I’m in a debate with a Protestant. He claims that belief in Purgatory would render Christ’s suffering on the Cross useless because Christ washed away all of our sin. How would I go about this argument?

Everyone in purgatory will go to heaven. Nobody stays in purgatory forever, and nobody goes from purgatory to hell.

So purgatory has nothing to do with salvation - everyone there has already been judged and is already saved. If you die and find yourself in purgatory, rejoice, for your salvation is assured.

God is both merciful and just. If God were only merciful, he would just forgive everyone and let everyone be saved. If God were only just, nobody could be saved. God is both, but this is a contradiction. Purgatory is how that contradiction is reconciled.

We can be forgiven for our sins (mercy) but that doesn’t remove the penalty (justice). That’s what purgatory does.

Anyone who thinks that forgiveness for sins ALSO means we pay no penalty believes that God is merciful but does not believe that God is just.

He still persists that because of Christ’s Death, that all of our sins are forgiven and because they are forgiven, we are already cleaned for our sins. Therefore, he says, we do not need purgatory.

If you go to Catholic.Com and search the tracts, you will find a good one on Purgatory.
It’s here: catholic.com/tracts/purgatory

There is also an mp3 download available at John Martignoni’s Bible Christian Society here:

wsoxfan7 #3
He still persists that because of Christ’s Death, that all of our sins are forgiven and because they are forgiven, we are already cleaned for our sins. Therefore, he says, we do not need purgatory.

You should study and learn – see the CCC. The doctrine of Purgatory is found in 2 Maccabees 12:46: “It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins.” That means unforgiven venial sins for which one has to undergo Purgatory to get to heaven. The failure lies in not having the complete Catholic Bible.

First, Our Lord had to redeem us from the effects of Original Sin which had closed heaven, but was opened by Him for us

Then, for our salvation, what is needed still is what we can and should suffer with Him; have to suffer, and offer supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings as coredeemers (1 Tim 2:5).
It is St. Paul, who wrote: “I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his Body which is the Church.” (Col. 1:24). What is lacking in Christ’s suffering is precisely what only we can do – take up our cross and suffer, repent and ask forgiveness, following the dictates of our conscience. [Frank Sheed, *Christ In Eclipse, p 105-7].

So the real Bible as authenticated by the Catholic Church is replete with further evidence for Purgatory, here are a few:
1) Mt 12:32: Our Blessed Lord Himself: “whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” “The age to come’ means life after death, so Our Lord is clear – there ARE other sins that can be pardoned after death. We see also that the Lord knew that His Jewish listeners knew what He meant by forgiveness I the next life.

2) Then follows Mt 12:36: “on the day of judgment, men will render account for every careless word they utter.” “Careless words” don’t merit Hell, but there will be a penalty which takes place in the Purgatory assigned for that.

3) Mt 5:21-6: Christ warns of the coming judgment, and in His parable emphasises “put in prison….you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.” So paid here, or hereafter where the detention is temporary that can be neither heaven or hell – but Purgatory.

4) 2 Tim 1:16-18: St Paul prays for the house hold of his helper Onesiphorus, then for Onesiphorus himself: “may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day.”
Another example of Purgatory in St Paul’s prayer for the dead.

Christ offers no one the assurance of salvation (except for His Mother).

Then why must we still suffer on earth and die?

This is the “logic” he is using. I have told him nearly everything that all of you guys have said. He still ignores it. I was just hoping that I was missing something and that could be a “gotcha” verse. I already debated him on Sola Fide and his argument fell immediately. He was trying to prove his viewpoint by Ephesians 2:8-9. I, naturally, destroyed his “support.” Thank you all for the help and God Bless!

Purgatory is not about sin or forgiveness of sin; it about satisfying the temporal punishment due for our sins; God’ perfect justice demands it. If you borrow your brother’s new car, dent the front end and he forgives you, you still are responsible for making good on the car repairs.

Yep! And why does Paul say that there is some process/place where the souls of the JUST will be purified? If they are alrady purified by Christ due to being “just” men, why do their souls need to be purified? And why does Scripture say we, after we die AND are saved, can suffer loss as through fire? It can’t be Hell, because you don’t get out of hell (are not saved). It can’t be Heaven because we don’t suffer in Heaven.

"…2Samuel 12:13-14, where David is punished for his sin AFTER he has been forgiven. And in Heb 12:22-23, Paul tells us that there is a place or process by which the spirits of just men are made perfect. We also see in 1Cor 3:13-15 that there is a place where a saved man, after he has died, can suffer loss as through fire, and we know that nothing unclean shall enter into Heaven (Rev 21:27).

Straight from the Bible, then, we see the Catholic principles for Purgatory: 1) Scripture shows us, explicitly, that a man can be punished for his sin AFTER he had been forgiven (2Sam 12:13-18, et.al). 2) Scripture tells us, explicitly, that there is a place where a man, after he has died, and is saved, can suffer loss as through fire (1Cor 3:13-15). 3) There is a place, or process, where the SPIRITS of just men are made perfect (Heb 12:22-23). 4) Nothing unclean can enter Heaven.

Where is this place that Scripture tells us about, where the SPIRITS of JUST men are made perfect, where a man, though he is saved, can suffer loss as through fire? Is it Heaven? No…we don’t suffer loss in Heaven. Is it hell? No….no one gets out of hell. The Church has given the name “Purgatory” to this place, or process, where our souls are made clean…because nothing unclean shall enter Heaven (Rev 21:27)."


I’d ask him why there is so much suffering in the world. If he gives the usual answer that sin is the cause for all this suffering then you can ask him why, if Jesus already died for our sins.

This reminds me: sometimes an individual can feel really sad about something they did. Even if they confessed it, the thing they find painful is the memory. For instance, the way they treated someone they love. Sometimes the grief can be very deep because the person they loved died.

Sometimes in thinking about things, an individual goes back to confession to talk. But even when sins are confessed and absolution given, he feels such a terrible ache. In this it is obvious that a priest can absolve sin, but he cannot absolve grief. He cannot absolve consequences.

That could be like a purgatory. The consequences will at some point soften and maybe go away, but there is no way around it but through it.

I think you are wrong here.

Without Purgatory one with venial sin would not be able to enter into Heaven; therefore, it has much to do with salvation.

God’s Mercy and Justice are not in contradiction or opposition to each other. God is infinite Justice and Mercy, so if one said that these attributes are contradictory, it would be saying God contradicts Himself or is a contradiction. This, however, is not the case no contradiction is present within God.

God Love you

I think St. Paul has a quote about making up for “what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ”…you might want to use that one…

Didn’t you see post #5? It’s there plus much more.

Oops…I skimmed the other posts and did not see it.

Purgatory’s purification comes from none other than Christ, so the accusation is based on the false premise that purgatory is something in addition to Christ. Also, purgatory is related to consequences of sin, not the spiritual “forgiveness” of sin. See also What is Purgatory? including the section addressing your exact question, and really the whole thing helps answer your question. :wink:

Yeah, if there were no purgatory then there could not even be such a thing as venial sin. All sin would be mortal.

I’m not saying that purgatory has no place in the economy of salvation - I’m just saying that everyone in purgatory is already saved.

God’s Mercy and Justice are not in contradiction or opposition to each other.

They would be if there were no purgatory. Justice means the penalty is proportional to the crime, and mercy means the penalty is disproportionately small. Purgatory allows the just application of the penalty while mercy allows a favorable outcome (salvation).

I would say, first, ask him what he understands about purgatory, then explain to him the Catholic teaching and understanding of purgatory.

Here is a link to Scott Hahn’s explanation…I think his objection is dealt in the article:


The essence of Christianity is Christ reproducing His life, His suffering, His death and then His resurrection in glory in us. That is the essence of Christianity. Christ is our substitute for Adam who did us in, but He is not a substitute in the sense that He was righteous so that we could be unrighteous. He suffered so that we don’t have to suffer. He took our stripes so that we only have healing and good times and easy street from here on…Non-Catholics frequently fall in the trap of saying, Christ obeyed, so we don’t need to. Paul said Christ obeyed to enable us to do what previously was humanly impossible. Finally now, heart obedient to a motive of faith, hope and love is made possible by Christ’s obedience, not made unnecessary. It’s made acceptable in Christ and it’s made delightful to the Father because it’s presented in union with Christ… Now what does this mean, that Christ has not paid for our sin? Of course not. It doesn’t mean that. Christ has paid once and for all for our sin. His death is the ultimate satisfaction and price for our redemption, but His life and His death must be lived out in us. That’s why we need to pick up our cross, and we need to imitate Christ. Did you catch that? We don’t suffer because Christ’s sufferings weren’t enough. We suffer because Christ’s life must be reproduced in us. It is finished. It is accomplished, but now it must be applied. The work of the third person of the Holy Spirit is New Testament history, is personal history.

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