In any case, let's get things going with a bit of a bang. Authority takes on many forms: absolute, provisional, juridical, religious, etc. On St. Cynic, I deal almost exclusively with religious issues. Given that, let's take a look at the definition of religious authority, how it is expressed, enforced, and whether it is legitimate.
For example, Reformation theologians didn't subvert the notion of religious authority, they simply removed it from the hands of a highly corrupt papacy. Their emphasis -- at least in the Lutheran circles -- was on the freedom of the individual conscience to apply the moral standards, salvific message, and confessional doctrines of Scripture and the Book of Concord. Catholics charge that this is an abrogation from the papacy and the absolutist claim the Roman church had on Scripture, tradition, faith and morals. In both cases, each ecclesial communion based their claims on an absolutist sense of truth, and an assumed unerring interpretation of holy writ and tradition. In both cases, both factions viewed each other's 'authority' as illegitimate.
So, my question is, first, what is authority? And second, how can authority be properly expressed, enforced, and legitimized? Finally, do we even need religious authority; that is, is it essential?
What are your thoughts?