cunningly to take from them what little they have to live on. Perhaps that is why the prophet links deceit and usury, saying, "I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness, for I have seen violence and strife in the city, usury and guile depart not from her streets."

The man who lends at interest is eager to grow rich with sins rather than money, destroying both the borrower's livelihood and his own soul. For interest payments are like a brood of vipers nesting in the bosom of those who love money, foreshadowing the fact that such men will not escape from the unsleeping worms threatened for the age to come. If one of them were to say, however, "As you do not allow me to receive interest, I shall keep my surplus money by me, and shall not offer it to those who need to borrow", he should be aware that he is holding the mothers of those vipers in his breast, who will also be for him the mothers of those unsleeping worms.

- Saint Gregory Palamas, Homily 45, 'On the Verse, "As Ye Would That Men Should Do To You..."'
« Last Edit: August 22, 2017, 07:15:07 PM by Iconodule »
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“A goose to hatch the Crystal Egg after an Eagle had half-hatched it! Aye, aye, to be sure, that’s right,” said the Old Woman of Beare. “And now you must go find out what happened to it. Go now, and when you come back I will give you your name.”
- from The King of Ireland's Son, by Padraic Colum

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Re: Church Fathers on Usury
« Reply #25 on: August 23, 2017, 09:20:04 AM »
Posted by: Arachne 
I can't help seeing a difference between a 20-year mortgage at 4% (pretty much adjusting for the changing value of money over time and the cost of maintaining the bank) and a payday loan at 600%. But that's just me.

Default on a payment and see where the interest goes. Unfortunately the current system punishes the weakest and the ones that need the money most. Ive seen interest default too 28% on a missed payment to a credit card company. 4 and 5% is a teaser rate for people that don't need money.

  Its even happening to countries. look at Greece. When the rumor came out in 2009 that Greece was in financial trouble. the first thing that happened was the inflation of the Bond market. Interest went from 2% to over 25%. Making the country default because of the rumor alone. The county would have bounced back much sooner but the system punishes its weakest. Its a sinful practice even if they sugar coat it on the surface.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2017, 09:21:55 AM by Tzimis »