John Calvin And Calvinism Is Responsible For Mass Poverty In Our World?

I was reading this post over at Ancient Christian Defender.  Here is the money quote:

Calvinism’s noval interpretation of Usury is one of the causes of masses poverty in the World today. Yes, the world has always had it’s poor, but Calvinism has made it even worse.

How can you make these kinds of statements?  To say I am shocked is an understatement.  Usury is wrong and I agree that should not be practiced.  I am no expert on Calvin but even if he did hold to an erroneous interpretation of one aspect or passage of the Bible you can’t blame him for what a fallen people choose to do hundreds of years later.  One man cannot be blamed for the effects of a sinful world.  All people are charged with examining the bible for themselves to find its meaning.  Statements like this are simply ridiculous and only serve one purpose….trying to manipulate people through fear.

When you read things like this please understand that there is a motive behind them.  Always consider the motive before making any decisions concerning things you read.


7 Responses to John Calvin And Calvinism Is Responsible For Mass Poverty In Our World?

  1. Clark says:

    I read the article at Ancient Christian defender, and admit there is a leap in logic. Even if Calvin was all for the practice of usury, I don’t how he would be responsible for poverty in the world today.


  2. I’ve heard usury defined as either interest or excessive interest. Which do you hold to? (The first definition seemed to the intent in the Bible, but maybe I’m wrong?).


  3. Tom says:


    I have always defined it as excessive interest. In Biblical times Jews were not allowed to charge interest to other Jews so I guess some might apply it to any interest.


  4. Either definition seems to introduce its own quirks. If it’s no interest, what about inflation? Would it be OK to charge an amount of interest to make sure the amount of money paid back is equal in value to the sum lent?

    Or under the “excessive” definition, who defines what amount is excessive?

    I tend to think that the law was specific to the Israelites of the time, but don’t remember the whole context of the passage.

    Regardless, to attribute modern poverty to Calvin is…well, I don’t know if you can even call it a stretch; it’s closer to delusional.


  5. JNORM888 says:

    If you read the article, you would know that in Alister Mcgrath’s book. He noted that Calvin was the one that gave a 10% limit.

    You may see a leap in logic in what I said, but that’s only because you don’t see what this does to people all over the globe. Whithout Usury, our form of capitolism would be impossible.

    Debt controls the World economy. Without it, we wouldn’t have what we have today. So yes, you can call it a leap in logic, but I would like to see it as one of the necessary “contingencies”, that would lead to, what we have today.



  6. Frdavid says:

    JNORM888 H has the pulse here. Well before McGrath there was the classic work “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” by Max Weber (1904-5) that demonstrated this link. It is not great leap to make the connection. It may be unfair to blame Calvin himself but Calvinism as a social movement as well as a theology certainly has played an instrumental role in exacerbating not only the rise of nations and the growth of capital but also the spread of debt and hence poverty.


  7. Tom Shelton says:

    I think you all will have to explain a bit. I am not seeing how a theology which teaches the sovereignty of God can lead to world poverty.


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