“Furthermore, the power to bind and loose refers to a power of jurisdiction in ancient Israel which only the King can override. These are also rabbinic terms which describe the legislative and judicial authority of the office of rabbi. They could literally bind men to their teaching with authority from God. Christ Himself said, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice’ (Mt 23:2-3). Thus, just as Moses had an authoritative office, so Christ assigned a similar office to Peter.”
There are several problems with this appeal to Mt 23:2-3, but for now I’ll focus on just one of them.
Unlike the Levitical priesthood, the Pharisees were not lineal successors to Moses (or Aaron). You didn’t need to be a priest to be a Pharisee. Indeed, many or most of the Pharisees were layman.
Same thing with the scribes. You didn’t need to be a priest to be a scribe. A layman could be a scribe.
Ironically, then, our Catholic epologist is unwittingly ascribing an authoritative teaching office to mere laymen.
If anything, this passage is a prooftext for the right of private judgment. Not in the sense that every individual is equally competent to expound the Scriptures. But some men are competent to expound the Scriptures. And when it singles out two group of able teachers, it doesn’t draw the line between the laity and the clergy. That’s not what distinguishes a fit teacher from an unfit teacher. Indeed, the text implicitly attributes teaching ability to a class of men, many or most of whom were laymen.
This text is a prooftext for a low-church ecclesiology, not a high-church ecclesiology.