Elements of Tyranny

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
I'm putting this here because I hope answers will not be tied to political specifics, or be mostly about civil government, but instead center on ecclesiastical authority. Principles may carry over, but maybe if comments are focused there will be more light than heat.

It seems to me that there are several ways for tyranny to occur, and I'm interested to see if more can be added, or if more detail can be brought out.

1. Tyranny results when the legitimate end of authority is subverted. I'm thinking here of 2 Corinthians 10:8 and 2 Corinthians 13:10, where Paul speaks of his authority as given for edification and not for destruction. He legitimately had authority; but had he used it for a purpose other than edification, it would have been tyranny. This could be called tyranny by rapacity.

2. Tyranny results when the legitimate scope of authority is exceeded. Diotrephes had no right to refuse messengers from the apostle, nor to discipline those who received them (3 John 9-10). It is not necessarily the case that Diotrephes had no authority; but it was beyond his sphere to override an apostle. To give a positive example in the other direction, Paul didn't just tell Apollos (1 Corinthians 16:12) or Philemon (v.14) what to do. An example from civil life would be the dad from the upstairs condo setting a bedtime for the kids from a different family who live downstairs. This could be called tyranny by usurpation.

3. Tyranny results when there is an arbitrary use of authority. To give a concrete example, a session certainly has the right to discipline an erring member; but if they excommunicate without following their own procedures and demonstrating sufficient cause, behaving as though rules bound others and not them, it is a wrong use of authority. A counterfactual example would be if Solomon had executed Shimei before the parole conditions had been violated (1 Kings 2:36-46). This could be called tyranny by autocracy.

Obviously, more than one of these could apply in a given circumstance, but my inclination is to say that any of the three by itself is sufficient for tyranny to be taking place.
 
Last edited:

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
I'd agree with you on those, Ruben. How does binding one's conscience in matters of adiaphora fall? I think I could put that into all of them.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
I suppose since "God alone is lord of the conscience" I'd be inclined to categorize that one under usurpation. If it's wrong to intrude into another's sphere of authority, what high-handed wrongness is it to intrude into what God has reserved for himself?
 
Top