(Tim) Preparing to preach tomorrow on Matthew 21:23 ff., the question the chief priests and elders of the people asked of Jesus reminded me of the attack of Charles Chauncy on Jonathan Edwards and the other preachers of the Great Awakening:
When (Jesus) entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him while He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?” (Matthew 21:23)
Isn't this always the question the status quo, official Christianity, the powers that be, or Kierkegaard's "Christendom" asks of true heralds of Christ: "By what authority are you doing these things?"
So no, although there are clear and significant problems that accompany bypassing proper authority, particularly when it's ecclesiastical authority, the dangers of letting that authority silence you when you are a herald of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are much greater...
Every time we look back at the New School/Old School conflict, we must stop and consider this question officialdom asked of our Lord, as well as His answer:
Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men?”
And they began reasoning among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the people; for they all regard John as a prophet.” And answering Jesus, they said, “We do not know.”
He also said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things" (Matthew 21:24-27).
So, was the preaching of Edwards from heaven or earth?