Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Points of Authority

For Christians:

1. For all Christians, it is God in Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as the ultimate author of life, which demands higher obedience than any other authority by God's very nature.
2. It is right and just that human beings should have an authority to which they answer, beginning with the above; intuitively, humility demands at least the potential recognition of an authority higher than oneself.

For Catholics:

3. The law of the Church is made for the betterment and salvific benefit of mankind.
4. Re: 3, The specific laws of the Church are to be made for man and the benefit of mankind.
5. The laws of the Church should be made simple when possible and soundly reasoned in accordance with Revelation, so as not to unduly burden the clergy or laity. (A good deal of Scriptural intuition lies behind this, I think.)
6. The Canon Law consitutes a higher authority (where there be conflict) than the laws of man; thus for instance, to make an obvious example, if some country's law mandated that non-Christians receive consecrated hosts, the Catholic priests there would be obligated to disobey said law. (This is a good example for all Christians, not merely Catholics, because the majority of Christians would agree it is ambiguous at best to distribute communion, however symbolically conceived, to non-Christians.)
7. If one is committed to the Catholic Church it is fruitful and good, not merely obligatory, to follow the Church's law even if it does not appear to that one's understanding to live up to the standard of simplicity outlined in (5).
8. It is acceptable to turn away from early authorities in the service of the Kingdom of Heaven; e.g. to refuse to follow an unjust law which conflicts with one's Christian calling in direct command or in indirect obedience, for instance to natural law or some portion of Canon Law, even if followed in accordance with (7).
9. One unjust law does not render all the laws, rules and regulations set down by an earthly authority null and void.
10. There may be some earthly authorities which are rendered null and void by sufficient amounts of oppression and unjust legislation.
11. We should, in accordance with (1) and (2), take care that when we seek to be free of earthly authorities we do it in accordance with humility and truth, not because we seek more power or control for ourselves.

I'm honestly going a bit off the cuff here, kind of throwing some ideas out and seeing what sticks. I don't think much is controversial here, at least not to Christians, but some thoughts:

I think perhaps (1) and (2) should be switched in keeping with the sort of evolutionary (though not logically argued) nature of this sequence of points. I'm not sure how the fruitful part of (7) happens. I'm curious about (8) and what exactly would meet the conditions of (9). This list is probably off in at least one or two places and by no means Catechetical (the day someone starts reading this blog as a catechism is the day the Church has run out of good ideas.) I imagine for Christians in non-Catholic traditions that some parallel thoughts could be drawn to denominational laws, though I'm not sure the laws themselves would carry the same weight theologically.

And yes, that title was a Linkin Park reference.


Matthew Cuda said...

I've been wondering about some aspects of Law and law these days. I believe the Law of the Church should act as guide for for (3) (read "salvific benefit" (a well put piece of theology). I question, however, the connection with law in civil society and the Law in ones heart or the Law of the Church. The question is this: can one truly hold a political view for what they wish to see in the country which disagrees with the teachings of the Church? or perhaps put the other way round, can one truly hold the religious view on an issue in one direction, though act/vote in the political sphere for the opposite and yet remain consistent with both?

Kev said...

Did you come up with these by yourself?

Dan Lower said...

Kev: I don't think so. At least, not ALL by myself, though I don't think I stole the list from anywhere either. As with most things, I think in conversation with my influences.

Dan Lower said...

Matthew: Can you give an example? Joe Biden comes to mind as a potential example. I'm not sure if it's a strict issue of consistency...I did find someone, I forget who, who drew the distinction as a matter of why you believe a principle is correct or incorrect. The notion basically was that it seemed consistent not to legislate morality you believed as strictly religious. And at least what I took from it (though I forget if this was intended) is that it's not so consistent to avoid legislating morality you believe is based in natural law, because that should be accessible to reason from everyone.

Luke Stager said...

Very well thought out, I would say. I guess my question would be: what is the overall point, or what thought or idea spurred this?

Dan Lower said...

Luke: a friend on FB who is not Catholic (but is Christian) asked some questions about Catholics and authority. That likely spurred some of this, and also I wanted to write something for the Christian Carnival.

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