WAKE FOREST, N.C. — Is it permissible for Christians to lend money at interest or pay interest to others? This is the question Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary financial ethicist David Jones explores through the eyes of the 16th-century Protestant reformers in his new book, "Reforming the Morality of Usury: A Study of Differences that Separated the Protestant Reformers."

The subject of usury is one on which the Christian church has changed its stance throughout history, Jones notes, with early Christians having viewed the charging of interest as completely immoral.

Jones specifically explores what reformers such as Luther, Calvin and the Anabaptists leaders felt about the topic, defining the word by its traditional meaning of charging any interest for money lent.

These reformers did not agree among themselves on the issue, adopting three different positions, all of which were opposed to that of the Roman Catholic Church, Jones writes.

Much can be gained by pastors, students and interested laypeople from the study of historical Christian thinkers' positions on an issue such as this, Jones said.

"I hope that 'Reforming the Morality of Usury' genuinely challenges readers to cultivate a biblical view of finances," Jones said. "Additionally, I hope that this book shows people the importance of studying what saints of God from past centuries have thought about moral issues, for the body of Christ is not just composed of the living followers of Jesus Christ, but of all Christians from the cross to the present."

Jones said the book does not take a how-to approach by offering financial tips; rather, it establishes a biblical and historical perspective from which one can assess financial advice.

"While the book is not an 'armchair novel,' I purposely tried to write it in such a way so that it would be accessible to anyone with an interest in the subject," Jones said. "I believe that all types of readers will benefit from this book by gaining a better biblical and historical understanding of Christian teaching on usury and other related financial issues."

Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, contributed the book's foreword.

"The genius of this volume," Patterson writes, "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. ... [He] has blazed paths into the territory of financial ethics that not only will inform readers about various issues in 16th-century economics, but also will provoke them to consider a host of other issues related to their own financial stewardship."

The book is published by University Press of America, Inc.



©  2004 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.