Keys Of Heaven

Why are there two keys in the Crossed Keys symbol? Are there two gates to heaven?

Who unlocks?

Crossed Keys

As explained in the previous page, Crossed Keys represent two separate functions: One, the power to bind and to loose on earth (represented by the silver key); and two, the power to bind and to loose in heaven (the gold key). These are a reference to St. Matthew's Gospel. 

Here, Peter is tasked with being the chief pastor of the Church and given full ecclesiastical and spiritual power and authority, signified by "the keys of the kingdom of heaven".

In Matt 16:19 the meaning of the words "you", "bind" and "loose" continue to be debated.

The "bind" and "loose" are often interpreted to mean the laws, as directed by the legislative authority of the Church, that bind us into doing certain things or refraining from certain things, and the loose things of which we have freedom of choice.

Catholics believe that the "you" is in the plural, meaning Peter and all those who have followed after him. In other words, the priests of the Church.

Catholic priests have therefore the God-given authority to forgive people of their sins, and in doing so, the person is bound by God's grace on earth and will be bound also in heaven. And the converse is true; if sins are not forgiven (left loose) on earth then they are loosed from being in heaven. More specific scriptural proof of priests being empowered to absolve sins is found in John 20:21-23.

Protestants agree that we should forgive those who sin against us, but protest at the notion that we have the authority to forgive those who sin against God. See John 14:6, I Tim. 2:5, Matt. 9:6, 1 John 1:9 and Acts 10:43.

Mormons have a different view to what the Bible says, in that the LDS president is the only person who holds the keys. Only this man, Mr Thomas Spencer Monson (as of May 2010), can open the doors of heaven. To complicate matters, these keys can be handed to somebody else; but only one person at a time can hold them. You have never heard of Mr Thomas Spencer Monson? You don't know who currently holds the keys? Oh dear.

The Jehovah's Witnesses have a different understanding of who will get into heaven; you just have to be one of the 144,000 chosen ones. But even Don Alden Adams, their president, doesn't know how many of those places have been filled already. Oh dear.

And the Christadelphians believe that nobody will go to heaven. Oh dear.

The Bible is quite clear about who will go to heaven. See Rom. 10:13.

"And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

Matt 16:18-19


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