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Fear Today

More than any other philosopher, Thomas Hobbes highlighted the claim that fear serves as a foundation for establishing the authority of the sovereign ruler. But fear has served not only the cause of political authority. Fear has always played a central role in the evolution of morality and in the . . . . Continue Reading »

Not Power But Glory

Jews and Christians alike pledge a higher loyalty that they honor in ways that seem incomprehensible to the world.” So writes Fr. Romanus Cessario in “Non Possumus” (February). As an example of such incomprehensible devotion, he cites the kidnapping of the child Edgardo Mortara in 1858. The . . . . Continue Reading »

Don’t Ask the Kids

Distrust of authority is now the American norm. In 1964, 77 percent of Americans said that they trusted the government to do the right thing most of the time or all of the time. In 2012, only 22 percent of Americans agreed that the government could be trusted. When I was growing up in the 1960s, if . . . . Continue Reading »

Creeping Infallibility

Any sort of “creeping infallibility” that would attach the same level of authority to every papal utterance or document must be avoided. To fail to draw appropriate distinctions—whether between binding and non-binding documents of the ordinary magisterium, or between the development and the evolution of doctrine—is to dim the light of the Petrine ministry and impoverish the faithful. Continue Reading »

Authority, Given and Received

When Pontius Pilate warns Jesus that he has authority over life and death, Jesus reminds him, “you would have no authority over me, unless it had been given from above” (John 19:10–11). At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus assures his disciples that “all authority has been given to me in . . . . Continue Reading »

By What Authority?

If we are unclear as to the authority for our cultural transformative efforts, we run the risk of being transformed ourselves by the very culture we hope to change. In which case, there will be little difference between Niebuhr's “Christ transforming culture” and “Christ of culture.” Continue Reading »

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