How to defend Purgatory

How do you answer a Protestant that claims Purgatory makes Christs sacrifice insufficient?

Because God is both merciful and just.

Justice means there is a penalty for an offense. Mercy means the penalty is diminished.

If God were merciful but not just, he would just forgive everyone and not exact any sort of penalty. That’s what this guy thinks - he doesn’t believe that God is just (only merciful).

If God were just but not merciful, nearly everyone would go to hell. That’s what some Catholics on this Forum think.

But God is both. Purgatory is how those two properties are reconciled. Without purgatory there would be no justice.

That’s what some Catholics on this Forum think.

How do they think? Thank you for the help.

You might like the page on Purgatory at the Ten Questions series.


Here’s part of it:

4. Purgatory can’t be true because Jesus already paid for your sins on the Cross.

Purgatory couldn’t be true unless He had. In fact, part of the doctrine of Purgatory is that the only people who will go there are people who are already saved – who have already had their sins paid for by Jesus. You may ask, “Well then why does Purgatory exist at all?” but part of the answer is that even with your sins paid for, your participation in that grace requires that you be purified of what leads you to sin. Disorders of the soul and weaknesses of the flesh are all part of the things that we struggle with here on earth but are not fit for entering into heaven. If Jesus has really paid the price for our sins, then those things must be dealt with before we get into heaven, and that requires a purification of just the kind Purgatory is all about. So your point backfires on this one: the death of Jesus is what makes a place like Purgatory possible, and is just one more reason to believe that it exists.

5. The Bible says the blood of Jesus purges us from sin; not Purgatory.

You just said the blood of Jesus purges us from sin, so you admit a purging. Now if we aren’t completely purged in this life, but there is a purging, then your own theology is starting to anticipate some of the reasons why we believe in a Purgatory. God purges us by Jesus’ blood, yes, and that’s not incompatible with Purgatory. Rather, it suggests that there is a Purgatory in this life, and if it isn’t complete in us here, it implies that there has to be a Purgatory in the next life to finish the job of making us ready for heaven.

6. You don’t need purged of sin after death because God doesn’t look at your sins, He looks at the atonement.

He does look at the atonement, and it’s because of that that we can make it into heaven at all. But that doesn’t mean our sins don’t affect anything at all. Scripture says “Nothing unclean shall enter the New Jerusalem.” Revelation 21:27. And if it means that, then it doesn’t matter what God is looking at, His Word says a person who is unclean can’t make it in so you’ve got to be made clean. That can happen in this life, or it can be partly done here while leaving us short of perfection, which is what happens to most of us. And in that state the Scripture still stands: until we are purified, we won’t get into heaven, so there’d better be a Purgatory or we’ll all be in trouble.

Let me know if that helps.

First of all, anyone that ends up in Purgatory is without a doubt saved, eventually, so Christ’s sacrifice does extend to those in Purgatory.

Second, Purgatory has a substantial amount of Biblical support, which I blogged about a while ago: :thumbsup:

Why do they think Purgatory is accomplished by any power other than Christ? Scripture teaches we are sanctified by his blood (eg. Heb. 10:10; 13:12). The final sanctification, which is purgatory, would not be in competition with this, but in harmony with this.

These are all great responses, thank you!

I ran a poll a while back asking whether people thought it was “easy” or “hard” for a person of good will to commit mortal sin. Not gangsters, obviously, but everyday people of good will.

This is a centuries-old theological debate. Back in the middle ages, people generally thought it was “easy.” Today, many theologians think it’s “hard.” In fact, a number of modern theologians speculate that hell exists but it’s empty (which I think is going too far).

I was quite surprised by the number of responses that said “easy.” One guy actually suggested that we cannot go even a few hours after Confession before we’re back on the bus to hell.

People who think it’s “easy” for a person of good will to commit mortal sin believe (by extension) that few are saved.

I see. I would say there is much more temptation into grave sin these days than back in the time of St. Thomas Aquinas. So it is probably easier.

I have to say, in all my RCIA classes as a convert, Purgatory was one of my biggest struggles. Mainly because I just didn’t understand it. That, and I’m basically a very stoic thinker. (It’s either heaven or hell…that’s it)

Thanks for this thread!! What a great help!

Purgatory was pretty straight forward for me to get.

Modern day Jews don’t believe in a Hell, just a Purgatorial state.

Since nothing unclean can enter heaven, one can only speculate that sins are removed somehow before entering heaven (since no one is perfect).

If someone asks you where is purgatory in the bible. I think a good response would be why do Jews believe in a purgatorial state? Doesn’t Christianity come from the Jewish faith?

you can also go to 2nd Maccabees and other places in the bible as well. But the idea that everything has to be in the bible is not the traditional approach to the bible… in other words the bible wasn’t meant to abolish Sacred Tradition.

Catholics believe Christ’s grace is sufficient for much more and accomplishes much more that what Protestants give Jesus Christ credit for.

** Christ’s Suffering is all sufficient : He paid the price**
Protestants often object to the existence of Purgatory with the claim that
“Christ’s suffering is all sufficient therefore there is no Purgatory.” Christ suffering is all sufficient, however their claim actually makes too little of Christ’s suffering by failing to recognize all that His suffering accomplishes.
God does wash away all our guilt through the Sacraments, but He desires to accomplish even more that that. Purgatory is a good doctrine and our world is much better with it than without it. Christ’s suffering makes Purgatory possible. A world without a Purgatory actually would make God and His sufferings less effective than what they are.

     Protestants often fail to see this because the          World has confused them so that they often misunderstand what it means          to be in heaven and to be reconciled with God.  The World          misunderstands what true love means.  The worldly person may say          that they love  ___  (fill in the blank any one of the several          hedonistic desires that afflicts our culture.)

     It can be helpful to contrast the Muslims view of          heaven with the Catholic view.  Muslims believe that if they          die while trying kill off the infidels they will be rewarded          with 72 virgins. (I do not know how the virgins get rewarded.)  Here, God’s holy plan is converted          or changed into our worldly          hedonistic value system.  Whereas, in the Christian understanding          it is our hedonistic values that must be overcome as we get converted to God’s holy way.           So, the contrast is God being converted to our ways verses we being          converted and believing in God’s holy ways.

     To be reconciled with God means for us to desire          the good, that which He desires for us.  We need to be cleansed of          any sinful desires in order to go heaven.

     Genesis 19:26
    “But Lot’s wife behind him looked back, and she became a pillar of          salt.”

     Lot’s wife looking back symbolized her yearning for          the ways of life of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Her turning to salt showed          how she was not worthy of or even accepting of the life God was wanting          to give to her.

     Sometimes people die without being purified on          earth of all their desires that are contrary to God’s will.           Therefore, in the true and Catholic understanding we need to be purged          of those desires and sins before we can enter heaven.   We need          purgatory.  Purgatory was made possible by the grace that Jesus won for us on          the cross.  It is the place, or better the state (for the lack of a better way to          describe it) where we are purged of our sinful desires and are reconciled with God in heaven          and His holy ways.  No one in heaven disagrees with God about what          is good or evil, or holy or sinful, or true or heretical.  We need to be          purified of all that is wrong.  God’s grace makes that possible in          purgatory.

     Revelation 21:27“But nothing unclean shall enter it, (the heavenly city of God –Rev          21:2)  nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only          those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”[INDENT]                 CCC **                 [                 1472]("")**    
            To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is                  necessary to understand that sin has *a double consequence.*                  Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes                  us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called                  the “eternal punishment” of sin. On the other hand**every sin, even venial, entails an                  unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either                  here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory.**                  This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal                  punishment” of sin. …  Read more at                 [                 1030]("")
         [/INDENT]Purgatory is the beautiful portico of heaven where          we are washed clean.  It can be painful for us to be changed into          the way we need to be.  As we come into God's presence we will see all          the good and bad that we have done and recognize it for what it is.           Some of that will be painful too.

     Catholics believe that God by His grace          accomplishes more than what Protestants believe His grace accomplishes.           We get washed clean before entering heaven.  We are purged of all          filth and sin. We don't stink the place up.


This passage gets posted tons of times on these forums RE: purgatory

1 Cor 3:12 Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble— 13 each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day*(“ Corinthians+3&version=RSVCE#fen-RSVCE-32582b”)] will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.*

It describes a person who dies in favor with God, (is saved ) but needs a cleanup before heaven. The “Day” is the day we die and are judged… by Jesus.

Paul was inspired to teach that from the HS. Which means Jesus taught it John 14:25-26 , John 16:12-15

Those who die in mortal sin, aren’t in favor with God, aren’t saved, and go immediately to hell 1035

John Salza wrote a book The Biblical Basis for Purgatory. available from OSV.

Also get Dave Armstrong’s A Biblical Defence of Catholicism available from Sophia Institute Press, which has a chapter specifically dealing with Purgatory.

I think the reformers created a theological vacuum. Starting with the belief that the Church had no authority to administer indulgences, they decided to wipe out the problem by inventing justification by faith alone (JBFA), and POOF! No need for purgatory.

Then the question to ask them is what do they think the sacrifice of Christ is sufficient for? What does it mean to them? What does “sufficient” covers?

Does it mean that those that are saved are sin spotless? Nope. Since nothing unclean can enter heaven, then there must be a "place " for cleaning up before entering heaven. But can you enter heaven through the back door under the cloak of snow, that Christ righteousness can deceive the Father in letting the unclean get into heaven through imputation? Only if you believe that the Father can be fooled that way and that Christ participated in a scam. God has never declared something that is not. That would be a lie or less than omniscient. The final question is thus: is there a place for sin in heaven?

a) yes, it is there cloaked by Christ righteousness. Non-biblical OR
b) no. Not a spot of sin can enter heaven. Biblical.

Take your pick.

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