Saturday, June 8, 2019

Bad Catholic Apologetics On Luke 16:19-31 And Purgatory

  • Discussion:
          -This article is a rebuttal to a Roman Catholic commentary that attempts to justify the dogma of purgatory in light of difficult implications plainly set forth by the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Only a small portion of that post will be consulted in this analysis, as that is the intended scope and the other points made by the author have already been addressed elsewhere on this blog. The excerpt being dissected is presented here as follows:

          "Luke 16:19-31 – in this story, we see that the dead rich man is suffering but still feels compassion for his brothers and wants to warn them of his place of suffering. But there is no suffering in heaven or compassion in hell because compassion is a grace from God and those in hell are deprived from God’s graces for all eternity. So where is the rich man? He is in purgatory."

          The rich man was not evil, humanly speaking. He did recognize Abraham as a spiritual father, proving that he was indeed faithful in practicing Judaism. The man did have a concern for his five brothers who had potentially not yet heard of Jesus Christ (Luke 16:28). So purgatory would have been an ideal place for God to send the rich man. But the context plainly shows us that he was in hell (Luke 16:25). Moreover, the context does not leave room for some third place which is for the purification of souls. We read of a chasm that cannot be crossed (Luke 16:26). Where could purgatory possibly be? What purpose can it even serve? Upon death, Lazarus was sent directly to a place of paradise and comfort which the Jews called "Abraham's bosom."

          Jesus had the scribes and Pharisees in mind when He spoke these words concerning the eternal destiny of mankind. He was speaking from an eternal perspective. Christ was exposing the moral hypocrisy and corruption of the religious leaders of His day. He was rebuking them for closing the door to salvation for other people as they were leading them astray from the truth regarding His Messiahship. He was stressing the fact that God will not accept dead religion. The problem is that the hearts of the Jewish leaders had not been changed by God.

          Luke 16:19-31 is problematic for the Roman Catholic teaching on praying to Mary and the saints in general, as one portion of the text reads as follows:

        "And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Verses 27-31)

         Obviously, God has ordained as a general rule of thumb that the dead cannot have contact with the living (or visa versa). From this biblical principle follows implications that are dreadful for Roman Catholic theology. The credibility of Roman Catholic Marian apparitions has been injured. Prayer to saints and indulgences are rendered of no value. Moreover, Luke 16:29-31 is problematic in that it supports Sola Scriptura. If the witness of Scripture is not sufficient to convince an unbelieving heart, then nothing else is. The words of Scripture are the very words of God Himself.

         To make matters even worse here, the defense provided by the Roman Catholic apologist being critiqued is expressly contradicted by other Roman Catholic apologists. For example, Jan Wakelin of Catholic Answers says the following:

         "To say that the rich man must have been in purgatory because love cannot exist in hell is a conclusion based on an unsupportable premise. The Church does not teach that those in hell are bereft of all kinds of love. It is true that supernatural love of God cannot exist in hell, but a disordered love is involved in every mortal sin, and this perverse loving will remain."

         The Roman Catholic catechism also references to Luke 16:19-31 with the premise that the rich man went to hell. In other words, an interpretive tradition in regard to that passage from Luke has already been long established. And yet, we have a Roman Catholic apologist acting as his own pope! He is acting independently of Roman Catholic tradition. Moreover, this incident serves as a good illustration as to the hypocrisy of apologists for Rome who resort to the unity argument against Sola Scriptura. They themselves do not see eye to eye on many things.

         Of course, the claim that the rich man was in purgatory is untenable. The context does not warrant that assertion anywhere. In fact, this entire section of Scripture is in conflict with Roman Catholic theology. Luke 16:19-31 would have been an excellent place for Jesus Christ to make mention of purgatory, as the passage gives us a basic picture of the afterlife. But He does not. There is no opportunity to make amends for sin after death. Our fate is permanently sealed at the moment of physical death.

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