By Adam Zens
“The Bible is dangerously sharp and hits us where it hurts the most, pulling us out of our comfort zone and dissecting our conscience like a living scalpel.”—Paraphrase of Hebrews 4:12.
When it comes to banking and money-lending, the Bible will simply not leave well enough alone. It challenges us, and our beloved economic systems, to their core. Just like Jesus did not let up when he approached the money-changers in the house of the Lord, chasing out those religious infidels “who were selling and buying in the temple” and who were making that place “a den of robbers,” (Mat. 21) so the Bible itself presents a wary picture of those who would use the banking system to charge people interest (what the Bible calls “usury”).
But don’t we need to charge interest on loans simply because of the threat that the economic system would become unsound, or, worse yet, collapse? Any type of globalizing, general question designed to inspire fear of the economic unknown can easily manipulate people. That is how the masses form their opinions. We have to pose the questions beneath the questions, the ones that discerning Christians ought to find out the answers to with all assiduity. Questions like, “How do we apply this really difficult command, like “Give to everyone who begs of you…” (Matt. 5:42; NRSV) within our given time and culture?” have to nag a bit in the back of our mind along with observations like, “Why is the full-length Sermon on the Mount with all of its challenging doctrines only found in the gospel of Matthew? Was Matthew some kind of Social Justice Warrior?”
Jesus is not the only biblical character who was preoccupied with justice for the poor. In Nehemiah 5, it is reported how Nehemiah reacts to the news that his own people, the Israelites, have been oppressing each other, charging interest on loans to their brothers and sisters in the Lord so that insurmountable debts were accumulating and leading to human trafficking. Nehemiah grieves the situation and demands accountability:
I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these complaints. After thinking it over, I brought charges against the nobles and the officials; I said to them, “You are all taking interest from your own people.” (Nehemiah 5:6-7; NRSV).
Oh, of course it is easier to maintain the status-quo. But as usual, Jesus and the Bible do not leave well enough alone. They keep fighting for justice for the poor, long after we have given up on the poor as conforming to whatever stereotype we have of someone who makes bad life-choices.
Start a revolution in personal giving this New Year. Don’t contribute your savings and investments to banking corporations who exploit the poor with excessive usury. Stay away from the banking “biggies” like JP Morgan and Chase which try to turn your credit score into a reason to oppress and burden people with hidden fees and costs that they cannot bear. Let’s live for Jesus and separate ourselves (when feasible) from an exploitative economic program that not only oppresses the already over-burdened, but blesses it as “good business practice.”
Have you ever thought about assertions which must be true in a formal sense, such as “This sentence cannot be understood unless the reader understands English” or something comparable? Philosophers of language call such sentences “necessarily true” and their truth seems to be deniable only with strict conditions in place. Not every philosopher grants that such is the case. Quine was one of them.
Quine on the Analytic-Synthetic Distinction covers the groundwork for why Quine objected to analyticity or self-evident truth and why his hyper-empiricism may have steered him wrong. Additionally, you can pick up The Problem of Induction by the same author-narrator team.
Do you want to increase your working vocabulary? If so, why not make another New Year’s resolution to go through the Boost your Word Power program with theaudio version performed by Disney’s Cheryl Texiera. The ebook version is fully interactive and allows you to review your progress as you learn new words every day.
Cartoon by toonpool.com.