Refuting: Mike Gendron's "Who Holds the Keys?"

Who Holds the Keys? Written by Mike Gendron.
Two thousand years ago Jesus said to Peter, "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 loose in heaven." This reference to the "keys of the kingdom" is found only in Matthew 16:19, however the authority to "bind and loose" is given to all the disciples in Matthew 18:18. Many biblical scholars believe the "keys" are symbols representing the authority to govern and minister theocratic principles on earth. However, the interpretation of this verse has been the subject of debate for hundreds of years.
Indeed they have Mike. Basically the last 500 years or so since a number of errant teachers arose and sought to put themselves forth as the new and modern interpreters of scripture.

Within the Roman Catholic tradition, doctrines have developed that give the papacy authority to delegate the power to forgive or retain sins through a sacramental system of penance and absolution. The Catholic Encyclopedia states, "The power to confer or withhold forgiveness might well be viewed as the opening and shutting of the gates of heaven." It was used both as "admission to" as well as "excommunication from" the kingdom. The power to "bind and loose" also gives the Popes authority to pronounce doctrinal judgments, making disciplinary decisions in the Church and even canonize saints. This authority and power prescribes what and who Catholics must believe and how and when they must worship.
No knowledgeable Catholic will state that Christian doctrines do not develop because we know that that has been the case from the New Testament era on. The Trinity is a good example, since that term is nowhere found in scripture and yet it is universally used among Christians to express the doctrines that pertain to Almighty God.
However, Gendron here makes a serious error in his teaching because he states that these passages are the only ones that are used to support the Catholic position and that is completely untrue. He also conspicuously fails to note that, along with the above passages, we also have clear scripture that plainly tells us what the pillar and bulwark of the truth is. Note the following: (1st Timothy 3:15) “if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.”
Now we already know that Gendron is an adherent of the unscriptural fundamental doctrinal error of Sola Scriptura, so he naturally ascribes all ultimate authority to the Bible, in spite of the glaring fact that there is no passage of scripture where the Bible lays claim to any such authority. (Aside: See Does the Bible teach that everything that we believe and practice has to be found in its pages? )

Even so, along with the passages from Matthew that he has cited and the one I have offered above, we can see what the Bible actually says about Christian authority. I believe the fact that none of aligns with Gendron’s teaching should cause one some serious pause.

The Vatican teaches that Peter's keys have been handed down to his successors throughout the centuries. This has given credence to the papacy to govern the kingdom of God, which they believe, is the Roman Catholic Church. As a result, Peter and his successors are said to have special spiritual powers as Christ's representative on earth.
Pretty much correct, except that as we have seen, this belief is plainly based upon the Word of God and even for someone crippled by Sola Scriptura, it becomes evident that the Catholic teaching is simply based upon God’s Word and not just a man-made teaching of men. Where then, does that put Gendron’s teaching?

Proponents of the Roman Catholic tradition point to history as supporting evidence for their interpretation of the keys of the kingdom. However, most of their historical support comes from tradition dating back only the fourth century.
This is obviously not true; since I have already shown that it predates that all the way back to the New Testament itself. There may well have been discussion and development of the doctrine in the 4th century (though Gendron seems unwilling or unable to offer any historical documentation, which one would think he would do if such existed) but again, such discussion goes hand in hand with developing doctrines, even as the Trinity was also much discussed at that time in the early church.

For extensive discussion and documentation on this point, I offer two excellent articles from Catholic Answers that do indeed offer that early church documentation.
· The Authority of the Pope: Part I
· The Authority of the Pope: Part II

An accurate historical and grammatical interpretation must consider the use of terms at the time of the writing of the original text. The concept of the kingdom and the keys must be understood from their usage in the first century. Peter and the disciples understood the kingdom to be the visible rule of Christ over the earth, not the spiritual rule of Christ over His invisible church. The king would rule from Jerusalem, free Israel from political bondage and destroy her enemies. After Israel rejected the offer of the kingdom, Christ began to teach about it from a different perspective. He taught that it would be a mystery, invisible, and progressive. It would be both present and future and could be entered only by regeneration. The kingdom would not be limited to the church, but would work through the church to proclaim the good news of God's redemptive rule.
Certainly this was the case early on in the apostle’s experience that was clearly dispelled by the time we reach the 16th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel and there’s no way that a reader can hold Gendron’s position in light of the context of the rest of that gospel, not to mention similar passages from the same time period in the other gospels. I urge everyone to read these chapters for themselves.

After the events of Pentecost, Christ's teaching and the indwelling Holy Spirit, gave the disciples a clearer understanding of this kingdom. The real authority of the keys given by Christ is ultimately in the revelation of God's principles from the Scriptures for His theocratic kingdom. Men of God were able to discern the correctness of doctrine and practice using the whole counsel of God (Acts 17:11).
This “Berean defense” is often put forth by Sola Scriptura adherents, but the fact is that not all those who followed that approach were convinced and one can see this from the context of verses 10 and 12. Moreover, in the context of the rest of the entire Word of God and especially the New Testament, again, we see that nowhere does the Bible lay claim to any such authority.

Catholic Answers has a very good article that deals with this.
Not by Scripture Alone

An example of this is found in Luke 11:52, where Jesus denounces the Pharisees for misrepresenting God and the Scriptures with a religion of their own making. As a result they were shutting the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. "Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering."
This is just Gendron’s usual attempt to take an irrelevant passage of scripture and infer that it somehow applies to the Catholic faith, which is his whole raison d'ĂȘtre. Yet does it apply, when one studies the context of the New Testament and the passages he sets forth? The fact is that it does not, especially since we can see that the Catholic Church teaches the scriptural doctrine, while Gendron offers something man made.  
The ultimate power to open and close the gates of heaven is the Gospel, which "is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe" (Romans 1:16). Peter's first proclamation of the Gospel on the Day of Pentecost, in Acts chapter 2, opened the door of the kingdom to thousands. Since then, the disciples, and all Christians who have succeeded them, have been opening and closing the doors of the kingdom with the Gospel. Those who hear it and believe it are forgiven (loosed) of their sin and enter the kingdom, while those who reject the Gospel remain unforgiven (bound) of their sins and can not enter the kingdom (John 3:36).
At first, one might be willing to accept this paragraph without comment, but there is simply far too much “Gendron misinterpretation” there to allow us to do that.

No faithful Catholic would deny what the scriptures he cites say, but Gendron’s misinterpretation flies in the face of the “great commission” passage, also in Matthew 28, where it plainly mandates; [19] Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."

What would be the point of such a mandate if the church was not the one opening and closing the gates to the kingdom that they have been given the keys to? Obviously Gendron is wrong in his interpretation because we also have the New Testament plainly telling us in Romans 10: [14] But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? [15] And how can men preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!" Gendron has sought to diminish the very scriptural role of the church in the spread of the gospel and to mislead people from seeing that the New Testament supports the Catholic Church, the church founded by Our Blessed lord Jesus Christ, as the authority ordained by Christ Himself.
The contrast between the Catholic interpretation of the "keys of the kingdom" and the historical-grammatical interpretation is significant. One centers around the teachings of men and is based on tradition and reason, while the other centers around the Word of God and is based on His revealed will and reign.
This of course is totally untrue and Gendron is indeed the one who has plainly denied the factual historical and grammatical interpretation of these passages of scripture and set forth here his own flawed human reasoning and man-made tradition. One need only look at the facts and decide for oneself.


Refutation: Mike Gendron's "Why Can't Born Again Christians Remain in the Catholic Church?"

Why Can't Born Again Christians Remain in the Catholic Church?
This is a question we have been asked many times in our 23 years of ministry.
Then perhaps you should endeavor to give a correct and Biblical answer, Sir.
We must answer it with the authority of God's Word.
Okay....let's see this.
When Catholics repent and believe the Gospel of God, they are born again and the indwelling Holy Spirit will lead them out of spiritual darkness into the glorious light of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:15; Eph. 1:13-14).

Alright, here we see the beginning of his usual anti-Catholic propaganda. It assumes several things.

That Catholics do not repent or believe the Gospel of God. Notice here that he does not define what exactly that "Gospel of God" is, but I will offer the following links to relevant articles from my blog.
He infers that we Catholics do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit, yet I would point out that the holy lifestyles of many devout Catholics flies right in the face of his inference. Furthermore, we can point to the great number of documented holy lives of saints such as Francis of Assisi, Maximilian Kolbe, Elizabeth Seaton, and Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II, just to name a few. Our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ tells us in Matthew 7...
[15] "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. [16] You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? [17] So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. [18] A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. [19] Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. [20] Thus you will know them by their fruits.
As they abide in God's Word, they will know the truth and the truth will set them free from religious bondage and deception (John 8:31-32).

This assumes that faithful Catholics do not read and practice their faith according to the Bible, which is simply untrue. Discussions here on CAF as well as my own personal research indicate that most faithful Catholics are avid Bible readers, know the Bible at least as well as our n-C contemporaries and are well aware of the Biblical basis for our most holy faith.

In many cases, my own included, we have found that the "religious bondage and deception" was not in the Catholic Church, but in the communities that we were previously a part of. (See My Testimony for details) Whether that previous deception and resulting errors was intentional is open to debate because most of those who were involved were quite sincere. I would further assert that if there is any deception from anyone involved in this discussion, that it has been already been proven to be Mr Gendron himself. Please see the following articles on my blog.
Then they will look for a church that worships God in Spirit and truth because that is the kind of worshippers God seeks (John 4:24)
And every faithful Catholic will respond to what that scripture says with a heartfelt "Amen and Alleluia!"

But let's move on and see if Gendron is really offering truth. This we do in obedience to the Word of God, which tells us, "
but test everything; hold fast what is good, " (1st Thessalonians 5:21)
Anyone who says they have been born again, yet refuses to leave a false religion that deceives people with another gospel, must examine themselves to see if they have genuine saving faith (2 Cor. 13:5).
Christians are called to walk according to the truth which means, as they become more and more passionate for the truth, they will turn away from any falsehood that stands opposed to God's Word.

Well then Mr. Gendron it would seem from the list of my articles above that you have been hoisted upon your own petard because it is indeed my own passion for the truth that led me out of the errors of n-C communities and to return to the Catholic faith. Then further, it has been that same passion for the truth which has led me to carefully examine so much of your anti-Catholic propaganda (That you are paid for by the way, while I seek and receive no form of compensation at all. I am merely a simple and faithful Catholic who loves his faith and pursues truth wherever it leads, because our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ said "I am the way, the truth, and the life..." .(See John 14:6)

I would then suggest to all those who follow you and have so far paid you to be deceived by you that they at least follow your very words here one last time, and "turn away from any falsehood that stands opposed to God's Word."
One of Catholicism's false practices is described as a doctrine of demons in the Bible. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul wrote that some will "depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons through the insincerity of liars whose consciences have been seared who forbid people to marry" (1 Tim. 4:1-4). Catholicism is the only religion that names the name of Christ and forbids its clergy to marry, thus proving that some of its teachings are directly opposed to Scripture.

This is categorically untrue and here again, we see Gendron deceiving people, both about the Catholic faith, and even the very word of God.

First, the Catholic Church does not forbid its clergy from marrying. There are many married priests in our church from other than the Latin Rite. We are, however, the only Christian people who allow and encourage our clergy to obey the very words of Christ Himself. For a detailed study, see my article, Priestly celibacy is unBiblical. NOT!

Furthermore, since this mandate that you oppose and call a doctrine of demons, comes directly from Christ Himself, I would urge you to be cautious lest you actually find yourself blaspheming a work of the Holy Spirit.
Another reason true converts must leave Catholicism is that it demands submission of every person's will and intellect to the bishops' teachings. Catholic bishops are said to be the only authentic instructors and teachers of the faith, and Catholics are bound to adhere to their teaching with a religious submission of the mind (Canon Law, 753).

As usual with Gendron , he rips his quote out of all context in order to further his agenda which is deceive persons into opposing the Catholic faith, so we'll take a look at the actual context and see if what he asserts is accurate and unreasonable.
Can. 747 §1. The Church, to which Christ the Lord has entrusted the deposit of faith so that with the assistance of the Holy Spirit it might protect the revealed truth reverently, examine it more closely, and proclaim and expound it faithfully, has the duty and innate right, independent of any human power whatsoever, to preach the gospel to all peoples, also using the means of social communication proper to it.

§2. It belongs to the Church always and everywhere to announce moral principles, even about the social order, and to render judgment concerning any human affairs insofar as the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls requires it.

Can. 748 §1. All persons are bound to seek the truth in those things which regard God and his Church and by virtue of divine law are bound by the obligation and possess the right of embracing and observing the truth which they have come to know.

Can. 749 §1. By virtue of his office, the Supreme Pontiff possesses infallibility in teaching when as the supreme pastor and teacher of all the Christian faithful, who strengthens his brothers and sisters in the faith, he proclaims by definitive act that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held

§2. The college of bishops also possesses infallibility in teaching when the bishops gathered together in an ecumenical council exercise the magisterium as teachers and judges of faith and morals who declare for the universal Church that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held definitively; or when dispersed throughout the world but preserving the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter and teaching authentically together with the Roman Pontiff matters of faith or morals, they agree that a particular proposition is to be held definitively.

§3. No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident.

Can. 750 §1. A person must believe with divine and Catholic faith all those things contained in the word of God, written or handed on, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church or by its ordinary and universal magisterium which is manifested by the common adherence of the Christian faithful under the leadership of the sacred magisterium; therefore all are bound to avoid any doctrines whatsoever contrary to them.

§2. Each and every thing which is proposed definitively by the magisterium of the Church concerning the doctrine of faith and morals, that is, each and every thing which is required to safeguard reverently and to expound faithfully the same deposit of faith, is also to be firmly embraced and retained; therefore, one who rejects those propositions which are to be held definitively is opposed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

Can. 751 Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.

Can. 752 Although not an assent of faith, a religious submission of the intellect and will must be given to a doctrine which the Supreme Pontiff or the college of bishops declares concerning faith or morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim it by definitive act; therefore, the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid those things which do not agree with it.

Can. 753 Although the bishops who are in communion with the head and members of the college, whether individually or joined together in conferences of bishops or in particular councils, do not possess infallibility in teaching, they are authentic teachers and instructors of the faith for the Christian faithful entrusted to their care; the Christian faithful are bound to adhere with religious submission of mind to the authentic magisterium of their bishops.

Can. 754 All the Christian faithful are obliged to observe the constitutions and decrees which the legitimate authority of the Church issues in order to propose doctrine and to proscribe erroneous opinions, particularly those which the Roman Pontiff or the college of bishops puts forth.

So, as we can all see from this extensive context (Linked here), Gendron is misleading people with his article. It's nothing new...as you saw in my links above...he does this a lot. 
A third reason to leave is that the Word of God condemns the Catholic clergy for preaching another gospel (Gal. 1:6-9). The Catholic plan of salvation nullifies God's saving grace by adding works, sacraments, purgatory and law-keeping to the Gospel.

Actually, what we have here is a third reason not to listen to this man. again, I offer my article Who REALLY Preaches "A Different Gospel"? which details specific scriptures regarding the plan of salvation, versus what many n-C communities offer. I urge you all to obey the New Testament mandate in 2nd Timothy 2:15 to "Carefully study to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." Please see also How Is A Catholic Saved?
Not to be outdone, Catholic bishops responded by condemning born again Christians with over 100 anathemas from the Councils of Trent and Vatican II.

Here again, Gendron proves himself to be unworthy of our trust in his teaching and preaching as he misstates that the Church was "condemning born again Christians", when in fact it was condemning heretical teachings as per the New Testament.

Here is what CA apologists offer concerning this.
Could you explain anathema? Does the Church teach that Protestants are anathema because they don't agree with the Church?


The use of the word anathema has evolved during the history of the Church, and today it means the same thing as excommunication. (The word anathema is no longer officially used.) Because a person must be a Catholic to be anathema (excommunicated) the term does not apply to Protestants.

So then this in no way applies to n-Cs, so again Gendron is deceiving his readers.

Here too is another much longer and more in depth answer. Does the Church condemn those who disagree with its teachings?

By way of addressing Gendron's inclusion of Purgatory and the sacraments, I'll also include my own research articles on them in refutation.
Originally Posted by A fellow Catholic
In addition to what you pointed out, if I am not mistaken, Vatican II pronounced no anathema whatsoever, so that is yet another reason to distrust what he says.
I hadn't thought of that, but I believe you're right! Thank you!

So, the question to any and all of Mike Gendron's church members,  supporters, and those who believe what he teaches, is...If he is wrong on all these points, both about what the Catholic Church actually teaches and the about what the Word of God says, then how must one respond to this reality?