Entry Level Theological Truth [21]

question-authority

“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” Genesis 3:1

The dictum “Question authority” has reigned supreme in the western world for almost half a century. It was repeated so loudly and often in the late 60’s and 70’s that it became axiomatic; today, its truth is assumed, rather than proven. But is this really the best approach? The serpent certainly thought so, but his question led to spiritual disaster.

 


The Spirit Of ‘76



 

Admittedly, in the present fallen world human authorities and institutions need to be held accountable. The reality of sin in the world means that leaders sometimes lie and governments abuse their power at times. Thus, there is an ingrained suspicion of authorities in the modern western political tradition – hence the checks and balances that are built into many democratic forms of government. Lord Acton’s oft quoted saying: “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” has been repeatedly seen during the past two centuries; there is no sign that it will become any less accurate in the 21st century.

Given the frequent abuse of power in the contemporary world should we not question such erring authorities? God’s Word certainly provides examples of when leaders ought to be challenged – one thinks of Daniel in the 6th chapter of the book that bears his name. Likewise, the apostles asserted that obedience to God, who is the highest authority, trumps adherence to men’s unbiblical edicts. When men’s commands conflict with the Bible, believers must follow the Scriptures. Otherwise, governments – all of which are imperfect – are to be obeyed as authorities that are ordained by God (Romans 13:1-7.)

 


Interrogating The Truth



 

But when one turns to Genesis 3 one observes an unfallen world, which had not yet been tainted by sin. The source of all authority was the Creator, the Almighty God. The Bible affirms that He is perfect, saying that He is light and in Him is no darkness (1 John 1:5.) To put it another way, God never has and never will abuse His power. He wields total power in keeping with His intrinsic goodness and the principles of righteousness that flow from His character. To question Him is offensive, for it is a slap in the face to One who always does the right thing. The Lord loves His creation perfectly, and to question His authority is a repugnant repudiation of His kindness and goodness towards mankind.

The modern spirit of questioning has an element of rebellion within it. The architects of the “question authority” mindset were interested in overthrowing authorities and exchanging old social moral and religious beliefs for new “liberated” attitudes. Their concentrated assault on the powers and institutions of the mid-twentieth century world brought epoch-making changes throughout the western world. God is not afraid of man’s questions; His authority ultimately is unassailable. When someone asks a genuine question of something they want to learn, He is well-prepared to give the answers (the Bible is full of such answers.) But to the person who questions for the sake of undermining His authority over themselves, He recognizes that for what it is and will ultimately deal with it at the Great White Throne of judgment. As the Lord Jesus put it, Men shall be judged for every idle word that they speak (Matthew 12:36.)

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