Purgatory, again


#1

I was talking to my friend about purgatory. I presented him with the Catholic view of it, and here is his problem: He asks that if Christ indeed did wash away our sins when he died on the cross, and we have to undergo more cleansing/purification when WE die because of our sins (purgatory), then what was the point of Christ’s death?

I spent a little over four hours talking to him… how do I respond?


#2

catholic.com/thisrock/2001/0103fea2.asp

If baptism and faith in Christ give us God’s grace, why is sanctification necessary?

Because baptism is grace, not magic. Grace is the “imperishable seed” of God’s life given us by him (1 Pet. 1:23). But the seed must grow, as our Lord taught (Matt. 13:1–32). It does not, as some have claimed, cover our sins like snow on a dunghill. It is rather a means of transforming us in our inner being.

Consider Israel. In Exodus we read the story of how God got Israel out of slavery. But in the book of Numbers we also read about how, in order for the Israelites to be ready for the Promised Land (which is an image of our heavenly destiny), they had to undergo a series of chastisements to heal them of their idolatry and disobedience. They, not just their circumstances, had to be changed.

God does indeed cover and forgive our sins (Rom. 4:7). But that is not the end of the story. The soothing of the salve on a wound is a blessed thing. But more blessed still is the healing the salve promotes. In the same way, God’s grace “covers” our sin, but also gives us the medicine of discipline, to heal our souls and make us more like Christ.

Such discipline respects us by operating through our cooperation with God’s grace. This is why James tells not non-Christians but baptized and faithful believers, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind” (Jas. 4:8). James is aware that the forgiveness given in baptism is the beginning, not the end, of sanctification, which is intended by God to turn each and every one of into glorious saints.


#3

purgatory doesn’t have anything to do with cleansing individual sins. purgatory is a preparation to enter into God’s presence.

i like to think of it like this. everyone in purgatory is a believer and will be in heaven. this means they have been living on earth, a broken world ravaged by the effects of sin, and are therefore bound to have stains of the world still on them. these are not the same as individual sins, but the stain of being immersed in sin (whether our own participation in it or just being surrounded by it). this stain needs to be removed. again, our sins have been cleansed but the stain of this world has not. God lives in a palace, but we (even though we are children of the King and therefore princes and princesses) are living in a garbage dump. just because we don’t eat the trash or roll around in it like it’s the best thing in the world, doesn’t mean we still don’t stink because of the surroundings and that stink is why we need a bath before we enter into the palace.

or this way… we are soldiers in God’s army. the King will call us each back to Him at some point. now, we have been redeemed from being a member of the opposing army and are now fully on God’s side, but we will have the dirt, stain, and blood on us from being in the battle and must be cleansed before we enter into the King’s presence.

purgatory is not about making a payment for our own sins nor is it a punishment in any way. both of those were done by Jesus. but we remain in a fallen world which cannot help but to leave its mark on us and that mark must be removed before we can enter into the pure holiness of God.


#4

If we are injured and have a deep cut, we go to the doctor who mends our wound…yet there is still the need for our body to heal afterwards…the cut doesn’t just disappear, but is cleaned and fixed and allowed to heal. It takes time and effort for our body to respond to the doctor’s mending for the wound to completely heal, although the healing process began with the doctor’s hands.


#5

Ask him if he is, now, completely without sin and without inclination to sin. Then ask him if, when he’s in heaven, he will be completely without sin and without inclination to sin. Then ask him what will have changed?


#6

Send him to Hebrews 12:
22 But you are come to mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the company of many thousands of angels,
23 And to the church of the firstborn, who are written in the heavens, and to God the judge of all, **and to the spirits of the just made perfect, **

And Revelations 21:
27 There shall not enter into it any thing defiled, or that worketh abomination or maketh a lie, but they that are written in the book of life of the Lamb.

Ask him if he will be perfect when he dies. Then ask how he will be made perfect or undefiled. Most of us will need a state of purgation after death to be made perfect so we can enter Heaven.


#7

hi,

after sins are forgiven through Christ, in confession or otherwise, temporal punishment remains. this is church teaching. the sacraments remove some of this, depending on our openness to grace. any still remaining at death must be removed in purgatory.

bishop sheen says [a paraphrase] our souls are a block of wood,
sin is like nails driven into it, confession removes the nails, penance and, if needed, purgatory fills up the holes left by the nails.

God bless,

johnco


#8

the temporal punishment aspect is what i disagree with. if God still has punishment in mind for us… why did Christ have to die? that is why i wholeheartedly reject the idea of God demanding any sort of punishment other than the sacrifice He made of Himself (His Son) on the cross.

even the analogy doesn’t go along with punishment from God. it speaks to what i said, that we still bear the marks of living in a fallen world. thus, we must be cleansed (purged… huh, maybe that’s where purgatory comes from :wink: ) before we can enter into His presence. it is NOT a payment or punishment for any sins we committed (or died before we could confess). now, the cleansing probably won’t feel good (imagine the dirtiest you could ever be and then imagine your mom grabbing the coarsest bar of Lava soap she can find and scrubbing you as hard as she can to get the dirt off… purgatory will probably feel worse), but it is not done out of punishment, but out of love and the desire to be united together for eternity on God’s part.

i maintain that every single person will have to go through this cleansing process before entering heaven. even the holiest person you’ve ever heard of will have some sort of stain on them from being in this world. it must be cleansed. now, the more we discipline ourselves to avoid the things in the world which help to further stain us, the less cleaning we will need. the more we seek to enter into God’s presence here on earth, the less cleaning we will need. but we will all still need cleaning.


#9

His sacrifice does more than “cover” over us…it transforms us…

even the analogy doesn’t go along with punishment from God. it speaks to what i said, that we still bear the marks of living in a fallen world. thus, we must be cleansed (purged… huh, maybe that’s where purgatory comes from :wink: ) before we can enter into His presence. it is NOT a payment or punishment for any sins we committed (or died before we could confess). now, the cleansing probably won’t feel good (imagine the dirtiest you could ever be and then imagine your mom grabbing the coarsest bar of Lava soap she can find and scrubbing you as hard as she can to get the dirt off… purgatory will probably feel worse), but it is not done out of punishment, but out of love and the desire to be united together for eternity on God’s part.

The reason we are “dirty” in the first place is because of sin. Death and suffering entered the world when sin entered the world…it is a (just) punishment and a cleansing…

sometimes we must punish our children when they do wrong, but that punishment is out of love, so that they may grow in virtue and obedience. Even though they have already apologized and we have forgiven them doesn’t mean they are not still “grounded” for a time.


#10

i never said it didn’t. i am an “infused” grace guy… not “imputed”.

right, and that “just punishment” was paid on the cross. we do not (and cannot) pay it.

this analogy is thrown out all the time in defense of purgatory being a punishment. but the analogy actually upholds my assertion. let’s look at the analogy and i will show you.

“we must punish our children…it’s out of love”. God did punish His children. He did it for all of us by punishing His only begotten Son. the punishment happened, just not to us directly.

yes, we can forgive our kids but still demand justice (“grounding for a time”). again, this took place on the cross. now that the “grounding” took place (although not to us directly but to Jesus… “My God, my God. Why have You forsaken Me?”). so there is only forgiveness left.

purgatory is simply a cleansing of the residue of this world. NOT a punishment. we could never be punished enough if we had to undergo the just punishment. thank God Jesus “paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.”


#11

The best explanation I have ever heard regarding sin, confession, and purgatory came from my Religious Education instructor in high school:

When we sin, it is like throwing a pebble into a pond. As the pebble sinks to the bottom, it causes ripples in the surface of the pond, that break against the reeds at the edges of the pond. Our sin affects other people, like the ripple from the pebble affected the reeds on the banks. This illustrates the need for confession. Meanwhile, that pebble is still at the bottom of the pond. Herein lies the need for purgatory. Even though you may confess your sins, the stain of sin still remains. It must be removed before you can enter heaven.

For people who think in pictures more than in concepts…I think this is helpful. :shrug:


#12

that’s a better analogy i think. it’s not about punishment, it’s about cleansing and restoration. it might hurt, but it is not a punishment.


#13

Colossians 1
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church,
25 of which I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God,
26 the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past. But now it has been manifested to his holy ones,
27 to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory.
28 It is he whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
29 For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me.

this analogy is thrown out all the time in defense of purgatory being a punishment. but the analogy actually upholds my assertion. let’s look at the analogy and i will show you.

“we must punish our children…it’s out of love”. God did punish His children. He did it for all of us by punishing His only begotten Son. the punishment happened, just not to us directly.

yes, we can forgive our kids but still demand justice (“grounding for a time”). again, this took place on the cross. now that the “grounding” took place (although not to us directly but to Jesus… “My God, my God. Why have You forsaken Me?”). so there is only forgiveness left.

purgatory is simply a cleansing of the residue of this world. NOT a punishment. we could never be punished enough if we had to undergo the just punishment. thank God Jesus “paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.”

The punishment for sin is death. There is still death and suffering in the world…even to those in whom fully trust in God and have received the gift of His Son…why??? This cleansing process of purgatory is for the atonment for sins and can be done while alive as well as after we die…it IS a form of punishment for sin because it entails suffering…suffering is redemptive when united to the cross of Christ. We are saved through Him, with Him, and in Him…


#14

so you are saying that Jesus’ death was lacking? am i hearing you correctly?


#15

I’m not sure if we can put website on this forum or not, however, I truly enjoyed a talk by John Martignoni. About the last 9 minute of the talk deal with the Scriptural Principles that deal with the doctrine of Purgatory. I hope it helps. John Gives a pretty good explination. :thumbsup:

download.biblechristiansociety.com/files/mary_and_the_bible.mp3

Enjoy.


#16

if you read the entire first chapter of colossians, you will see that paul stresses the entirety of the sacrifice of Christ in the work of reconciling everything to Himself.

the “lacking” that paul is talking about is the fact that it takes His followers to then go out and tell others. Christ’s afflictions don’t accomplish evangelism, His followers do. so paul suffers in his own body the cost of evangelism.


#17

the atonement has already happened. that has been the consistent teaching of the church since the beginning. from paul, to augustine, to anselm, to aquinas, to today. we cannot atone for anything. that was the heresy of pelagius. the cleansing process is for cleansing. the atonement is over and done. i don’t see how anyone who takes scripture as a whole can get anything different.

again, i believe in purgatory, just not a punishment. i believe in the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice.


#18

thanks for the link. i listened to the last 10 minutes (and you lied, :stuck_out_tongue: he doesn’t talk about purgatory until the last 7 i think…lol… that’s a few years in purgatory for you! :D).

i humbly disagree with his interpretation of some of the passages.

first: the david story: he is suggesting that God not only would punish us for our sins but He also punishes others (the child). that is not consistent with the character of God. the point is not that there is a punishment for sin even after forgiveness, it is that here (in this broken world) our sins can still cause bad things to happen. God simply does not stop the chain reaction our sins start.

second: the story of the servant and the master. the servant owes an enormous debt and the master forgives him of it. the servant then goes out and sees some one who owes him a small amount of money and he demands repayment (and even has the man arrested). the master hears about this and summons the servant to himself. he then has the servant thrown into jail until he pays the debt in full. this passage is not about purgatory but about the ability to lose one’s salvation. the point is that the servant could never repay his debt so the master forgave it, but because the servant did not extend the same forgiveness to another, the master put the debt back onto the servant. by being thrown in jail, he basically ensures that the servant will never repay this insurmountable debt (for how can he make the money to pay the debt if he is in prison?). the only way this servant could get out of prison would be to throw himself on the mercy of the master… not by enduring some punishment for he could never endure enough because of the sheer size of the debt owed.

lastly: the verses about love covering a multitude of sins. these refer to here on earth. that we can overcome many of the effects of sin by turning to love. if i say something hurtful to my wife… by showing love to her, i can begin to defray the effects of my hurtful words. whenever we sin, if we turn to love (which is really repenting) the effect of our sins can be minimized or completely covered. it is not referring to some “spiritual bank” (i don’t hold to indulgences either as you can tell), but to our ability to effect what results from our sins in the lives of others.

by looking at these stories in this way, i think it is still clear that Jesus’ death was THE punishment for sins. we still have the stain of sin (not individual sins) and the brokenness of this world upon us and we must be cleansed of that. it is not a punishment.


#19

newadvent.org/cathen/12575a.htm
His sacrafice is sufficient for the entire world…but we must respond to His grace…it does take some action on our part…
Christ’s atonement for sins came to us by His sacrafice on the cross. We must receive this gift by allowing His life to live in and through us…by “putting to death the deeds of the body” so that “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me”…this dying to ourselves does not happen all at once. It is Christ who transforms us through our suffering (punishment).

When we go to confession and receive absolution…our sins have been forgiven…why then are we given a penance?

Do you believe in offering indulgences for those in purgatory?

It is suffering in which God uses to cleans us as a punishment for sin.


#20

that is not what augustine wrote. he talks of God’s grace as though we are unable to refuse it. that He does the saving apart from anything that we do. the verse i believe you are quoting is galatians 2:2: “for i have been crucified with Christ and i no longer live, but Christ lives in me. the life i live in the body i live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” paul is saying that Christ’s crucifixion was our crucifixion. the biggest problem i see in your opening paragraph is in bold. suffering and punishment are not the same thing. suffering can be a good, cleansing, motivating thing. it can cause us to grow. it can accomplish all of those things without any nature of punishment attached to it. punishment can (and usually does) involve suffering, but they are not interchangeable.

good question. to relieve our minds of our own guilt? it is not to satisfy anything with God. maybe it is to help us to learn discipline. maybe it is to teach us to replace bad things with good. if i am constantly trying not to lust, all i am thinking about is not lusting, then i am much more likely to lust than if i am constantly praying or serving others. i see penance as teaching us to replace not sinning with something positive.

no. we can offer prayers for them that their cleansing would go well and we can offer prayers for their endurance of the pain that the cleansing no doubt causes. but we can do nothing to “speed up” the process.

i agree that suffering is used by God in our lives, but the punishment for sin was placed on His Son (and therefore Himself). His sacrifice was sufficient.

listen, i don’t mind debating, and this has been very civil (thanks for that), but i have looked into this issue in depth for about 5 years now and i am thoroughly convinced of my position (and that my position is the historical position and that the position that suggests any sort of payment of sins on our part is pelagian in nature). i am not sure we are going to change each others’ minds. i am happy to continue to talk about this, but we have sort of said the same things for a while. it’s up to you… do you have anything new to add? if so, i might have something new to respond, but as of now, i feel i’ve made my argument pretty clear.


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