Godfollower: Yes to everything that you just said. I don’t doubt the existence of purgatory. My problem, more specifically is that particular passage, the one in Corinthians. Isn’t Paul referring to purgatory here? I’ve put Huron’s comments in blue:
6: I planted, Apollo’s watered, but God gave the growth. (What did Paul plant? Was it your life in Christ, or was it the Church at Corinth?)7: So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
8: He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor.
9: For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. (Notice the singular field and building. Wouldn’t it have been “fields” and “buildings” if he was talking about their individual walks with the lord? However, if he is talking about the Church at Corinth, then singular makes perfect sense.)10: According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. (Notice that Paul says “a foundation” not “foundations.” He also says “building on it,” rather than “building on them.”11: For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12: Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – (Once again, “the foundation,” not “foundations.”)13: each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. (What sort of work each one [the laborers, those who are watering and building on the church of Corinth – see verses 6-9] has done.)14: If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.(Once again, “the foundation,” not “the foundations.”) 15: If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:6-15 RSV)
So, in summary, Huron’s problems with this passage being about purgatory:
Notice in 1 Corinthians 3:15 that it’s the works being tested, not the individual believer. Secondly, in verses 8-15 foundation and temple are singular throughout this passage, rather than plural. They would have to be plural if Paul was talking about us each building on the foundation if foundation meant our individual walk with the Lord.
Notice also that one who built with quality materials gets a reward, and one who has his works burn does not. If the reward is heaven, then that means that the one who doesn’t get the reward doesn’t get heaven. This is fatal to purgatory as taught by the church, because, as far as I know, everyone in purgatory eventually goes to heaven.
Godfollower, I think you’ve made a good point when you wrote that:
You built with wood, or straw (you sort of did what God commanded, and you worshipped Jesus, but you were also serving other masters – pride, money, etc. – and forgot to serve others a lot of the time, though you had no mortal sin on your soul when you died)? Your work will burn, and you will suffer loss; but you will be saved, yet as through fire (you will endure Purgatory while these competing concerns are removed from you).
Also, when you pointed out that:
Everyone’s work will be tested (but testing isn’t Purgatory; Purgatory is the removal of any remaining venial sins from those bound for Heaven). Remember that, in this passage, the “work” is a metaphor for our lives as Christians.
I think that’s key here.
Secondly, I think Huron interpretation is simply being too narrow when he talks abut “singular” and “plural nouns”—“the temple” and “the foundation.” Huron claims Paul’s only addressing the leaders of Corinth or perhaps those in leadership in general. I agree, that’s who he’s talking to, but I still feel it has spiritual implications for everyone. Because, if they go to purgatory, then it would follow that we all do. So, if in this passage Paul really is alluding to purgatory, we can be sure it’s not just for them. Does that make sense?
Thanks if you’ve read this through—you’ve been so helpful!!!