Purgatory Conversation

My father in law is a Protestant and we always have good natured debates, and he brought up the topic of Purgatory. I tried to explain it to him, but the conversation goes like this…

Me: Before entering Heaven, we have to pay for the sins we committed during this life.
Him: That’s what Christ died for. Our sins are forgiven through his death on the cross.
Me: There’s a difference between what type of sin we are talking about. Original and actual.

But how would I “prove” the existence of original vs actual sin?

I sincerely hope my blog can be of help to you. I wrote this post for people like your father…and mine. :wink:


I can’t imagine your father would reject the idea of actual sin and original sin.

You: “do you believe all men sin”
Dad: “yes”
You: Well that nature that makes it so all men sin is original sin, not part of a Gods glory.

You : " the sins we personally commit are actual sins"

I’m not sure how that conversation will aid your purgatory discussion though.

To start try this ,

Do you believe that God is separate from sin?


Do you believe that in heaven we will be with God?


When you die will you have committed sins in your life?


Do you believe that in heaven you will be free of sin, pain, sickness, suffering?



Purgatory is merely the mechanism God chooses to use to transform us from sinners to glory with him!

Like a good bath after being covered in mud, the scrubbing may be unpleasant and you will appreciate the prayers of those praying for you, but it is a blessed pain knowing that you are preparing to enter Gods glory for eternity.

Let him know this whole process may be an instantaneous encounter with Christ as Pope Benedict Speculated.

Good luck. Keep it simple!

Your father makes a mute point since the souls in Purgatory HAVE been forgiven and are saved. Purgatory is a place were we make restitution to God for the sins we’ve committed if we do not do so with the time we have in this life. We will not enter heaven until we’ve paid the last penny. If you stole some money from your friend and your friend forgives you, this forgiveness does not finish the matter. It is just the starting point since you still owe it to your friend to repay to the best of your ability what you have stolen from them. It is not unjust for the friend to ask for this restitution from you nor is it a contradiction to the forgiveness your friend has extended to you. It is, however, unjust for you to neglect paying restitution to your friend.

The existence of Purgatory is therefore not opposed to justice or mercy and it does not oppose or contradict the forgiveness God extends us through His Son, His Sacrifice, His Church, and His Sacraments.

There are plenty of things we can do in this life to pay our temporal debt to Christ for the sins he has forgiven us of. We can say prayers, attend mass, help others by forgiving debts others owe us, we can fast and practice other actions of mortification, we can offer up all of our sufferings to pay the debt off for those souls currently in purgatory. One of the biggest things is to help evangelize since the conversion of a soul will cover a multitude of sins. Another thing we can do is offer with compete resignation to the will of God our death with all of its pains and humiliations in repartition for our life of sin (this is what the good thief did).

There are so many opportunities to do this now, it makes the existence of purgatory a huge act of Gods mercy to even exist so we can have a second chance to do it after death.

You are talking about two different things so you two will always be at an impasse unless you both further define your terms.

You are talking about a temporal account (often times Protestants don’t even admit there is a “temporal account” [see Romans 6:23 to clear that false notion up]).
He is talking about an eternal account.

*]You are talking about a temporal account
*]He is talking about an eternal account

Because of this “temporal punishment” price we owe; we still must pay a temporal (temporal not eternal) sacrifice—even though Christ offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice for sin.

That’s WHY we die. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Yet we still have to die!

What’s the matter? Didn’t Christ pay the account? WHY do we have to die?

Yes He paid the account in an eternal sense. But Jesus wants us to participate in His death temporally too. This shows us how much he loves us. It shows us first hand (by us experiencing death) His love for us and what He went through for us.

That’s what Baptism does. It Baptizes us into the LIFE of Christ, but also His DEATH and RESURRECTION and GLORY (assuming we persevere in faith, hope, and charity).

ROMANS 6:3-6 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.

Jesus paid our eternal account (we cannot do that).
Yet there is still a temporal aspect that remains.
We (united to Jesus) pay a temporal account.

That’s why Jesus warns us we pay or render an account for everything. Even every wrong word we utter (how much more every wrong action). This is true for the justified AND the unjustified. Jesus says so!

MATTHEW 12:36-37 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

If we don’t pay our account here in this life, we will pay it in the after-life.

This is all a great gift that is predicated upon Christ’s work!

NOT 1st THESSALONIANS 5:23-24 (PHANTOM VERSE) 23 The God of peace himself has already sanctified wholly every believer; so your spirit and soul and body are already sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, and he already did it.

Rather we DO see this . . . .

1st THESSALONIANS 5:23-24 23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

PHILIPPIANS 1:6 6 And I am sure that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

In one sense this has to do with our particular judgment (Purgatorial if need be). In another sense this has to do with the General Judgment (getting our bodies back at the end of time).

*]Purgatory is NOT an alternate route to the Father.
*]Purgatory is NOT a second chance for someone in a state of unrepentant mortal sin at the time of death.
*]Purgatory is NOT something to make up for the “unfinished work of Christ” (because it IS finished).
*]Purgatory is NOT a “holy holding tank” while God “tries to decide” (??) if we go to Heaven or Hell.

*]Purgatory IS the work of Jesus!
*]Purgatory IS where and /or how we are sanctified wholly and where He makes
us blameless. Notice who makes us blameless. “HE”, Christ! This IS the work of
Christ . . . He (Jesus) will do it!
*]Purgatory IS a “place” and/or more accurately a state of purification or purgation or purging (you could, I suppose, call it “purge” – atory) from any unrighteousness that may be left in someone who is saved and on their way to Heaven. Although their body is now dead, their soul is on the way to heaven. This gift purges any remaining sinful tendencies that the saved individual may have had at the time of their death. The suffering in Purgatory also acts as an account or payment for sins committed in the person’s lifetime.

Hope this helps.

God bless.


Tim Staples of Catholic Answers blogged on the Biblical references to Purgatory a couple of days ago. It’s great.


You may wish to point out that if no sin can be in heaven, then we all are condemned to hell unless we manage to die with no guilt of any sin at all.
Once that is covered, see if he can go a single day…week…month without a sin.

That bar is awfully high.

What a wonderful gift purgatory is.

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