Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Authority (6) - Delegated

According to the dictionaries, delegated authority has the following meanings:

delegated authority is an authority obtained from another that has authority authority does not naturally exist.
empowering someone else to act for you.
assignment to others of the authority for particular functions and decisions
authority assigned to another.
When a person with authority assigns some of their authority to another, that person has delegated authority. It is real authority, but it is authority that they do not have in their own right. They only hold the authority because someone has given it to them. If that person withdraws the authority, the person with delegated is powerless.

The centurion had delegated authority. He was just an ordinary man, but the Roman empire had given him absolute authority over a hundred men, and authority over an area of Judea where Jesus travelled. This delegated authority gave him the right to make people do things. He could have forced Jesus to carry his pack for a couple of miles, if the had chosen to do that.

Bureaucracies hold delegated authority. They are staffed by ordinary people who would not normally be seen as impressive. They can force people to obey regulations and pay taxes, because they have authority delegated by laws passed by the parliament.

Delegated authority is usually limited to a specific sphere of control. The delegation usually includes a definition of the scope of the authority that is being assigned.

Christians have developed a doctrine of delegated authority that has done a great deal of harm. The idea is that God has delegated authority to various people and institutions that function in modern society. People are expected to obey these authorities, because their authority has been delegated by God. The doctrine of delegated authority is a fraud, because it claims authority that has never been given by God.

The doctrine of delegated authority has a religious form and a political form.

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