Purgatory


 

Q. HELLO. I HAVE BEEN A CATHOLIC MOST OF MY LIFE BUT I HAVE HAD DIFFICULTIES WITH THE DOCTRINE OF PURGATORY BECAUSE IT IS NOT FORMALLY DESCRIBED IN SCRIPTURE AND HAS KIND OF A SORDID MAN MADE HISTORY ABOUT IT.

A. The necessity for something to be explicitly found in scripture is the influence of Protestantism upon your thinking.

Jesus founded the Catholic Church on Peter in Mt. 16. The New Testament as we know it did not exist
for nearly 400 years after Jesus was born.(For perspective, the Pilgrims landed in America about 400 years ago)

And yet Christianity spread across the known world through the oral teaching of the apostles and those they ordained. The Catholic Faith existed first. The New Testament was born out of the Faith of the first apostles. Please see my posts: Sola Scriptura/ Scripture alone? for more info.
Q. WHAT ABOUT SELLING INDULGENCES AND THE TRAFFIC IN MASSES SUPPOSED TO RELEASE PEOPLE SUFFERING IN PURGATORY IN THE MIDDLE AGES AND AT THE REFORMATION.

A. The selling of indulgences was an abuse of Catholic teaching in the 16th century just like politicians today who say they can vote for abortion rights and still be good Catholics. They are abusing the teaching of the Catholic Church. So heretics and abusers are nothing new. In fact Jesus promised us this would happen in his parable of the wheat field. (Mt. 13) IT WAS NOT CATHOLIC TEACHING

Q. I HAVE READ CATHOLIC THEOLOGIANS WHO HAVE SAID THAT THERE IS NOTHING FOR THE DOCTRINE OF PURGATORY.

A. There are supposed Catholics theologian who oppose nearly every tenet of the Catholic Faith. So this means absolutely NOTHING. I am a Catechism Catholic. I believe what has been infallibly taught by the Church and her ministers in union with the Pope, Chair of Peter. I don’t care a whit what any so called Catholic theologian says or individual Catholic says, does or teaches. They are NOT authoritative.

Q. AS FAR AS FIRST CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 3 VERSES 10 – 15, IS CONCERNED. I WOULD TAKE ITS TALKING ABOUT CHRISTIAN SERVICE AND THE REWARDS FOR GOOD WORKS AS WELL AS THE LOSS OF REWARDS FOR A LIFE WHICH HAS NOT RICH IN GOOD DEEDS BUT YOU STILL HAVE AND REMAIN IN SALVATION.

A. What you have said about I Cor. 3. is a way to interpret it but it is not based on historical Christianity. You probably have not looked into the writings of the early Church to see how they interpreted that passage. But this is necessary. And this is what the Church with her continuous history does.

Protestants picked up the Bible in the 16th Century and while rejecting anything they did not like in Catholic theology, no matter how well attested it was in the writings of the early Church, they made up theologies to go with it. All the different denominations spring from all the different interpretations which all cannot be infallible.

Q. PURGATORY ONLY BECAME CATHOLIC DOGMA AT THE COUNCIL OF TRENT IN THE 16TH CENTURY. 1500 YEARS AFTER CHRIST’S LIFE, DEATH AND RESURRECTION.

A. The dates when various dogmas are defined in council have no bearing on their origin. Trent also dogmatically defined all the books of sacred scripture but the New Testament did not come into existence after the Council of Trent. The Church only defines beliefs dogmatically when great controversy arises. Then in union with the pope she solemnly defines what she believes and has always believed and taught for the sake of the faithful. For instance, the Doctrine of the Trinity was defined at the Council of Nicea in the 4th Century because of heresies and confusion about the nature of God,Christ and the Holy Spirit. The belief in the Trinity did NOT arise at the Council of Nicea and neither did the belief in Purgatory arise at the Council of Trent but it was dogmatically defined in opposition to the heresies of the Protestants.

In Ineffabilis Deus of December 8,1854, Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate conception of Mary. But again this was believed from the beginning of Christianity. Even Martin Luther believed and taught it. Confusion was arising and Pope Pius IX cleared it up. It did not spring from his imagination.

Q. PURGATORY ALSO GIVES ME A FEAR OF DEATH AND PUTS GOD IN A VERY HARSH AND JUDGEMENTAL POSITION. CALLING EVERYBODY TO PAY OFF THEIR TEMPORAL PUNISHMENT IN PURGATORY.

A. There is nothing to fear from death except going to Hell. We have a loving and merciful Father and we can trust that the purification of our souls will be bearable. We atone for the temporal aspect of our sins very often in this life when we suffer the consequences of our sin. For instance, fornication may lead to pregnancy, child support payments or STD or even HIV and death. Or on a lesser scale a ticket for drunk driving. These are very real consequences of our sin but these consequences don’t scare people enough to stop.

Martin Luther taught that we are like a pile of dung covered by the white snow of Christ’s righteousness in Heaven. Yuk! The Catholic Church teaches that once we get to Heaven we will be completely purified through and through. I trust my loving father to purify me in Purgatory if necessary but I am trying to avoid sin as much as possible in my life so I will have less to be purified of.

I love the Doctrine of Purgatory. As we know anyone, no mater how evil, Adolf Hitler or Charles Manson or Jeffery Dahmer can be saved by faith and repentance through Christ even at the last minute. This is wonderful and merciful of our loving God. But justice requires due penalties for their crimes and Purgatory fulfills this.

It is not harsh and judgmental of God to require our complete purification from our sin. The problem is that we really don’t get how offensive even a venial sin is to our Great and HOLY GOD. We tend to think that he is more like a man who thinks nothing of our failures, weaknesses and sins. He LOVES us, yes! But He wants us to be what He created us to be….HOLY! And He won’t settle for less. Remember, what right does the clay have to say to the potter….

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7 Responses

  1. bhfu, why do you accuse Protestants in planting this thinking to the questioner regarding Purgatory? Isn’t that becoming too judgmental? This is one of your flock questioning you, because he finds the teaching of Purgatory confusing, don’t drag Protestantism along with every questions your own members of the church is asking you. Take note, he was a “Catholic most of his life”. The problem with RCC is that you have these doctrines that are not even clear with yor members. You assume that everything the Church says will be accepted, take note these too have brains in between their ears…

  2. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Purgatory is “a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.” To summarize, in Catholic theology, Purgatory is a place that a Christian’s soul goes to after death to be cleansed of the sins that had not been fully satisfied during life. Is this doctrine of Purgatory in agreement with the Bible? Absolutely not!

    Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins (Romans 5:8). Isaiah 53:5 declares, “but He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Jesus suffered for our sins so that we could be delivered from suffering. To say that we must also suffer for our sins is to say that Jesus’ suffering was insufficient. To say that we must atone for our sins by cleansing in Purgatory is to deny the sufficiency of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus (1 John 2:2). The idea that we have to suffer for our sins after death is contrary to everything the Bible says about salvation.

    The primary Scriptural passage Catholics point to for evidence of Purgatory is 1 Corinthians 3:15, which says, “If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” The passage (1 Corinthians 3:12-15) is using an illustration of things going through fire as a description of believers’ works being judged. If our works are of good quality “gold, sliver, costly stones,” they will pass through the fire unharmed, and we will be rewarded for them. If our works are of poor quality “wood, hay, and straw,” they will be consumed by the fire, and there will be no reward. The passage does not say that believers pass through the fire, but rather that a believer’s works pass through the fire. 1 Corinthians 3:15 refers to the believer “escaping through the flames,” not “being cleansed by the flames.”

    Purgatory, like many other Catholic dogmas, is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of Christ’s sacrifice. Catholics view the Mass / Eucharist as a re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice because they fail to understand that Jesus’ once for all sacrifice was absolutely and perfectly sufficient (Hebrews 7:27). Catholics view meritorious works as contributing to salvation due to a failure to recognize that Jesus’ sacrificial payment has no need of additional “contribution” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Similarly, Purgatory is understood by Catholics as a place of cleansing in preparation for Heaven because they do not recognize that because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are already cleansed, declared righteous, forgiven, redeemed, reconciled, and sanctified.

    The very idea of Purgatory, and the doctrines that are often attached to it (prayer for the dead, indulgences, meritorious works on behalf of the dead, etc.) all fail to recognize that Jesus’ death was sufficient to pay the penalty for ALL of our sins. Jesus, who was God incarnate (John 1:1,14), paid an infinite price for our sin. Jesus died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 2:2). To limit Jesus’ sacrifice to atoning for original sin, or sins committed before salvation, is an attack on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. If we must in any sense pay for, atone for, or suffer because of our sins – that indicates Jesus’ death was not a perfect, complete, and sufficient sacrifice.

    For believers, after death is to be “away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:23). Notice that this does not say “away from the body, in Purgatory with the cleansing fire.” No, because of the perfection, completion, and sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are immediately in the Lord’s presence after death, fully cleansed, free from sin, glorified, perfected, and ultimately sanctified.

  3. Jeronie,

    All of your arguments are based on a false premise. That premise is that all Christian truth can be found in Sacred Scripture and ONLY sacred scripture. The irony is that this Protestant Doctrine of Scripture Alone cannot be found anywhere in Scripture.

    Anyone interested in a better understanding of Catholic teaching regarding Purgatory may find these posts helpful—>PURGATORY

  4. Catholics argue, “the Bible nowhere states that it is the ONLY authoritative guide for faith and practice.” While this is true, it fails to recognize a crucially important issue. We know that the Bible is the Word of God. The Bible declares itself to be God-breathed, inerrant, and authoritative. We also know that God does not change His mind or contradict Himself. So, while the Bible itself may not explicitly argue for “sola scriptura,” it most definitely does not allow for traditions that contradict its message. Sola scriptura is not as much of an argument against tradition as it is an argument against unbiblical, extra-biblical and/or anti-biblical doctrines. The only way to know for sure what God expects of us is to stay true to what we know He has revealed – the Bible. We can know, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that Scripture is true, authoritative, and reliable. The same cannot be said of tradition.

  5. The Bible most certainly does proclaim the necessity of Tradition both oral teaching, unwritten teaching and written. Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to hold to his teaching whether by word or writing.

    2 Thessalonians 2:15
    So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditionswhich you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

    The Bible is all that you say it is but since it nowhere proclaims oral Tradition/apostolic teaching untrustworthy you cannot do anything but resort to Protestant tradition to discount Catholic Apostolic Teaching that is not explicitly contained in Scripture.

    Since Catholic Apostolic Tradition predates Protestant Tradition I will trust that which is Apostolic and goes back 2000 years to Jesus Christ and not just a mere 500 years to Martin Luther.

  6. Hi, you did not get the message quite well. I agree the Bible never rejected traditions, but it also did NOT allow traditions to contradict its content. If you say that there could be some things not written in the Bible because it was passed by “word of mouth”, it’s so incredible to think also that there’s none of your traditions (which contradicts the Bible – and in fact there are many) ever written in the Bible. Do you honestly think that all your non-biblical traditions were passed by “word of mouth”? If so you might be missing something? Is that the reason why you keep adding Catholic dogmas? Catholicism then is in constant search of traditions that are passed by “word of mouth”.

    The context of Paul’s exhortation to the Thesallonians never implies that traditions are OK other than what he taught or the Bible say.

    As for your Apostolic Succession doctrine, the “first church” is the church that is recorded in the New Testament, especially in the Book of Acts and the Epistles of Paul. The New Testament church is the “original church” and the “one true church.” We can know this because it is described, in great detail, in Scripture. The church, as recorded in the New Testament, is God’s pattern and foundation for His church. On this basis, let’s examine the Roman Catholic claim that it is the “first church.” Nowhere in the New Testament will you find the “one true church” doing any of the following: praying to Mary, praying to the saints, venerating Mary, submitting to a pope, having a select priesthood, baptizing an infant, observing the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper as sacraments, or passing on apostolic authority to successors of the apostles. All of these are core elements of the Roman Catholic faith. If most of the core elements of the Roman Catholic Church were not practiced by the New Testament Church (the first church and one true church), how then can the Roman Catholic Church be the first church? A study of the New Testament will clearly reveal that the Roman Catholic Church is not the same church as the church that is described in the New Testament.

    The New Testament records the history of the church from approximately A.D. 30 to approximately A.D. 90. In the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries, history records several Roman Catholic doctrines and practices among early Christians. Is it not logical that the earliest Christians would be more likely to understand what the Apostles truly meant? Yes, it is logical, but there is one problem. Christians in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries were not the earliest Christians. Again, the New Testament records the doctrine and practice of the earliest Christians…and, the New Testament does not teach Roman Catholicism. What is the explanation for why the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th century church began to exhibit signs of Roman Catholicism?

    The answer is simple – the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th century (and following) church did not have the complete New Testament. Churches had portions of the New Testament, but the New Testament (and the full Bible) were not commonly available until after the invention of the printing press in A.D. 1440. The early church did its best in passing on the teachings of the apostles through oral tradition, and through extremely limited availability to the Word in written form. At the same time, it is easy to see how false doctrine could creep into a church that only had access to the Book of Galatians, for example. It is very interesting to note that the Protestant Reformation followed very closely after the invention of the printing press and the translation of the Bible into the common languages of the people. Once people began to study the Bible for themselves, it became very clear how far the Roman Catholic Church had departed from the church that is described in the New Testament.

    Scripture never mentions using “which church came first” as the basis for determining which is the “true” church. What it does teach is that one is to use Scripture as the determining factor as to which church is preaching the truth and thus is true to the first church. It is especially important to compare Scripture with a church’s teaching on such core issues as the full deity and humanity of Christ, the atonement for sin through His blood on Calvary, salvation from sin by grace through faith, and the infallibility of the Scriptures. The “first church” and “one true church” is recorded in the New Testament. That is the church that all churches are to follow, emulate, and model themselves after.

  7. Jeronie,

    All of your arguments are based on a false premise. That premise is that all Christian truth can be found in Sacred Scripture and ONLY sacred scripture. The irony is that this Protestant Doctrine of Scripture Alone or Sola Scriptura cannot be found anywhere in Scripture.

    You base your beliefs and criticism of the Catholic doctrine on Protestant interpretation of scripture which is actually Protestant Tradition.

    Click the links for more posts on Catholic TRADITION

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