Jettisoning divine authority

The final public event for 2017 organised by the ETHOS™ Institute for Public Christianity, its Annual Lecture held on 17 Oct 2017, featured the Rev Dr Mark Chan speaking on the topic of ‘Jettisoning Divine Authority – the rejection of God and its human consequences’.

Tackling the fundamental topic of the rejection of God and the consequences to be faced, the Lecturer in Theology and Director of the Centre for the Study of Christianity in Asia (the mission and research arm of Trinity Theological College) presented the discussion and argument through three main points: ‘Revolt against authority’, ‘Manifestations of the rejection of God and authority’, and ‘Divine authority and human flourishing’.

Taking scriptural reference from Paul’s dissection of the human heart in Romans 1:18-32, the Rev Dr Chan illustrated rebellion against God’s ways as a heart and obedience issue.

Our environment exacerbates the lack of true knowledge and understanding of God’s character. In today’s world, it is easy to be exposed only to the type of information we want to read and digest. Social media feeds work on algorithms that pick up a user’s interest and interaction levels (e.g. likes, comments, shares and click-throughs), further feeding the user with information that resonates and is deemed of interest. Hence in this Internet age, one tends to be exposed only to material that affirms one’s favoured worldview, confirming one’s biases rather than challenging our worldview.

This often has the effect of viewpoints receiving endorsement from others though they may be inaccurate or clouded. People gravitate towards taking moral cues from each other and the popular worldview, rather than from God’s view or His Word; increasingly we see a horizontal search for validation of beliefs, rather than a vertical, heavenward validation. As Leo Tolstoy puts it, “Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.”

How then do we remain and abide in God despite the overwhelming levels of worldly exposure we are privy to each day? The answer lies in returning to His Word and Gospel truth.

2 Timothy 3:16 clearly states that all Scripture is God-breathed, God-inspired and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. Believing in the Gospel’s power (Romans 1:16) to reveal God’s ways, God’s authority, and to shed light on current day issues is essential to building a foundation of truth.

Secondly, it is important to develop our faith and acquire God-given wisdom to formulate a scripturally-sound opinion on today’s issues. We seldom take the time or apply patience to sit down and reflect on current issues, organise our thoughts, and pen down what our Christ-led viewpoint is. When the occasion arises to share our viewpoint on current world issues with non-Christians, our lack of preparation and reflection means a missed opportunity to share God’s viewpoint and His truth.

1 Peter 3:15 reminds us to always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks us for a reason for the hope that we have. This calls for spiritual discipline to apply godly wisdom and discernment to the issues facing the world today.

Finally, the Rev Dr Chan reiterated God’s call for us to be His witnesses, that our lives would reflect the goodness of living under His authority.

The word “authority” comes from the Latin word augere (“augment” in English), a positive word meaning “to increase or make greater”. The meaning of “authority” has been distorted over time and is now commonly viewed with a negative connotation. Thus, understanding God’s character, our fallen human nature, and the nature of His authority is key to living and flourishing. It comes down to trusting that God’s authority is indeed liberating, and living in the parameters of His divine design will allow us to have greater spiritual growth in Him.

The truth of the Gospel is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes. This is the true humanistic work that God calls every believer to take up, as we live under His divine authority and perfect will.


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Andrea Low –
worships at Christalite Methodist Chapel. She works in Communications and enjoys reading, writing and walks in the green corners of Singapore.

Photos courtesy of ETHOS Institute for Public Christianity