chapter  5
2 Pages

Authority

Another aspect of the stereotyped conception has to do with authority and authoritarianism. Since the truth of beliefs is guaranteed by divine revelatory fiat they become authoritative in the arbitrary sense, and this means that they must be accepted in humble submission to that authority. Admittedly this does represent rather accurately what has been the attitude that characterizes much of religion, including large sectors of Christendom. Nevertheless I would say that history clearly shows that the authority of the basic Christian doctrines and beliefs-such as are expressed in a creedal formulation like the Statement of Faith-does not stem fundamentally from ecclesiastical edicts, as is commonly supposed, but from their compelling nature as truthful descriptions or testimonies of what many men and women have known has happened to them, and of the trusting confidence and hopes that have developed among them. Revelation is authoritative because it actually reveals, not because it has been decreed to be so.