Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Sin of usury

The Bible prohibits usury and although the passages supported in support of this injunction (Ex. 22:25; Lev. 25:35-38; Deut. 23:19-23) appear to be only applicable for loans by Jewish lenders to Jewish borrowers, the Church said they apply to all loans citing Lk. 6:30 et al. Martin Luther in two separate treatises condemned usury in no uncertain terms.

What is usury? The Biblical injunction is against the payment of interest for any loan. Luther agreed although his strongest condemnations were reserved for those who charged excessive interest and excessive was probably interest in excess of six percent interest.

In legal terms, usury was initially charging interest in excess of the rate allowed by law. Today in many jurisdictions, usury is charging and collecting interest in excess of the contract rate. Regardless of how we define usury, usury is still a sin defined as charging any interest on a loan. Using this biblical definition of usury, the sin is widespread and deserving condemnation particularly in light of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown and the effects of the meltdown on banking and financial institutions and upon individuals.

For numerous reasons, usury is no longer a sin in the eyes of most individuals. No one has suggested that the words of scripture have not been properly translated. Even those who base their theology on Sola Scriptura have not said that usury is still a sin.

A work in progress.

Copyrighted 2009 All rights reserved

Friday, September 04, 2009

Like a cat on a hot tin roof

The reading for the last Sunday in August included these verses from the 7th chapter of Mark: “And he said, ‘What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man.’”

It is not surprising that a Lutheran clergy said to me that she felt like a cat on a hot tin roof. What an appropriate allusion to the play written by Tennessee Williams. It is also a comment on the recent decision of the ELCA to allow gay clergy in committed relationships to be called as a minister of a congregation of the ELCA!

Paraphrasing John Henry Newman, the Lutheran doctrine of Sola Scriptura led inevitably to the liberalism which denied the authority of 1 Cor. 6:9. With the rejection of Sola Scriptura, the days of the ELCA are probably numbered.

Theology has changed to meet new circumstances, something that St. Luke recognized, even it those who made the change do not recognize it.

We will be sitting in the same pew this Sunday wondering if we are still Lutherans.

Copyrighted 2009 All rights reserved