my problem with authority
I have a problem with authority.
Not in the "don't tell me what to do" kind of way. (Well, maybe a little!)
My problem is bigger than that.
I live in a time where the notion of authority isn't just questioned - but ignored. Resisted. Mocked.
Today I sat and listened to a leader present to a group of 20 other leaders on the subject of leadership - and I found myself internally asking the question: "who gave you the authority?"
Now, if he asked for the input of others, that would've been different. But he didn't - he monologued - and I struggled to affirm what he had to say (even though his content was excellent). Why is that? Why would it have been different if he asked me what I thought?
Because I would have been participating.
"I believe there is ... a new way to find an authentic story of faith from within the trajectory of evangelicalism and the biblical story. To do this requires a new paradigm: a paradigm of participation." - matt valler
Over the last eight years I have seen hundreds of young people vigorously engage in the content of the bible story when they've been granted permission to participate in the process.
Removing the expected authority figure from where he or she normally sits has enabled rich, robust and genuine discovery EVERY TIME.
The fascinating thing is that the theological discoveries and life-change outcomes of these people haven't been "whacked out and anything goes", but beautiful expressions of the life that Jesus calls us to.
Orthodoxy being fleshed out in a new generation who have heard the call of God through the voice of their peers.
"What about the authority of Scripture?" "Doesn't a participation paradigm open us up to 'truth by consensus'?"
I wonder where this question comes from though ... I wonder whether it comes from the need I might have to legitimise my apparent voice or position of authority - which is likely to be more about power than true authority.
Perhaps the use of the word "authority" has become misleadingly synonymous with power - self-presumed and self-protecting.
True authority is found in the person of God as revealed through Jesus - as recorded in the Scriptures.
That kind of authority is not fearful of stepping down from a perceived position of power, and is willing to invite plebs like me to participate in the discovery of the Divine.
My problem with authority isn't around whether it should exist or not, but around what we mean when this word so readily stumbles from our faltering lips.