“Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:28).
Recently, I received an email from someone I had never heard of before. She did not tell me what article she had read, or what book of mine she had read. She said this:
Wow, that article you had on usury and the Bible was incredible. I can not see your logic on any level, but again when you proclaim such ideas, along with Capitalism and the Bible, well, your Calvinsim is evident. Thinking that Jesus endorsed interest based loans based on the parable of the 10 talents completely misses the point of using ones gifts on earth and not burying them. The spiritual laws governing the prohibition of interest are based on the fact that humans are to make their livings with their deeds, their efforts. When humans loose this as they do in interest based schemes, the community aspect of the economy is lost. Economy is brotherhood, and is where the spirit is present. Excluding brotherhood is dangerous and why the usury suggestions were put in place. The temptations of Christ involve three human trials of power, illusion and materialism. Christ overcame each one of those temptations as a lesson to us as to what we are capable of doing. You are free to act and believe what you wish, but please do not use Jesus and his mission to justify interest payments. It is not a rational argument by any stretch of the imagination, not logical at all. You do yourself a great disservice, and are distorting the Gospel for your purposes.
My initial response was to conclude that she was a member in good standing in one of the largest organizations on earth, Jerks for Jesus.
I sent back a very brief note: “Please direct me to the section on your website that exegetes all of the Bible’s passages on interest.” I did not hear back.
I looked her up on the Web. It turns out, she is not a jerk for Jesus. She is a jerk for Steiner. She has a website devoted to the organic gardening techniques of Rudolf Steiner. Steiner was an Austrian mystic who got himself in a lot of trouble with Adolf Hitler as early as 1921. Steiner recognized early that Hitler was a potential tyrant, and he said so publicly. He had to leave Germany after Hitler came to power.
I knew a man decades ago who had adopted Steiner’s techniques for organic farming. It was a very successful small farm. I never did a study on the Steiner’s theory of the relationship between his mysticism and his organic gardening techniques. My guess is that the techniques are productive. I know there are disciples of Steiner who run successful organic gardening operations. But they have this in common: they do not have websites devoted to economic theory.
I have no idea what this lady had read of mine, although she was correct in her understanding of my position. It is clear in Matthew 25 — Jesus’ parable of the talents — that He did accept the legitimacy of interest payments for commercial loans. To argue otherwise is to adopt the principle of biblical interpretation that says that whatever the text specifically says must be ignored. In fact, the opposite position must be maintained. Jesus said that the owner of the capital asset, a coin, had done the wrong thing when he buried the coin. He should have turned the coin over to moneylenders, so that the owner of the coin would have a positive rate of return.
(For the rest of my article, click the link.)