January 1983 · Vol. 12 No. 1 · p. 2 

In This Issue: Authority

Allen R. Guenther

The world was simpler when one knew where to turn for a final answer. An authority that rested in the family or in other elders of the community left relatively few traumatic decisions to the individual. He/she could elect to remain a part of the community or enter another, adventurous and threatening world of individual decision-making.

In the twentieth century Christians have the issue of authority thrust on them at every turn. In what and in whom does authority lodge? That is the subject of this issue.

For Christians, the Bible is the authoritative Word of God. The current debates over inerrancy are, at root, a concern with authority. Steve Miller points out, however, that affirming the doctrine of inerrancy does not guarantee that the Scriptures will function as authoritative for us. The tests of the power of our conviction of the trustworthiness of the Scriptures lie in our faithfulness in interpreting and applying their truth.

Anthropologist and Bible translator raises a tantalizing question concerning one aspect of interpretation: “Can it be real if it is expressed in Metaphor?” His question sharpens Miller’s case by implicitly pointing out that the authoritative Word also comes to us in other than baldly “literal” forms.

Historically, the primary method of communicating Biblical truth to the Christian community has been by way of the homily. Mervin Dick explores the matter of how the preacher might do that so as to convince and lead the congregation without coercing or controlling them.

The authority of church leadership extends beyond the platform or the pulpit. How does/should the leader in the local church and the brotherhood exercise his/her leadership function? George Shillington interviewed, separately, four Canadian Mennonite Brethren leaders (who have come from different parts of Canada) on this issue. Their views show an amazing correspondence, possibly the result of much dialogue, but perhaps also the consequences of a keen sense of brotherhood within the Canadian Mennonite Brethren constituency.

Ken Reddig, Canadian Conference Archivist, and his American counterparts, Wes Prieb and Paul Toews, continue to supply us with tidbits to whet our appetites for the banquet of delights found in our history.

The reader is invited to follow Steve Miller’s lead in responding to issues raised in Direction. Normally these will be edited down to one page but when they are particularly well argued . . .