Purgatory: Does it exist?
I have read this thread and would like to understand the RCC doctrine of purgatory a little more.
Does the list of scriptures and accompanying explanation at http://www.scripturecatholic.com/purgatory.html provide a fairly accurate statement of RCC teaching of the subject? I say RCC because I am not aware of any Protestants that accept the doctrine and, honestly, the Orthodox branch is rather obscure in the literature I have read the last 33 years of being a believer.
In addition to Summa, does the statement by John Paul II at http://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM reflect an accurate and consistent view of this belief historically or is his statement a more current view of the doctrine?
Are Summa and Catherine of Genoa going to be accurate representative readings of the current RCC belief? It is my understanding, from Luther, that the creeds and councils RCC hold on the same level with scripture have changed their opinions from time to time. If that is accurate, I want to read the view that reflects the belief today.
Upon reading this thread, my question was why isnt Jesus life and work sufficient for RCC? (Everyone please take a minute to read the whole paragraph - there is no insult intended here.) From my perspective, which has been Protestant all my life, it seems that RCC have to have all these extra "props" (I just dont know a better word) like Mary as Co-mediatrix, the merits of other peole as if Jesus work isnt enough, purgatory to do what Jesus finished work at calvary already did for us, etc.
Keep in mind I have never really studied RCC so the sites listed above and this current thread are eye openers to me into the RCC belief system. As I searched the wealth of historical information (searching the word purgatory on this site, and looking at other sites like http://www.religioustolerance.org/purgatory.htm, http://notfrisco2.com/leones/?p=1138, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purgatory#Protestant_objections, http://www.elca.org/questions/Results.asp?recid=30, http://www.bibleweb.com/2006/01/martin-luther-on-purgatory.htm), I found that Luther in Table Talk and John Calvin reached the same conclusion as my initial thought concerning this doctrine of purgatory. Luther said, "God has placed two ways before us in His Word: salvation by faith, damnation by unbelief (Mark 16:16). He does not mention purgatory at all. Nor is purgatory to be admitted, for it obscures the benefits and grace of Christ." The final authority in my life is scripture rather then creeds, councils, Popes or Reformers ( I think that is consistent even if some dont agree with the belief ) so I am just quoting Luther to support that the questions I am raising are/have been asked by others.
Lastly, it looks (to me) like this doctrine of Purgatory which (has I understand it) the RCC holds the keys to, has provided sometimes very corrupt and greedy humans with a means to exploit sincere religious people who dont think they can make it to heaven if the RCC says they arent. To be fair, the doctrine of tithing has been used the same way by many Protestant ministers and, to lay myself on the review table a little more, we Protestant Pentecostals have certainly used scripture inaccurately to exploit (Oral Roberts called it seed-faith giving) money for what we believed was a good cause and sometimes out of sheer greed -- just watch CNN. What makes the doctrine of purgatory seem so "dangerous" from my viewpoint is when coupled with a belief system that one cannot satisfy God and get into heaven without accepting what the RCC teaches. Both RCC and Protestants have made millions off scaring people into giving.
NOTE: this last part isnt meant to be off track but to demonstrate that this powerful doctrine of purgatory, sometimes in the hands of corrupt priests and popes, can keep a people subjugated for centuries and obscure (Luther's word) the Person and Work of Christ; we Protestants do the same thing and we Pentecostals are the worse of all as a group. I read somewhere that RCC teaches the humanity of the Popes and that some were corrupt in history so if I overstepped the line and you think he is infallible, I am sorry for crossing the line. I dont think dialogue can occur if we insult each other so any insulting has come from not knowing. At the same time, all our consciences demand that we speak what we understand to be the truth and, historically, this doctrine seems to be a real match/hot topic. So, while I will say what I undetstand the truth to be as my conscience requires, I think I owe it to myself to know what RCC really teaches about Purgatory before doing so.
Dan Fugett, Sr Moderator