Problems with the doctrine of Purgatory?


#1

Sparked by this statement here.

1030 All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.
1031 The Church gives the name *Purgatory *to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607
As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.608

1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin."609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.610 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:
Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.611

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. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.84


#2

The biggest problem with Purgatory is the identification of the flesh as being the source of sinful behavior, viz. Romans 7:14-25, Romans 8:3-8, and others. In fact, in many translations, the greek word translated “sinful nature” is the greek word “σάρξ” or, sarx, which also means, and is variously translated “flesh.” If the flesh dies, then what sinful nature is yet to be purified from the soul?

The other idea of purgatory, that of needing to cleanse unforgiven veinial sin, I think we can all dismiss as unbiblical, and an insult to the sufficiency of the Cross.

Often people quote Rev. 20:27 to support the idea of Purgatory, which says:

“Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (speaking about the kingdom of Heaven)

But when read in light of 1 Cor 15:50, which reads:

“I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”

as well as the preceding description of our Resurrection Bodies, we see that the sinful flesh must die, and we must be given new spiritual bodies, which can enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Taken all together, we can conclude thus:

  1. Our Mortal Bodies are sinful by nature, and are the source of our sin (Romans 7:18)
  2. When we are reborn in the Spirit, we are given a Spirit that wishes to please God (Romans 7:22)
  3. Our Mortal Bodies must pass away(1 Cor. 15:50)
    i.e. We must die in the sin of Adam (1 Cor 15:22)
  4. Jesus came to condemn sin in the Sinful Flesh (Romans 8:3b(sinful man also means “flesh” check footnotes!)
    Thus, we can conclude that when we die, our sinful nature goes with it, or as I’ve said in another purgatory forum

My Spirit wishes to please God
My Flesh makes me sin

My Spirit inherits the Kingdom of Heaven
My Flesh dies, and rots in the ground

This is also the basis behind the largely Protestant teaching that death is the final act of sanctification. I have also yet to hear a good Catholic interpretation for why we, if we are indeed redeemed and heirs to eternal life, still must die in the flesh.

This whole issue of Purgatory is all part of the RCC notion that the ideas of “Justification” and “Sanctification” are one in the same, but they are actually separate concepts, in that we are all Justified alike, but our various levels of Sanctification are different.


#3
  1. What do you mean by “mortal bodies”? I hope you are not saying it is our physical flesh that is the source of sin.

2)What do you mean by “reborn in the spirit” considering you as a Protestant believe in imputed grace?

  1. I think all Paul is saying is that a fallen person cant inherit the Kingdom, it doesnt mean you have to physically die. In fact at the Second Coming there will be people still alive on earth.

  2. Jesus came to actually heal us. His grace infused into our souls makes us spiritually alive.

My Spirit wishes to please God
My Flesh makes me sin

My Spirit inherits the Kingdom of Heaven
My Flesh dies, and rots in the ground

Again, if you mean “flesh” as in your physical body that is incorrect. Your soul (though united with your physical body) is the source of your actions.

This is also the basis behind the largely Protestant teaching that death is the final act of sanctification. I have also yet to hear a good Catholic interpretation for why we, if we are indeed redeemed and heirs to eternal life, still must die in the flesh.

We must not still die because at the 2nd coming there will be people alive on earth. The reason why it is possible to die is because the effects of Original Sin remain, though they are not sin themselves. Jesus was able to suffer and die, yet He was without sin.

This whole issue of Purgatory is all part of the RCC notion that the ideas of “Justification” and “Sanctification” are one in the same, but they are actually separate concepts, in that we are all Justified alike, but our various levels of Sanctification are different.

The Protestant understanding of salvation is one in which God must pretend you are righteous so He can save you! :eek:
He calls you righteous, despite the fact you are not so, then afterwards sanctification kicks in to make you actually righteous :confused:.

The Catholic understanding is that God’s grace makes you righteous and thus He can consider you as such.


#4

#5

Hi,

Could you please highlight in the original post where Catholic doctrine’s “biggest problem” identifies the flesh as being the source of sinful behavoir?

The other idea of purgatory, that of needing to cleanse unforgiven veinial sin, I think we can all dismiss as unbiblical, and an insult to the sufficiency of the Cross.

Think again. I don’t know about you, but I am not completely holy. I am completely forgiven, but not completely holy or clean. Since nothing unclean shall enter into heaven, I am eternally thankful that I will be cleansed of all sin so I can enter heaven.

And since we are cleansed THROUGH His blood, I don’t see how it is an insult to the sufficiecy of the Cross. It is only BECAUSE of the cross that we can be completely cleansed of all sin.

The difference here is you seem to believe that you are simply declared righteous and holy? Catholics believe we will BE righteous and holy through the cleansing blood of Christ and the sacrifice of the cross. Ahh, but I see later in your post, you seem to believe that you will be completely clean before entering heaven?

You seem to be under the mistaken idea that purgatory is defined as a place. If you carefully read the stated doctrine, you will see that there is no “time limit” put on purgatory. It may very well be instantaneous, and the process you describe as happening, sounds suspiciously like purgatory without the label.

Purgatory is not defined as a place. It has no time limit imposed on it and could be instantaneous.

You seem to be arguing against things the CAtholic Church does not, in fact, actually teach. You also seem to state that the problem with purgatory is the flesh is sinful, yet go onto state that the flesh is sinful. So which is it, the biggest problem with purgatory of something you believe?

Respectfully,
Maria


#6

flesh is sin? God was made into flesh, and He is holy. so how can flesh be sinful and holy at the same time?


#7

Then do these passages of Scripture insult the sufficiency of the cross?

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Colossians 1:24)

“My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20)

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

Jeremy


#8

St. John of the Cross in Dark Night of the Soul does an excellent job of describing Purgatory, not as punishment but of purging the soul of all that is not of God.
As a log in the fireplace changes, so does the log until the log becomes one with the fire. For some this purging takes place while we remain on earth. For others, it continues until the soul is ready to enter the brightness of heaven.


#9

Im sorry but you are dead wrong here. Can flesh, apart from the will, sin? Of course not! My flesh cannot sin - sin involves making a choice - it is an act of the will to reject God. Only I can sin, and I can do it through my flesh, but it is me who sins. It is not what enters me which defiles me, but what comes out from within me which defiles me.

Hogwash on both counts. I will focus on the latter comment because it is important. I will simply say this: Purgatory IS part of the sufficiency of the Cross. It is the forgiveness of sins earned by Christ applied at the point of death for the final purification required to be in the presence of God. Your vague reference to the “sufficiency of the cross” is genuine, im sure, but faulty nonetheless. Im sure if a Pope had uttered the words, “I make up for what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ through my body**”** (cf Col) that you and many non-C’s would object vehemently that such a statement contradicts the “sufficiency of the Cross”. The truth, however is that St Paul makes the claim - not any Pope - and it indicates that your concept of the “sufficiency of the cross” is lacking. Another verse from which also indicates that further explanation is required on what is meant by the “sufficiency of the cross” is Romans 12:1 "I urge you, brothers, by the mercy of God to offer your body as a … sacrifice holy and pleasing to God." Why would Paul advocate such “works” to be offered to God? Isnt there only one sacrifice for all time? Does it mean Christs sacrifice wasnt “sufficient”? Of course not! It simply means that your implicit understanding of the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice is incomplete and not in alignment with Scripture. For those who are a “new creation” in Christ, our works - and even our experience of Purgatory - unite with the one, sufficient sacrifice of Christ to fulfill the completion of the forgiveness of sins, sanctification and glorification that he accomplished.

Including your mind? Didn’t God promise in 1Cor 10:13 that “No trial has come to you except what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength, but with the trial He will provide a way out so that you may be able to bear it.”? This comes as a warning, BTW - here is the full context:
12Everyone, no matter how firmly he thinks he is standing, must be careful he does not fall. 13None of the trials which have come upon you is more than a human being can stand. You can trust that God will not let you be put to the test beyond your strength, but with any trial will also provide a way out by enabling you to put up with it.
God seems to be promising you that He will provide you with the strength to persevere under temptation while you seem to be making excuses for your sinfulness. Now who’s denying the sufficiency of the Cross, my friend? :hmmm:


#10

Just my 2 cents and then I’ll go back to lurking…

Flesh delights in sin. Our brain is part of our flesh so no we are not inanimate objects. We have two control systems-brain (flesh) and soul. Yes, our flesh “makes” or allows us to sin because our brain allows us to want, envy, boast, seek out pleasure yada yada yada. How else do you describe how something feels so good one day but give us such grief for days, weeks, years. We “know” in our soul these things are wrong and yet we still do them! Thankfully, this is just our flesh. Flesh doesn’t go to heaven, our soul goes to heaven and our souls are made righteous the moment we accept the HS thanks to Christ’s death on the cross. Does this mean our flesh will cease to sin? No way! This is why we must walk closely to God so that our souls have the strength to overrule what the flesh wants. No sacrament done in the last few moments of our life can change the direction of our soul.


#11

Repentance can.


#12

Uhh, Im a little confused. I think you are trying to say that by walking “closely to God…our souls have the strength to overrule what the flesh wants.” Right? So when we CHOOSE not to walk closely with God - that is, when we choose to separate ourselves from the grace which flows from the Cross - we will fall victim to sin because we dont take advantage of the grace offered us. What is confusing, though, is that you start by implying we have no control because of our sin nature but then finish with “thats why we have to walk closely to God” as if that choice is somehow able to be controlled differently. In addition, you seem to be of the opinion that choosing to “walk” with God is an essentially different choice than choosing not to sin. I would have to disagree with that: choosing to sin is choosing not to walk with God.


#13

Well, I’ve seen little in the way of valid responses to my original post, but what I will say is this:

Guardian1> God made Satan…'nuff said

To All> When I said “The other idea of purgatory, that of needing to cleanse unforgiven veinial sin, I think we can all dismiss as unbiblical, and an insult to the sufficiency of the Cross.”

What I meant was, isn’t Purgatory, in your teachings, rehabilitative, as opposed to Penal? If the Cross was insufficient to cover the penal punishment of sin (eternal death), then how would one even get to Purgatory with unforgiven venial sin?

In addition, Eph. 2:8-9 reads “For it is by Grace that you have been saved, and this is not of yourselves, but is a gift from God,not by works, so that no one can boast.” I understand that Phil 2:12 states that we should “work out our salvation in fear and trembling,” but the two must be shown to be compatible. Isn’t the only way to do this for God to first, Declare one righteous(totally free gift, no action required), and then conform one to the image of his son through a process, and deeds?

Salvation must be seen as a process with discrete steps.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

Romans 8:29-30

Besides, how could one ever atone for sin but by the blood of Christ? Remember, Any good deed you do will only be doing what God requires, you don’t get “extra credit” to cover times you failed to do what he required.

In addition, if we are not yet forgiven, how can any measure of righteous deeds make us in God’s eyes, righteous?

“and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” Isaiah 64:6


#14

Because we do not believe our sins will be covered, but cleansed. This is a difference, in our beliefs. Through Christ’s blood we are not just declared righteous, we are actually made righteous.

Do you believe you are perfectly holy right now? That you do not sin? Do you believe that you will sin in heaven? If you do sin in life, and do not believe you will sin in heaven, you must believe that you will be in some way purified so as not to sin in heaven. This final sanctification we call purgatory.

It is not that the cross was insufficient, it is the final application of the cross, the final sanctification that occurs at the moment or after death. We believe that it is because of Christ’s suffering that we can recieve this final sanctifcation in the first place.

In addition, Eph. 2:8-9 reads “For it is by Grace that you have been saved, and this is not of yourselves, but is a gift from God,not by works, so that no one can boast.” I understand that Phil 2:12 states that we should “work out our salvation in fear and trembling,” but the two must be shown to be compatible. Isn’t the only way to do this for God to first, Declare one righteous(totally free gift, no action required), and then conform one to the image of his son through a process, and deeds?

Yes, they must be completely compatible. We agree that our justification is a completely free gift of God, no action required. And we also agree that one will choose to conform oneself in the image of God throug a process and deeds.

Salvation must be seen as a process with discrete steps.

Yes.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

Romans 8:29-30

Besides, how could one ever atone for sin but by the blood of Christ? Remember, Any good deed you do will only be doing what God requires, you don’t get “extra credit” to cover times you failed to do what he required.

:confused: What? Again, I think you are arguing against something the CAtholic Church does not teach. Could you please tell me what this argument is supposed to refute in the teaching of purgatory:confused:

In addition, if we are not yet forgiven, how can any measure of righteous deeds make us in God’s eyes, righteous?

“and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” Isaiah 64:6

Do you believe scripture that tells us that there is sin that is deadly and sin that is not deadly? That is, that there is sin that cuts us off from God and sin that only wounds our relationship but does not cut it off?


#15

First, I want to remark at how curious it is that Catholics, when pressed on the issue of purgatory, always point out that nowhere is a time frame given, and it very well could be instantaneous on death, but will never just go ahead and give up the word “Purgatory” and just say we are sanctified in death. They give up Purgatory in concept, if not in words.

(At least this is less annoying than ALWAYS appealing to Matthew 16:18)

I believe:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39

and

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:6

So, no, I don’t think there is sin that can separate you from God, or cause you to lose your status as “justified”

I know you will cite 1 John 5:16-17 to support mortal and venial sin

“If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.”

Although the Catholic Church through its history has never made quite clear what constitutes “mortal sin,” I believe this references Mark 3:29

“But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”

Or rather, those who do not believe will never be forgiven, making the 1 John warning concerning unbeleif, or what would make more sense in the context of 1 John, being a member of the church but still following sin.

And to clarify, when I said “no action required,” I mean so far as to say, as an unjustified sinner, God picked you, and justified you. You had no say in the matter at all. (for clarity’s sake, the sentence structure of Eph. 2:8 makes this idea abundantly clear)

And the bit about extra-credit, well, if any nominal Christians wander through this thread (Catholics or Protestants who have no internal faith, just going through the motions) might have that idea, which is very culture-driven, and unbiblical (as well as untraditional) might get that cleared up.


#16

I pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory every day.

Those Holy Souls in Purgatory are closer to God than you are to God.

The Hell there is; thus, there is such sin to separate you from God.

Those who don’t want to believe in this makes themselves hard to understand what constitutes mortal sins.

source: vatican.va/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a8.htm

Why should one care about faith and work if God picked you?


#17

I, too, pray for the dead, but I pray to a God that exists outside of time, that is able to affect a person in their lives who has since died. I pray for their belief, because I cannot see what lives on the insides of men (and women), but I pray they had a saving faith when they left

On Mortal Sins, even the Catechism isn’t real clear on what specific actions constitute Mortal sin, and even admits a hierarchy among the mortal sins. My view of sins is thus:

There are many varying levels of sin, in that some are more grave than others, and all sin hurts our relationship with God, once again, with varying degrees.

However, there is only one punishment for sin, no matter how light or grave:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”

Romans 6:23

As for why one should care about faith and work if we are so chosen. The answer is thus, I cannot help but seek after God. It has become my identity, It is as desirable to seek after God as it would be for a MLB baseball player to play baseball. It is what I was made to do, and my highest pleasure is found in it. Why do you think I spend so much time in these forums, if I didn’t love it?

My obedience is out of unconditional Love, I feel no duty in doing it.


#18

I have the feeling that there is a lot of misunderstanding about what purgatory is, & what it means…
This Your Friendly Neighborhood Methodist speaking, & here is a story to explain how I understand it:

I go to the post office, & I find that I have an invitation to the White House for a state dinner. The place at the table is mine. But, I have to show up, to get the meal…OK so far??
Now, I have 2 choices, as I see it…

  1. I go to the White House in my ratty old blue jeans that I wear to do housework in, & an equally tatty Tshirt that I picked up at a yard sale 6 or 7 years ago. When I arrive, I look like a street person, & the guards at the door send me back out again.
    OR
  2. I take a bath, wash my hair, brush my teeth, put on a nice dress, & I go & present myself & am ushered into the place with the rest of the guests.

Which way am I going to be more comfortable?? (Mind you, I;) love my jeans…)
I am going to be the most comfortable for taking the effort to be clean, fully clothed, & ( hopefully!) in my right mind.

Purgatory is, then, not a punishment. It is the grace of God Almighty, giving me a chance to prepare myself to enter His Presence for eternity.
It’s a nice hot bath at the end of a day of scrubbing floors, doing dishes, & changing the cat’s litter box. It’s my effort to show the King of kings, & Lord of lords, that I actually appreciate what He did for me on the cross of Calvary…
As opposed, you see, to:eek: shoving my way in, :o dirty, :osmelly, &:eek: demanding that the Creator of the universe accept me in that condition, because** I don’t want** to (as it were) wash behind my ears.
Being a Gentleman, He gives me that chance.:thumbsup:
He’s like that…:yup:


#19

That is an awefully sunny description of Purgatory, but as I understand Catholic Teaching on it, it is a Hell with greater ferocity than even the Hell unbelievers go to, a place where we are cleansed by both fire and pain.

To put this in perspective, during the Inquisition, monks justified torture because they believed that it was “Purgatory on Earth,” and hence would merely shorten the time their soul would spend in Purgatory Proper.

Not only is this horribly unkind, but entirely unnecessary, as I’ve attempted to prove in my preceding posts. (Not to mention it doesn’t occur even as church tradition until Gregory the Great in 300 AD)

But I am glad to see you proudly representing Methodism, or as we baptists say, Catholic-Lite…jk


#20

Purgatory (Lat., “purgare”, to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.

**Malachi 3:2-3 **

2"But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For **He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. **

3"He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness.

**
Daniel 12:10 **

10"Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand.

**Jude 1:23 **
23 save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

Zechariah 13
9"And I will bring the** third part through the fire**,
** Refine them **as silver is refined,
And **test them **as gold is tested
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them;
I will say, 'They are My people,'
And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’"

Zechariah 9:11 **
Deliverance of Judah and Ephraim
11As for you also, because of the blood of My covenant with you,
I have set your
prisoners free from the waterless pit.**

1 Peter 3:19
19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the **spirits now in prison, **

**1 Peter 4:6 **

6 For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the **will of God. **

**Revelation 21:4 **

4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."

If there is no morning or pain in heaven, and God will not wipe away their tears in hell. Where are the souls?

**1 Peter 1:6-7 **
6In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,

7so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

Passage 2 Maccabees 12:44-46:
44(For if he had not hoped that the that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,)
45 And because he considered that the who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them.

**46 It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.**

Maybe that is why Martin Luther removed the Book of Maccabees?

Scripture Catholic —Purgatory
scripturecatholic.com/purgatory.html
New Advent --Purgatory
newadvent.org/cathen/12575a.htm

Traditional Judaism—
There will be three groups on the Day of Judgment: one of thoroughly righteous people, one of thoroughly wicked people and one of people in between. The first group will be immediately inscribed for everlasting life; the second group will be doomed in Gehinnom [Hell], as it says, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence” [Daniel 12:2], the third will go down to Gehinnom and squeal and rise again, as it says, “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. They shall call on My name and I will answer them” [Zechariah 13:9]… [Babylonian Talmud, tractate Rosh Hashanah 16b-17a]


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