Maybe financial hermeneutics isn’t one of your talents
June 13, 2016 § 37 Comments
It is a fairly common misunderstanding to invoke the Parable of the Talents as a kind of ‘gotcha’ against the Church’s universal and constant condemnation of usury, that is, of any and all profit from mutuum loans. As is the case with most modern pro-usury apologetics, this rests on an equivocation which studiously fails to distinguish between mutuum loans (personal IOU’s) and other agreements: an equivocation which uses the same label “loan” to refer to fundamentally different kinds of contracts.
Here is the money quote from the parable:
Therefore, you ought to have committed my money to the bankers, and at my coming I should have received my own with interest!
But of course someone who has familiarized himself with what usury is and is not knows that loans to the bank or deposit accounts are not mutuum loans in the first place. Loans to the bank are claims against the balance sheet of the bank: against the aggregation of all property in which the bank itself has claims. They are not personal IOU’s from bank employees.
Studiously avoiding clarity on the essential differences between mutuum loans for profit and other contracts is like studiously avoiding clarity on the essential differences between marriage and other sexual relationships.