What does biblical religion teach about loan forgiveness? —GetReligion
The president claims the power to bypass Congress under the “HEROES Act,” passed after the September 11 attacks, which allows for pardons in the event of “a military operation or national emergency.” Biden interprets the COVID pandemic as such an emergency; critics call it a stretch.
Biden says now “people can finally start crawling under this mountain of debt to pay their rent and their utilities, to finally think about buying a house or starting a family or starting a business.” But one the wall street journal the editorial called the cancellations “unfair to Americans who paid off their loans or didn’t go to college” and accused Biden of “the greatest executive usurpation of Congress in modern history.”
As all of this unfolds, does the Bible, which has so long shaped moral judgments about public policy, have anything to say about these issues?
Liberal Protestant blogger John Pavlovitz chastised Christians who oppose Biden, saying they ignore that “their whole professed religion is based on the idea of a canceled debt. Way to lose the plot, kids.
Podcaster Allie Beth Stuckey responded for World magazine that “the debt is sin, and Jesus, God made flesh, willingly paid it in our place by his death on a cross” so that “we may be reconciled to God forever”.
A formulation of the most recited prayer in history asks God to “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”. In The residents magazine,” which advocates “racial and social justice” on “biblical” grounds, Braxton Brewington of the Debt Collective writes that the Lord’s Prayer teaches “the abolition of debt,” so the United States should be fine. beyond Biden’s plan, by wiping out all student debt. and all credit card balances owed for “medical care, rent, and other basic needs.”
The conventional Christian interpretation is that the Lord’s Prayer concerns the spiritual and moral failures of each individual, not financial affairs, although it may involve societal as well as personal sins. Consider also Jesus’ well-known parable of the merciless servant in Matthew 18:21-35.
Of course, the Old and New Testaments are filled with warnings to help those caught in economic distress. And remarkably, the scriptures prescribe complete forgiveness of debts during the “Sabbatical year,” as Deuteronomy 15:1-2 (JPS Translation) shows: “In every seventh year you shall practice the forgiveness of debts. Such will be the nature of the remission: each creditor will remit the due which he claims to his fellow man; he will not blame his fellow man or his relative, for the proclaimed remission comes from the Eternal. …“
Why? That “there shall be no needy among you” in the promised land.
Note that the cancellation of debt did not apply to non-Israelites and the nation was told not to become a debtor, which is how the Book of Proverbs advised individuals. There were limits to forgiveness, and when the system became impractical, the influential Rabbi Hillel the Elder of the 1st century BCE devised a workaround as the courts largely took over debt management, whereas a literal reading applied Deuteronomy only to individual creditors.
Why seven years? It is a sacred number seen in the seven days of creation and the unique seven day week of scripture which ends with a carefree Sabbath of earning a living. In addition, the biblical seven times seven Jubilee returned ancestral lands and freed indentured slaves (see Leviticus 25), although it is historically unclear whether this was a broad observance or only of an ideal.
CONTINUE READING: “What does biblical religion teach about canceling loan debts?by Richard Ostling.
FIRST IMAGE : Uncredited illustration with a feature titled “Student Loan Debt Forgiveness & Elimination – Top 4 Pros and Cons” on the Britannica ProCon.org website.