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Part 2


One way many Christians are attempting to be faithful to the Call of Reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) is by taking the Vow of Non-Violence. It is a journey toward disarming the heart. One version reads as follows:

Recognizing the violence in my own heart, yet trusting in the goodness and mercy of God, I vow for one year to practice the non-violence of Jesus who taught us in the Sermon on the Mount:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God. . . .

You have learned that it is said, "You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy," but I say to you, "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In this way you will be daughters and sons of your Creator in heaven."

Before God the Creator and Sanctifying Spirit, I vow to carry out in my life the love and example of Jesus

  • by striving for peace within myself and seeking to be a peacemaker in my daily life;
  • by accepting suffering rather than inflicting it;
  • by refusing to retaliate in the face of provocation and violence;
  • by persevering in nonviolence of tongue and heart;
  • by living conscientiously and simply so that I do not deprive others of the means to live;
  • by actively resisting evil and working nonviolently to abolish war and the causes of war from my own heart and from the face of the earth.

God, I trust in Your sustaining love and believe that just as You gave me the grace and desire to offer this, so You will also bestow abundant grace to fulfill it.


If we understand the Scriptures and its critique of our idolatrous society, we will understand how the charging of interest violates Christian principles of non-violence. We will see how the government's money system makes it imperative for us to live conscientiously and simply so that I do not deprive others of the means to live. We have already looked at these connections in this essay on usury. Let's review them.

The Old Testament

The Old Testament forbad the charging of interest, at first from fellow Israelites (Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:35-37; Deuteronomy 23:19-20), and after the conquest of the "strangers" in the Promised Land, from everyone (Psalm 15:5; Proverbs. 28:8; Jeremiah 15:10; Ezekiel 18:8,13,17; 22:12; Nehemiah 5:7-10).

Whenever the prophets condemn a society's debased currency and the widespread charging of interest, they also speak of conflict and bloodshed (e.g., Ezekiel 18:7-8,10-13;25 22:12-13;26 45:9-10;27 Psalm 55:9-11,2328 [LXX29]; Psalm 72:1430 [LXX]31; Micah 6:6-12;32). I believe we as peacemakers should avoid every act that obstructs the Rule of God's Law33 and perpetuates violence and impersonalism. Biblical culture is an agrarian culture of harmony, service of others, and peace. Joining hands with the modern world in a repudiation of this vision will aid the forces of violence, selfish consumerism, and conflict.

The New Testament

Our basic approach to the Old Testament should be that unless the New Testament explicitly repudiates, annuls, or alters an Old Testament legal principle,[34] that principle is still an authoritative statement of God's Standard of Holiness.

Unfortunately, the modern approach is summed up in the slogan, "We aren't under law, we're under grace!" The commands of the Old Testament -- merely "physical" and "material" -- have been replaced by the "spiritual" pattern of the New Testament. Thus, we no longer have to worry about "biting" or "oppressing" our neighbor by charging him interest, as long as we love him in "in our hearts." The Apostle Paul, in contrast, says that if we want to truly love our neighbor, we must obey God's Law with respect to him (Romans 13:8-10).

Until the rise of modern neo-pagan industrialism, the Church was nearly unanimous in its condemnation of interest. Ambrose, Augustine, Basil, Chrysostom, Clement, Jerome, Tertullian, and others all wrote vigorously against interest. Some early church councils decreed excommunication for the charging of interest.

The Parable of the Talents

Some have alleged that Matthew 25:27 makes such an annulment of the Old Testament laws against usury. I am not persuaded. This is a parable told to those who were prone to sit on their duffs waiting for the Kingdom to be ushered in full-blown. In this parable, the nobleman entrusts talents to his servants and orders them to "do business till I return" (Luke 19:13). One servant did absolutely nothing, and the nobleman says he should have at least put the money in a bank to get interest.

(1) The Old Testament texts on interest, combined with the texts on false weights and measures (i.e., a debased currency system), create an economic world-and-life view totally at odds with all ancient empires as well as our own. It would not be hermeneutically sound to expect an entire cultural perspective to be overturned by the words of an ambiguous character in a Parable.

(2) But the Parable itself is not inconsistent with the economic perspective of the Old Testament. Usury is still seen to be ethically suspect.

(a) If we believe the words of the last slave, the master cannot represent Christ. He is said to be a harsh and unfair man who generates fear in those under his authority by requiring of them that which he has no right to require (reaping where he did not sow, gathering where he scattered no seed). If this characterization is true, we should not be surprised to find him advocating the "biting" of others by the charging of interest, but we ought not impute his words to our Lord.

(b) If, on the other hand, we believe the words of the master, the last servant is a "wicked and lazy slave." He was wicked for characterizing his just master as harsh and unjust. He was also lazy for not even acting in terms of his own professed beliefs by at least biting others and getting a minimal return on his cruel master's principal. But this would still be a judgment made in terms of the perspective of a wicked and lazy slave, not the Prince of Peace.

(c) The parallel account in Luke's Gospel would have us accept the interpretation in (b). The master does not agree with the slave's perspective, he simply says "By your own words will I judge you, you worthless slave" (19:22). Thus, given the servant's belief in the evil character of the master, he should have charged interest. We are thus on most unstable ground to attribute this recommendation to God.

(3) This is hardly the kind of passage we would want to rely on to overturn a larger number of clearer Old Testament texts and the entire non-violent anti-interest world-view of the Old Testament.


In some ways, we're uncomfortable trying to align our lives with a Holy Book which seems so primitive and out-of-touch with the modern world. Jesus' words to the wicked and lazy slave (Matthew 25:27) come to us almost as a relief.

But we would not want to overturn God's Law in the Old Testament if we understood God's gracious purposes and the beneficial effects Biblical Law would have in society. The Biblical prohibition against usury (interest) is part of a complete social system designed to produce justice, harmony, prosperity, health, and a whole complex of conditions which are behind the Biblical word for "salvation."35 Remove any part of God's system and you invite injustice, conflict, and destitution. Further, the removal of one Biblical principle will inevitably give rise to demands for the removal of others, piece by piece, until the entire Kingdom of God is replaced by the Empire of Man.

Interest is Rooted in Covetousness

Life in God's Kingdom can be summed up as A Productive Life in the Service of Others. The Edenic ideal is a society in which all are producing for the needs of others, freely, spontaneously, anxious for nothing. The City of Man, on the contrary, embodies itself in Covetous Consumption in the Service of Self. This consumptive mentality, this "I-want-everything-the-TV-says-I-need-to- have-and-I-want-it-NOW" mentality, is the idolatrous worship of self (Colossians. 3:5). It is the mentality of slaves (Proverbs 22:7; Romans 6:6).

When people commit themselves to the worship of self they reverse, one by one, the characteristics of Godly Civilization.

Rather than working36 they prefer getting "something for nothing."

Rather than taking personal responsibility, they seek a life without risk.37

Rather than delighting in face-to-face opportunities to exhort others in their locale, they seek an impersonal system in which decisions are made in a capitol far away, in which we need only perform the most routine and faceless of tasks to "get along." Distrust of all other people and a class-war perspective soon emerge.

In the fullness of Biblical Civilization, interest-taking would never take place. God promises that a culture obedient to His Law will not lack anything (Deuteronomy. 28:1-14; Isaiah. 55:1-2). We are able to devote our lives to God's Kingdom, knowing that our security comes from above, not from the banker's investment portfolio (Matt. 6:33). It is only when we reject the Providence of God as inadequate that (ironically) we end up with less than we would have had being obedient to God. As an economy becomes more Godly, prices decline; we have no need to gain any "competitive advantage" over our neighbor in a quest for a dwindling quantity of goods and services. Productive Christians are content with what they have, and see a surplus as an opportunity to give, as image-bearers of their Heavenly Father (Matthew 5:45).

The Usurious Economy is Rooted in Violent Money

To support the charging of interest, banks inevitably resort to another popular way to obtain wealth without work: they falsify weights and measures.

I have often been told that trying to get our society to return to Biblical culture is "naive," and "impractical." The modern economists are to be trusted and followed, not Moses and Isaiah. Our whole economy is predicated on the state turning our debts into dollars, and our paying interest on the dollars to the bankers. Break this chain, and the whole Military-Industrial-Complex would crumble. Then where would we all be?!? "Be realistic!!"

And the pattern set by the government is emulated by citizens. Thus, to use the Biblical examples, if a person has only enough silver to mint ten coins, but needs twenty to trade for a desired object, he simply mints 20 (or 3038) out of a cheaper metal, coats them in silver, and passes them off as being full value.

"He has gained an advantage over his competitors!"
"He has obtained something for nothing!"
"He has shown himself to be a man of 'practical wisdom.'"


He has declared war on the Kingdom of God (Leviticus. 19:35-37; Deuteronomy 25:13-15; Proverbs. 11:1).

A quick glance at the coins in your pocket or purse will reveal a culture which has also declared war on a righteous social order. Some historians and economists have observed that the financial powers that be often believe that it is "necessary" to debase the currency in order to facilitate easy payments of interest charges on society-wide debt. In our society it would in fact be impossible to make all interest payments without a false money system. But it is a nation of consumers which has demanded easy access to the purchasing power needed to satiate our lusts. Inflation - which is caused by this unGodly monetary system - steals from the poor and fuels the fires of interpersonal conflict and social fragmentation.


And hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment; {8} He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man, {9} Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord GOD. {10} If he beget a son that is a robber, a shedder of blood, and that doeth the like to any one of these things, {11} And that doeth not any of those duties, but even hath eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbour's wife, {12} Hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination, {13} Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.


In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood; thou hast taken usury and increase, and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbours by extortion, and hast forgotten me, saith the Lord GOD. {13} Behold, therefore I have smitten mine hand at thy dishonest gain which thou hast made, and at thy blood which hath been in the midst of thee.


Thus saith the Lord GOD; Let it suffice you, O princes of Israel: remove violence and spoil, and execute judgment and justice, take away your exactions from my people, saith the Lord GOD. {10} Ye shall have just balances. . . .


Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues: for I have seen violence and strife in the city. {10} Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof: mischief also and sorrow are in the midst of it. {11} Wickedness is in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets. {23} But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee.

(29) "LXX" represents the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament used by our Lord and the Apostles. In that version, we note this difference:

Ps. 55:10-11 Day and night it [violence] shall go round about it [the city] upon its walls: iniquity and sorrow and unrighteousness are in the midst of it; and usury {Gk. - tokos} and craft {dolos} have not failed from its streets.

The poetic parallelism then compares usurers to those who shed blood:

v. 23 But thou, O God, shalt bring them down to the pit of destruction; bloody and crafty men {doliotetos} shall not live out half their days. . . .


He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight.


He shall redeem their souls from usury and injustice....


Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? {7} Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? {8} He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? {10} Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable? {11} Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights? {12} For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.

(33) "The Rule of Law" is a familiar phrase among politicians and jurists of the Empire. It reflects the smooth operation of the status quo. The Rule of God's Law is a society "where it is easier for people to be good," as Peter Maurin phrased it.

(34) The most obvious example of this is the animal sacrifices. Our forgiveness still depends upon the blood of a sacrificial lamb being shed for us (Hebrews 9:22), but the New Testament says that the only acceptable Lamb is Jesus (John 1:36, and throughout the book of Hebrews).

(35) The Bible is a big, thick, book, but it says comparatively little about what happens to a person after death. Most of the Book concerns this life. It is all-too-convenient to spend a lot of preaching time speculating on Heaven or "Armageddon" while ignoring the greater part of what the Bible describes as "salvation." "Salvation" is both the cause and effect of justice on earth, that is, putting God's Word into practice here on earth: Exodus 14:13; 2 Samuel 22:3; Isaiah 45:17-18; 49:6-10 + Acts 13:46-48; Isaiah 60:18 - 62:12; Luke 3:1-20; 19:8-14; Romans 13:8-14; Revelation 19.

(36) Cultivating God's bounty for others (Ephesians 4:28).

(37) In general, America's politicians promise the "security" of a nursery and the "peace" of the grave.

(38) "Hey! Might as well loan a few out at interest!"


Cleansing the Home  | | The Ungodliest Man in the World!   | | God's Law Concerning Money    | | Usury and Unabombers   | | What About Borrowing?  | | "The Evils of Capitalism" -- Wrong Enemy  | | FRACTIONAL RESERVE BANKING AND VIOLENCE  | | Getting out of Paper  | | A Purified Life  | | The Freemen of Montana | | For Further Reading

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