Catholic view of Purgatory ... Is it real?

PastorDaveSallee's picture
michael_legna's picture

I think you should focus on my post and leave Aquinas to later

DanFugett said -
The result is an interpretation that is not the most simple derivable view from the context.

I would love to see a simpler more derivable view of the verses I have already provided my analysis for, I suspect that is what you do later on in your post so I will address this further there. The key of course is not just coming up with an interpretation of these verses in isolation, but these interpretations must be consistent with all of Holy Scripture.

DanFugett said -
While this is in keeping with RCC theology, can you understand how that would look to the Protestant that too much of RCC doctrine (especially Purgatory) is based on tradition that has superceded the TRUE WORD OF GOD?

No, I cannot understand this few, for two reasons.

First the Catholic Church does not allow Sacred Tradition to supersede Holy Scripture. For that to be the case their would be have to be one over ruling the other, which means there would have to be disagreement between them. This is not the case and I would expect a Protestant who had done enough research to feel competent to judge this issue would know that.

Second, the Protestant has not more legitimate claim to this complaint against the Catholic Church than they do against the early Church which relied entirely on Sacred Tradition on many of these issues, because the Canon of the New Testament was not yet established for them to rely on. It was this Sacred Tradition that was used by the early Church to make the determination of which books to include in the New Testament, specifically based on whether the teaching in those writings matched what was already known and held in Sacred Tradition.

DanFugett said –
The foundation or the corner stone laid by Paul is Jesus Christ. Agree?.

Yes, and that foundation is not affected by the purification or suffering that occurs in Purgatory. In fact without that foundation, one does not even enter Purgatory, but one is judged as not being written in the book of Life and is condemned.

DanFugett said –
The permanent material will last when tried by fire in the day of the Lord, and the non-permanent material will be consumed by fire. Agree?

Yes, if by permanent you mean good works of loving obedience to the Gospel, and by non-permanent material you mean works which are not done out of love.

DanFugett said –
The builder will move on from that Day with or without rewards. Agree?

If by builder you are referring to those who added to the foundation , then yes we are in agreement. It is these Christians which will have their works tested by fire, not the foundation lay-er (of course he will in his own time have his works tested as well, but then not as a foundation lay-er but as a builder upon the foundation).

DanFugett said –
The believer can build the edifice with combustible material or more permanent material that will withstand the fire. Agree?

Yes, with again the same understanding of what these combustible and more permanent materials are.

DanFugett said –
This passage can’t be lifted out of its context to interpret it. Agree?

Agreed, as long as one realizes there are many levels of context, one of which includes the entire word of God. That is because since all of Scripture is inerrant, no two verses can contradict one another and therefore no two proper interpretations can contradict one another.

DanFugett said –
Aquinas inconsistency #1: Aquinas asserts that the non-permanent building material we put in the house amounts to venial sins and this corresponds to the wood, hay and stubble.
I don’t know where he got that but it doesnt appear to be supported from this passage.

If you have read this thread as you claim your would know where Aquinas gets this from the verses as I have shown you specifically in my post where this comes from. I wonder why you continue to want to bring new material into this discussion when you have not made an attempt to understand or address what I have presented to you?

DanFugett said –
This passage isn’t talking about what we put inside the house but what the building on the foundation consists of. Keeping the context of this passage, the wood, hay and stubble refer to the childish, merely human behavior exhibited by the Corinthians. Paul is not questioning their salvation

Where do you get the idea that venial sins are analogous to being inside the house and not being part of the house? The house is distinct from the foundation. The foundation is not tested in Purgatory but the works that make up the house are.

Also, do you understand what a venial sin is? They are sins which are exactly the type you refer to – they are “childish, merely human behavior”. They are selfish acts, not done out of love, which are not severe enough to mortally damage our relationship with God. Venial sins do not affect our salvation, they are exactly the types of works which need to be purgative cleansing. Once again I repeat, Purgatory has nothing to do with salvation. Therefore the works being purged also have no impact on salvation.

DanFugett said –
…or need to pay up for sins after conversion over and above what Jesus did for us,

The need to pay up for sins is all part of the act of repentance. To be truly repentant one must turn your life around, seek forgiveness and be prepared to make restitution to those who you have sinned against. In other words it is not enough to simply apologize for breaking a window and then go your merry way. To be truly repentant and to be truly forgiven you must also pay for the window’s replacement. These acts or restitution are what are referred to as the temporal punishment that occurs in Purgatory, they are the suffering of loss that is referred to in 1 Cor 3:15

DanFugett said –
and what in this passage implies he is inferring to an after this life purgative cleansing needed for childish, worldlike behavior?


It is in 1 Cor 3:13 which reads - Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
So, since that day occurs after we are dead and we know that at that time every man's works are tried by fire to reveal what type they are, we can assume that all our works will be tested. That includes all our good works and our childish worldly behavior. It would also include our horrible sins which would condemn us to hell, if it weren’t for one thing – we built on the proper foundation and all those sins and the punishment for them are already covered for us. So that leave the good works to be represented by the gold and precious stones and the childish, venial sins to be represented by hay and stubble.

DanFugett said –
Please point out what in this verse, standing by itself without Aquinas interpretation from sacred tradition, supports Purgatory since this is considered a primary passage in support of Purgatory (per Aquinas and Pope John Paul II). If it is a primary passage, then the doctrine should be plain from a clear gramatical reading of the passage.

I believe I have done this, and I believe if you had read this entire thread as you claim you should have been able to see this. I am confident both Aquinas and even statements of Pope John Paul II are accurate, though possibly not simply understood to non-Catholics. I am also not against explaining them to those who do not understand them, but I do wonder why you choose to bring those statements in to the discussion instead of addressing my explanation of the doctrine when it is right here in front of us and is (I think) written in simpler language.

DanFugett said –
Question: Honestly trying to set aside everything the Protestant and Catholic theologians have to say about this passage, what in THIS verse demonstrates that the fire represents Purgatory?

I would answer this by saying - The most we can say of this verse is that it represents a state of trial of our works which are separate from the simple judgment of salvation (which is already determined by the presence of the foundation in all those who go through this test. It clearly is not heaven (because men suffer there), and it clearly is not hell (as those who do this suffering are saved).

The Catholic Church simply gives the name Purgatory to this purging test of fire. If Protestants want to give a different name to this event, they are welcome to do so, but in general they simply deny its existence.

DanFugett said –
Aquinas was right on in his assessment that those actions and motives from my heart that are inconsistent with love for God and love for others reflect a bigger defect in the believer's life than mistakes of eating too much (for example). I am not questioning that. It is how sins committed after conversion are handled that is questioned by me and millions of Protestants.

I think if you go back to my explanation of temporal punishment of sins and its relationship with true repentance and paying restitution I am not sure you will still be in the position of questioning the suffering of loss that accompanies the purging of these works. The penalty for sin is death. Those serious sins, you admit are different from the minor defects lead to a penalty of eternal death, meaning spiritual – damnation. Christ payment of the penalty of sin is with regard to that penalty. If we accept Him as the foundation of our life, we will not be condemned, we pass from death to life. It does not mean we will not be expected to make restitution for the sins we commit against others as we behave childishly and selfishly in our instances of worldly behavior.

Condemnation is eternal punishment, restitution is temporal punishment.

DanFugett said –
Aquinas inconsistency #2: The house made with wood, hay and stubble is destroyed in the scripture rather than being saved as Aquinas asserts. The analogy in this passage doesn’t leave anything to the builder using inferior material except the foundation itself ... he is saved as by fire.

One does not have to make too big a leap to assume that if one accepts Christ, and thus builds on that foundation, will produce at least some good works. So the entire house would never be burnt away, surely some works in a Christian’s life will be gold or precious stones. Therefore some of the house will be left.

DanFugett said –
The burning of the flammable material in his/her/my life at that Day will demonstrate whether that person lived a life worthy of rewards along with the gift of eternal life or just receive the gift of eternal life.

This interpretation is part of the story and the Catholic Church does not deny the idea of crowns and rewards. But the verse actually mentions concepts that are very different from JUST the discussion of rewards. In fact it discusses concepts which are the exact opposite, for instance the verse mentions works being burnt away, it also mentions suffering and loss.

DanFugett said –
Aquinas inconsistency #3: VV 10-15 relegates the builder using permanent material to “he will receive his reward” and the one who uses inferior material to “he himself will be saved”. Further, the time specified is already given in v 13, “… for the Day will disclose it …” Thus, how does this have anything to do with the hour of our death rather than the Day when the works of each believer (all who build have to be building on the only Foundation possible so they are all equally believers) will be tested = disclosed = made visible = revealed; and all the builders will go to heaven - some with rewards and some without?

You are confusing the General and Particular Judgements, or perhaps you are merely assuming that the two are the same, I don’t know, but either case is wrong.

It is to the General Judgment that the prophets of the Old Testament refer when they speak of the "Day of the Lord" (Joel 2:31; Ezekiel 13:5; Isaiah 2:12), in which the nations will be summoned to judgment. In the New Testament the second Parusia, or coming of Christ as Judge of the world, is an oft-repeated doctrine. (for instance Matthew 24:27 and 25:31)

But the Particular Judgment is also described in the Scriptures. For instance in (Ecclesiastes 11:9; 12:1; and Hebrews 9:27). Additionally, Christ represents Lazarus and rich man as receiving their respective rewards immediately after death. They have always been regarded as types of the just man and the sinner. Also the penitent thief it was promised that his soul instantly on leaving the body would be in the state of the blessed: "This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43). Further, St. Paul (2 Corinthians 5) longs to be absent from the body that he may be present to the Lord, evidently understanding death to be the entrance into his reward (Philemon 1:21). Ecclesiasticus 11:28-29 also speaks of a retribution at the hour of death.

DanFugett said –
How does Aquinas get from this passage that the believer upon death can spend even a second apart from God in any kind of torment when this passage doesn’t even appear to be dealing with the hour of our death but that Day?

First, this doctrine is not based on one verse in isolation and so finding an aspect of the doctrine that is not supported in this one verse does not disprove the doctrine. So Aquinas does not get this separation from God from this verse alone but from the context of all of Scripture. The idea that there must be a separation until these works are purged from the builder comes from the following verse (among others):

Rev 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Nothing that is defiled or would defile may enter heaven. That is why we suffer separation from God until our inferior works are purged.

Second, don’t think of Purgatory as something inside of time, that is not the meaning of the word temporal in the statements of leading Catholics like Aquinas and Pope John Paul II. God and the spiritual world is outside of time, so no one knows how long this separation is or if that concept even has any meaning.

I know this may be confusing to Protestants who research these concepts on their own and do not have a deep background in Catholic teachings. Which is all the more reason for you to begin by addressing my simpler presentation I offered in this thread and then take on the formal philosophical presentations of the top theologians who tend to use a different vocabulary.

Also, if you continue to read these theologians, don’t think of Purgatory as a place either, anymore than heaven or hell exist in our physical and temporal universe.

DanFugett said –
So this is all about salvation in general rather than sanctification/purification in specific.

Your simply claiming this because you have not researched the ideas fully does not make it so.

DanFugett said –
Our works after accepting Christ determine our reward but never our standing per this very passage and whether that is an eternal or temporal perspective.

Our standing is not impacted by our need to make restitution.

DanFugett said –
The RCC doctrine of Purgatory is consistent with the belief that the Word of God = scripture + sacred tradition and the doctrine that salvation is by faith + works; and is inconsistent with the views held by most Protestants of sola scripture and sola fides.

That is hard to say, since one is unrelated to the issue, since it is an error (sola fides) and the other because it is possible to come to conclude this doctrine from Scripture alone (even though it too is an error). I say this last because you have no where shown that this doctrine (once properly understood) is in anyway contrary to Scripture.

DanFugett said –
Aquinas says, “in a broad sense, the payment of the punishment due may be called satisfaction.” The concept is of the believer receiving temporary purgative punishment, to make satisfaction for un-confessed venial sins (from my perspective) takes away from salvation to those who believe that our salvation is by grace through faith alone and thus, again, has everything to do with salvation. So, from a Protestant view of sola fides, the doctrine of Purgatory does a disservice to the completed work of Christ.

Then you do not properly understand the completed work of Christ, which was to pay the eternal punishment of sin (spiritual death) UNLESS of course you wish to defend the idea that true repentance has no need of a sincere desire to make restitution. If you can defend the idea that you can steal and kill and then simply repent and confess with no intention of making restitution to the victims as much as you are able, then I might consider the idea that Christ paid for all our punishment (eternal and temporal). But we know you cannot do this because you yourself said that if we die with these venial sins on our soul we are punished by the removal of rewards in the verses in question. If Christ paid ALL our punishment this loss of rewards would not happen. Your doctrine is inconsistent.

DanFugett said –
Aquinas quotes the scripture "to fill up what was lacking" in Col 1:24. How does one get that the suffering of Paul for the Church in any way adds to the satisfaction attained by Christ's finished work

Because that is what the verse says. Perhaps if you actually provide the quote from Aquinas in context we can discuss it further since your interpretation does little to support you interpretation of Paul’s claim.

DanFugett said –
….and is just a simple allusion to the fact persecution and martyrdom always points people to Christ?

Lets look at the verse in questions and then you can answer a question about it.

Col 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the church:

Just how does this persecution and martyrdom explain that there is still something lacking in the afflictions of Christ? Your interpretations seems to still leave room to admit that Christ’s sacrifice was not complete.

DanFugett said –
Aquinas said, "The punishment of purgatory is intended to supplement the satisfaction which was not fully completed in the body." Wasn’t Jesus work enough already for eternal and temporal satisfactin of God's just demands???

The simple answer is no. If it were your doctrine of loss of rewards would not be necessary and the doctrine of restitution as being part of a true repentance would not be necessary. Jesus paid the penalty of eternal punishment for sin. That is why we move from death to life. It does not give us free reign to sin without the need to make it up to people we fault.

Again I would recommend, until you have a thorough grasp of theological terms and the definitions common in Catholic writings, that you focus on simpler, less sophisticated presentations such as my own humble offerings.




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