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.

Samuel Wilberforce Reforms the Role of Bishops

This is the day that … Samuel Wilberforce was born in Clapham, England, in 1805.

His father was William Wilberforce, famous parliamentarian who fought for the abolition of the slave trade – and won.

Raised in the evangelical tradition, young Samuel was “not particularly studious” during his education at Oxford, but set his sights on “holy orders” and was ordained to the Church of England priesthood in 1829.

He also “set his sights” on Emily Sargent, a vicar’s daughter (“she was 13 and I was 15 when I saw her first. And we never changed our minds!”) They married in 1828.

One biographer tells us how he “learned the Epistle to the Ephesians by heart” (19th Century Preachers, by J. Edwards, page 142).

As his ministry continued he came under the influence of John Henry Newman and Edward Pusey, leaders in what was called the “Oxford Movement” (not to be confused with the Oxford Group movement). This High Church teaching, with its Romeward emphasis, caused a major upheaval in 19th century Anglicanism.

Wilberforce remained loyal to the Church of England, even displaying “a passionate hatred of Rome” (Dictionary of English Church History, page 634), whilst many of his friends and direct relatives, including his son-in-law, seceded to the authority of the Pope.

His wife died in March, 1841.

He became Bishop of Oxford on 30 November, 1843, and “so began the most memorable episcopate of modern times” (ibid).

Controversies raged about him but “his eloquence and ready wit excelled in reconciling men of diverse opinions, hence his nickname of ‘Soapy Sam’” (Concise Universal Biography, page 1394).

Moreover he laboured to quicken the zeal of the clergy. The whole modern concept of a bishop constantly in touch with his diocese … instead of sitting silently by sipping unending cups of tea, or spending time fox hunting … begins with Bishop Samuel Wilberforce.

Dean Burgon called him “the remodeller of the Episcopate” – one who changed the face of the role of bishop in the Church of England.

He held firmly to the ‘doctrine’ of baptismal regeneration and of apostolic succession.

On 19 July, 1873, his life was suddenly cut short due to a fall from his horse.

His sons also attained significant posts within the church, continuing the family influence in English religion and politics.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at