Usury in Christendom

By Timothy Fitzpatrick
June 23, 2019 Anno Domini
Book Review

Michael Hoffman’s Usury in Christendom is a thought-provoking and challenging elucidation on the gradual acceptance of the mortal sin of usury in the Catholic Church contrasted with the supposed stern stand against usury by early Puritans—the supposed inheritors of medieval Catholicism.

The first couple hundred pages are fairly straight forward and illustrate the Biblical and Early Church teaching on usury, which appears uncompromising (no amount of interest is permitted under the sin of usury, according to traditional Church teaching). Hoffman starts with Medici Pope Leo X as the beginning of the Church leadership’s slide into apostasy (the love of money being the root of all evil). It was Leo X who, as Hoffman contends, created the loophole for moderate rates of interest with the institution of the monte di pieta, a Florentine bank supposedly designed to offer relief to the poor from the excessive interest rates of Jewish and gentile loansharks thriving in the region. Hoffman argues that the loophole of Leo X and those of Popes thereafter has absolutely no moral justification and is a contravention of Biblical teaching. A fair point by Hoffman that’s difficult to counter, especially considering that Leo X threatened excommunication to anyone publicly expressing doubts over his 1515 Bull. However, on page 226, Hoffman seems to inadvertently provide his own loophole when he writes, “Few churches today exhort against interest on loans beyond the rate of inflation….” How is Hoffman’s exception of inflation any more permissible than the monte di pieta’s exception of circumventing Jewish loansharking by way of low-rate fees required to keep the bank in operation? Hoffman then shows that the loopholes eventually led to mass acceptance of differing forms of usury, persecution of anti-usury dissidents (within the Church and outside of it), and the Catholic Church’s lending of its own money at interest. He claims encyclicals of post-Renaissance popes, like Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum of 1891, were merely rhetoric to placate the masses while Church-sanctioned usury continued unabated.

The latter half of Usury in Christendom ramps up the book’s overall polemical tone and uplifts the early Puritans—unlike the supposedly wayward later Puritans—as the harbingers of anti-usury, anti-capitalist Biblical economic practices. And even when he does discuss those wayward Protestants, like crypto-Jew John Calvin, he can’t help but blame their permittance of usury on the influence of “Roman Catholic nominalists”. Catholics are somehow solely responsible for all usury in the modern world, it seems. Hoffman clearly suggests that the apostate Roman Catholic leadership is primarily responsible for modern usurious capitalism, not Jews or Protestants. The latter have been unfairly scapegoated, although they are involved, Hoffman insists. The Catholics must also be responsible for the early Puritan’s usurist loophole, with which Hoffman seems to have no problem, of permitting usury on commercial investment.

“The early Puritans were capitalism’s worst nightmare; how they came to be made synonymous with its ‘spirit’ is an act of legerdemain by way of a malignant prejudice.”

John Cotton is one such early Puritan to whom Hoffman frequently refers.

Hoffman seems to feel that he must—in the name of historical truth, I suppose—correct Catholic “ignoramuses” in their prejudicial views on the early Puritans and, to a lesser degree, anti-usurist Calvinists. After all, it seems according to Hoffman, Catholics ought to look to Protestant reformers (heretics) to correct Catholic apostasy. A rather absurd conclusion, if in fact, it is his. Hoffman’s championing of the early Puritans is set up early on in his book as he leaves them out of his list of the guilty parties involved in usury. “Modern Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, and Mennonites are all guilty of this grotesque disobedience to God.” He seems to suggest, as he does with the early Puritans, that early Protestants were obedient to Biblical teaching on usury. It was only modern Protestants that got it wrong. While Hoffman be be correct that many Catholics throughout the ages have levelled unfair and/or exaggerated charges against early Protestants of usury and Shylockian economic practices, he comes across as quite angry and reactionary—the same way he does with his critics in public discussions (online comments, etc.).

Hoffman’s yearning for an Amish-like economic system may be ideal for the Church, but it is completely impractical in a time when Satanic communism co-opts any legitimate anti-capitalist movements. It may be even more impractical now because of the no-return-like state of the world economy (it seems the banksters have created a system by which only further usury and quantitative easing can keep it going). At times, Hoffman seems to embrace Soviet critiques of Western “colonialism”, particularly in the following mocking tone:

“Was it Puritan Conquistadors who, in an orgy of greed unprecedented in the annals of the western hemisphere, contracted a gold fever that burned so hot it plundered and enslaved the helpless indigenous nations at their mercy?”

Regardless, Hoffman does correctly point out that capitalism and communism are two dialectical forces that both serve the purpose of the money power. They are both based in materialism.

He also equates the “social justice” in Fr. Charles E. Coughlin’s The National Union for Social Justice with the same kind of modern “social justice” against which pundits like Glen Beck rail. Hoffman may be correct that Beck is a hopeless predatory capitalist, but I doubt very much that Coughlin’s social justice is the same as that expressed by the radical Left today.

Critics of Hoffman have pointed out his inconsistent reasoning when accepting mainstream media narratives in one instance and rejecting them as “cryptocracy” propaganda in the next instance. The following Hoffman polemic illustrates this:

“Are these fables about the first Puritans seeded by the Cryptocracy to keep us from studying the radical Protestant roots of resistance to the authority of money? With the virtual collapse of the credibility of popery in the 21st century—with its melange of institutionalized child molestation and ‘infallible’ canonization of ‘Blessed’ John Paul II, patron saint of Voodoo in Benin and Koran-kissing in Rome—an alternative to papalolatry is intensely to be desired.”

Hoffman’s refusal to publicly acknowledge to which Church authority he subscribes only further provides ammunition for his critics. But perhaps we can glean something from a small footnote on page 259. Is he Protestant? Catholic? Schismatic?

“In our protest of the idolization of mere human beings (Romans 3:10; Matt. 20:25-28), we meant to take nothing away from the esteem due to faithful and saintly pre-Renaissance pontiffs who upheld the integrity and authority of the Word of God.”

Completely left out of Usury in Christendom’s equation, oddly, is the history of usury and capitalism—for or against—in Eastern Orthodoxy, particularly as it pertains to the great and prosperous Byzantine Empire (the Eastern Orthodox position is the same anti-usury teaching of the traditional Roman Catholic Church). Was this an historiographical blunder or does Hoffman think it irrelevant? Apparently he feels that the relatively short Puritan period warrants more attention than 1,000 years of Byzantium—through which to learn lessons on usury.

On a minor note, the book has no index, which is unusual and inconvenient.

Putting aside Hoffman’s frequent Puritan apologetics, his book makes solid points about the apostasy of Catholic leadership since the Middle Ages when it comes to usury. His logic and standards are sometimes inconsistent, but his points on usury in the Catholic Church are valid and important. His theory on loopholes is plausible and should not be ignored, despite his biases.

“Contraception, abortion, and homosexuality are, in part, derived from the corruption of a society that has legalized the crime of usury.”

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6 Comments

  1. lindesymonds

     /  June 23, 2019

    Hoffman always fails to mention how the Protestants went to the Synagogue for loans that would enable them to wage war against Catholic states . The Church’s consistent teaching against usury has always been more honoured in the breech than in the observance by the Church itself, by Catholic princes and by Protestant revolutionaries waging war.

    Reply
  2. Andy Sloan

     /  June 24, 2019

    Mr Hoffman does not understand the true definition of usury, which is simply to make charge for money lent, when it is;

    1) dead in need of personal consumption.
    2) dead in use of fructification elsewhere.
    3) without (reasonably judged) risk in terms of its return/uncollateralised.

    The following article gives explanation.

    https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=646

    Capitalism was is in fact a monster of protestantism as Hilaire Belloc recognised in origin at the time of King Henry VIII;

    “the advent of Capitalism was not a natural evolution that can be traced to the rise of industrialism, but more to the dissolution of monasteries in England.’

    https://www.panarchy.org/belloc/servilestate.html

    Hence, 1 Tim 6:3-5.

    “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to that doctrine which is according to godliness, He is proud, knowing nothing, but sick about questions and strifes of words; from which arise envies, contentions, blasphemies, evil suspicions, Conflicts of men corrupted in mind, and who are destitute of the truth, supposing GAIN to be godliness.”

    Also, Professor E Michael expounds succinctly here;

    Start – 8:21

    So in punishment of the worship of money, displacing Catholic churches and the clergy providing the treasure of grace (Matt 6:19-21 & Matt 25:8-9) generated ex-nihilo by Christ, we have banks as churches and an expolitative banking ‘clergy’ who fraudulently create money out of nothing.

    Heretic/heathen man in appetite of money and relying on himself for his material well-being, is much less prosperous in his productivity and secure, than if He relied on God in practice of the true Catholic religion;

    Matthew 6:31-33

    ‘Be not solicitous therefore, saying, What shall we eat: or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

    Psalm 64:10-12

    “Thou hast visited the earth, and hast plentifully watered it; thou hast many ways enriched it. The river of God is filled with water, thou hast prepared their food: for so is its preparation.

    Fill up plentifully the streams thereof, multiply its fruits; it shall spring up and rejoice in its showers. Thou shalt bless the crown of the year of thy goodness: and thy fields shall be filled with plenty. The beautiful places of the wilderness shall grow fat: and the hills shall be girded about with joy, The rams of the flock are clothed, and the vales shall abound with corn: they shall shout, yea they shall sing a hymn.”

    Reply
  3. Ronald Lech

     /  June 24, 2019

    In today’s crazy world of anything goes this subject is totally evil straight out of hell , I personally back in the 40s 50s was taught nothing about it and I went to a real catholic school thank God for that , I can only say this quote , Evil is good -good is evil , hell’s going to be paved with good intentions ,Rome lost the faith completely as sister Lucie said you are on your own forget about Rome , God help us on this one because where all guilty , as I stressed FITZ , keep going with eye opening articles especially Russia spreading her errors , the clock is nearing Twelve some are paying attention I know I am and simple old man and my wife God Bless RL

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Reply
  4. dachsielady

     /  June 24, 2019

    Interesting important topic.
    I have tried to read all sides of this subject over the years.

    Though I have not read Michael Hoffman’s book, I have read several of his articles and listened to many of his media presentations on this subject.

    I have many good things to say about every aspect of Mr. Hoffman’s work, particularly his exposure of the Talmud in a highly scholarly way.

    I appreciate Hoffman’s strong adherence to what the bible has to say about usury. As a Catholic of the 50s and 60s, very little was told to us about this and the bible in classroom teaching was nonexistent. I had to consume a lot of Protestant bible believer teaching to get my bible help when I needed its firm foundation in my life.

    Also, Mr. Hoffman shows through historical facts that the Judeo-infiltration of the Catholic Church began long before Vatican II and I think it really began in the garden of Eden. So the break of the traditional Catholics with the novus ordo Catholics since Vatican II is kind of arbitrary and does not give us the truthful whole picture of history and banking and economic philosophy.

    Usury is condemned throughout old and new testament. But the definition of usury is very elastic and I have never heard anyone explain exactly what it is. Even the parable of the talents is hard to understand regarding its seeming approval of usury. There are many loopholes and twisting of scripture by Christian clerics and ministers.

    There is a free download of Mooney’s book by this Protestant on scribd.

    Usury, destroyer of nations Paperback – 1988
    by S. C Mooney

    I did not read all of it because I was having to read too far into the book to determine just what the author’s definition of usury was.

    Mooney looks at the Bible and concludes that the Bible in fact denies the legitimacy of charging interest to fellow believers under any circumstances.

    but even that frustratingly leaves me with too many unanswered questions.

    There are two excellent reviews of Mooney’s book at Amazon and should at least help one to feel more comfortable in all the ambiguity on the subject.

    https://www.amazon.com/Usury-destroyer-nations-S-Mooney/dp/B00072B0E6

    To me, in today’s world where debt is money and where we have loads of former and none of the latter, and where the banksters are gaining control of the whole world by their practices and making every one of us their serfs, I just find that learning the basic teachings of Christ to us about how to live life, will help us avoid debt and live simply and have enough to live as He wants us to.

    Reply
  5. Jude Duffy

     /  June 26, 2019

    An excellent review Tim. My own view is that Hoffman is a black propagandist for Protestant Masonry. I haven’t read his book yet because I begrudge giving the guy money, but I do always distrust someone who says in response to counter-arguments, “read my book” – which seems like a dodge to me. If you have rebuttals, you should be able to encapsulate them in in concise form. We’re talking about basic historical facts here after all – not arcane philosophical or theological theories. The reality is that Protestants themselves boast of their decisive role in the rise of usurious capitalism – even in Catholic countries like France and Italy. It’s not some Catholic propaganda invention. The founding membership of the Bank of England was top heavy with Huguenots, If anything Catholics have soft-pedalled just how in bed with the usurers Protestants were.

    In fact that’s the real scandal – the way the Catholic Church sought to make nice with the very Anglo-Masonic Protestants Hoffman gushes over – and this long before Vatican II. During the Irish religious wars of the 17th century, the Papal Nuncio in Ireland tried to bring all the Catholic factions together to fight the Protestants, but yet by the early 20th century the Vatican was effectively asking the Protestant Masonic British Empire for permission to canonise Joan of Arc. There was a huge loss of militancy and Catholic virility in the Church after the Peace of Westphalia – something Catholic trads – who are often heavily influenced by Masonic Protestant “conservatism” – rarely address. Hence the despicable modern Catholic Trad practice of cheerleading Zio-Masonic anti-Catholic hate narratives, which as Welsh scholar Philip Jenkins has shown, are nothing more than a revival of Masonic anti-Catholic black propaganda of the 19th century.

    Reply
  6. Andy Sloan

     /  June 26, 2019

    The link of pertaining to Professor E. Michael Jones is not functioning. Hopefully this one works, otherwise ‘type into YT ‘goy guide to world history part 2’;

    Reply

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