A noted Scotch divine has recently said that "nothing is more apparent than the disappearance of authority from the modern church," and these words immediately relate themselves in thought to any lack of interest in spiritual things, which may be manifested by professing Christians as well as others. Men love to be spoken to with an authority which they respect, and nothing more surely and more speedily enfeebles and defeats any organization than the loss of respect for its constituted sovereignty; surely no army, no commercial enterprise, and no church could possibly succeed under these circumstances. It cannot be questioned that a large proportion of the intellectual and reform leadership of our times is maintained by those who are not identified with organized Christianity. Nevertheless, standing as they do for what they apprehend and affirm to be provable propositions, they are honored by religious people as well as others, and the inference is inevitable that if religious leadership would exert a determinative influence over men, it too must speak with the authority which demonstrable truth alone confers, an authority which proves its right to rule, even as has that which has led the world's commercial and industrial advance.

In the childhood of the race, as in the childhood of the individual, the sense of authority is inevitably connected with personality. Parents and teachers have ruled over us, and for the most part kindly and patiently, and as a result history has been shaped largely by the native willingness of humanity to consent to the continuance of an order to which we have all become conformed in our youth. Jesus came to a people who were yet under this sense of personal authority. The concept of Deity which they venerated was patterned after the kingship of the world. Their fealty continually took counsel of their fear of God as a supreme autocrat, "the King of kings," and therefore Jesus' teaching, that they were to know and honor Him as infinite Love and Truth, seemed to them a new and "strange doctrine." Yet more astonished, however, were they that Jesus himself taught them "as one having authority," and not as the scribes, "for," said they, "even to foul spirits he issues orders, and they obey them" (Ferrar Fenton's Translation). The repose of an exalted command characterized his address, as well as his attitude toward evil,—all sin, disease, and death. As one has said, "He was not a herald, he was a plenipotentiary. He was not a thinker before a problem, he was a doer before a task." More wondrous yet, he taught and commanded his disciples that they too should exercise this authority. When he commended the seventy to their mighty enterprise it was with the words, "Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy." Their sovereignty was to be all-inclusive, supreme. They were to act as possessing plenary powers from Him in whom they lived and for whom they spoke.

November 10, 1906

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.