“An Analytical Framework Within Which to Analyze PCC Rules and Regulations” by Leibniz
Consider these hypothetical scenarios:
You are walking along in Cordova Mall minding your own business (in proper PCC attire, of course. . .). I come up to you out of nowhere and tell you to go hang up my coat for me in the nearest coat room. What is your reaction?
You need a ride back home from school, so I decide to give you a ride in my car. About an hour into the ride, I tell you to finish off my week-old soda that has been sitting in the sun for days on top of the dashboard. What is your reaction?
I imagine that your reaction to each of these hypothetical would by something like, “Take a hike, man!” This would, in fact, be an appropriate response, but why? Why is it that you would not do what I told you to do? The answer is simple – in neither case did I have the authority to make you do what I had told you to do. But this again begs the question, why not? What are the principles upon which you base this answer? What are the principles that you used to determine, correctly, that I did not have the authority to make you do either of these two acts I asked you to do?
This essay will provide you with the tools you need to analyze any rule, policy or regulation by any human entity, whether it be a government, business, home or PCC. The whole issue of authority is something that seems to be either ignored or greatly misunderstood by many Christians, and this is unfortunate. This is particularly unfortunate because authority is essentially a spiritual matter, and who should be the most aware of spiritual matters? Christians.
Many times Christians are afraid to recognize the fact that many concepts are difficult to understand and to figure out sometimes. This being the case, we often try to make everything black or white, right or wrong, and most things simply cannot be universally pigeon-holed into one or another of these categories. That is why God gave us minds, to figure things out for ourselves. When PCC adopts rule after rule after rule it is doing so because it is easier for them to make things black and white, whether or not they are
so, instead of dealing with the more difficult issue of recognizing that maybe many of these issues are personal matters and simply out of their hands.
God created us with a sense of responsibility toward each other, and when we violate the bounds of authority we breach this responsibility to our fellow man.
So, let us address the analytical structure, a context within which any problem of authority can be addressed. Please bear in mind that many of these points we have made many times before, they were just never tied in with each other into one system.
1.) AUTHORITY MUST BE ACQUIRED FROM A LEGITIMATE SOURCE
Authority means “privilege.” A privilege is something that is derived from another source. You or I cannot simply give ourselves authority.
Consider Hypothetical #1. The reason I cannot simply come up to you and demand that you hang my coat up for me is because no one gave me the authority over you. No matter how much I may want that authority, I cannot have it unless I acquire it from a legitimate source. Now, do not confuse “power” with “authority.” It is possible for a person to have both power and authority over you, but it is also possible that a person could have only power and not authority, or the other way around. If in our hypothetical I weigh 250 pounds and you only weigh 110, I possess the POWER to make you hang my coat up but not the right. However, if I am your 65 year old father who has one leg amputated from service in Vietnam and you are a 250 pound young man, I may have the authority to make you hang up my coat but not the power.
Consider these passages of Scripture:
Mark 13:34 Master gave authority to his servants
Luke 9:1 Christ gave authority to disciples
John 5:26, 27 God the Father gave God the Son authority
Acts 9:13,14 Chief Priests gave Saul authority
II Cor. 10:8 God gave Paul authority
So, the bottom line is that whenever anyone states a claim to authority over you, they must have acquired that authority from a legitimate source. This, too, begs the question. What is a “legitimate source”?
2.) ALL AUTHORITY RESIDES IN GOD
Since all of you are attending a Christian college, it is doubtful that anyone would disagree with this statement of principle. But just in case there is any doubt, consider these passages of Scripture:
God created everything. By His very nature, and by the very nature of the relationship between a creator and its creation, God possesses all authority over us, His creation. He can simply tell us to do whatever He wants, and it will be legitimate. This point really needs no more explanation, but keep it in mind, for it is the foundational element of this whole discussion.
3.) FOUR DIRECT GRANTS OF AUTHORITY FROM GOD
Since in God all authority resides, it would naturally follow that any claim to authority must have been acquired from the ultimate legitimate source, which is God. If someone who is claiming authority can point to a direct grant from God to do that which they claim to have the right to do, then the issue is over. That person may enforce that authority. But how often has God granted authority in a direct way? Four human entities have been given direct authority from God.
By the act of procreation we are creating a responsibility over which God has not only given us the authority to exercise, but He has given us a command to do so. Consider the first part of Genesis 1:28. Here God has given us the direct right and command to produce families. With this right comes the authority to raise children according to the principles of Scripture. This is laid out in Ephesians 6:4 and Genesis 18:9, among others. Therefore, we have a right, or the authority, by a direct grant from God to create and raise families according to Scriptural principles.
Note that this grant of authority was NOT given to the state or the church (or a college). Just as the state/church does not have the authority to cross over into the family’s rights, so too the family does not have the authority to cross over into that of other institutions which have received direct grants from God. (This is a qualified principle, however, which goes beyond the scope of this discussion.)
The church has also been given a direct grant of authority from God to do certain things. Recognize, however, that this is a limited grant. It extends only to what has been prescribed in the New Testament.
The church may remove certain members – I Corinthians 5:9-13. The church has the authority to settle disputes among its members – I Corinthians 6:1-8. You understand the point. The church is an organization that has been given certain authority to do certain things.
Now, can it simply require its members to do whatever it wants by imposing all kinds of rules and regulations, even if the purpose and ends are good? No! It cannot cross the boundaries which have been set for it by God. However, if we use the logic of PCC, a church could do whatever it wanted to its members because “they decided to go there and could leave at anytime.” Well it should be obvious when looking at it within the context of a church that the church cannot simply do anything it wants.
This refers to human government. The state, too, has been given direct authority to do certain things, and like the church and family, its authority is limited to what has been prescribed in Scripture.
It may punish evildoers – I Peter 2:13,14.
It may encourage those who do good – Romans 13:1-6.
It cannot violate God’s laws – Acts 23:2,3; Leviticus 19:15.
Much of our political debate hinges on what is the proper role and authority of the government. Our Constitution is based on the principle that the government can only exercise “those powers SPECIFICALLY enumerated” to it, and it is ironic that probably some of the biggest “conservatives” on campus – those who advocate a limited government – are also the ones who would criticize us the loudest for our advocacy of limited authority at PCC.
We have often used the analogy of the government and how although we decide whether or not we want to reside in a particular jurisdiction, this does not give the government free reign to impose whatever kinds of regulations it wants. It is still subject to its “enumerated powers.” So, too, PCC is subject to its enumerated powers. Consider these three reasons why it is important to understand the limitations placed on government, and see if you can’t relate them to PCC.
First, man is created by God and is therefore subject to the sovereign authority of his Creator. Second, Man, having been created in the image of God, is worthy of respect by those who govern him. Third, man is a sinner and therefore not to be trusted with unlimited authority.
The fourth category of human divisions that has been given a direct grant of authority from God is the individual. Please note at the outset that like the family, church and state, individuals also have a
limited grant of authority – I Corinthians 7:37; Genesis 2:16. That which is commanded by God, we have the authority to do. This should not be subject to any debate. If God tells us to do something, we obviously have a right to complete it.
The second aspect of the individual’s authority is very complex. This is the authority over private property, or what is also known as the “Dominion mandate” – Genesis 1:28. We have been given the right to own property and therefore the authority to do with it as we see fit, subject to God’s principles of course.
Here is where many of the controversies will lie. Consider Hypothetical #2. You are in my car, my property. However, does this give me free reign? Of course not. Then where is the line to be drawn. Here it is, and understand this important principle: authority over personal property only extends to prohibitive commands which affect the use of that property. Note that there are two aspects: prohibition, and the command must affect the property. In other words, when I told you to finish off that old, flat, warm soda, this was not a prohibition and had nothing to do with an affect on my property, namely my car. Had I told you not to smoke in my car, this would be perfectly legitimate because it fits both levels of the definition. It is a prohibiton which affects my property. Even if drinking the soda would
somehow affect the car, say by making it smell better, since it was not prohibitive (I’m making you do something affirmative), it doesn’t qualify for the property grant of authority.
This can be fairly complicated and there may be other issues involved, but if you understand these two principles, you can handle most any problem. Now, where does this definition come from? It comes from volumes and volumes of historical, social and philosophical beliefs that are consistent with the purpose and understanding of the dominion mandate. In other words, it is too vast to go into here.
4.) INDIRECT GRANTS OF AUTHORITY
We have seen that four distinct groups have been given authority by God, but what about everything else, i.e., business, college, employment, etc.? There is still one more level of analysis left. This, too, can be fairly complicated, but the basic principles are clear.
We have the authority to contract with each other to give up our rights and authority in exchange for another’s rights and/or authorities. This is commonly referred to as THE RIGHT TO DELEGATE. We are free to make binding agreements – Genesis 9:12; Joshua 24:25; Genesis 21:27. One of these agreements may be to give up some of our authority – Luke 20:1-8. But note these two principles: First, we can only delegate that which we have. Second, it cannot violate the laws of God.
Therefore, when I accept a job, I am delegating some of my authority to the employer in exchange for his right over a certain amount of the proceeds he/she receives from selling a product or service that I produce by means of a contractual arrangement. But again we must address the question of whether or not the employer therefore has free reign to impose whatever rule he/she wants to over you. Again, of course not. Here is the principle: the rules must be consistent with the purpose and effect of the agreement. An
employer, in most circumstances, cannot tell you what to do when you go to your own home. Why? Because this doesn’t have anything to do with the purpose or effect of the contractual agreement. If, however, what you do at home does affect the purpose or effect of the agreement – say, a no smoking policy for professional athletes – this would be legitimate because it deals with the purpose and effect of the agreement.
5.) PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
A. We can exercise any authority that has been directly granted by God.
B. We can exercise any authority that has been delegated from a direct grant from God.
C. Therefore, any rule/regulation/law/policy must be traceable back to God through this analysis; if it cannot be, then it is illegitimate.
6.) SOME EXAMPLES
Ok, that’s all well and good, you may be saying, but how about translating this into real life. How can a rule be analyzed through this analysis? Good question. Let’s see if we can’t try it out. . .
Consider the rule that requires students to not chew gum in buildings. The authority for this must have been acquired from a legitimate source. Was it acquired directly from God? No. Does the college have a subsidiary direct grant of authority from God through one of the four specified groups to prohibit gum in its buildings? Sort of. While it is not a family, church or state, it does qualify for some individual authority under the dominion mandate principle. The buildings are its property, so let’s see if the rule meets the definition of authority over personal property. Remember, it must meet two elements: (1) a prohibition that (2) affects the property. A rule prohibiting the chewing of gum is, obviously, a prohibition. The reason for this rule is so that the property is “protected.” Therefore, this rule is a valid use of authority.
How about the rule that requires you to leave the Pensacola area after the semester is out? Again, the authority for this must have been acquired from a legitimate source. Did it come directly from God? No. Does it fall into one of the four subsidiary direct grants from God? It does not fall under the family, church or state categories because a college is not one of these institutions. Within the individual category, the rule does not seek to carry out one of God’s directives, so this doesn’t apply. It has nothing to do with personal property so the dominion mandate doesn’t apply. Even if we said it somehow did, and while it could properly be defined as “prohibitive,” it does not in any way affect the property itself.
Does it fall under the contractual, delegation of authority principle, because this is the only category left? It will be an easy temptation for the administration to try to group everything that cannot be grouped anywhere else into this category. However, it must be remembered that the rule must
have something to do with the purpose or effect of the agreement. The purpose of the agreement between the student and the school is essentially that the student will pay a certain amount of money for a Christian
education, and the agreement only extends from the beginning of the semester to the end. Even with a very liberal interpretation of “Christian education,” this rule cannot be said to further this purpose, neither does it fall within the applicable time frame.
It has nothing to do with education. It has nothing to do with the type of environment you live in. It has nothing to do with the essential reason that you attended PCC. It is a rule that has been invoked solely on the basis that PCC feels it needs that extra little bit of control over your life. This is not a valid use of authority, and based on the framework of analysis, not a legitimate rule.
Now, consider one more. How about the rule that says when two people of the opposite sex are sitting outside (or in the commons?) together, they may not open their Bible together? If this is not a correct interpretation of the rule, or if it has been changed, please let us know. But if this is, in fact, a rule, we don’t even need to do an analysis because this rule causes you to violate a clear Scriptural command – to study God’s word on your own free time (this is awfully close to what happened to Daniel in the Old Testament). When any rule violates God’s law, it is automatically illegitimate. No one has the right to tell you when you can and cannot open your Bible! This is not Cuba!
In fact, this is one of the instances that spurred us on to create The Student Voice. This is the most blatant abuse of authority that we have seen anywhere in a long time. Not even a public college would prohibit this. In fact, this is so bogus and blatantly offensive to the very essence of Christianity, that if it is still the rule, we encourage all of you to pair up with someone of the opposite sex and open your Bible in defiance of this blatantly tyrannical rule. Well, what about the idea that even if a rule is
wrong you still have to obey because you agreed? You cannot rightfully agree to disobey God’s law. It’s that simple.
Problems are easy to spot and to criticize. Solutions to solve these problems, however, are not quite as easy to develop. This framework of analysis is a solution to our own criticism. This can be applied to any rule adopted by any human organization. Remember, the principles are the same no matter what kind of organization you are dealing with. They don’t change simply because a college is the object of inquiry, and they don’t diminish in relevance simply because a student “decides to go there.” Remember, a
student cannot give up any authority that he or she doesn’t have in the first place.
We welcome any criticism of this system or the underlying philosophy that guides it. We also recognize that this has been more of an overview than an in-depth study, so we also welcome any questions regarding something we talked about but maybe didn’t make as clear as you would have liked.