Once we recognise both the need to try to be faithful to these biblical principles (loaning to those in need and avoiding the extra burden of interest) and the need to in some ways go ‘beyond the Bible’ in adapting to the contemporary world, some interesting possibilities emerge.
Church-based organisations that operate rather like banks can accept savings and then make loans at lower than bank interest rates. Note that some interest must be charged to cover inflation and costs, and often to cover an interest payment to the savers (who today may indeed be funding their retirement out of such savings).
There are also cooperative mortgage groups some like Liberty Trust explicitly trying to put these biblical principles to work in the contemporary housing market. In this model people contribute 2% each year of the mortgage they want to borrow. Because they are “sowing before they reap” they will have paid in something like 20% before they borrow, the eventual loan is thus able to be ‘interest free’.
Notice how inspired by the biblical principles, but going beyond the Bible – the biblical texts do NOT envisage “sowing before you reap” but rather someone needing to borrow because of a crisis need, this model succeeds in being faithful to the Bible by going beyond it! (We will need to discuss later the criteria that allow us to assess whether a particular example succeeds in being thus faithful despite going beyond.)