Hi, guys —
Matthew 16 and 18 discuss the power of the keys and the
authority of the Church. The plain meaning of the passages
indicates that the Church's word is final and conclusive,
binding, not only on earth, but also in Heaven.
This authority would seem to apply to matters of doctrine
as well as discipline in light of Acts 15 and the Jerusalem
- Is this a correct understanding?
- Does this same authority imply the infallibility of
That is, if a doctrinal decision by the Church is binding
both on Earth and in Heaven, then the Church's
pronouncements must, ipso facto, be true and inerrant.
Thanks very much,
an infallible declaration of the Church apply to matters of doctrine
as well as discipline? }
The binding and loosing is generally
not applied to doctrine. Doctrine does not become
true by virtue of being declared by the Church.
It is usually applied:
- to discipline
- to forgiveness
- to the power to bind under pain of sin,
- to the treatment of heretics and sinners.
Hi, Mary Ann —
The binding and loosing is
generally not applied to doctrine.
If your statement is true: You can make up your
Doctrine does not become true
by virtue of being declared by the Church.
I agree. but when a Church teaching is declared
as doctrine by the Church, the faithful now know:
- What is publicly true and what is not, and
- Who is, and who is not, a heretic.
I think we need more clarification on your answer.
What I was addressing was Joël's implication that
the Church's solemn declaration made a truth binding
in Heaven. Truth is truth. The power of the keys
refers to the power to bind people to believe (on
Earth) and to bind people morally to obey
and to loose people from sin (which is held bound
in Heaven also).
I think Joel was trying to reason or understand
infallibility from the fact that God accepts the
declarations of the Church about doctrine as binding.
That would make truth a function of God's will, voluntarism,
not a function of His mind. That is the Muslim position.
Perhaps my statement was not nuanced enough — Yes, the keys apply to binding people to believe in
faith, but they do not make something true in Heaven.
I think binding and loosing has more to do with
discipline than doctrine. That's how the Jews understood
As Mary Ann pointed out, guarding and defending
what is revealed as true is not really binding and
loosing. You can bind and loose penalties on those
who violate that revealed truth, but truth is truth.
Mike, Mary Ann, and Eric,
Thanks very much for your replies and dialogue.