Core Value 3: Authority

God is the only being with intrinsic authority; consequently, all human authority is delegated by him (Romans 13:1; Matthew 28:18).

  • Therefore we affirm that God has established three spheres of human government, and that he alone defines what their various responsibilities are.

Family government is for the upbringing and education of children, as well as for the nurturing of orderly human relationships in honour, discipline and love. The family is the basic unit of society (Ephesians 5:22–6:4; Deuteronomy 6:4–9).

Church government is for the spiritual well-being and ministry of God’s people (1 Corinthians 12:12–27; 1 Thessalonians 5:12–15; Hebrews 13:7, 17).

Civil government is for the well-ordering and protection of society; this includes the appropriate punishment of criminals (Romans 13:1–7).

  • We deny that any sphere of government is without accountability to God, and that any government may assume the responsibilities God has assigned to another sphere of authority. This means that, while there must be a separation of church and state, there is no separation of the state from God (Psalm 2; Revelation 11:15).


  1. Explain the importance of the words “intrinsic” and “delegated” in the opening statement.
  2. How do the opening statement and the affirmation contradict contemporary ideas about authority and government?
  3. Three responsibilities are identified as belonging to family government. Discuss specific ways in which those three responsibilities can be fulfilled by parents.
  4. What is the importance of “honour, discipline and love” in light of the last statement about the family?
  5. Think about the importance and benefit of church government. How can your church improve in its responsibilities?
  6. In what ways is the statement on civil government much more limiting than the way most civil governments operate?
  7. The denial refers to what is called “sphere sovereignty,” meaning that one sphere of government cannot take over responsibilities belonging to another sphere. In what ways do family, church and civil government try to assume each others’ responsibilities?
  8. How does the last statement of the denial correct common misunderstandings about the separation of church and state?


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