Who's authority?

Discussion in 'Theology' started by wil, Dec 16, 2008.

  1. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Feel free to tell me to move this if it doen't fit the criteria for this section.

    Thomas Moore, Roman Catholic, Monk, Spiritual Writer, Psychologist...from his book "The Souls Religion"
    As I understand it educate is from a greek root which means 'to draw out' not to shove in.

    My question is what is spiritual authority?
     
  2. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    OK — but the teacher draws out what he or she believes to be the truth in and of another, according to his or her accepted doctrine.

    Therefore, the question devolves to, is man — be he teacher or disciple — the authority and benchmark of the truth? Or, put another way: Is what I believe to be true, true, because I believe it?

    No. According to Acts 8:30-31
    "And Philip running thither, heard him reading the prophet Isaias. And he said: Thinkest thou that thou understandest what thou readest? Who said: And how can I, unless some man show me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him."

    In the Christian Tradition, spiritual authority rests with Christ:
    Matthew 28:18
    "And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth."

    And this power He confers upon those He calls:
    Ephesians 3:7
    "Of which I am made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God, which is given to me according to the operation of his power"

    Galatians 2:9
    "And when they had known the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship: that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision"
    So although Paul considered himself an Apostle, called by Christ, he nevertheless 'ratified' this with the Church, so that the churches of his foundation might be one with theirs.

    +++

    Matthew 13:10-11
    "And his disciples came and said to him: Why speakest thou to them in parables? Who answered and said to them: Because to you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven: but to them it is not given."
    So the word was given to the Twelve, not to all, and by the receipt of the word were they empowered:

    Matthew 28:19-20
    "Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world."

    Galatians 1:6-8
    "I wonder that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel. Which is not another, only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema."

    Famously, 2 Timothy 3:16
    "All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice." And as God provided Scripture, likewise He provided the teacher.

    Romans 12:3
    "For I say, by the grace that is given me, to all that are among you, not to be more wise than it behoveth to be wise, but to be wise unto sobriety, and according as God hath divided to every one the measure of faith."
    So 'spiritual authority' is a grace, a charism, given through the Church to Peter in the first instance, the Twelve (Matthew 16:18-19), and their successors (cf Acts 1:17), and through the Church, to those in whom She sees fit.

    Thomas
     
  3. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Namaste Thomas,

    Alas as usual I should have been more clear.
    As in in this board what constitutes "Authority" what constitutes a theologian or scripture worth quoting? Of course that could extend to what authorized that to be the criteria...so I won't go there. But I contemplate what discounts personal revelation or understanding? Heaven knows we can find many a folk that has published many a book that aren't hardly worth the paper printed on. (someones opinion may think that judgemental)
    Actually paraphrasing Thomas Moore he went on after what I quoted previously to say that a teacher ain't worth his salt if his goal is to instill his or her accepted doctrine nor if he doesn't allow the information which comes from the student to change his perspective.

    ie: a closed mind of the teacher to new revelation from the student stagnates the learning process.
     
  4. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Exactly.

    Do I need to cite a reference?

    s.
     
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Wil –
    Authority rests only within 'the community of faith' — so the Buddhist Sutras have no 'authority' within Christianity, any more than the Beatitudes are authoritative within Buddhism.

    Again ... most communities achnowledge that the individual is fallible, so just because he or she claims a revelation, or an understanding, that has to be compared to the communal expression of faith, which is the benchmark, else everybody believes whatever they fancy.

    Never said otherwise. It's your presupposition that supposes that of Christian doctrine, I presume?

    As I see it, the continuing development of theological insight and wisdom is just that ... but that unfolds within the context of the primary paradigm ... otherwise the function of 'teacher' is void before one even begins.

    Indeed it does. And a closed mind of the student to the existing data as a means and measure of self stops the process dead in its tracks. That's why all spiritual traditions insist that the student 'surrender' his or her mind to the master, for a period of formation.

    In matters of spiritual authority – it is axiomatic that the student surrenders him or herself utterly to the master. Nowhere is this more evident than in the dialogues between guru and chela, between the Buddhist Master and the student ... the student can walk away at any point, but the authority of the master is just that — the student has none.

    Only in the post-modern West has the idea emerged that the master needs to listen to the student — effectively that the voice of ignorance is equally if not more authoritative as the voice of experience.

    Thomas
     
  6. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    Compare to what Jesus said

    Luke 10:21-22
    21 In that same hour He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I praise You, Father Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and the learned and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, because this was Your good pleasure. 22 All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him." ​

    And Paul, who was called from outside the church:
    1 Corinthians 1
    18 For to those who are perishing the message of the cross is foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is God's power. 19 For it is written:
    I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
    and I will set aside the understanding of the experts.
    20 Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn't God made the world's wisdom foolish? 21 For since, in God's wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached. 22 For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. 24 Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God's power and God's wisdom, 25 because God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength.
    Boasting Only in the Lord
    26 Brothers, consider your calling: not many are wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. 27 Instead, God has chosen the world's foolish things to shame the wise, and God has chosen the world's weak things to shame the strong. 28 God has chosen the world's insignificant and despised things —the things viewed as nothing—so He might bring to nothing the things that are viewed as something, 29 so that no one can boast in His presence. 30 But from Him you are in Christ Jesus, who for us became wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, 31 in order that, as it is written: The one who boasts must boast in the Lord.

    Sure, Thomas. Through your reasoning, you just justified what they did to Jesus! Unbelievable! :mad:
    Luke 23
    1 Then the whole multitude of them arose and led Him to Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this fellow perverting the[a] nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.”
    3 Then Pilate asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
    He answered him and said, “It is as you say.”
    4 So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no fault in this Man.”
    5 But they were the more fierce, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place.”
    Jesus Faces Herod


    6 When Pilate heard of Galilee,[b] he asked if the Man were a Galilean. 7 And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. 8 Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him. 9 Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing. 10 And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him. 11 Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate. 12 That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for previously they had been at enmity with each other.
    Taking the Place of Barabbas


    13 Then Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, 14 said to them, “You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him; 15 no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him;[c] and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him. 16 I will therefore chastise Him and release Him” 17 (for it was necessary for him to release one to them at the feast).[d]
    18 And they all cried out at once, saying, “Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas”— 19 who had been thrown into prison for a certain rebellion made in the city, and for murder.
    20 Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them. 21 But they shouted, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”
    22 Then he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.”
    23 But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed.[e] 24 So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested. 25 And he released to them[f] the one they requested, who for rebellion and murder had been thrown into prison; but he delivered Jesus to their will.​


    I present these, as well as above scriptures, as counter-arguments:
    Psalm 8
    1 LORD, our Lord,
    how magnificent is Your name throughout the earth!
    You have covered the heavens with Your majesty.
    2 Because of Your adversaries,
    You have established a stronghold
    from the mouths of children and nursing infants,
    to silence the enemy and the avenger.
    Matt 11:25
    25 At that time Jesus said, "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to infants.​
     
  7. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    I will give you the Baha'i point of view. It is very simple. Who's authority? Spiritual authority comes from the Holy Spirit. The Master said:
    http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/SAQ/saq-84.html
     
  8. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    This is the point. If divine inspiration is authority how do we differ that from opinion? If we are going to speak of G!dly things do we not need to have an agreement of what G!d is? If the bible is reference do we not need to understand what the bible is? Does not common ground allow discussion which moves forward? If our definitions and our authority differ where does that leave us?

    While I and many theologians appear ready and able to disagree yet honor others beliefs, some aren't.
     
  9. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    I was under the impression this board is primarily for more rigorous theological discussion in that sources will be cited and I did not think it would matter so much if the source is Joseph Campbell, Simone Weil, Robert Alter, The Upanishads or Deepak Chopra so long as a source is being cited that's relevant to the question at hand. Is this accurate or are some sources valid while others are not?
     
  10. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    Utterly meaningless gibberish. A dangerous ploy of an institution. Ego gone septic. A lie.
     
  11. Dondi

    Dondi Active Member

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    Peer-reviewed publications are deemed authentic because of agreement between experts in that field of study. The articles in the publication carry weight in that it is a reliable source of information.

    However, if the field of study is such that new information introduced overides the old paradigm, then a peer-reviewed article based on the new information is preferred over the old article, assuming the same concensus among the experts. This doesn't mean that the old article isn't useful, for oftentimes it provided a basis for the new article.

    For example, maps based on a flat-earth might be proportioned wrong due to an irregard to the curvature of the earth, but the approximate formations and shapes of the land masses may be still be helpful in the revision to the globe paradigm.

    In the manner of spiritual authority, there has to be a basis first upon which to build upon. As new revelations are given, the paradigm may shift, but for consistency purposes there ought to still be a foundation remaining.

    As man evolved, his ideas about God evolved. As he looked around the world and nature, he probably wondered how all this came about. How HE came about. And probably surmised that Something created him. Then if Something created him, then it must be a purpose. So then he would wonder what expectations this Creator would have of him. Through conscience and feelings, sometimes in conflict with each other, he might find that some behavior is good and productive and some behavior is bad or unbeneficial.

    Killing your brother, for instance out of anger, meant you wouldn't have to deal with your stupid brother anymore, but it also meant not having a brother to interact with anymore, grunt to anymore, and meant more manual labor for yourself.

    By this he would have begun to establish a code of ethics, by trial and error no doubt, if not revelation, that is for the good of the community, rather than the individual. This became his authority. And maybe he decided this code was already inbreded in his conscience by the Creator, and therefore he had to deal with the consequences, good or bad, with the Creator, thus beginning the concept of worship.

    Now it must be pointed out that whatever the code was, it was certainly imperfect, yet as man progressed, so did the code get revised, good or bad. In most cases, the code would go south if an individual or special interest group would introduce a proposition that favored the individual over the whole of the community, thus causing division within. But if the proposition was beneficial to the whole of the comunity, then the code was sound and harmony was maintained. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.

    Thus spiritual authority is that which benefits the whole of the community and preserves harmony.

    BTW, I haven't any quotes to support my above premise, because it is just an observation and my opinion. Sorta an hypothesis which I hope to prove or disprove through more research. But my opinion is based loosley on what I've read and learned concerning human behavoir from various sources and experiences. I've tried to present it generically as possible and hope for some feedback about the validity of it. The angle I am suggesting is that we need to start from the very beginning if we are going to come to any concensus about this issue of spiritual authority.
     
  12. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    Will

    Yes, this is the classic difference between educating and sex. A real authority is one who is capable of both without the aid of negativity and imagination
     
  13. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    a real authority on sex is one who doesn't use any imagination? deary me, how dull.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  14. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    LOL, BB.

    I was under the impression that the Theology board would identify (in each thread) the religious context of the thread and that the difference between it and other boards would be that-

    1. It would be interfaith in the sense that on the Theology board there might be Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Bahai, etc. threads.
    2. That the issues would be handled in depth with scriptural and other commentary references relevant to the religious context (i.e., a Christian thread might debate the relevance of various Christian scriptures and commentaries, but wouldn't have input from non-Christian ones, unless it were Jewish, which is sometimes quite relevant).
    3. That scholarly attention would be expected, so the main point is to discuss scripture and commentary on it, or tradition (in the case of non-scriptural religions) and commentary on it... not just throw our opinions out there on every given topic as we do elsewhere.

    Basically, as I understand it, Dauer had it right- we can debate the relevance of various "authorities" and why they are authorities, and debate scriptural and tradition interpretations- the point is to have a scholarly view rather than an opinion-based one, and to go deeply into issues that otherwise generally remain somewhat superficial.

    I don't think any one has THE answer on who is a scriptural authority, but the point of this board is to discuss various scriptural authorities within their own religious context, debating their authoritative grounds and revealing differences within and between traditions in this matter.
     
  15. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    oh, i think nick a has THE answer on who we should treat as a scriptural authority. hur hur hur.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  16. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    I went nuts thinking about this question for the past two nights :)confused:). I do not know the answer.

    I noticed that Thomas quoted many passages from Matthew. Like Moses on Mount Sinai, Matthew gives us a picture of Jesus as if he is the "new Moses" giving God's commandments on the mountainside to his listeners (Matt 5-7). So how do I differentiate between Jesus being divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit and if it is just the mere opinion of Jesus? Jesus said:
    Thomas said:
    For example, since Jesus is looked at as a "new Moses" giving a "new Torah" by his followers, I was obviously thinking that the Beatitudes would have authority within Judaism. Well, at least that is what they think. During the time, Jesus is a Jew, so Jesus has authority just because he was resurrected from the dead and declared, "All power is given to me in heaven and in earth?"

    Hope this question does not seem stupid, but that is what I get from Matt 28:18 all isolated by itself. However, even before he was resurrected, Jesus was looked at as one with authority.
     
  17. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    Here's a Greek word translated as authority in Matt 7:29
    For 1063 he taught 1321 2258 them 846 as 5613 [one] having 2192 authority 1849, and 2532 not 3756 as 5613 the scribes 1122.​
    The power and responsibility of free choice...Would Spiritual Authority be that which releases us from being a slave to the works of the flesh? (Compare the fruits of the Spirit with the works of the flesh in Galatians 5.)

    This would bring Spiritual Authority out of the realm of just opinion/theory, having some observable empirical evidence to back it up.
    "By their fruits you shall know them."
    --Matt 7
    and
    "What do you think, Kalamas? When [greed, aversion, or delusion] arises in a person, does it arise for welfare or for harm?"

    "For harm, lord."

    "And this [greedy, aversive, or deluded] person, overcome by [greed, aversion, or delusion,] his mind possessed by [greed, aversion, or delusion] kills living beings, takes what is not given, goes after another person's wife, tells lies, and induces others to do likewise, all of which is for long-term harm & suffering."
    --Kalama Sutta
     
  18. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    Once again Man proves his superiority over the dog that is limited to sex without imagination. Pure sex - what kind of authority is that? With us, sex furthers our imagination and self deception creating real authority. OK, now I get it.
     
  19. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Is this why the tumble weed is blowing across the theology sub forum? - because a consensus or a definitive statement by the moderator / owner (hi there :)) has not established what or who is the authority to be accepted around this neck of the woods?

    s.
     
  20. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    Simone wouldn't want that if for no other reason because of how she became an authority. She wrote:

    Slavery to "experts" cannot lead to understanding but just defense of acquired pre-conditioning. You don't understand this which is why you cannot understand her or what it means to "verify."
     

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