Read Chapter XII - Permanency of the prohibition of Usury A Scriptural‚ Ethical and Economic View , free online book, by Calvin Elliott, on

It is sometimes urged that the law of Moses with regard to usury was not intended to be permanent but was only a wise and beneficent regulation for that people in their peculiar condition; that as the ceremonial was done away by the incoming of the New Testament dispensation, so this prohibition was annulled and should be reckoned among the effete laws of the ancient Hebrews.

In answer to this contention it may be replied:

(1) This prohibition is not ceremonial. It has no connection with the rites and forms of their religion. It touches their character and conduct but has no place in their forms of worship.

(2) Nothing can be presented from the Mosaic laws to prove that this prohibition was only of a temporary character. It is in entire harmony with the spirit of helpfulness and especially the protection of the weak, that is so characteristic of the Mosaic order.

No induction from any of the Old Testament writers can be fairly made to limit its application. The prophets place usury in the catalogue of sins that are always and everywhere offensive to God. Nehemiah condemns it as destructive to personal and civic freedom.

(3) There is no hint of its discontinuance in the new dispensation. The Master gave a spiritual completeness to this law as he did to all enactments requiring external moral character. He classed the usurers, in his parables, among the dishonest, who took up what they had not laid down.

The disciples, in their poverty and persecutions, were not specially tempted by this sin, and it is not therefore prominent in their history. But there is nothing in their teachings or practice that is not in entire harmony with the binding continuance of the Mosaic prohibition, and their practice and teaching are just such as we should expect from Christian people in their condition and circumstances who recognized the prohibition as permanent.

(4) The apostolic fathers, as the church grew and came into contact with the world and was beginning to share in the business of the world, to a man, regarded the prohibition as in full force and its observance as one of the marked characteristics of the Christian, distinguishing him from the worldling and the Jew. Conditions in the apostolic age did not make this prominent but when the conditions were changed and the church came in conflict with this sin, it is clearly seen that the law was in a continuous binding force through the whole period.

The later fathers were of the opinion, unanimously, that it was in full force, not temporary or provincial, but binding for all time and upon all people. That it is suspended is a modern idea, a suggestion of the world to the church within the last few hundred years.