Methodists believe in Purgatory?

I was listening to Catholic Answers today and a caller mentioned that Catholics and Methodists believe in Purgatory. My parents are Methodist and I’m pretty sure they deny the existence of Purgatory. I just assumed only Catholics adhered to this belief. Do other denominations or faiths believe in it?

I googled it and Wikipedia says that John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, believed in an intermediate state between death and the final judgment and in the possibility of “continuing to grow in holiness there.”

And growth in holiness is the essence of purgatory!

I agree. I just don’t think Mr. Wesley called it that. :stuck_out_tongue:

I believe the reasoning of some Christians other than Catholics believe, only they do not specifically call the State Purgatory.
Peace, Carlan

The Fourteenth of Wesley’s Twenty-Five Articles of Religion, which is supposed to be included in every Methodist worship book, reads thusly:

“The Romish Doctrine covering purgatory, pardons, worshiping, and adoration, as well as of images as of relics, and also invocation of saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warrant of Scripture, but repugnant to the Word of God.”

I’m pretty sure most Protestant traditions, including Methodism, believes in some form or other of an Intermediate State after death. Most Protestants leave the exact details of the Intermediate State undefined, but its basically a state of existence where we are in the presence of God but are still waiting for the resurrection of glorified bodies.

That says it all…

Yes, the Fourteenth Article in a very muddy sort of way appears to point towards a belief that either all sinners {pretty much all of humanity] not matter what go to Heaven [since as fast as they sin Jesus’ sacrifice has already totally cleansed their spiritual slate?] OR go to Hell, OR that God allows some sinners into Heaven and casts the rest into Hell as the Divine whim wishes - no place for Purgatory it seems. :confused:

Indeed, since many Protestants take Jesus’ salvation of humankind as totally unconditional and complete, ‘logically’ this would mean there is no such thing as any other consequence of sin - that sin has been totally divorced from the perpetrator - that ‘we’ may in effect commit sin but remain stainless - weird, that! :shrug:

We are sinners and need to be cleaned up before entering heaven. Very few people are that holy or completely conformed to God’s will at the time of their death.

I think the problem that Protestants have is that the Catholic purgatory is somewhat ambiguous as to how long it will last, or will it just feel like it’s lasting even though we’re no longer bound by time. The Protestants I’ve talked to believe that if there is a purification after death, it is instantaneous.

I’ve also been asked quite a bit about praying for the souls in purgatory and if the prayers help someone get out faster. Then they’ll follow up by noting that’s not really a fair system for those that don’t have anyone to pray for them etc. That gets very legalistic.
I usually quote the CCC

The major misunderstanding of Purgatory amongst the Protestants is that they swear that Catholics teach it is a “second chance”. It is not a second chance and the RCC has never stated such a thing. ANYBODY who goes to Purgatory WILL get into Heaven. Just as fire will one day purify this world to usher in the Age to Come and the eternal reign of Jesus Christ, the fire of Purgatory purifies all who are found to die in Christ’s friendship.

By denying venial sin, Protestants essentially just take it that anyone who dies saved, automatically goes to Heaven. Nope. After death, there is a personal judgement in which “works-say it again faith aloners,ha-WORKS are tried by fire!” THAT IS PURGATORY!

Coming from the Methodist church …no they do not. In fact the Methodist churches I have been in and my own family who are Methodist reject that Purgatory exists. For them its binary in nature - heaven or hell immediately.

Thank you for clarifying this for us; that was my understanding from the few Methodists I know.


Reason!, they may not believe it but they will be cleansed anyway, see the Beatitudes ,Matthew, 5.Peace, Carlan

What you are describing is nothing like what John Wesley believed. He believed in holiness, sanctification, and what he called Christian perfection (which is not the same thing as sinless perfection).

If this is the case, then it seems that pretty much everybody believes in purgatory. If one believes that we are fallen and imperfect human beings on earth, but are perfect when entering heaven, then they must believe that we somehow get from imperfect to perfect after we die. That state, of being perfected, no matter what one calls it or how long it takes, is pretty much the same as what Catholics believe of purgatory. We go from imperfection to perfection.

The alternative is to believe that we enter heaven uncleansed, imbued with imperfection and sinful tendencies. But a person in such a state could not really be happy in heaven.

I didn’t say that most Protestants believed in an Intermediate State where they are “perfected” . I said they believed in an Intermediate State that is usually very vaguely defined but typically consists of: being in the presence of God and waiting to receive resurrected, glorified bodies. I’m not exactly sure what Methodists believe about the Intermediate State.

This is what the United Methodist Church says, via

[INDENT]What happens immediately after a person dies? Do they go directly to heaven or hell or do they go to a holding place until Christ returns to earth for the final judgment?
The basic beliefs of United Methodists can be found in the Book of Discipline in Our Doctrinal Standards and General Rules. However, mention of “hell” and “heaven” as serious afterlife issues cannot be found in this section or any other part of the Book of Discipline.

Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials by Ted A. Campbell says, “The Methodist Articles of Religion, following the teachings of the Reformation, rejected the medieval Catholic idea of purgatory as a place where the souls of those who have died in Christ could be aided or helped by the prayers of the living. John Wesley himself believed in an intermediate state between death and the final judgment, where those who rejected Christ would be aware of their coming doom (not yet pronounced), and believers would share in the “bosom of Abraham” or “paradise,” even continuing to grow in holiness there. This belief, however, is not formally affirmed in Methodist doctrinal standards, which reject the idea of purgatory but beyond that maintain silence on what lies between death and the last judgment.”

My son is a Methodist and he says they don’t believe in Purgatory. In fact, most Methodists believe in sanctification so that everyone who follows the Methodist religion can become a saint. This is so different than the Catholic belief that only the very holy can become saints and go straight to heaven when they die.

Catholics tend to be more guilt-ridden and think they are ultimately sinners, whereas Methodists believe in a more active type of faith, where they can serve and learn and perfect themselves as Christians. I would say Catholics are more negative and Methodists more positive about their ultimate salvation.

I always thought Methodists believed in something called total sanctification. Doesn’t really fit in with Purgatory much does it?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit