Reforming the Morality of Usury: A Study of the Differences that Separated the Protestant Reformersby David W. Jones
In the early years of the sixteenth century, the Church experienced a dramatic shift in its moral perception of the practice of usury. Leaders of the continental Protestant Reformation (Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anabaptist) all grappled with the Roman Catholic Church's moral teaching on the practice of lending money at interest. Although these three theological
In the early years of the sixteenth century, the Church experienced a dramatic shift in its moral perception of the practice of usury. Leaders of the continental Protestant Reformation (Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anabaptist) all grappled with the Roman Catholic Church's moral teaching on the practice of lending money at interest. Although these three theological streams addressed the same moral problem, at relatively the same time, they each responded differently. Reforming the Morality of Usury examines how the leaders of each major stream in the continental Protestant Reformation adopted a different approach to reforming moral teaching on the practice of usury.
Lawrence M. Stratton, Princeton Theological Seminary
Jeanne Boeh, Augsburg College
Bernie A. Van de Walle, Alliance University College
Lee E. Erickson, Economics, Taylor University
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Meet the Author
David W. Jones is Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, North Carolina.
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I read a lot of books related to money, morality, and other topics in the fields of business and material ethics. David Jones' book 'Reforming the Morality of Usury' is unquestionably one of the best books in these general fields. This text is good in that it is not a technical treastise in any sense of the word, but rather it is a simple historical analysis of what the major Protestant Reformers (Martin Luther, John Calvin, and various Anabaptist leaders) thought about the morality of charging and receiving interest on monies lent. While this description may make 'Reforming the Morality is Usury' sound like an esoteric religious book, this is not the case at all. Anyone familiar with Max Weber's 'The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism' knows that Protestantism shaped much of modern economics. In this book Jones shows how and why the various Protestant Reformers differed in their financial thought and makes practical application for the present day. I highly recommend this volume to anyone with an interest in this or related topics.
If you have an interest in economics, Church history, or ethics, you need to read this marvelous little book. Jones' observations and synthesis are brilliant. Here is part of the forward by well-known Christian stateman Paige Patterson, 'The book that you are holding in your hand is undoubtedly the best book ever written on the topic that it covers¿best not only because it is probably the sole book ever produced on the Protestant reformers¿ ethics of usury, but also because it is superbly researched and well written. The genius of this volume is that within these pages David Jones has taken a somewhat abstruse topic and constructed an argument in such a way as to make the subject both interesting to the diligent reader and relevant to the modern world. Indeed, this text is not as much an economics or Church history book as it is an ethics book. Some readers may not be interested in issues solely related to economics or Church history, but in view of the dearth of morals in contemporary society, all should be concerned with matters of ethics¿both individual ethics and corporate ethics. Through his exploration of the subject of money-lending within the pages of 'Reforming the Morality of Usury,' David Jones has blazed paths into the territory of financial ethics that not only will inform readers about various issues in sixteenth century economics, but also will provoke them to consider a host of other issues related to their own financial stewardship. This text is destined to become a standard in the classroom and will be a welcome addition to the library of anyone interested in the advancement of ethics in the Judeo-Christian tradition. I heartily recommend this book to all who have eyes to see and ears to hear.'
This is an extremely well written book. I highly recommend it for all educated readers, regardless of their religious persuasion. In a vein similar to that of H. Richard Niebuhr in his classic text 'Christ and Culture', Jones' thesis is that the reason why Martin Luther, John Calvin, and various Anabaptist ecclesiastical reformers each held different views on the morality of usury--the hot ethical topic of the 16th century--was that the Portestant reformers each held different ideas about how the Church (or Christians) ought to related to the State (or culture). Jones' arguments are very well reasearched and convincing. This book ought to be read by all, for it will force readers to consider and answer questions regarding the proper relationship between one's Faith and one's country; which, indeed, are important questions for the age in which we live. Note that 'Reforming the Morality of Usury' includes a 250+ work bibliography of related works, as well as an extremely thorough index.