Recent comments offered by AK and Mark Partalis raise for me important questions that are of both great theoretical and practical interest. Specifically, the comments they, and others, offer cause me to reflect on the nature of authority generally and in the life of the Church.
In classical Christian thought, authority--whether personal, secular or religious--is not an end in itself, but given for the common good. So for example we have Jesus reminding the disciples that in imitation of his example, they are given authority not to lord it over others, but for service:
Authority, the rule of law and the fulfillment and transcendence of the demands of justice is what makes it possible for us, personally and communally, to put to "death" that in us which is of "the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." (Col 3:5) These vices bring down upon us as Paul says, "the wrath of God . . . upon the sons of disobedience (v. 6) and bred in the human heart "anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, [and] filthy language." (v. 8) And not only that, but between us, in the social realm grounded not in truth spoken in love (see Eph 4:15), but rather a "lie . . . since [we] have [not yet] put off the old man with his deeds." (Col 3.9).
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