Just Say No to Interest

In his book, Covenant Economics, Richard Horsley (2009) makes the argument for a biblical economic model for countries to follow. Part of the argument is the eradication of poverty. As a minister and dedicated follower of Christ and his scriptures, I am inclined to agree with Horsley. An economic system where interest is not a part of the loan relationship that keeps people enslaved to their debt and withheld from the pursuits of a meaningful life sounds like a great prospect. However, allow me to present a different perspective on the situation. According to our historical records, it is clear that market-friendly policies and competent governance are critical to growth, and countries like the US and China are examples of how the right combination of these two factors can create economic growth as well as reduce poverty (Hillebrand, 2011). As of present, poverty is not eradicated in either of these countries nor in any other country in the world, however, it is on the decline worldwide. Global poverty has fallen dramatically over the last two centuries and there is real optimism that it will be eliminated within the next 50 years (Hillebrand, 2011). Though the current economic system has not achieved poverty eradication, there is an argument to be made that it is slowly accomplishing this goal so a breakdown in the world capitalist system or even gradual turning away from that system could reverse the progress in the fight against poverty.

There is one factor that cannot be overlooked in this conversation, though: the blessing of Yahweh. The economic system the Israelites implemented and carried out was given by Yahweh that incorporated economics, politics, and religion as one single unit rather than three loosely related aspects of human existence (Horsley, 2009). All are interconnected, and the secret to societal health lie in that interconnectedness.


Hillebrand, E. (2011). Poverty, Growth, and Inequality over the Next 50 Years. Meeting presented at the How to Feed the World in 2050, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Horsley, R. A. (2009). Covenant economics: a biblical vision of justice for all (1st ed). Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press.

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