What is Authority? Authority (Part 5)

Categories: Léo’s Insights 2019-2020, Authority


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Before embarking on this academic journey, we would be better prepared if we clearly defined a few things so that we can all begin from the same starting point. Let’s take a closer look at a few words.

Authority – the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience OR a person or organization having power or control in a particular, typically political or administrative, sphere.

Understand that authority is to have power and power is to have authority.

Submission – the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person.

Understand that submission is a choice which means it has to be free or it is not a choice at all. Submission involves freedom.

Subjugate – bring under domination or control, especially by conquest OR make someone or something subordinate to an authority.

Understand that to be subjugated is to be forced to do something against your will. Subjugation involves bondage.

Now, it should be clear that if there are two possible responses to authority, there must be two types of authority. One is legitimate and generally requires submission which is an act of freedom. The other authority is not legitimate and demands subordination in the form of subjugation, which is not freedom, but bondage.

This begs the question of what determines the legitimacy of authority. Where does authority come from or what is the source of it? In fact, that is very simple to answer. Authority is given by someone in authority, which in turn begs another question, which is, who or what has the authority to delegate authority? Before we answer that, we need one more definition.

Worldview – a comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world especially from a specific standpoint.

Understand that worldview is what we know of the world. It is made up of every experience we have been exposed to in every way. It is the foundation upon which we build our understanding and from which we make all our decisions. Every worldview has a spiritual foundation that is ultimately determined by its perception of God.

Those who believe in God will believe that He is the ultimate source of all authority and He dispenses of it, delegates or authorizes all legitimate authority, requiring submission which is freely given by believers. Those who lack this perception will see authority from an entirely different viewpoint.

Simply put, authority comes with two possibilities. It is a power that is either given or taken; legitimately or illegitimately; requires submission or demands subjugation; and is freely acknowledged or it is forced upon us.

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