Weekend Thought by the Rev Brian Stenner

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AUTHORITY is not a word which is popular today.

In this age of protest, occupations, strikes and general discontent, we see a rising tide of challenges to authority in all its many aspects.

Criminals disdain the authority of the law, children disrupt the authority of teachers, atheists dispute the authority of the church and its teachings and many of us are, at least, dubious about the authority of government.

Authority may be seized by force, it may be gained through the ballot box, it may be earned by experience, training and gifting but leaders are learning that authority must also be granted to them by those whom they seek to rule.

Dictators in the Middle East have been shown in violent fashion the outcome of authority which does not have the allegiance of the people.

It remains to be seen whether the authority which emerges there will have legitimacy and acceptance.

It is interesting to note that in these countries there is a widespread allegiance to a religious text to which, I have no doubt, the new ruling parties will appeal.

Nearer to home, we are facing a probable conflict over authority as the European Union battles to solve the Euro currency crisis.

The preferred option in Germany is to promote closer administrative and legislative ties between the member nations. In other words, to create an authority with powers to direct the participating states as to how they order their finances.

If Britain becomes part of this solution, it will render elections superfluous.

Parliament will only be able to legislate on minor matters not involving expenditure. The purse strings will be firmly held in Brussels and the authority will be exercised by unelected bureaucrats.

If that ever happens, even I might be found in the company of those challenging authority.

Thank God there is one authority to whom I can wholeheartedly submit in the confidence that he has my best interests at heart.