Sunday, May 10, 2020

A Discourse Against The Catholic Dogma Of Purgatory

  • Discussion:
          -The purpose of this article is to rebut a number of arguments made in defense of the Roman Catholic dogma of purgatory as well as attempts to answer objections to that dogma. Following are a few excerpts from Kevin Tierney along with a critique of his assertions:

          "...the sacrifice of Christ is no longer there for one "who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified"; such a one can "throw away [one's] confidence" and "shrink back" and be "destroyed" (Hebrews 10:28-39). The only thing such a sinner looks forward to is judgment, for "the Lord will judge his people" (cf. Romans 2:5-10). We are to keep faith and endure to the end to be saved, "so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised" (cf. Matthew 24:13; 2 Peter 1:10f)."

          The text from Hebrews addresses people who knowingly and willingly reject the atonement for sin that God provides. It is about persevering in the faith, not purification of souls after death. The author of Hebrews addresses an audience who professes Christ without providing specific commentary on how things work in the afterlife.

          The text from Matthew is descriptive, not prescriptive, in nature. The text from 2 Peter simply gives us a picture of what takes place in sanctification and does not concern the instance of justification itself.

          "...the final step into heaven would require us to be perfectly purified and made completely holy through Christ’s grace, since the church in heaven, where "nothing unclean can enter" contains holy and perfected people (cf. Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 12:14, 23; 1 Thess 5:23; Eph 5:26f; Rev 21:27). So we DO "need to be purified" according to Scripture (cf. Mal 3:2-3; 1 Peter 1:6-9; 1 Cor 3:12-15; Hebrews 12:29), and Christ's one sacrifice is the application of that final purification and sanctification necessary for heaven -- which Catholics call "purgatory."

          Certainly, we must persevere in faith. Nothing unclean can enter heaven. However, the point of contention is whether good works are to be seen as meritorious. Christians are forgiven of their sins by God and covered in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He therefore already sees us as perfect in His sight. Purgatory is something created by Roman Catholicism to meet a need that does not exist. It exists only in the minds of people who choose to believe it.

          "There is no evidence in Scripture of the infamous mantra “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (some say it is implied in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 which actually reads: "we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord" -- RSV). There is often desire to be away from the body and be with Christ, but what believer wouldn’t desire this?"

           In context, Paul sets forth a contrast between an earthly "tent" that is subject to destruction and an eternal "tent" prepared by God (2 Corinthians 5:1). He is speaking in reference to our bodies. He speaks of the believer's longing to be "clothed" with a glorified body rather than being "in this house" (2 Corinthians 5:2). Paul says we shall not be "naked" but clothed in heavenly glory (2 Corinthians 5:3). We are troubled in our mortal bodies, but will put on life and immortality at the final resurrection. This context is full of contrasts between the temporal and eternal realms. We walk by faith, not sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Paul clearly sets up a twofold division between absence and presence (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). It is therefore foolish to assert that this "famous mantra" has "no evidence" in Scripture.

          There are a number of passages in Scripture that pertain to the intermediate state without any idea of purgatory even being hinted at (John 14:1-4; Revelation 7:14-17; 20:11-15). All these texts point to the souls of believers going directly to be with God in heaven after physical death. Nowhere is a temporary abode that exists to purify our souls of venial sin spoken of. The repentant thief on the cross was promised eternal bliss that same day by Jesus Christ Himself (Luke 23:39-43).

          "...If this argument is turned around on the Protestant who uses Church history, it hurts him even more. What about those prayers for the dead? Of course they are depicted as being in a place of happiness! They were going to heaven! Nowhere does the Catholic Church deny this. There is also the Latin used, which Webster says only refers to “refreshment” or to “refresh.”

          The above assertions are a red herring. The view of purgatory that has been a tradition of Roman Catholicism for centuries is that it is a place of intense suffering to satisfy divine justice. According to this view, it is anything but pleasant. In Catholic theology, purgatory exists for people to make atonement for the remaining guilt of venial sin committed during their earthly lives. Purgatory has been described as a sin purifying fire. It is from this point of view that authors like Webster critique purgatory. Catholic apologists who describe purgatory in terms of peace, bliss, and excitement are not representing historic belief. 

          Primitive writers such as Clement of Rome and Polycarp refer to Christians as being in heaven without any mention of purgatory.


Thaddeus said...

Interestingly, as a former RC missionary priest, I'm in conversation with 2 separate Universalists, who claim a form of post-mortem purification . Some universalists believe that, after a certain cleansing period, God will free the inhabitants of hell and reconcile them to himself. Sounds a lot like Purgatory.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Without the doctrine of purgatory, Papists have no reason for indulgences -- the two go hand-in-hand. Both are unbiblical nonsense which has added unknown amounts of money into Papist coffers.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

That's because Universalists say EVERYONE will be saved and hell doesn't exist.

Thaddeus said...

Many universalists actually believe in Hell, at least, their understanding of Hell..
Many universalists see Hell as restorative, not retributive, very much as Roman Catholics see Purgatory as purifying and cleansing. It is not eternal and is beneficial rather than punitive.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


Are you a Universalist?

Thaddeus said...

Glenn, I'm a former/ex calvinist and Trinitarian.
I spend so much time explaining and defending the Trinity against even Christians, who believe that Universalism is the new 'way-to-go' - Rob Bell disciples.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I'm just trying to figure out why you have all those links defending the lack of hell or an eternal punishment.

Thaddeus said...

"I'm just trying to figure out why you have all those links defending the lack of hell or an eternal punishment."
Evidence of the Universalist's position, not support FOR it.