Monday, 6 March 2006

On Authority in North American Anglicanism

The Reverend Dr Philip Turner lecturing in the Episcopal Diocese of East Texas in October 2005.

Turner suggests that authority was once intended to
to maintain and further common beliefs and practices amidst the changes and chances of history. When conflicts and new circumstances arise, those who hold authority have a responsibility to make and enforce decisions that protect and sustain communal values and practices.

That purpose has now changed so that it now
functions in a bureaucratic manner to insure that there are just procedures that allow each person to pursue their own likes. Nevertheless, in a pluralistic social world, bureaucratic authority cannot in all cases prevent the misuse of power to gain special privilege. Therefore, bureaucratic authority must be supplemented by prophetic authority. The job of prophetic authority is to unmask abuses of power so as to ensure that those unjustly prevented from pursuing their personal goals and enjoying their fair share of the reward of life in society may become free to do so.

The danger?
The English theologian P. T. Forsythe once wrote, “If within us we have nothing above us we soon succumb to what is around us.”

Read it all.