Monday, 30 January 2017

The Fallacy of the Claim that Usury in the Bible refers to '"Excessive" interest

Many in the modern western Church think that 'usury' in the Bible refers to "excessive" interest. This definition of usury being excessive interest is a perversion of the true Biblical definition of interest. The Jewish Encylopedia explains:

In modern language this term denotes a rate of interest greater than that which the law or public opinion permits; but the Biblical law, in all dealings among Israelites, forbids all "increase" of the debt by reason of lapse of time or forbearance, be the rate of interest high or low, while it does not impose any limit in dealings between Israelites and Gentiles. Hence in discussing Jewish law the words "interest" and "usury" may be used indiscriminately.

There are three Biblical passages which forbid the taking of interest in the case of "brothers," but which permit, or seemingly enjoin, it when the borrower is a Gentile, namely, Ex. xxii. 24; Lev. xxv. 36, 37; Deut. xxiii. 20, 21.

The Hebrew word for "usury" is "neshek," meaning literally "a bite," from its painfulness to the debtor; while in Lev. xxv. 36, 37 "increase" is the rendering of the Hebrew "marbit" or "tarbit" which denotes the gain on the creditor's side, and which in the later Hebrew becomes "ribbit." Lending on usury or increase is classed by Ezekiel (xviii. 13, 17) among the worst of sins. See also Ps. xv., in which among the attributes of the righteous man is reckoned the fact that he does not lend on usury.

The Talmud (B. M. 61b) dwells on Ezek. xviii. 13 (Hebr.): "He has lent on usury; he has taken interest; he shall surely not live, having done all these abominations"; on the words with which the prohibition of usury in Lev. xxv. 36 closes: "Thou shalt be afraid of thy God"; and on the further words in which Ezekiel (l.c.) refers to the usurer: "He shall surely suffer death; his blood is upon him"; hence the lender on interest is compared to the shedder of blood.

Thus, it is clear that the Biblical Hebrew definition of usury, which is the true Biblical definition, is that usury refers to any amount of interest at all. The Bible indeed has no respect for usury. To claim that Bible respects usury in some circumstances is truly akin to saying it has respect for sodomy or child sacrifice in some circumstances - all of which are abominations in the eyes of God (Leviticus 20:13; Deuteronomy 12:31; Ezekiel 18:13).

No where in Bible does it distinguish between "excessive" and "reasonable" usury. No where! It is wicked man who compromises with sin who makes such a distinction. This is precisely what the Church in Europe did sometime between the 15th to 16th century, eventually leading to the abolition of the prohibition on usury through Europe sometime during the 18th to 19th centuries. It is precisely what many Christians, including many pastors do.

What difference is there between the unsaved person who thinks usury is justified when "reasonable" and the (professing) Christian, even pastor, who thinks usury is justified when "reasonable"? None. None at all.

The idea that the Bible distinguishes between "excessive" and "reasonable" interest or usury is a doctrine of demons. It is what deceived John Calvin into compromising, and eventually supporting usury. To say that the Bible distinguishes between the "excessive" and "reasonable" usury is to not only say that God is lying about usury being a sin, but that God is a liar. It is to tell God that you know better than Him about usury.

"How?", I hear you ask. Sin is sin, regardless of the circumstances or the degree to which it is committed. Usury is sin itself. So, to claim there is a Biblical distinction between "excessive" and "reasonable" usury is to say that usury is justified to certain degrees or in certain circumstances. This is like saying that child sacrifice is justified where the unborn child is only 2 weeks old, a "reasonable" age at which to murder him or her, but that murdering him or her at 4 years old is wrong, an "excessive" age at which is murder him or her.

It is to pervert the Moral Law of God on usury, and implement humanistic standards on usury. It is no different from moral relativism because it is moral relativism.