Hutterite Position on Buying and Selling

From "Peter Riedemann's Hutterite Confession of Faith: Translation of the 1565 German Edition of Confession of Our Religion"

“We allow non of our members to be traders or merchants, since this is a sinful business. The wise teacher says, “it is almost impossible for a merchant or tradesman to keep free from sin. (Sir. 26:29). As a nail is driven firmly into a fissure between stones, so is sin wedged between buying and selling. (Sir 27: 1-2). Therefore, we allow no one to buy in order to resell, as merchants and tradesmen do. But when we buy what is necessary for the needs of our house or craft, and then use the materials and sell what is made - that is in order and is no sin. 

What is wrong, however, is to buy an article and sell it for profit in the same condition as one bought it. (Sir 26:29) | (27:2) This makes the article more expensive for the poor; it is taking bread from their mouths and forcing them to become nothing but slaves to the rich. Paul says “Let the thief give up stealing” (Eph 4:26). Some may argue that the poor can also benefit if one takes commodities from one country to the other. Such people use poverty as a pretext while seeking their own profit first, and think only of the poor as those who have an occasional penny in their purse. Therefore, we do not permit our people to trade but say with Paul that they should labor, working with their hands at honest work, that they may have something to give to the one who is in need. (Eph 4:28)”

After having discussions here regarding our doctrinal position against buying and selling, the main points can be summarized as follows:

a) Buying and reselling raises the cost for the end user. This often affects (though indirectly) the cost of living for people in poverty.

b) When people are engaged in buying and reselling, they usually try purchasing as cheaply as possible, and then resell as high as possible in order to maximize profit. This often results in sin by dealing unfairly or cheating either the seller or purchaser.

c) Based on the above two points, we do not buy and sell unless we “add value” or work on products. 

We have to deal with these points in order to be a distributor for MAQS at our location. In our discussion and thinking about point a) above, we feel that if we provide a fair price so that people will not be paying more for the MAQS than they have previously at our location, it is possible that we could be permitted to be a distributor for MAQS.

  For point b) the same applies as for point a). We need to provide a fair price so that people will not be paying more for the MAQS than they have previously here. Also, if people would not be purchasing though us, they would have to order from other provinces; paying the shipping price and thus raising their costs. 

For point c) we feel that we do “work” by storing the products here, going through the process of arranging for pickup, and in some cases delivering the product to the customer. 

And finally, from our teaching, it says that it is “almost impossible” to keep free from sin through the practice of buying and selling. We will try our best to be free from sin, and deal fairly and honestly with our customers and do that which is “almost impossible”. (Matthew 19:26)

   Thank-You for your visit!