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The Moral Legitimacy of Interest and Banking

Written by Gary North on February 13, 2016

For [the kingdom of heaven] is as a man traveling into a far country, [who] called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man he gave according to ability, and straightaway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made [them] five other talents. And likewise he that [had received] two, he also gained other two (Matt. 25:14-17).

This parable is a kingdom parable. It follows the five-point covenant model that was first discovered by Ray Sutton. First, the master calls his servants before him (sovereignty). Second, he delegates authority to them as his economic representatives by transferring money to them (hierarchy/representation). Third, while it is not stated explicitly, he commands them to make a profit (law/dominion). We know this because all three immediately take steps to obey his implicit economic command. Fourth, he returns and imposes positive sanctions: blessings to the profitable servants. Fifth, the blessings that he gives them involve rulership (succession/continuity). He then imposes negative sanctions against the unprofitable servant, casting him into outer darkness (disinheritance).

This parable contains several theological messages, but the three main ones are these: first, God owns all things; second, He delegates temporary control over these things to men; third, men are required to increase the value of whatever God has entrusted to them.

There are also secondary implications. First, it should be noted that the servants were required to act on their own initiative for a long period. The master was not present to tell them precisely what to do. He imposed a profit management system of control, a bottom-up hierarchy. It was not the management alternative, a non-market, top-down bureaucracy. He wisely decentralized his investment portfolio before he departed. He allowed his subordinates to make their own decisions regarding the proper use of his capital. He subsequently held them legally responsible for the results.

It should also be noted that he gave a greater or lesser quantity of capital to each servant according to the individual’s ability. He had watched them perform, and he know who was most reliable. There is no equalitarianism visible in this parable, no theory of “equal starting positions.” The better performers gained access to the largest initial advance of capital. This is a basic principle of free market competition: those who perform profitable are subsequently entrusted with greater capital and greater responsibility, and if successful, they receive greater rewards. In other words, capital is transferred to managers who are believed by owners to be most likely to produce profits. If they continue to perform profitably, they gain control over ever greater quantities of capital.

Marxism as Covenant-Breaking

What about the person who takes no risks, buries his talent, and returns to the master only what he had been given initially? This man has produced losses. He is an evil, unprofitable servant. He has not performed according to minimum standards.

Like so many other incompetent, slothful people in history, the servant of the parable tries to justify his poor performance by blaming the master. He accuses the master of being a thief, or at least an unscrupulous exploiter. “Then he which had received one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou are an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed. And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, [there] thou hast [that is] thine” (vv. 24-25).

(For the rest of my article, click the link.)

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