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The root cause of Church foreclosures

Mar 09, 2012

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/09/us-usa-housing-churches-idUSBRE82803120120309

During the property boom, many churches took out additional loans to refurbish or enlarge, often with major lenders or with the Evangelical Christian Credit Union, which was particularly aggressive in lending to religious institutions.

Then after the financial crash, many churchgoers lost their jobs, donations plunged, and often, so did the value of the church building.

CONGREGATIONS IN TROUBLE

Solid Rock Christian Church near Memphis, Tennessee, took out a $2.9 million loan with the Evangelical Christian Credit Union at the beginning of 2008, to construct a new, 2,000 seat, 34,000 square-foot building to house its growing congregation.

In the middle of construction, the economy crashed. The church raided its savings to finish the project, but ended up defaulting on the loan.

The ECCU foreclosed and put the church up for auction.

MY COMMENT:

Here is a good example of Christians thinking that usury is no longer a sin. It is part of the idea that the law was put away, which in effect, legalizes sin.

It might make sense to the "Evangelical Christian Credit Union" to lend out money at interest. They may think they are providing a service to the church. However, God's law says that they are in the wrong business. Deut. 23:19, 20 says,

(19) You shall not charge interest to your countrymen, interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned at interest.

In the days of Israel's nationhood, all citizens were in a covenant relationship with God, at least formally speaking. Many, of course, had no faith in their hearts, but that is a different matter. The law said that no citizen of Israel was to charge interest to another. They were allowed to charge interest only to a foreigner living outside the country under different laws.

If a foreigner had joined himself to the covenant of God, he was to be treated equally. Israelites were not to oppress non-Israelites who had come under the covenant and had agreed by this to be obedient to the laws of the land. Hence, Lev. 25:35-37 says that they were not to be oppressed by usury in the same manner that a poor Israelite was not to be charged interest.

(35) Now in case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. (36) Do not take usurious interest from him, but revere your God, that your countryman may live with you. (37) You shall not give him your silver at interest, nor your food for gain.

The church today often uses Jesus' parable in Luke 19 to justify usury. But Jesus was actually teaching the precise opposite of the modern interpretation. The parable is about a man (i.e., Jesus) giving three men some money to do business with while He went on a far journey (i.e., to heaven).

The first two men doubled Christ's investment by doing business lawfully. The third man, however, buried his portion, because, as he said in verse 21, "I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting [harsh, demanding] man; you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow."

In other words, the man did not know Jesus at all. He thought Jesus was a crook, taking what was not his, and reaping where he did not sow. So the response in the parable is this:

(22) By your own worthless words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you "know" that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down, and reaping what I did not sow? (23) Then why did you not put the money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?

If the man really thought Jesus was a thief, then why didn't he use the money to collect interest? After all, would that not be consistent with Jesus being a thief? Yes, usury is theft.

The man in the parable was lying, because he did not really think Jesus was a thief. If he had thought so, he would have put the money in the bank to collect interest. Today, Christians do not really think Jesus is a thief either, but their knowledge of the law is so inadequate that they think it is alright to participate in Mystery Babylon's oppressive system of usury. They do not even have the decency to distinguish between citizens of the Kingdom and those who are not under a covenant relationship with Christ. No, they charge everyone interest, including churches.

A final thought. . . if you have a bank account that gains a bit of interest, you are charging interest to a Babylonian entity (bank). The divine law allows this. Deut. 23:20 says,

(20) You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your countrymen, you shall not charge interest...

In applying this law to today's setting, where we are captives in Babylon, the "foreigner" in this case is the bank which abides by the laws of Mystery Babylon. So do not feel guilty about getting a tiny amount of interest in your bank account. But having an "Evangelical" credit union charging interest--and then foreclosing on a church--is unacceptable. They are guilty of the same sin that Nehemiah encountered in his fifth chapter. The people had lived in Babylon for so long that they saw nothing wrong with usury when they finally came out of captivity. So also today. The church has lived so long under the laws of Mystery Babylon that they have forgotten the law of God.

Jesus' parable in Luke 19 shows clearly that usury is not a righteous way of life, but is rather the lifestyle of a thief.


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Dr. Stephen Jones


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