Meeting Times at 4th United Presbyterian Church

Cafe' Worship: 9:15 a.m. each Sunday in Gathering Hall (activities provided for children; coffee; snacks)
Adult Sunday School: 10 a.m.

Sunday Worship: 11 a.m.

Bible Study: each Thursday at 6 p.m.

Community Forum: last Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. with meal (no community forum in November, 2011)

About the 4th United Presbyterian Bible Blog

Posts on this blog are from me, Rev. George H. Waters, one of the two organizing co-pastors of 4th United Presbyterian Church. Our other organizing pastor was Rev. Sonya McAuley-Allen, who is now pastor of a church in Charlotte, N.C. Since June of 2011, Rev. Elizabeth Peterson has been our parish associate pastor for new church development. The earliest posts are sermon notes from the few I have typed the last two years. Then, there is a series of notes posted on the book of Romans. After that, it varies from week to week, sometimes church news, sometimes reflections on a happening, a passage of scripture, or even some pictures. This blog is meant to open the conversation we have going on in our church to others in our community.

The picture below is of our church's sanctuary, built in 1913.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I am grateful for a certain distrust of human authority that was passed on to me with a deep and sure confidence in Divine authority.

If you look at the Ten Commandments, there is the Great Authority, God, above all. And, then there is at the human level only one authority established: parents.

That's about enough authority for me. Every other form of authority is simply necessary as a practical and organizational matter, but not essential to life.

I just don't buy that it is to be assumed that there is Divine legitimacy to political authorities and authorities in society. I know this emphasis about all authority being established by God is included in Scripture - most particularly in Romans 13 - but so much of Scripture is critical and even undermines this teaching about "rulers of this world." Even Paul's own teaching in 1 Corinthians, chapter 1 seems all about challenging every human authority in light of God's revelation in Jesus' death. Also, consider the Bible's view of the authority of Pharoah in Egypt, or of King Ahab in Israel, or the Roman authority at the time of Revelation to John. And, consider how Paul dealt with Roman and Jewish authorities and ended up in prison again and again for it. So, I have to interpret what Paul wrote in Romans 13 about respecting authority in context of what he wrote in other letters, what he did, and what is written in other parts of Scripture. As I interpret passages like this, I also seek understanding from the experience I have in life of God's guidance and truth in dealing with authorities.

Authority and authorities play an important role in human life. The real trick I guess is to figure out how any particular authority is in relation to the Great Authority to determine if that authority has a measure of legitimacy. It is also important to realize that each one of us has to exercise authority in our lives whether we recognize it or not. I might say that all authority is to be suspected, but then what about my "parental authority" or "pastoral authority" or the authority I have over certain matters in the legal system. Yes, we all have a sphere in which we exercise authority. And, yes, it is good to be a little suspicious of all authority, even our own. Because there is only One who has authority that is beyond question.

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