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Usury

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  • Julian Gress
    Hey everyone, You may recall a post of mine where I defended the position that usury was sinful in and of itself. Well, since then I have come to realize
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 26 6:05 PM
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      Hey everyone,

      You may recall a post of mine where I defended the position that
      usury was sinful in and of itself. Well, since then I have come to
      realize otherwise, and I thought I'd share my new thoughts on the
      matter.

      If you haven't read my original post however, you might be
      interested in doing a search through the previous message to read it
      before you read through this brief post.

      In my other paper, I condemned usury on the basis of justice. I
      argued that it was "reaping without sowing" to charge usury. But I
      think now that it is reaping with sowing. It is a kind of
      investment. As when someone gives a certain sum of money to a
      person who is starting a business or some other venture, he expects
      a certain proportion of the profits, so likewise usury is an
      investment, though of a different kind, where the lender expects a
      certain percentage of the money lent, and not of the profits of the
      borrower. Hence it would be injustice, not to be allowed to collect
      usury from the borrower.

      As for those passages which seem to condemn usury, I believe they
      are talking about certain abuses of usury. As when in Leviticus, it
      speaks of exacting usury from the poor, who are sorely in need, and
      it charges him with sin who in such a manner takes advantage of the
      poor.

      This seems to be the most reasonable position to me, as well as the
      most Scriptural. The Westminster Confession of Faith that states in
      chapter one that:

      There are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and
      government of the Church, common to human actions and societies,
      which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian
      prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are
      always to be observed.

      I feel that usury is one of those issues "common to human actions
      and societies," that is to be ordered by the light of nature, and
      Christian prudence, according to the general principles of God's
      Word. One of those principles, as Calvin teaches, is that, in
      exacting usury, we are to keep that law of God which teaches us to
      love our neighbor as ourselves, doing unto them as we would have
      them do unto us. Calvin says in his commentary on the 15th psalm
      (http://www.ccel.org/c/calvin/comment3/comm_vol08/htm/xxi.iv.htm)
      that if we keep this rule in mind, we can avoid lengthy debates
      about usury. Furthermore, as according to the light of nature,
      James Fisher's states in his catechism on the catechism, found at
      http://reformed.org/documents/fisher/q075.html, that usury is proven
      to be lawful "From the very light of nature, which teaches, that
      since the borrower proposes to gain by the loan, the lender should
      have a reasonable share of his profit, as a recompense for the use
      of his money, which he might otherwise have disposed of to his own
      advantage, 2 Cor. 8:13."

      Anyway, these are some of the reasons that helped to change my mind
      about usury.

      God's blessing on you all,
      In our Lord Jesus Christ,
      Julian R. Gress
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