What is Authority? Some would think that nations are self-governing, but to think that nations are self–governing contradicts the fact that most of the world’s population subscribes to a higher “spiritual” authority, God, god, or a divine being.
“The practice of all ages and all countries (whether Christian or heathen, polite or barbarous) hath been … To do honour to those who are invested with public authority” — Francis Atterbury (1663-1732).
Western nations acknowledge God’s guidance as the cornerstone of their nations. National anthems throughout the West recognize God’s supremacy. Human authority, therefore, is an unmerited gift from God, but how should one exercise human authority? Are there limits to human authority?
Prayers at official government proceedings recognize God’s sovereignty over Western nations. State funerals reflect God’s presence in our mortal and immortal lives. Contracts and insurance policies often make provisions for “Acts of God.” Most importantly and visibly, the presence of churches, chapels, cathedrals, monasteries, synagogues, temples and mosques in all nations is a testimony to our belief in a superior authority.
The word “Supreme Court” seems to contradict our prevailing belief that there are two fundamental perspectives by which to view authority. First: Spiritual Authority that comes from the supremacy of God (a Western Christian perspective) (Matthew 28:18), and second: Secular Authority, which is inherent in human beings, and enabled by the constitution of nations, and tens of thousands of human laws.
Notwithstanding these two distinct perspectives on authority, the pre-modern, modern and postmodern world have witnessed the abuse of secular authority from ancient times, up to the present. There are many forms and levels of authority operating in the private, public, and religious sectors of our lives. It is critical to note that there are limits to human authority.
For the benefit of human survival as a viable species, God in His infinite wisdom has prearranged a hierarchy of authority (through prophetic writings) to provide humankind with structured relationships with our human authorities, human institutions, and Him. He did not give human beings dominion or authority over each other (Genesis 1:26). Christian literature refers to God as a sovereign God, who possesses supreme authority.
When humanity faces personal, family, national and international crises, we often acknowledge God’s existence and call for His providence over the situation. Paradoxically, we neglect to avail ourselves to His guidance when everything seems to be going well for our nation and ourselves.
We often deny God an invitation as a key subject matter expert (SME) in our decision-making. His seat is vacant at the family table, corporate boardrooms, and at major national and international forums where human authority is demonstrated and dominant.
The autocratic leaders of the ancient world held absolute power and authority over their kingdoms. The governments of modern Western nations have decentralized power and authority. Decentralized power demonstrates that progressive governments recognize the need for various levels and limits, and checks and balances to human authority.
The nature of governmental authority is critical in the postmodern era, so the Scripture admonishes, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Romans 13:1 NKJV). Informatively, the book of Proverbs advises: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan” (Proverbs 29:2 NKJV).
The book of Romans, chapter thirteen, verse one, points us to God’s theocracy, in which He leads through authorities; He appoints human authorities under His guidance. The word theocracy originates from the Greek word “theokratia.” The root words of theocracy are Theos (God) and kratein (to rule). Combined, they mean “rule by the deity.”
The leader appoints a cabinet to serve the people, and human authority can thus effectively operate under divine appointment by God, subject to His will. His will represents the ultimate checks and balance. Moreover, a common spiritual purpose on earth intrinsically links all humanity, regardless of color, race, culture, language, nationality, or religion, or position of authority.
Estranged from the will of God, the authority of His appointed agents will fall short of the ideal aim of service to humanity. Furthermore, His transcendent authority must be active in every facet of human endeavor to realize just societies and nations.
God foreknew ultimate human authority would pose an inherent danger to those who are subject to authority. The essential exercise of authority, then “must” begin with justice and righteousness, which comes from God, through a right relationship with Him and obedience to His Word.
The book of Romans, chapter thirteen, verse one, points us to God’s theocracy, in which He leads through authorities; He appoints human authorities under His guidance. The word theocracy originates from the Greek word “theokratia.” The root words of theocracy are Theos (God) and kratein (to rule). Combined, they mean “rule by the deity.” The leader appoints a cabinet to serve the people, and human authority can thus effectively operate under divine appointment by God, subject to His will.
Estranged from the will of God, the authority of His appointed agents will fall short of the ideal aim of service to humanity. Furthermore, His transcendent authority must be active in every facet of human endeavor to realize just societies and nations. A common spiritual purpose on earth intrinsically links all humanity, regardless of color, race, culture, language, nationality, or religion.
The whole of humanity benefits when we embrace every opportunity to elevate others according to God’s divine plan for human existence. Without God’s intervention in all of our plans, there is no guarantee of peace, safety, or security of nations. With such clear scriptural admonishment, why would we not seek His trustworthy guidance in every human endeavor as a proactive national and international strategy?
God has given to humankind, unfettered access to His infinite knowledge, wisdom, and understanding through His Word. There are those in authority who have an earnest desire to exercise authority for the betterment of humankind, but how sufficient is human authority alone, unaided by God’s authority? Have human beings demonstrated the sufficiency of human authority in the past six thousand years of recorded history?
National and international authority can ease the fears associated with the great cultural diversity, which is taking place throughout the world. The existing of human authorities can either foster peaceful cultural synthesis among peoples or if neglectful, bring about cultural alienation among citizens and nations.
The world seeks forms of authority that embrace the “power of love” that helps to overcome superficial differences, but few can demonstrate the capacity to articulate this critical need. The “power of love” for fellow human beings is the mother of all other imperatives (moral, social, political, or economic).
It better informs all the channels of miss-communications about the purpose of human existence, underpinned by “materially driven lives” that dominate human achievements as the apex of “wholesome living” human achievement.
We are, by nature, protective of our various possessions and territories, nevertheless, we brought nothing into the world, and we will take nothing when we leave this side of creation. What we give lives on; what we grasp for or hold on to, dies with us. We must be mindful that we are merely temporary custodians of God’s great wealth that He will pass on when we depart. More importantly, when nations establish their preeminent standing in God, He affords them His divine protection, through His divine intervention in the affairs of the global village (Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980). © 1962 The Gutenberg Galaxy).
A global village demands the alignment of human authority within both, local and global contexts. This can only occur when human authority, universally, is in alignment with the supreme authority of God. These demands to operate within a global context present enormous challenges to nations because there is a natural propensity for individuals to respond with exclusiveness.
The global village of the twenty–first century demands authority that recognizes the need to balance national self–interest and national selflessness, as mass immigration presents new challenges to nations. The following list of twenty benefits of selflessness should inspire some of the critical changes that mass immigration poses in an emerging global village.
TWENTY BENEFITS OF SELFLESSNESS TO INSPIRE
INDIVIDUALS AND NATIONS
- International cooperation
- National cooperation
- Peaceful coexistence
- Economic security
- National security
- Service to humanity
- National prosperity
- Equal partnerships
- Unbiased judgment
- Economic stability
- Social equity
- Family stability
- Racial harmony
- Religious unity
- Marriage stability
- Disciplined youths
- Educational equity
- Employment equity
- Greater productivity
- Healing of the land
These twenty benefits of selflessness help to reduce the struggle associated with racial, social, economic, cultural, linguistic, and religious issues that are often associated with mass immigration. Immigration is a doubled–edged sword for developed nations who rely on the intellectual capital of other nations for the achievement of their goals of industrial expansion and for the performance of services. Immigrants also have a need to maintain their cultural and religious heritage. They have the same needs for cultural cohesion and cultural synthesis as the host country.
The world needs ‘new’ forms of authority that embrace the power of love that helps to overcome our superficial differences. National and international authority can ease the fears that are associated with the great cultural diversification, which is taking place throughout Western nations and the world. The existing authorities can either foster peaceful cultural synthesis among peoples, or if neglectful, bring about cultural alienation among peoples of the “global village” What is Authority?
In 2002, Errol Gibbs relinquished his technical career to research, study, and write about the betterment of humanity, enabled by spiritual, moral, social, intellectual, and physical growth and development. Errol’s hope is that his articles will shed light on another path that will better inform the mutual survival of humanity as a viable species.