The Office of the Keys and Pastoral Authority
What “authority” does Christian leadership possess?
In the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Lutheran traditions the clergy are believed to have the authority to forgive sins…and to withhold forgiveness.
They hold the power of excommunication, which in it’s true meaning places those being disciplined outside the church and outside salvation.
In most Protestant denominations authority is limited to addressing participation in a particular assembly, while encouraging (or demanding) that the rest of the group “shun” the ones under discipline.
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Hebrews 13:17 ESV)
How do you interpret the “ministry of the keys”?
What authority does the clergy possess and what is the responsibility of the laity to them?