Why do we need authority? Because authority contributes irreplaceably to the larger task of cultural development, says David T. Koyzis in his review of Victor Lee Austin’s Up with Authority:
Austin believes there is a paradoxical quality to any discussion of ecclesial authority, because the church is not just another “mini-society” or voluntary association among other such associations. Yet neither is it an “umbrella” society presiding over everything else. It defies any attempt to categorize it: “The church is not a political society and will never be one, but its mission is to point to one peculiar and ultimate political society: a kingdom of citizens who freely obey and follow their King, who live in a city of which their Lord is the light.”
Throughout the book, Austin emphasizes that authority is always personal authority. It resides in persons and not in things. Despite a seemingly vigorous corporate ecclesiology, he nevertheless affirms that “authority resides in the individual believer.” The church cannot exist without its individual members and their confession of faith in Jesus Christ. The church quite properly has its offices, creeds, traditions, and, above all, the Scriptures. Yet authority in the full sense is to be found in none of these by itself: “Authority resides in the individual believer who, inspired by the Holy Spirit, proclaims faithfully her allegiance to the suffering Jesus, and thus to her Lord, and thus to the Triune Reality that is the source of all authority in heaven and earth.” Yet the individual’s confession of faith is dependent on the larger community which authorizes her to make this confession.