September 20, 2011


I enjoy going back and forth on issues of churchmanship with friends who are of a higher ilk than me.  We rag on each other about vestments, manual actions, and all the minutia of life as a parish priest.  It is usually good natured, sometimes funny, and never to be taken too seriously,

Putting all that stuff aside, since most everyday disciples don't care much about it anyway, the real question of the warring factions in our church, be it the high church, low church battles of the 19th century or the progressive, evangelical arguments of today, surround the question of authority.

By what authority do you do these things?

My anglo-catholic friends would say that we operate under the authority passed down from Christ to St. Peter and through the laying on of hands in the Episcopate.  This is not a bad argument, though I feel like it gives too much power to people.  Instead, my argument is that we operate under the authority of Christ as He is continually revealed through the Holy Spirit.  I like the authority buck to stop at someplace higher than some human being's desk.

Either way, the authority we carry as lay and ordained ministers of the gospel, is given to us, primarily through our being made in the image of God.  We are his children, inheritors of his kingdom, and our work, be it through the Church or through the Spirit or both, is done under the umbrella of the authority of the King.

Questions of authority plague the Church.  They have been the motivating factor behind the vast majority of schisms throughout history.  They have been the impetus for war.  They continue to muddle the message of the kingdom to this day.

No matter where we think our authority comes from: Bible, Bishop, Bag-o-tricks - we must not forget that their authority only matters because it has been given them of the Father.  May God guide us in his will, for his honor and glory.

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