Catholic view of Purgatory ... Is it real?

PastorDaveSallee's picture
michael_legna's picture

Purgatory is a state of existence outside of time or space

PastorDave said -
I must begin, however, to say that any reference or teaching of 1 Cor 3:12-15 that instructs a believer that he or she must be purified after death has lost the context of the passage. Let’s begin by reviewing what is transpiring immediately before it:

6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.
10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Reading this first, then v.12-15, one can more easily surmise that the purification is done to the “works” added to the foundation, not the workers. What was modified or added to the original foundation will be purified and refined and “tried”.

I think you misunderstand the process of purification. When you purify something, like gold you apply heat and the dross (the impurities are burnt away) the dross is not purified, the stuff that remains is purified. The works that are dross are burnt away, that which remains is what was purified.

PastorDave said -
Michael wrote:
”If some of our works were of unsatisfactory nature they will be burnt away and we will suffer because of that loss.”

PastorDave said -
This is only a half-truth as “the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.” It is a given that men can and have added to the foundation, but it is this “work” of the leaders/planters that is tried. Not the men themselves. (We can see this in greater detail in point 3 below.)

No the verse does not say that it is the leaders planters work which is tried, it says every man's work is tried. Nice try! :) (do you like the pun?) But the verse just does not say that.

PastorDave said -
It is the Protestant position that to be saved “as if by fire” is then the greater or lesser amount of rewards or crowns received and not actual penance or punishment.

So to receive crowns we will suffer loss? That makes no sense. The verse says we SUFFER loss, sounds like punishment to me.

PastorDave said -
1) How is the punishment phase of purgatory to be carried out? And when?

If our bodies are not yet re-materialized (as Jesus’ body was, so ours is will be), what punishment is there to be dealt in purgatory as we are but mere souls or spirits? What is the penance during this time of body-less-ness?

Those who suffer in hell are also mere souls or spirits, but we know they suffer. So just because we cannot imagine how that happens does not mean that it does not.

PastorDave said -
And considering 1Thess 4:16-17, “… and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them …” What of purgatory for those included here? Are they exempt? What “spatial” time event would have to occur for them to be “tried” and “cleansed” if they will “always be with the Lord” when this transpires?

The dead who rise first, are the first to be receive their glorified bodies, they have already been through purgatory and have spiritually been with God while their bodies remained in the earth.

PastorDave said -
There seems little or time for this to occur. And if it does occur, it would have to be somewhere “in the blink of an eye.” Certainly, it couldn’t transpire “after” the resurrection of the Saints since we would then be whole and there is no Scripture or even RCC doctrine that puts Purgatory “after” the resurrection.

No it occurs after the individuals death and it occurs outside of time, since that is where God exists.

PastorDave said -
Time and place just don’t allow for Purgatory if Scripture is to be warranted.

Purgatory is not a time or place, it is a state of existence, just like hell. God and the spiritual realm are outside our puny notions of time and space. So

PastorDave said -
2) What of redemption? This word is not found in the teachings of Purgatory.

That is because Purgatory does not have anything to do with redemption. Only those who are already redeemed and have accepted Christ go through Purgatory. But redemption only means we will not suffer death of the soul by condemnation to hell. Those who face purgatory are going to heaven, because they built upon the foundation of Christ.

PastorDave said -
Gal. 4:5 “[God sent forth His Son] … to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Redemption is defined as like being “purchased out of the marketplace.” Christ paid the ransom and therefore we have been redeemed. (Amen!)

We have been redeemed from death, the punishment of damnation. This has nothing to do with purgatory. We were not redeemed from the obligation to make it up to people or God when we sin against them. We are forgiven but we still have to make restitution. A metaphor that is used in many Catholic books is the idea of a son who breaks a window with a baseball. If he comes and says he is sorry the father will forgive him, but will still make him pay for the window. That is what is meant by temporal punishment. Punishment that is unrelated to eternal death of the soul.

PastorDave said -
Purgatory, however, teaches that punishment is marked for those whom Christ has already paid the ransom for. The Protestant, correctly argues, that any “punishment” or “penance” due after death was paid for (redeemed) on the Cross of Calvary. And any “discipline” due while alive is from a loving Father wanting to teach His child to be better. “Why then,” the Protestant would ask, “would there be a need for discipline after death?”

You are confusing the price paid by Christ for our eternal punishment, the loss of spiritual life, with the idea of temporal punishment, which is a making right with our fellow man as part of a true repentance. Christ's sacrifice did not make it so that as we sin in our lives that we never have to worry about making restitution after we have injured another. So we indeed to face punishment and if we do not pay it here we will be asked to pay it in the next life.

PastorDave said -
Rom 8:1 “For there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus …”

Gal. 5:24 “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

Heb. 10:12-14 “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, … For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”

For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified? How damaging to the RCC doctrine. Doesn’t the idea of Purgatory teach that we are “offering additional sacrifices or penance” before we are perfected? A clear contradiction to these verses.

Not damaging at all because once again you miss the point of purgatory. Purgatory is not about avoiding condemnation, remember those being discussed have built upon the foundation of Christ, they are saved. It is about the completion of the act of sanctification. All through our lives, with the help of the grace of God we more and more become sanctified, making ourselves more and more a vessel of honor for the Lord's use. But most (if any) never become perfect vessels, and so we have our works tested by fire and those which were not satisfactory are burnt away, sanctifying us further.

Note one must be careful not to take the last verse here too literally as we are clearly not perfect, as then there would be no need for being in the process of being sanctified as the very same verse refers to us as.

Rom 8:1 is talking about there being no chance of eternal punishment (spiritual death/condemnation) for those who accept Christ. Purgatory is not about eternal punishment it is about temporal punishment – making restitution as part of a true repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Gal 5:24 is about how our sinful nature is gone once we accept Christ and that through the assistance of God's grace we can resist sin so that we are not its slave. It does not mean we will never sin again, only that it will not be a central part of our lives and that if we repent of it we can be forgiven.

Heb 10:12-14 is about Christ's sacrifice making us son's of God when we are Baptized (washed with the blood) and receive the grace of God to purify us. But we, in most cases go on to lead our lives after Baptism and we sin and reduce that purity and that is why we must repent and seek forgiveness, which is all part of the process of sanctification.

PastorDave said -
3) Did we not already die with Christ on the cross? And what of His blood?

Rom 6:4 “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, …”
Rom 6:6 “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”
Rom 6:7 “For he who has died has been freed from sin.”

The Protestant sees this as a strong refutation of the doctrine of Purgatory, since we are united with Christ in his crucifixion and baptism, and ultimately His resurrection. He/she believes that being “freed from sin” means also freed from the “punishment” or “penance” of it as well as “our old man was [already] crucified with Him.”


I agree we are "freed from sin" in the sense that we are freed from the punishment of sin – but this refers to a specific form of punishment - the eternal punishment of sin (meaning spiritual death). But purgatory does not address that issue, remember purgatory is addressing those who are saved.

Purgatory addresses the issue of temporal punishment, which is what Catholics call the need to provide restitution to those we have sinned against. The Bible clearly tells us that in order to be truly repentant we must make amends. I mean we cannot repent for stealing something and then keep what we have stolen. We cannot truly repent of lying to someone and not tell the truth keeping up the charade so as to not be found out. This is the temporal punishment at issue with regards to the dead works being purged away in 1 Cor.

PastorDave said -
Heb 9:14 “how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

1John 1:7 “… and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Purgatory (including penance) does not seem to address the cleansing power of the blood of Christ given just these two verses. Even a cursory glance at “cleansing” reveals a freeing us from, or covering, or washing them away, etc. If so, then there is no room in the Christian’s doctrine for a time (however short or long) to be in a state of purgatory since there is no reason for it due to the “cleansing” power of the “blood of the Lamb.”

Sure it does, the cleansing discussed in both of these verses occurs at Baptism and at that time we are made righteous by the blood of the lamb, infused with His grace and righteousness. The graces we receive at Baptism (and through the other sacraments) also assist us in leading a life of service to the Lord abandoning dead works as a way of life, but it does not mean we never fail. After Baptism we go on to lead our lives and we fail and we sin and we must repent and seek forgiveness. Repentance includes the willingness to make things right with those we have wronged.

Mat 5:23-26 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
The scripture plainly tell us if we have wronged another we are to make it right before we come before God seeking forgiveness. It also says if we do not do this then we risk them crying out to Him and He will make sure we have made restitution.

This making restitution is what Catholics refer to as the temporal punishment for the sin. The eternal punishment (which is spiritual death) is paid for by Christ's sacrifice, but we must still be ready to pay the temporal punishment.

PastorDave said -
4) What of Christ’s intercessory work on our behalf?

Rom 8:34 “[It is Christ] … who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”

That is to gain access to forgiveness for our sins. It is meaningless if we do not seek that forgiveness after first repenting of those sins, which of course includes a willingness to make restitution and pay the temporal punishment for those sins.

PastorDave said -
Jesus is our Mediator and High Priest making intercession for us to God. This, by the way, nullifies and moots the positions of priests, bishops, and popes here on earth as they might serve as mediators between us and God.

No, hardly. The fact that He is our High Priest points specifically to there being other lower Priests. The establishment of the sacraments in the New Testament point to the need for those to administer them, as liturgical priesthood (as in the elder specifically being called to anoint the sick). So your one statement hardly nullifies the position of Deacons, Presbters, Elders and Bishops (all of which are clearly laid out in a specific hierarchy in the New Testament).

PastorDave said -
That aside, the Protestant sees the combination of the Intercessor and the Blood cleansing power a strong argument against the “need” for penance and Purgatory after death.

Elsewhere you do admit to the need to repent and seek forgiveness in this life, and I assume this means making restitution to those whom you have injured (else you have not truly repented). Why do you see a need for that but not for those sins we missed during it? Does God just give us a free pass on these? It does not seem consistent. Can we enter heaven in this defiled state?

Catholics do see ourselves as being washed at Baptism, but it is not just a mere covering up of sins (like Luther's analogy of a snow fall covering a mound of dung) it is a real changing of us internally so that by God's continued graces we can be not just declared righteous, but that we can by cooperating with the guidance of the Holy Spirit actually be righteous. (Note: this gets into the whole imputed or infused righteousness debate which may be too broad for this topic, but we may have to tackle anyway). This righteousness is in our opinion entirely necessary to enter into heaven where nothing that is defiled can enter and thus be with God.

PastorDave said -
5) Why does Paul think to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord? Is this for Paul only?

No it is for all. How long do you think it takes God to purge someone of dead works, if He is in a hurry? No time at all; is the right answer, because God is outside of time and so will we be. I assume you accept the idea that we are judged by Christ before we go to be with God (I mean the Bible talks about it) so I ask you - How long does the judgment take? I think you see it takes no time at all, because time has no meaning.

PastorDave said -
2 Cor 5:8 “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”
Phil 1:23 “I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.”

You offer this verse without offering an interpretation, so I will assume that you want this verse to mean that this presence with the Lord is instantaneous, even though the verses does not actually say so. I would prefer not to have to make these assumptions in the future and so ask you to provide an interpretation for every verse you offer, as I will try to do. I will also try to offer an alternative interpretation to each and every verse you offer to show I am not ignoring one of them and thus make it appear I do not have an answer to one of your points and I ask you to do the same.

Regardless, the verse does not make a point of expressing a time separation between the two events because it is meaningless. The simple constructs we, as men, have developed in our human languages to express what we see in the world around us, simply fail to be applicable to the spiritual realm. God and all His hosts, of which we hope to become one, are outside of time and space, so these "logical" difficulties you think to find, are just not applicable.

PastorDave said -
The Protestant position is that there is no middle location for the soul to go between physical death and our being in the presence of Jesus. Our doctrine teaches it is “immediate.” There is, of course, a separation of time between that moment and when “the dead in Christ shall rise.” But, again our souls are with Christ and not separated from Him until some amount of penance is complete.

You are trying to place man made concepts of time and space on an existence where these ideas do not fit. The suffering in hell and in purgatory as well are states of existence more than periods of time and they do not occur in specific locations in space – hell is not down.

PastorDave said -
I will put this forth to the masses as my beginning rebuttal and not yet deal with the RCC teachings of offering penance for the dead and praying to the dead Saints … though they are closely related to the subject. I feel there will be time in the future to deal more directly with these RCC doctrines.

However, one cannot continue to uphold the teachings of the Maccabees if Purgatory cannot scripturally hold its ground.

Yes, I agree let's get to this later.

PastorDave said -
Lastly, do not mistake my post to teach we are not bound to confess our sins. This is clear and agreed upon doctrine. Yet, these confessions are working toward our earthly sanctification being “set apart” from the world as children of God who know we are in error and in need of forgiveness.

I agree, but what of the sins we have not confessed or even repented of during our life or just before our death? If they were not sins unto death, (what Catholics refer to as a mortal sin) and thus have not separated us from God (and so not threatened our salvation) do they not have to be purged?




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