Authority and Faith: A Dialogue


The story of the centurion is at once informative and illuminating as concerns the meaning and nature of faith. Messages are communicated one to the other, words are received, evaluated, acted upon, without the actual meeting of the centurion and Jesus. The centurion is a man of authority, “exousia”, that is his self-definition. Jesus affirms the faith of the centurion. How are authority and faith connected? Authority as exousia is that which originates deep within the human. It is that which, ex-ousia, emerges from the very structure of the human, from that without which the human cannot be. Authority in this sense is the existential foundation that determines the life and life history of the human. Authority is human narrative striving to remain grounded, and by this grounding, remains in relationship with its world. Authority creates its world and sustains it through nurture and self-understanding. Faith is the way in which the soul understands itself, as that which has its foundation in self-surrender, in order to uncover a more original ground that turns out to be self-reflective. Faith must surrender itself repeatedly to sustain the original ground. Faith is not cumulative, nor does it accumulate. It constantly sheds whatever adheres in order to be true to itself as “pistis” that which alone can know itself, its true nature, faith. Faith understands that it can never have a foundation and still remain faith. Faith nurtures itself through this self-surrender. Authority, in surrendering itself to miracle and wonder, shows itself as the self-reflection of faith.

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