Thursday, September 27, 2007

Authority Part 1

I propose that 1 Tim. 2:12 be removed from a discussion of authority until after all else has been explored. This is, first, because the word αυθεντειν in Greek had no connection with the word εξουσια the word which is usually translated authority. Second, the Latin Vulgate translated αυθεντειν as dominare, and Luther as herr sein, to be the lord. Third, in English this word was translated as "usurp authority" at a time when a usurpation was a serious crime.

I propose that the first basis of authority in the church be based on baptism. The following is from Luther's Appeal to the Ruling class.
    To call popes, bishops, priests, monks, and nuns, the religious class, but princes, lords, artisans, and farm-workers the secular class, is a specious device invented by certain timeservers; but no one ought to be frightened by it, and for good reason. For all Christians whatsoever really and truly belong to the religious class, and there is no difference among them except in so far as they do different work.

    We all have one baptism, one gospel, one faith, and are all equally Christian. For baptism, gospel, and faith alone make men religious, and create a Christian people. When a pope or bishop anoints, grants tonsures, ordains, consecrates, dresses differently from laymen, he may make a hypocrite of a man, or an anointed image, but never a Christian or a spiritually-minded man. The fact is that our baptism consecrates us all without exception, and makes us all priests.

    When a bishop consecrates, he simply acts on behalf of the entire congregation, all of whom have the same authority.

    Every one who has been baptized may claim that he has already been consecrated priest, bishop, or pope, even though it is not seemly for any particular person arbitrarily to exercise an office. Just because we are all priests of equal standing, no one must push himself forward and, without the consent and choice of the rest, presume to do that for which we all have equal authority. ....

    Hence we deduce that there is, at bottom, no other difference between laymen, princes, priests, bishops, or in Romanist terminology, between religious and secular, than that of office or occupation, and not taht of Christian status. All have spiritual status, and all are truly priests, bishops, and popes. Bu Christians do not follow the same occupation.

I accept that Luther taught that women should be quiet and submissive and not teach. However, this is a discussion of the concept of authority in the abstract. Luther does not present a theory of authority that excludes women because authority is based on baptism. We now allow women to hold office in the secular world but not in the church.

On what basis is authority in the world and in the church differentiated? On what basis are offices of authority withheld from women, if all have authority through their baptism.

We say that women have the same gifts of teaching but may not hold the office because they do not have authority. However, a gifted women who is baptized has both baptism and gift. She ought then to have the occupation, but simply lacks being appointed by men as an office-bearer. And where does it say in the scriptures that a woman shall not bear office?

12 comments:

Justa Berean said...

Interesting thoughts.

If one thoroughly researches Biblical teachings about authority, he will come to a different conclusion regarding what authority is that Christians are to exercise and anyone, including a woman, is not to be exercising. Similarly if one researches all else Scripture has to say about women, one will necessarily conclude that God has used women in ways already exercising godly authority by His Spirit.

One of the problems with the gender hierarchalists use of 1 Tim. 2 is that he/she stops thinking and researching at that Scripture. It is treated as a stand alone all encompassing thesis in eight Greek words. Eight words of which some feel inclined to build upon to the tune of whatever seems good to them.

scott gray said...

suzanne--

it is all about authority, isn't it? it's all about who is in control.

as a post modernist, my beginning communication premise is that all communication is about power and manipulation. in my book, it is up to the communicator, in responding dialog, to prove that his/her intent is not manipulation or power. i can easily be swayed, but i'm sure that much literature especially, is about control.

i appreciate your post-modern starting points.

in a post modern world, it is up to the proclaimer to prove something other than power or manipulation in the communicator's intent.

peace--

scott

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Hi Scott,

You make a great point. What book have you written?

Suzanne

scott gray said...

suzanne--

i don't get it.

what was the great point?

what book should i be writing?

scott

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Scott,

- just have a chuckle at my expense. I was in a hurry and read your comment "in my book" in a literalist way.

So let me start over. If I enter this dialog about power and authority, I can't have the intention of proving my point, or proselytizing the other side. I have to be prepared that we just talk and see what happens. That is tough for me, but I am working on it.

I see very little in the scriptures which teaches about using authority between Christians. Lots about social and civil aspects of authority.

But what are the ideals in human interaction, that is more to the point.

scott gray said...

suzanne--

i can only tell you about my 'circle of ideals.' and circle it is.

on the outer edge is 'courtesy.' a bit deeper is 'hospitality.' deeper still is 'sharing stories.' and at the center of this circle is 'mindfulness of each others needs, desires, and fears.'

there's a deepening of intimacy from the outer edges to the center. the outer edges, in my post-modern approach, begin in courtesy, with the assumption of control and power. i am 'easily swayed' to intimacy, thru authentic dialog of 'shared stories.'

authority from authenticity, is, in my book(!), the very best kind. all other authority is contrived, and i question it at every turn.

just my nature.

peace--

scott

Suzanne McCarthy said...

That's very useful advice Scott. Have I met you in the blogosphere before? Your name sounds familiar.

Shared stories is basically what this blog is about.

scott gray said...

suzanne--

there is a fascinating article about morals, authority, purity, fairness, compassion here:

http://faculty.virginia.edu/haidtlab/articles/haidt.graham.2007.when-morality-opposes-justice.pdf

it is this:
Haidt, J., & Graham, J. (2007). When morality opposes justice: Conservatives have moral intuitions that liberals may not recognize. Social Justice Research, 20, p. 98-116.

i would love to know your thoughts on this article, especially the authority portion.

peace-

scott

Suzanne McCarthy said...

on the outer edge is 'courtesy.' a bit deeper is 'hospitality.' deeper still is 'sharing stories.' and at the center of this circle is 'mindfulness of each others needs, desires, and fears.'

there's a deepening of intimacy from the outer edges to the center. the outer edges, in my post-modern approach, begin in courtesy, with the assumption of control and power. i am 'easily swayed' to intimacy, thru authentic dialog of 'shared stories.'

authority from authenticity, is, in my book(!), the very best kind. all other authority is contrived, and i question it at every turn.


If you haven't written a book on this topic yet, maybe you should. This seems to be a very useful framework for human relations.

I have read the article but don't have time to respond tonight. Thanks so much.

scott gray said...

suzanne--

actually, the intimacy model is from my master's thesis, 'justice responses rooted in relationship.' i'm about ready to rethink it, and some other papers from my past, on my 'agnostic lectionary' blog. just waitin' for advent 1, year a, in november.

thanks for the encouragement.

peace--

scott

Suzanne McCarthy said...

scott--

thanks for sharing it with me. I will respond to the article this evening.

I appreciate your 'authenticity'.

suzanne

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Scott,

It is a good article for generating discussion. The categories are clear. However, the categories are hierarchical in reality but I don't remember if that is mentioned. For example, harm/dare is dominant over fairness/reciprocity. We don't care about reciprocity if our basic lives are unsafe. So there is a ladder of importance.

Also some values are interpreted as other values. Purity might be associated with either care or reciprocity. For example, polygamy can be considered a purity issue but it also is a violation of reciprocity.

I have two thoughts on authority respect. First, it was envisioned in a stratified society. But now it seems that it is alright to be resistant to some forms of authority but not others. Men who feel women should be in submission may be deeply antihierarchical in other ways.

Second, authority is also subject to harm/care. If a society feels threatened then the value of authority is higher.

We do need respect for institutions which are accountable. However, anyone who is in a position in which they are not directly accountable may behave in ways that do not engender respect. So respect for position rather than those who fulfill the requirements of the position, is of debatable usefulness.

However, all school teachers have to have some respect even if they are not very good. I'll have to think about this.

A school teacher who was weak or incompetent needs to be supported by administration. But it the teacher did anything harmful, then out the door.

Ultimately all other categories of morality should be subject to a certain degree to harm/care.