A Question of Authority - Says Who?
When we examine the underlying issue that drives the tensions we encounter regarding different worldviews we find the question, who has the ultimate authority to define reality? In other word, says who?
To understand how people and cultures think, we need to understand what they believe is the ultimate authority in their lives which defines all reality for them. The basis for this authority can be traced back to some form of religion. Even atheists, who say they have no religion, actually have one whether they realize it or not. Atheism defines all of reality just as any other world religion does.
This is a critical concept for understanding human behavior since one's ultimate source of authority acts like a policeman who sets limits on our behavior. If one believes that some humans are not really people, then they will not be protected under the law reserved for human beings. This occurred with our own Supreme Court. Earlier in our nation's history it ruled that black people were actually property - not human beings. Therefore they could be bought and sold just like any other property. It took a civil war to finally resolve the injustice of that decision. The question behind the slavery issue was, who defines reality? Who determines whether blacks are humans or not? Does a group of judges or a 51% of the majority of the people determine what the law is? Or is there a higher authority and a higher law based on that authority?
Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the ultimate authority who defines all of reality for us in this life. His will and his laws are provided in written form in the Bible. Once Jesus was raised from the dead he conquered death. God then gave him all authority in both heaven and on the earth. As the Lord of the universe he both defines reality and has the authority to determine what the laws are that we are required to follow.
All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations. Mathew 28: 18
Ultimate Authority In Christ
When discussing issues related to authority one must consider the place of God's law in the scheme of how authority has been delegated within the world. God defines reality. People have a fallen nature due to the fall of mankind into rebellion against God. Genesis describes how our parents, Adam and Eve, openly rebelled against God and his authority. As a result, all human beings have an inclination toward independence in which, like our Edenic parents, we seek to be “like God.” We want the right to determine what the law is "for ourselves." In essence, we want to play the role of God and determine for ourselves what ultimate authority is and make our own laws in place of God.
In many ways, we are repeating the same sin of pride that caused Satan to rebel against God. He convinced a third of the angels to follow him in that open rebellion. Just like our rebellious parents in Eden we all seek our own way. We want to be God, determining right and wrong according to our selfish desires.
However, the reality is that God and his laws rule the universe. His law stands despite what “we” want reality to be. To better know what God's will is for our lives, we need a source of revelation outside of ourselves. Revelation that describes God's will and his laws. God has provided the Bible to mankind with both his written laws and his revealed will for mankind which he presented to Moses and the authors of the Bible. To these laws we remain legally accountable to God as rebels. However, no human could keep God's perfect law other than Christ. He came into this world to die on our behalf and pay the legal price for our rebellion, which is death. Christ died on our behalf in order that we would be reconciled to God have an eternal relationship with Him. Until we make peace with our Creator, we remain restless without knowing our ultimate purpose in this life. People develop various religions and worldviews that will justify what they want to pursue in this life. This explains why mankind is so restless and at times chaotic. Peace and order in our lives comes only through Christ.