There are two theses that are intimately related to the idea of authority.
One is political theology. It is associated with the name of Carl
Schmitt. The second is moral theology. It is associated with Elizabeth
Anscombe (though she never used the expression ‘moral theology’).
Political theology is the claim that key notions in modern and secular
political doctrines are unwittingly moored in theological and teleological
world views. These notions in their secularized versions make no
sense and can be validated only within a theological frame for which
they were designed. ‘Sovereignty’ and ‘authority’ are paradigmatic
cases of such key notions. Moral theology is a parallel claim. Key
moral notions in modern moral doctrines are moored in a theological
and teleological frame. They gain their currency only in such a frame.
Unmoored, as these notions are in a current secular frame, they have
lost their sense. ‘Obligation’ and ‘duty’ are paradigmatic examples of
such notions anchored in the old idea of God the law-giver. Without
God the law-giver these notions make very little sense. Secular morality
is like the famous explanation of what wireless is. Well, you know
what wire is. It is like a dog: you pull its tail in Jerusalem and it barks
in Rome. Now, wireless works like wire, but without the dog. Morality
without God is like wireless without the dog.