by Kenneth Frazier
Sentry Magazine, June 2000
The two terms, "subjective and objective," are defined by the dictionary as follows:
Subjective: Relating to the subject of mental states, the ego; proceeding from or taking place within the thinking subject: opposed to objective.
Objective: Having independent existence or authority, apart from experience or thought.
Under the definition of subjective the dictionary adds, "in a brief phrase, it may be said that subjective relates to something within the mind, objective to something without (that is, outside of) [the mind]." Thus when relating these two terms to the matter of religious authority we see that subjective authority is that of emotion, experience. and feelings, while objective authority is located outside of and independent of the ego, emotion, or feelings.
Subjective authority is the "better felt than told" or "I found it" appeal. One who experiences some great emotional uplift may falsely relate that experience to salvation. Whether one senses or feels something within has no direct bearing on whether they have done the will of God. God has never required emotional experiences as conditions of pardon. What he has and does require is obedience to revealed doctrine (Hebrews 5:9; Romans 6:16).
Subjective authority makes each person his own authority. Not all persons feel the same thing or react the same to the same circumstance. If salvation depended on one's feelings many would be lost. Some people never cry, some never laugh, some never experience the "roll on the floor" emotional kicks that characterize some revivals.
Authority for speaking in an unknown tongue is decidedly subjective. Listening to them tell of their experiences reveals a plurality of forms or patterns. Few are alike. This is because the individual is the authority, not the Word.
Acceptable service to God is based on objective authority. The written word of God constitutes the only standard of faith and deed. This authority is separate from man's ego and independent of feeling or emotion. Regardless of what one feels the Bible is still the same. Though Heaven and earth pass away, God's word will never pass away (Matthew 24:35).
All must submit to one standard. "The word which I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). The written New Testament is declared to be the final, complete standard for all time. "...that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once (for all) delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3).
Modem day faith healers and tongue-speakers appeal strongly to subjective authority. The emotions and inner senses are brought into play as evidence that God has really touched their lives. Women go about today laying hands on people claiming to have received this power from God or the Holy Spirit. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who can show where any woman in the New Testament ever laid hands on anybody to impart spiritual gifts. (For that matter, or any man who was not an Apostle.)
As long as "every man does that which is right in his own eyes" there can be nothing but chaos and confusion in religion (Proverbs 21:2). Subjective authority is deceitful, destructive, divisive, and uncertain. Individuals change but the Word of God remains the same. Observe the example of Christ who was tempted and tried. Three times he repulsed Satan with "it is written." He didn't say "I feel" or "I've had an experience." We can do no better than the Lord. Let us say "it is written" (see Galatians 4:30).