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Authority in the Christian Life (Berthoud)

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Psalm 78 Ministries

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Authority in the Christian Life examines the definition, distinction, and necessary conditions for the just exercise of power from a biblical perspective. Probing the origin and purpose of authority, Berthoud delineates the various roles of the powers ordained by God and examines the jurisdictional bounds protecting the separation of powers. His insightful work deals with matters of crucial significance for the life of individuals and nations in the West. In confronting the issues of the day, Berthoud fearlessly addresses questions of authority, power, and force with penetrating biblical clarity and a clear-cut application to the contemporary world.


Table of Contents:

Introduction by Douglas Kelly

Prologue: Two Errors to Avoid

1. All Power Comes from God

2. Power is Always Personal

3. The Power of Mob Riots and the Disintegration of Authority

4. Why God Delegates a Differentiated Form of Power to Men and Women

5. Power, the Expression of God’s Love to His Creatures

6. The Lawful Exercise of the Temporal Power of the Sword

7. The Limits of Christian obedience to the Authority Ordained by God

8. Silence: Complicity with Evil

9. Obedience to God

10. Contemporary Practical Examples

11. Two Types of Power: the Magistrate and the Church

12. The Nature of Power within the Local Church

13. How Can a Christian Exercise Such Power?

14. Why Does God Require Such Relationships of Hierarchy and Subordination?

15. What Does the necessary Separation of Powers Mean?

16. Conclusion

Appendix: John MacArthur: Christ, not Caesar, is Head of the Church



"Berthoud’s book on authority is like cold water splashed on the face—shocking, awakening, and cleansing. Whether addressing authority in the state, the church, or the family, Berthoud brings the water of the Word with bold clarity. One need not agree with every detail of his vision to benefit from this call to uncompromised submission to God’s authority, which is the root of all authority." - Dr. Joel R. Beeke, President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids

"If you are not afraid of being confronted in your positions and opinions concerning the exercise of power and your relationship to civil and church authorities, this book is for you. In the tone of a prophet, the author addresses a straying Church, employing direct language and refusing to spare his reader. The theses he puts forward and the many examples he employs might disturb the citizen of the twenty-first century, but that’s the point. How else can consciences be reached in such a watered-down and consensual context? His theocentric exposition is founded on the biblical texts whose language he employs. At times one would think he is reading a Reformer. Piece by piece Berthoud dismantles the errors he discerns—and they are legion—and sheds a well-reasoned light on them. As some passages were written in the 1970s, their prophetic relevance is all the better measured half a century later. As a historian, he knows how to maintain a necessary distance from the political and ethical models particularly embraced since the beginning of the modern era. As a theologian, he vigorously traces the fabric of the spiritual warfare now at play in our world, showing the impact of a Church which ignores its responsibilities in the face of current challenges." - Dominique-Antonio Troilo, Theologian, Historian, Pastor (Switzerland)

"All men in general, and modern Americans in particular, have an innate resentment of divine authority. Jean-Marc Berthoud faithfully upholds the heritage of the Swiss Reformers in this faithful and timely reminder that submission to the authority of God in the home, the church, and the state is not bondage. Rather, submission to the authority of God is the only way to experience true liberty." - Pastor John Huffman, Belleville, Illinois