The Catholic church holds the keys of the kingdom?

Hi Everyone,

I thought I would submit a question here that I have thought of in my attempts to advance a convincing argument towards our separated protestant brethren. Thought you might all be able to help. Here it goes:

The question concerns the “keys of the kingdom”, as mentioned in Matthew. We can agree that “function” of the keys of the kingdom is related to a person’s acceptance or rejection from an inheritance in God’s kingdom, which is presently assembled in the churches (universally as the one Body).

When we read Matthew 18, we get this very “local” sense of the “keys of the kingdom”, in the simple matter of 1 impenitent sinner who is banished from the Church community, and consequently banished from inheritance in God’s kingdom. The implication is that one enters the “kingdom” through assembling (or communing) with the local church (or simply into the universal church- see for instance the Ethiopian enuch).

Can we agree thus far?

It is also implied that one enters and remains within the kingdom of God, or the local Church community, by means of sanctification (or repentance from sin, understood in it’s initial expression) and the constant attainment of holiness, which is love to God and one another, and that the “keys of the kingdom” function to retain this essential character of the kingdom and the local Church.

What I find amongst our fellow Catholic apologists, as well as Catholic literature, is a huge focus on the “keys of the kingdom” as it is strictly related to the Papacy and the universal Catholic Church above the local communities, whereas in Matthew, the very gospel where we get this phrase, sees an application at the local level. Moreover, the “keys of the kingdom” are given strong relation to the “moral character” of the congregants within the local congregation, and this fact itself pushes modern Catholic concerns, it seems to me, a bit farther away from the fullness of meaning for which the Lord had intended for the “keys of the kingdom”.

In other words, take a quick glimpse at this rather unsophisticated canvass: Let’s say the Roman Catholic Church can claim it’s succession from the foundation of the apostles (Eph 2), and truly has the pedigree of keeping the apostolic deposit of faith unblemished; yet when it comes to discussing the “keys of the kingdom”, the discussion is almost only given application to the worldwide body of doctrine which Catholics “should” believe. And on the other hand, you have the reformation Churches, or even the Orthodox churches, who are no doubt scattered, dispersed, disunified, and fractionalized, but who are nevertheless applying (in claim) the “keys of the kingdom” on a yearly, if not monthly or weekly, basis in banishing, excommunicating, and shunning impenitent sinners from their local assemblies.

It is clear to me from Matthew 18, that the Lord Jesus Himself endorsed this latter application of the keys of the kingdom in the local assembly. I mean, it is Jesus himself who says “let him be to you as a heathen”, which puts this impenitent sinners under the category of the “dogs” from which Jesus said “do not give what is holy to the dogs”. And so, whatever modern reactions many Catholic today would have to the supposed “scandal” of a local baptist Church shunning an excommunicant fornicator, it should not be such that it leads one to accuse that baptist Church of some immoral act (generally speaking), for Jesus himself speaks of this kind of act as obedience to His command (matt 18).

And here is the question
If indeed Jesus sees the functioning of the keys of the kingdom of heaven in the less broader arena of the admittance and banishment of either the repentant or the impenitent from and within the local assemblies (wherever 1 sinner could be brought before the Church) on the basis that those who are unholy have no right to be within the local Church, then how can the present (modern) condition of the Roman Catholic Church supply any confidence to the seeker who notices such a truth? And when I ask this, I am under the assumption, well-informed I would argue, that the Catholic churches today hardly, if ever (and I say this literally), excommunicate sinners from their local assemblies. I mean, if the Catholic Church is in the mission to “convince” the separated brethren of it’s pedigree as Christ’s Church, how can it do so if it’s primary claim, that being to possess the keys of the kingdom, is so poorly exercised as Jesus not only intended, but ordained???

Ummm, no. I actually have no idea what you are even talking about. I’ve read (and understood) dozens (hundreds?) of attempts to “rationalize” this bit of Scripture. You seem to be very smart, but I cannot understand what you are tying to say.

It is also implied that one enters and remains within the kingdom of God, or the local Church community, by means of sanctification (or repentance from sin, understood in it’s initial expression) and the constant attainment of holiness, which is love to God and one another, and that the “keys of the kingdom” function to retain this essential character of the kingdom and the local Church.

Are you talking about Christian Baptism? It seems that you are not.

What I find amongst our fellow Catholic apologists, as well as Catholic literature, is a huge focus on the “keys of the kingdom” as it is strictly related to the Papacy and the universal Catholic Church above the local communities, whereas in Matthew, the very gospel where we get this phrase, sees an application at the local level.

“Sees” in what way? Yes, Peter was the obvious head of the Apostles at Pentecost (the “local level,” such as it was). What are you trying to say?

Moreover, the “keys of the kingdom” are given strong relation to the “moral character” of the congregants within the local congregation, and this fact itself pushes modern Catholic concerns, it seems to me, a bit farther away from the fullness of meaning for which the Lord had intended for the “keys of the kingdom”.

What are you talking about? The Keys were given to Peter, the least likely guy His first words to Jesus were, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man. He attempted to walk on water to Jesus during a storm, but he faltered and began to sink. He DENIED Jesus three times. Are you saying that Jesus could NOT build his Church upon such a guy?

DavidFilmer,

Whatever theology you are seeking to extract from me, I am a Catholic and hold to the teaching of the Magesterium. That a person enters the kingdom of God through sanctification is directly within Catholic theology.

As far as the other misunderstandings, I am afraid I really cannot explain anymore than I have.

i think a popular understanding is that the church is the kingdom of God on earth and that a person “enters it” through baptism.

Jesus himself is the Kingdom of God.

*“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2)

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15)
*

Jesus says that the kingdom is “at hand”, meaning right in front of those to whom he was speaking, able to be touched. That is what “at hand” means.

Jesus himself is the kingdom. The Church holds the keys to that kingdom - the sacraments. Jesus is “at hand”, right in front of us, able to be touched and met and encountered in a real and personal way, through the sacraments of the Church.

-Tim-

Greetings in Christ DavidFilmer,

David, the meaning/message is between the lines. Even the questions are powerful statements as well.
If you read between the lines, you will understand.

With love in Christ,
LH.

So you expect me to “read between the lines” of your question to understand it?

That’s not how we usually proceed on this Forum. We don’t ask questions which drop clues and expect others to figure out what we really are asking.

We simply ask questions here, in plain text.

You ask for our help, but you present us with a riddle. That’s not how CAF works. Nobody here is interested in solving your riddles, and then giving you advice.

Nobody here will help you solve your riddle to help you.

Ask your question. In plain terms.

bump

I have not heard nor read any of this teaching from authoritative Catholic sources. I cannot agree with this.

The keys to the kingdom was a reference to office of the Prime Minister. Every king appointed someone he trusted to be “over the house” of the king. The Hebrew title for such a person was “ol ebith” or one who is over the household. This person would literally hold the keys to the king’s treasury.

There was also a key to the temple. The high priest would lock the temple every night and put the key under a rock or a tile over which he would sleep. The High Priest therefor had the right and responsibility to open and shut the house of God, over which he was the first or “prime” minister.

This is the literal sense of keys to the kingdom. Peter is appointed to the office of prime minister, “over the house” of Jesus the King. He is given the authority to open and shut the kingdom on God’s behalf to anyone he chooses. It is a reference to a political appointment to a position of authority second only to the king.

*So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discreet and wise as you are; you shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command; only as regards the throne will I be greater than you." (Genesis 41:39-40) *

Sanctification is being made holy. Holiness is a decrease in sin and an increase in virtue. Holiness is synonymous with Christian perfection to which we are all called. Holiness is not a requirement to enter the local Church community. Entrance to the local Church community, as well as the larger Body of Christ is through baptism, not holiness. Christian perfection is not a requirement to become Catholic.

This is about the demand that the Church excommuncate sinners. Every single one of us should examine our conscience nightly, and if we did, we would find that we too are sinners. We are gluttons. We drive expensive cars and drink $5 coffee while people starve in the streed. We think horrible things about people and commit adultery twenty times every day when we lust after a woman.

The keys to the kingdom have been given to Peter and through Peter, to the Bishops who are in communion with the See of Peter. We are not Peter. When we start demanding that others be excommunicated we assume in our own minds the role of Bishop. Not knowing our place is arrogance. We accuse non-Catholics of being their own personal Popes. Lets not do the same.

-Tim-

Holiness means a decrease in sin and an increase in virtue - Christian perfection. Perfection is not a requirement to enter the Catholic Church.

Humility is knowing your proper place. Arrogance is thinking you are higher than you are. When we start demanding that people be excommunicated we assume to know better than the people whom God has given authority to do so. That’s arrogance. Humility is the foundational virtue for all other virtues. You can’t start on the road to holiness without humility. Humility - knowing your proper place - is the first rung on the ladder to holiness.

This is about demanding that more people be excommunicated, or that specific people be excommunicated. If we examined our conscience nightly like we should, we would find that we are gluttons, that we commit adultery twenty times every day when we lust, that we are uncharitable fifty times each day when we think horrible things about people, that we are lazy and that we are arrogant, and that we all have unconfessed sins from our past or ongoing habitual sins which we have never fully brought to God.

Whenever I hear people start demanding that people be excommunicated I wonder which one of these that person struggles with. If we demand excommunications, then we had better be prepared to be chosen to be the first in line.

-Tim-

Tim

Are you implying that when Christ commanded us to bring the impenitent sinners before two or three so that every word may be established, we are engaged in pride? It begins with “when your brother sins against you, go tell him his fault” (matt 18). So this begins with the lay man or the clergy.

Is Christ, who seems to be giving a practical solution to sin in the church, commanding something that is practically impossible?

No, we cannot agree. There is no mention of “keys of the kingdom” in Matthew 18. “Keys of the kingdom” appears only once in Scripture and that is in Matthew 16:19.

What I find amongst our fellow Catholic apologists, as well as Catholic literature, is a huge focus on the “keys of the kingdom” as it is strictly related to the Papacy…

Naturally, because Our Lord very clearly chose to give the keys to only **one ** of the group of disciples present. If Jesus meant all of the apostles to receive the keys He would have said so – and not just limited it to Peter.

Our Lord established varying levels of authority in the Church. He gave authority to bind and loose to all the apostles, but He chose to establish only one who would hold final/supreme authority (power of the keys) in His Church .

And here is the question
If indeed Jesus sees the functioning of the keys of the kingdom of heaven in the less broader arena of the admittance and banishment of either the repentant or the impenitent from and within the local assemblies

That is not an exercise of the power of the "keys of the kingdom of heaven"granted by Our Lord in Mt. 16:19. It is an exercise of the authority granted to apostles/bishops over discipline in their “local assemblies” granted in Mt. 18:18.

Nita,

So the power too bind and loose, given from the lord in the following manner, “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven”, has no relation to each other in matt 16 and matt 18?

I never claimed that the keys of the kingdom were mentioned in matt 18. I said there is a local sense to to it in matt 18. If you are splitting the authority of the keys in definition between matt 18 and 16, you introduce something novel to catholic theology. No one argued that everyone was given the keys of the kingdom, that was an assumption on your part. No big deal:)

What source can you give thay shows binding and loosing in matt 16 is different than in matt 18?

I’m not splitting the authority of the keys, you are. I’m saying it was given to and resides in only one person; you’re saying it resides in many.

In Matthew 16 the authority of the keys was given to only one person - Peter - to make decisions binding on the whole Church. The context in Matthew 16 is the Church Jesus would build. It refers to the the universal Church (the entire Catholic Church). Decisions binding on the universal Catholic Church must have the final approval of Peter/Pope. That is the power of the keys given to Peter in Matthew 16.

Other bishops - individually or several together - have never had the power to make decisions that are binding on the universal Catholic Church. I’m sure you’re well aware of that. Individual bishops have authority in their particular diocese, but the authority is limited. Likewise, the U.S Council of Catholic Bishops can make decisions binding on U.S. Catholics, but they have no authority to impose those decisions on Catholics in other countries. Again, their authority is limited.

And bishops, either individually or in groups (except of course for the Bishop of Rome), have no authority to declare new doctrine. It is the Pope who makes the final decision; he alone has that authority.

I’m implying nothing. My words were very clear. I’ll make them clearer.

If you come to the parish to which I belong and bring my sins before the Church, I’m going to tell you to take a hike and mind your own business.

*So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:5)*

You had better be pretty darn holy yourself before you start bringing the sins of other before the Church and demanding excommunication.

-Tim-

Nita,

Could you please source a document from the Magesterium which says the binding and loosing powers from Matt 16 are different than the binding and loosing powers of Matthew 18.

Tim,

You are assuming a hypocrite will be the one holding you accountable, and thus you open yourself to possibly judging unrighteously yourself. If Jesus commanded discipline to be done from the lay level, then you are in no place to criticize, automatically, those who embark upon obeying him. Secondly, you are assuming that one who is seeking to obey Christ is “demanding excommunication”, when it is actually a loving call to repentance. It is more a demand for mercy and forgiveness.

I think the problem might be a failure to see that Jesus’ giving the keys of the kingdom of heaven means he was establishing a particular** office **for His Church Militant, that is, His kingdom on earth. He had already created the office of apostle/bishop when He chose and appointed 12 out of a larger group of disciples to be called apostles. Now He is establishing a new office to be held by one of those apostles/bishops. He made it clear that only one would hold that office by giving the keys to only one of His apostles.

**Jesus is the only king of His kingdom **(which includes those in heaven and on earth). In heaven He is visibly reigning as such. But He chose not to continue to visibly reign over His kingdom on earth after He ascended into heaven. Instead He created an office and appointed one to be the holder of that office. He would reign as king through that office holder (pope) to whom He had given the keys to His kingdom.

Their are so many crucial phrases in Matthew 16, but IMO one that doesn’t seem to get as much attention as it should is verse 17:Mt. 16:17 And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. God Himself will ensure that what the Pope proclaims as doctrine is true.

Nita,

Do you have a source which says that the power to bind and loose, with the efficacy on both earth and heaven, is limited to Papacy? The early Church believed that the chair of Peter was the chair of all bishops, with the singular successors of Peter being the principal of unity, holding a headship among the rest, though conciliar in totality.

Also, could you give me the source which says that the binding and loosing powers in Matt 16 are different and distinct from the binding and loosing powers of Matt 18?

Lastly, could you prove that binding and loosing powers is equated to a single office?

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