Authority Confusion

Recent discussion about whether present day Governments can legislate away our long-term rights and such things as our Common Law rights prompts me to discuss “Authority Confusion”, or, better put, “Jurisdictional Confusion”.

An analogy or two might be helpful, to open the subject.

Analogy 1 – The Military Commander

Imagine a Military Commander who instructs his army to invade a particular region and take the cities. In the process a young soldier realises that the region they are invading belongs to the broader realm of the King he serves. He asks his Sergeant to explain what is going on. The soldier is told that the Military Commander decided to bring that region under military control, instead of the King’s control.

The soldier eventually challenges the Military Commander. “Sir, how can we invade our own land and violate our own nation and King?”

The Military Commander explains that the King gave him the right to rule the army and so he is doing with it what seems best to him.

Jurisdictional Confusion

Do you see the Authority confusion there? Can you see the Jurisdictional confusion?

The Military Commander draws his authority from the King who appointed him. He has jurisdiction over the army, on behalf of the King, not independently of the King. The Military Commander violates his own authority, abandoning the right to hold it, once he attacks the very authority who gave him his position and jurisdiction.

Analogy 2 – The McDonald’s Manager

Imagine a man who is promoted to Manager of a McDonald’s hamburger outlet. Once in that position he chooses to change the recipe for the burgers, give free burgers to his friends and add a few home cooked products from his mum.

When the customers and staff ask him why he is doing it he explains that he is the manager now and can do what he likes.

That is ridiculous, because he only has authority as a manager because he is in the employ of the company. Once he mocks the company by abusing the position of responsibility and trust they have given him, he disqualifies himself from the role of manager. He will be sacked.

Conferring Authority

Authority is conferred. The authority of the Australian Government, for example, has been conferred upon it. Centuries of British legal and cultural heritage, with Christianity, the Holy Bible, Common Law, application of Natural and Divine Law, the Westminster System, Imperial Decrees, Maritime Law, and so on, have conferred on the present Government the responsibilities they currently hold. The people of Australia hold authority as the “electors’ parliament” and need to confer their personal vote to a government in order for that government to have authority to govern.

Captain James Cook, operating under Maritime Law, subject to the Crown of England and the British Parliament, anchored in Common Law, based on Natural Law and Divine Law, based upon the Person, Place and Values of Almighty God as expressed in the Imperial Document the Holy Bible (King James Version), provided the basis for today’s Government of Australia.

When a Government violates and rejects the principles upon which that very Government has been established it invalidates itself.

No Government or Parliamentary System can destroy its own foundations, violate the principles on which it stands, or revoke the rights, responsibilities and privileges upon which it is established without making a mockery of its own existence.

Subverting Authority

However “power corrupts” and so politicians and legislators are not above the temptation to distort reality, arrogate privileges to themselves and violate the rights of others. What is happening in modern societies is the assertion of the exclusive rights of the present forms of Government, independently of the basis on which they stand.

High Court rulings, Statute Laws and University text books notwithstanding, reality has not changed. A wrong decision does not dictate a new reality. Foolishness does not destroy wisdom. Lies do not render the truth powerless.

Powerful People

People, who are free indeed, by Divine Law, Natural Law, Common Law and their cultural and legal heritage, should not be fooled by those who tell them that they no longer possess that freedom.

In Australia we also have the Australian Constitution to further affirm our personal freedoms.

And notice what happens each time we are asked to vote. Our politicians come to us hat-in-hand at each election asking us to confer upon them the authority which we hold as Australians. Without our permission they cannot hold office.

We are not pawns of the Parliament, but they are our servants, as their repeated appeals for our votes affirm.

True Freedom

Parliamentarians do not determine our freedoms. Those freedoms are ours from creation and through history. Parliamentarians and legislators can only operate within a narrow margin of function. Any intention on their part to cross those boundaries reveals that they are unworthy of the trust placed in them and are ready to violate the very authority on which they stand.

Thomas Binney Preaches with Power

Thomas Binney was born on April 30, 1798, at Newcastle-on-Tyne, England. The author of Great Modern Preachers (1875) (a curious volume where the author’s name is nowhere mentioned), Thomas Binney is described as “one of the greatest non-conformist preachers of these 40 years …” (page 81).

For 40 years he pastored the King’s Weigh House Chapel (Congregational) in Eastcheap, London … “his powerful preaching making it one of the most influential churches in the United Kingdom” (Famous Birthdays, by G. Powell, page 61).

Twice he was elected president of the Congregational Union.  He wrote 50 books … and pioneered liturgical services, introducing anthems and chants into non-conformist churches …

One of his hymns is still found in today’s hymnals:
Eternal Light!  Eternal Light!
How pure the soul must be,
When, placed within Thy searching sight
it shrinks not, but with calm delight
can live, and look on Thee.

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Binney was a forthright an conscientious man, who claimed the right to criticize everything national, including the Church of England. He was credited with saying that ‘the State Church damned more souls than it saved’ and his outspoken denunciations had great influence in the formation of the Tractarian movement.

He strongly advocated universal fellowship among Christians, seeking to reform and unite the Christian church. And he was keenly interested in political issues, including the British colonies; Australia in particular.

By 1833 his Weigh House chapel had to be extended, as his practical and forthright preaching drew growing crowds. His preaching motivated men to go to the colonies, such as John Brown, Robert Gouger and RD Hanson who won prominence in South Australia, and John Fairfax (newspaperman), David Jones (retailer) and John West in New South Wales. In 1836 Binney was the virtual founder of the Colonial Missionary Society which by 1856 had supplied nearly three-quarters of the Congregational ministers in Australia and Canada. His name became known to thousands of emigrants by his published sermons and by petitions from the Weigh-House in support of colonial self-government.

When he visited Australia in 1858/59 he met with overwhelming acceptance, from religious and political leaders, as well as the general population, from the well-to-do to shearers and simple country folk.

He wrote devotional verse and several of his published sermons circulated widely. He also influenced improvements in the form of worship of Noncomformist churches.

Dr Thomas Binney died in 1874.

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This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at:

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Frank William Boreham Australian Preacher

Frank William Boreham was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England on March 3, 1871. He was one of ten children and his birth coincided with the end of the Franco-Prussian War. He said in later life that “Salvoes of artillery and peals of bells echoed across Europe on the morning of my birth.”

His biographer, T. Howard Crago, tells the odd story of a gipsy woman who gazed into the child’s face when he was but four months old and said to the nurse-girl, “Tell his mother to put a pen in his hand and he’ll never want for a living.”  It may well be that the telling of this story by mother to son in after years inspired F.W.B. to become a best-selling author.  His 46 volumes and numerous small booklets have become collector’s items.  Kregal Publications (USA) recently republished his “Great Text Series” under the title “Life Verses”.

Warren Wiersbe writes, “Fortunate is the pastor who gets to know and love the writings of Boreham” (Walking with the Giants, page 153).
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Boreham heard the great American preacher Dwight L Moody during his youth and that may have influenced his ideas of compelling preaching.

At the age of 14 he was to lose his right foot in a railway accident. During his long stay in hospital a Roman Catholic nurse broadened his understanding of the broader faith community.

Two years later (with an artificial foot) we find him living and working in London and attending a non-conformist church where he was converted, and “from now on,” his biographer tells us, “his interests and activities were to centre increasingly in Christian things.”

He was baptised, Easter Tuesday 1890, applied for training in Spurgeon’s Pastor’s College (“the last student that Spurgeon personally selected”), and after graduation headed ‘down under’ … first to New Zealand to pastor the Baptist Church at Mosgiel, Dunedin, from March 1895.

It was in Dunedin that Boreham began his writing career, providing religious content for the local newspaper. Other pastorates took him to Hobart (Tasmania) and Armadale and Kew (Victoria).

Nearly 50 books came from his pen.  He also wrote as a regular Saturday columnist for “The Age” newspaper in Melbourne.

Dr Boreham wrote reflections on Biblical stories, homespun parables, and reflections on the best works of others, such as Catherine Booth, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Abraham Lincoln. Boreham gave over one hundred addresses in that latter category.

“Thousands of copies of his books were sold every year.  He was well known on radio.  Christ was always central to his ministry” (20th Century Dictionary of the Christian Church, page 66).

But Boreham was not only gifted with the pen. Many of his books are simply documentations of his messages which were hugely popular as live presentations.

T Howard Crago reported that Boreham’s address titled ‘The Other Side of the Hill’ (a variation of which was entitled ‘The Sunny Side of the Ranges’), was preached 80 times and an address titled ‘The House that Jack Built’ was given 140 times to churches which requested Dr Boreham to give this lecture as a community fund raiser.

Boreham’s earlier works tended to be long-winded, until, as is said of his later writings “the terse Boreham” had arrived. Following criticism for his excessive wordiness, Boreham worked hard to achieve a simple and flowing style. That done, his books became internationally popular.

So powerful were Boreham’s written sermons that some people doubted that Boreham could preach such wonderful messages to the standard they are written. Dr James Hastings, editor of the Dictionary of the Bible, noted that “Mr. Boreham is an artist. Every sermon is constructed. Every thought is in its place, and appropriately expressed. And there are no marks left in the constructing. To the literary student, as to the average reader of sermons, every sermon is literature.” The question of Boreham’s preaching was answered by Howard Crago, saying, “The fact was, of course, that each of these sermons was preached from memory in almost the exact words in which it was printed”.

One account of Rev Boreham’s preaching says, “Boreham came-spoke-and conquered! He spoke for an hour; but the minutes passed by on shimmering wings. He speaks quite as well as he writes-the voice is strong and sweet; ringing, yet winning, and the word lives in the message. ‘The House That Jack Built’ was a brilliant drama, staged and performed by the author. And his control of the audience! A happy and original introduction; apposite stories from history, science, and romance, related with telling effect; soft touches on the varying notes of the human soul, making it tremble with childlike laughter, and then a sudden chord of richer music with concentrated and arresting power-while the listener perceives God through smiles.”

Rev F W Boreham notionally retired in 1928 at age 57, but continued to preach and write. He died in Melbourne almost thirty years later, on May 18, 1959. Not long before Boreham’s death, in early 1959, evangelist Dr Billy Graham sought Boreham out, in deference to his extensive and popular writings.

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This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: