The Erosion of Authority

Recently our President sought an action of the US Congress to authorize some sort of strike against Syria after the government reportedly used chemical weapons. The Russian President countered with an unprecedented article in the New York Times suggesting that President Obama’s claims about Syria and America’s responsibility were patently false. Who do we believe?

                In June of this past summer the United State Supreme Court struck down provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act, passed by Congress in the late 1990’s. In the majority opinion Justice Kennedy suggested that the motives behind that congressional legislation were sinister and even mean spirited.

                A recent performance by a former Disney television star at the Video Music Awards suggests that moral boundaries have eroded to the point of non-existence.

                Apparently the United States Constitution and once agreed upon moral standards no longer have the authority once ascribed to them.  We could list multiple sociological reasons for the disappearance of the moral authority once agreed upon by many of those sharing the geographical space called the United States of America.

                The shifting and sliding of morality should not surprise those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. Our own history as Southern Baptists points to a struggle over authority. Do we accept the Bible as authoritative for all areas of life or are we free to pick and choose areas to which the Bible can and does speak?  

                While many of us who serve as pastors and in other leadership roles in our denomination remember the Conservative Resurgence, many of those who attend our churches have no recollection at all of those events much less the theological arguments that were raised on both sides of the issue. Instead, as we argued and debated, many in our congregations were battling their own issues of authority as they, their children, and grandchildren struggled with issues of sexual identity, failing marriages, and questions about reproductive technologies.

                The erosion of authority is no myth. The results are being seen and felt by most of us. The challenge of eroding authority is not met by withdrawal or even loud protests but rather, in the words of Carl F. H. Henry “the preaching of the Gospel, in the interest of individual regeneration by the supernatural grace of God, in such a way that divine redemption can be recognized as the best solution of our problems, individual and social” (The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism [Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,1947], 88-89.).

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