Up with Authority, by Victor Lee Austin

The point of Up with Authority is to show that we cannot succeed at being human beings—we cannot have a flourishing human life—without the functioning of authority in the multiple dimensions within which we live. Fr Austin attempts to demonstrate this reality in four fundamental dimensions of human life that pertain to freedom, truth, power, and God. And Fr Austin argues that this necessity of authority does not come upon us because of some tragic flaw in human beings. Rather, the necessity of authority is a manifestation of the glory of being human. Even “perfect” human beings need authority. Fr Austin's argument includes the claim that unsinful human beings need authority even more than sinners. Authority is built into what it means to be human, and we never will escape from needing it for our flourishing.

Read more in the T&T Clark Blog


From the description of this book in the Michael Ramsey Prize shortlist:

Authority is something we experience every day, but is it necessary? Many think that it is not, and that it exists only as a remedy for some defect in us. Victor Lee Austin sets about exploring the higher and nobler functions of authority, and in doing so reveals its human importance as more than simply a provision for human inadequacies.

A significant contribution to Christian anthropology, the book illuminates an indispensable feature of human sociality: the need for, and the good provided by, authority. In enabling us to do more complex activities, to gain and communicate understanding of the world around us and to flourish in political communities, authority ultimately leads us to enjoy God.

Victor Lee Austin makes a unique contribution to political theology by deliberating the ways that authority functions both socially and epistemologically. The field of ecclesiology is also enriched by the book’s discussion of authority as at once necessary and fallible. Those interested in the work of Michael Polanyi, Yves Simon, or Oliver O’Donovan will find these authors brought into the broader conversation about authority in an engaging way.


Paperback: 192 pages

This book is available below through Saint Thomas Church, and is also available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and elsewhere.

See also:
Fr Austin's Winter 2011 Theology Lecture: What's Up with Authority?


Price: $29.95