Authority and the Church

Florin Paladie comes with a new theological elaboration, this time discussing how church and scripture relate to the concept of authority.
Here is the comment I have left on his blog on this post:
‘Dear Florin,
Like you, and by virtue of the same kind of experience, only a little bit longer than yours, and a little bit more ‘bumpy’, I am instinctively worry of authority> Yet, again similarly, I am engaged in the adventure of progressively redeeming the value of this concept.
In what Scripture and the Church are concerned, as related to the concept of authority, I would add to this couple of items the concept of Tradition. The Triad thus formed allows for a more dynamic rendering of the relations of authority between its components.
I have been inspired by the Romanian Orthodox Dumitru Staniloae in imagining the relation between these three components in perichoretic terms, in which none has hierarchical authority over the others, even if we may, chronologically speaking, delineate a trajectory that could look like this:
1. God reveals himself/herself to the humanity created on their image;
2. some humans respond in faith (giving birth to a Church of sorts), while others reject divine revelation (giving birth to a sort of counter-faith community, constantly at odds with the first one);
3. those who receive revelation become of ‘community of faith’, of sorts;
4. the ‘memory’ of God’s revealed words and acts is kept and transmitted to the next generations, first orally (becoming Tradition), and then in some written form (becoming Scripture);
5. since facts, and texts, do not carry meaning, their interpretation needs to be done in community; and to be accepted as authentic, these interpretations need to be validated by the community of faith (the Church), thus closing the hermeneutic circle, or, even better, initiating another cycle in the hermeneutic spiral.’

Theology Gym

Authority, like many good things, can be perverted making it hard to use it in a positive, life giving way. Depending on what your life story is the very sound of this word can conjure negative connotations. Growing up in a communist country, I’ve been conditioned to associate authority first and foremost with oppression. As a result, I have a knee-jerk reaction of skepticism toward authority. Yet, over the years I found myself gravitating toward a regenerative stream of humanity that seeks to redeem things, to bring about the good in everything. Authority is on that list. It must be reclaimed.

If theology is an attempt to articulate truth, the question of authority seems to be an essential one because as soon as you start the quest for truth, you have to choose some kind of criteria to get to it. How do I find the truth? Who can help…

View original post 735 more words

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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