American culture seems confused about the need for and place of authority. Over the last quarter century, a steady stream of foreign policy failures, presidential scandals, and corporate abuses has left an entire generation skeptical of authority. As society becomes more open about abuses of authority in families, government, the corporate world, and even the church, our skepticism of authority can seem justified. We can easily begin to question the purpose and usefulness of traditional authority structures.
Yet, as Christians, we are not simply concerned with such abuses; we see a deeper root issue. Every aspect of our world’s tragic condition is rooted in the rejection of God’s authority. In the garden, Adam and Eve were the first to rebel against authority. Their rebellion and the subsequent rebellion of each of their descendants have alienated man from God and have deeply damaged all human relationships. Even those who use their authority abusively are themselves rebelling against God’s authority and command.
The Bible has much to say about authority—the authority of God, the authority of the Scripture, and human authority. In this paper we will primarily focus on what the Bible says about human authority.
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