Sunday, May 10, 2020

A Discourse Against The Catholic Dogma Of Purgatory

  • Discussion:
          -Quite simply, the purpose of this article is to rebut a few arguments and rebuttals in defense of the Roman Catholic dogma of purgatory. Following are a few excerpts from the author alongside with a critique:

          "...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 and does not provide 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 and nothing unclean can enter heaven. The point of contention is whether good works are meritorious. If a person is interested in further discussion on whether Purgatory is an integral part of being purified in order to enter the kingdom of God, then he or she can view articles here and here.

          "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 order to respond to the above objection, the surrounding context of 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 has been presented:

          "For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight—we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him." (2 Corinthians 5:1-9, emphasis added)

          The Apostle Paul clearly sets up a twofold division between absence and presence. So it is erroneous to assert that the "famous mantra" has "no evidence" in Scripture. Ron Rhodes, in his work titled Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics, notes:

          "...Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that an aorist infinitive ("to depart") is linked by a single article with a present infinitive ("to be with Christ"). The infinitives thus belong together: "The single article ties the two infinitives together, so that the actions depicted by the two infinitives are to be considered two aspects of the same thing, or two sides of the same coin." So Paul is saying that the very moment after he departs the body or dies, he will be with Christ in heaven. The Greek of this passage is highly revealing. The phrases "at home in the body" and "absent from the Lord" in the first part of the passage are present tenses (which indicate continuing action). Hence, we might paraphrase it: "Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are continuing to be at home in the body we are continuing to be absent from the Lord." By contrast, the latter part of the passage contains two aorist infinitives: "absent from the body" and "at home with the Lord." Such aorists indicate a sense of "once for all." Hence, we might paraphrase it: "We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the [mortal, perishable] body and to be once for all at home with the Lord." Regarding all this, Bible scholar Anthony Hoekema comments: Whereas the present tenses in verse 6 picture a continuing at-homeness in the body and a continuing away-from-homeness as to the Lord, the aorist infinitives of verse 8 point to a once-for-all momentary happening. What can this be? There is only one answer: death, which is an immediate transition from being at home in the body to being away from home as to the body." The moment a Christian dies, he or she is immediately in the presence of Christ. It is also noteworthy that the Greek word pros is used for with in the phrase "be at home with the Lord." This word suggests very close (face-to-face, as it were) fellowship. It is a word used of intimate relationships. Paul thereby indicates that the fellowship he expects to have with Christ immediately following his physical death will be one of great intimacy." (p. 239-241)

          There are a number of passages in Scripture that mention the intermediate state and nowhere is the idea of purgatory even 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 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).

          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. This experience 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. Therefore, Roman Catholic apologists who describe purgatory in terms of peace, bliss, and excitement are not at all representing historic belief.

          Primitive writers such as Clement of Rome and Polycarp refer to Christians as being in heaven without any mention of purgatory. One Eastern Orthodox blogger makes the following point regarding the consensus of belief in purgatory in the early church:

          "...if the doctrine of Purgatory was well-established Jewish belief that was carried into Christianity since Apostolic times, why was the doctrine doubtful even in the fifth century? Augustine himself vacillated on the issue. In the Handbook of Faith, Hope, and Love his comment on the doctrine’s doubtfulness reveal that it was surely not universally accepted in his own time: “It is a matter that may be inquired into, and either ascertained or left doubtful, whether some believers shall pass through a kind of purgatorial fire” (Chap 69). In City of God he speaks to the same effect: “But if it be said that in the interval of time between the death of this body and that last day of judgment and retribution which shall follow the resurrection, the bodies of the dead shall be exposed to a fire of such a nature that it shall not affect those who have not in this life indulged in such pleasures and pursuits as shall be consumed like wood, hay, stubble…this I do not contradict, because possibly it is true” (Book 21, Chap 26)."


  1. 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.

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

    2. 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.

    3. Thaddeus,

      Are you a Universalist?

    4. 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.

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

    6. "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.

  2. 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.

  3. I like your post jesse. I cant see how this catholic tried to use heb 10 to support purgatory and also i cant believe he tried to say that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord wasnt in scripture. Im glad that u agree with me that it does say it.

  4. Sorry Jesse i dont think that i quoted that verse exactly but it should have nearly the same meaning, basically.