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First Things - Purgatory for Everyone
First Things ^ | April 2002 | Jerry L. Walls

Posted on 10/30/2011 11:29:04 AM PDT by narses

A few years ago, the journalist Philip Nobile wrote an article near the first anniversary of the death of Princess Diana in which he raised what he termed “an indiscreet theological question.” “Where is she now?” he asked. According to Christian theology, the options were heaven, purgatory, or hell. Given Diana’s well–publicized lifestyle, Nobile suggested that the case for heaven was weak. A better case could be made for hell, given the likelihood that Diana was in a state of mortal sin at the moment of her death. Nobile thus found it curious that the Pope gave positive indications about Diana’s salvation when the following message of condolence was sent on his behalf to Queen Elizabeth: “The Holy Father has offered prayers summoning her to our Heavenly Father’s eternal love.” As Nobile observed, this remark implied Diana was in purgatory.

Now Nobile certainly did not intend his article to serve as a defense of orthodoxy. Yet it raises a substantive issue that Christians who take the afterlife seriously cannot evade. Many believers have attended funerals in which the deceased are declared to be enjoying all the glories of heaven, regardless of their somewhat less–than–saintly behavior in life. At best, such occasions are examples of understandable pastoral efforts to comfort grieving loved ones. But at worst, they may be sentimental exercises that trivialize the most central beliefs of the Christian faith.

What I have in mind are the many beliefs shared by Roman Catholics and evangelicals concerning, in particular, the nature of salvation. This growing consensus was expressed most notably in “The Gift of Salvation,” a document signed by a number of leading Roman Catholic and evangelical spokesmen, which reiterates the classical view that there is a close relationship between justification and sanctification. Salvation, in this view, is far more than forgiveness of our sins; it is also a matter of thorough moral and spiritual transformation. The document stresses this point by denying that faith is mere intellectual assent and asserting that it is “an act of the whole person, involving the mind, the will, and the affections, issuing in a changed life.” It then goes on to insist that Christians are bound by their faith and baptism “to live according to the law of love in obedience to Jesus Christ the Lord. Scripture calls this the life of holiness or sanctification.”

It is here that “an indiscreet theological question” must be faced. If salvation essentially involves transformation—and, at that same time, we cannot be united with God unless we are holy—what becomes of those who plead the atonement of Christ for salvation but die before they have been thoroughly transformed? These people will have accepted the truth about God and themselves through repentance and faith, but their character will not have been made perfect. Their sanctification has begun but it remains incomplete. Such people do not seem to be ready for a heaven of perfect love and fellowship with God, but neither should they be consigned to hell.

It is this basic difficulty that led to the formulation of the doctrine of purgatory in the first place. While the doctrine was not fully developed until the Middle Ages, the seeds from which it grew go back at least to the Church Fathers, if not to Scripture itself. Cyprian (c. 200–258), for instance, struggled with the question of what to think about Christians who had weakened under persecution. Likewise, Augustine (354–430), the fountainhead of Western theology, reflected in several passages on the kinds of issues that would eventually be resolved in Roman Catholic theology by the doctrine of purgatory. (Of course, the doctrine also has roots in the popular conviction that the living might in some fashion influence the dead, particularly by prayer.)

While the doctrine is most fully developed in Roman Catholic theology, a version of it is also affirmed by some Eastern Orthodox theologians. The main difference between them is that Roman Catholics have traditionally viewed purgatory as a place of temporal punishment for individuals who have not sufficiently repented before death, whereas Eastern theologians view it as a process of growth and maturation for persons who have not completed the sanctification process.

Despite widespread acceptance of the doctrine of purgatory in some form, Protestants, by and large, have traditionally rejected the notion out of hand. The roots of this rejection go back, of course, to the Reformation, and it is well known that purgatory was deeply connected with the most basic and bitter disputes that split the Western Church. Among these disputes is the Protestant notion of sola scriptura, the view that Scripture alone is the source and authority for doctrine. Many Protestants would summarily dispense with purgatory on the ground that it is not mentioned in Scripture, at least not obviously so, a point that is generally conceded even by the defenders of the doctrine.

The fact that purgatory is not expressly present in Scripture is not enough to settle the issue, however. The deeper issue is whether it is a reasonable inference from important truths that are clearly found there. If theology involves a degree of disciplined speculation and logical inference, then the doctrine of purgatory cannot simply be dismissed on the grounds that Scripture does not explicitly articulate it.

Moreover, the prevailing doctrine of purgatory at the time of the Reformation was related to some of the worst abuses in the Church, particularly the sale of indulgences, a practice that many saw as a denial that we are saved through faith in Christ. It is no wonder, in light of this history, that the doctrine has provoked such strong reactions among Protestants. The larger issues and passions involved in this controversy are reflected in the words of Calvin, who wrote that “we must cry out with the shouting not only of our voices but our throats and lungs that purgatory is a deadly fiction of Satan, which nullifies the cross of Christ, inflicts unbearable contempt upon God’s mercy, and overturns and destroys our faith.” The attitude had not changed much in Reformed theology by the nineteenth century when Charles Hodge, the great Princeton theologian, wrote his classic systematic theology. Hodge noted that Roman Catholics tended to vary their account of purgatory depending on the audience. Protestants were presented with a mild form of the doctrine, while Catholics depicted it for themselves in severe terms. Hodge thus saw purgatory as “a tremendous engine of priestly power. The feet of the tiger withdrawn are as soft as velvet; when those claws are extended, they are fearful instruments of laceration and death.”

In the past few decades, by contrast, purgatory has lost much of its controversial edge. This is no doubt largely due to the decline of interest in the doctrine among Catholics, even among those who continue officially to affirm it. And while Protestants still generally repudiate the notion, the matter incites much less fervor than it did in previous generations.

In my view, it is long past time to reassess purgatory and the theological problems it was originally intended to solve. I write as a member of the Wesleyan tradition, a strand of Protestantism that emphasizes sanctification and moral transformation in its account of salvation. In agreement with the Great Tradition of Christian teaching, Wesleyans reject the notion that salvation is only, or even primarily, a forensic matter of having the righteousness of Christ imputed or attributed to believers. Wesleyans insist that God not only forgives us but also changes us and actually makes us righteous. Only when we are entirely sanctified or fully perfected in this sense are we truly fit to enjoy the beatific vision in heaven.

But what of Protestants who emphasize the forensic aspect of salvation? How have they resolved the problem of sin and moral imperfection that remains in the lives of believers at the time of death? They agree, after all, that nothing impure or unholy can enter heaven and they also typically hold that most, if not all, believers are far from perfection when they die. The typical answer echoes the view eloquently expressed by Jonathan Edwards.

At death the believer not only gains a perfect and eternal deliverance from sin and temptation, but is adorned with a perfect and glorious holiness. The work of sanctification is then completed, and the beautiful image of God has then its finishing strokes by the pencil of God, and begins to shine forth with a heavenly beauty like a seraphim.

In other words, the work that believers in the broader Catholic tradition ascribe to purgatory is, for most Protestants, accomplished immediately, and apparently painlessly, by a unilateral act of God at death.

An important variation on this theme appears in the theology of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. Unlike most Protestant theologians, Wesley believed that complete sanctification is possible in this life. In his model of the order of salvation, such sanctification can be received in a moment of faith analogous to the way justification is accepted by faith. Wesley also stressed the progressive dimension of sanctification and thought that entire sanctification could not normally be received without years of gradual growth and progress in grace and holiness. But what is significant for our purposes is that Wesley believed that, in most cases, complete sanctification takes place at “the instant of death, the moment before the soul leaves the body.”

Interestingly enough, current Catholic thought seems to be converging with Protestantism on this matter. Many contemporary Catholic theologians argue that purification occurs in the act and experience of dying. This view can also be detected in the attitudes of the many lay Catholics who affirm the existence of purgatory but think it need be endured for but a momentary period—well in time for the funeral eulogy! A consensus thus seems to be forming that our sanctification is completed either during the experience of death or immediately thereafter.

I want to argue, however, that the traditional doctrine of purgatory is far more coherent for Protestants and Catholics alike. The most basic problem for those who hold that sanctification is instantly completed at the moment of death, as Anglican theologian David Brown has pointed out, is that “there is no way of rendering such an abrupt transition in essentially temporal beings conceivable.” One way to avoid this problem is to appeal to the highly controversial doctrine of God’s timelessness and to maintain that after death we share in this condition, thereby rendering temporal considerations irrelevant. The matter of God’s relationship to time is one of the most vexing problems in the philosophy of religion, and it would take us far afield to discuss it. I will simply register the fact that I have doubts about the coherence of the doctrine of timelessness, so I do not think this move solves the problem.

More plausible is the attempt to conceive of sanctification along the lines of abrupt and dramatic conversions in this life. But as Brown also points out, there is good reason to think that such dramatic turnarounds have important antecedent causes that lead up to and prepare their way. Moreover, while outward change of behavior may occur rather dramatically, internal change of character is another matter. Real virtue is achieved over a period of time by numerous choices and decisions, often in the face of adversity. Brown concludes that if man is essentially temporal, “his capacity for moral perfection is likewise. No clear sense attaches to the claim that a human being could become instantaneously virtuous, morally perfect, and so, if God is to respect our nature as essentially temporal beings, He must have allowed for an intermediate state of purgatory to exist.”

It is just this sort of consideration that led Wesley to insist that sanctification must normally be preceded by a significant period of growth and maturation. Without this process, one is not prepared to receive the fullness of grace sanctification represents. If this basic line of thought is correct, there is good reason to think that something like the traditional notion of purgatory is indeed necessary for those who have not experienced significant growth and moral progress.

The classical notion of purgatory also seems necessary to a related issue in the process of sanctification: our free participation in it. Many Christian theologians have held that our necessary cooperation in our transformation constitutes the only satisfactory explanation for the bewildering array of good and evil in the world. God takes our freedom seriously and is patient with it; He recognizes that even those who have made an initial decision to follow His will often make only sporadic or inconsistent progress in carrying out their resolution. In this view, while it is God who enables and elicits our transformation each step of the way, our cooperation with His will is necessary to our sanctification.

Now if God deals with us this way in this life, it is reasonable to think He will continue to do so in the next life until our perfection is achieved. Indeed, the point should be put more strongly than this. If God is willing to dispense with our free cooperation in the next life, it is hard to see why He would not do so now, particularly in view of the high price of freedom in terms of evil and suffering.

In the same vein, Anglican philosopher of religion Eleonore Stump has explicated the sanctification process by employing her fellow philosopher Harry Frankfurt’s notion of a self as hierarchically ordered desires. Of particular interest is the distinction between first– and second–order desires. First–order desires are basic desires such as, for example, Abelard’s desire to seduce Heloise. Second–order desires are desires about first–order desires. So, recognizing the spiritual and moral liabilities in seducing Heloise, not to mention the possibility of inciting her uncle’s wrath, Abelard may wish he did not have such desires for Heloise. That is, he may have a second–order desire that his first–order desires were different.

Now Stump suggests that sanctification occurs with our freedom intact if God changes us at the level of our first–order desires in response to our second–order desires that He do so. Of course, God’s grace also enables us to have the appropriate second–order desires. Stump’s picture, however, raises another question about the nature of the divine–human cooperation in sanctification. Why wouldn’t a person’s sanctification be complete the instant he formed the second–order desire to be sanctified? The answer, Stump replies, is that

the content of this volition is vague. It consists in a general submission to God and an effective desire to let God remake one’s character. But a willingness of this sort is psychologically compatible with stubbornly holding on to any number of sins. . . . Making a sinner righteous, then, will be a process in which a believer’s specific volitions are brought into harmony with the governing second–order volition assenting to God’s bringing her to righteousness, with the consequent gradual alteration in first–order volitions, as well as in intellect and emotions.

Stump goes on to comment that this is a “process extending through this life and culminating in the next.” Although this is not an explicit defense of purgatory, such a doctrine seems to be the natural extension of her line of thought.

The reason that the desire for sanctity may be psychologically compatible with holding on to any number of sins is that one may not clearly recognize them as sins or perceive their destructiveness to the point of truly wishing to be delivered from them. The process of sanctification involves coming to see the truth about not only our overt sinful actions, but also about the more subtle sinful attitudes we may cherish. A broad desire to be sanctified simply may not recognize all that is involved; that’s why it takes time and growth for grace to penetrate the deeper recesses of our sinful characters.

Of course, the process must culminate at some point, and there is no reason why it may not reach its end in an act of faith in this life, just as Wesley believed it could. But the significant point is that considerable growth is required before such a stage can be reached. And if this growth has not occurred in this life, purgatory seems necessary if God is to complete the job with our freedom intact.

These accounts of purgatory underscore the notion that no one can be exempted from the requirement of achieving perfect sanctity in cooperation with God’s grace and initiative. It is also important to reiterate here that, as beings who exist in time, our transformation must be a cooperative venture. It takes time to gain understanding of the various layers of our sinfulness and self–deception, as well as to own the truth about ourselves. Discerning truth and allowing it to transform our character is an essentially mental experience that requires time. The doctrine of purgatory makes clear that there is no shortcut to sanctity.

The doctrine of purgatory also reminds us that the most pervasive and deadly sins are those of the spirit. Spiritual sins are not cured merely by dropping our old bodies and receiving new ones. Consider in this light the words of Edwards: “The saved soul leaves all its sin with the body; when it puts off the body of the man, it puts off the body of sin with it. When the body is buried, all sin is buried forever, and though the soul shall be joined to the body again, yet sin shall never return more.” Implicit in this argument is a sort of gnosticism that locates sin in our physical bodies. It is as if sanctification were largely effected by releasing the soul from the body. Again, this makes sanctification a passive matter that requires no cooperation on our part.

It is at this point of our cooperation that Protestant objections to purgatory become most pointed, even in our ecumenical age. To take our role in sanctification so seriously that purgatory seems to be required inevitably provokes loud protests concerning works righteousness. Contemporary theologian Millard Erickson speaks for many of his fellow evangelicals when he writes, “In both this life and the life to come, the basis of the believer’s relationship with God is grace, not works. There need be no fear, then, that our imperfections will require some type of post–death purging before we can enter the full presence of God.”

Some Protestants go so far as to insist that purgatory amounts to a denial of justification by faith. I would insist, however, that it all depends on what one means by justification and by faith. As Alister McGrath has shown, the traditional view was that justification involves actually making us righteous, and that this is what finally restores us to a loving relationship with God. It was a Protestant innovation to separate justification from sanctification and to construe the former primarily in legal and forensic terms. But since justification so understood does not make us actually righteous, it is simply irrelevant as an objection to purgatory.

Erickson’s objection misses the mark for similar reasons. To insist that we must be fully transformed by freely cooperating with God before we can fully enter His presence is not a denial of the fact that grace is the basis of our relationship with Him. For His grace is precisely what takes the initiative and enables our transformation. Erickson’s objection to purgatory implies that grace is primarily, if not exclusively, a matter of forgiveness. It is this narrowly forensic conception of grace that must be challenged.

Appealing to God’s forgiveness does nothing to address the fact that many Christians are imperfect lovers of God (and others) at the time of their death. This is not to say that the experience of being forgiven does not change us. Indeed, gratitude for God’s free offer of forgiveness is a powerful incentive for the believer to love God in return. But forgiveness alone, especially on a legal model, does not change us in a subjective sense. Consider in this light the words of C. S. Lewis, an author whose views are usually endorsed enthusiastically by evangelical Protestants.

Our souls demand purgatory, don’t they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, “It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy”? Should we not reply, “With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I’d rather be cleansed first”? “It may hurt, you know.”—“Even so, sir.”

Forgiveness alone does not eliminate unpleasant odors, and lack of condemnation does not clean up soiled clothes. Other remedies are necessary, and as Lewis suggests, they may involve pain.

The invocation of pain has also been a major source of resistance to the doctrine of purgatory. At its best, this is an understandable reaction to the rather lurid depictions of purgatory that have appeared in some Roman Catholic writers in the past. At worst, however, it smacks of the sort of cheap grace, pervasive in much popular contemporary piety, which implies that mere mental assent to some basic Christian doctrines is all that is necessary for salvation. On this picture, salvation is a perfectly painless thing that requires nothing of the believer but simple faith.

Lewis insists, by contrast, that the moral transformation necessary for salvation is essentially painful. The pain of moral growth and progress is not an arbitrary punishment that God attaches to it; rather, the pain is intrinsic to it. Lewis makes this point vividly in several memorable images in The Great Divorce. For instance, the fact that the grass in heaven hurts the feet of the ghosts from the gray town (purgatory for those who choose to leave it, hell for those who stay) shows that becoming conformed to the life of heaven is uncomfortable for sinful persons. “Reality is harsh to the feet of shadows.” The promise is given, however, that those who are willing to persevere will eventually become more substantial, and thus more comfortable, in heaven.

Purgatory enables us fully to come to terms with reality. Richard Purtill has suggested that the period between our death and resurrection will be a time of “reading” our lives like a book. The entire book would be present to us and we could reread past sections, skip ahead, and so on. All of this reading would be done in what he calls “Godlight.” That is, it would be a matter of coming to see our lives as God sees them. This would involve, for instance, seeing the full force of how our sins affected others. “The only adequate purgatory might be to suffer what you made others suffer—not just an equivalent pain, but that pain, seeing yourself as the tormentor you were to them. Only then could you adequately reject and repent the evil.” The other side of the coin is that we “would see with love even those who have hurt us, because God saw them with love.”

Indeed, the accent here should fall on grace, for to see things in “Godlight” is to see them illumined by God’s perfect love for all persons and His will to redeem us from our sins and unite us to Himself and to each other. Continuing the reading analogy, Purtill points out that, although the first time we read a book we may hardly appreciate it, a subsequent reading may fully disclose its beauty and richness.

As we may write a commentary on a book that has meant much to us, so part of our afterlife could be an appreciation and correction of our present lives. Even if our present lives have been almost a failure—even if we are barely saved after a life of folly and waste—we could still make these wasted lives the foundation of something glorious—a “commentary” much better than the “book.”

Purgatory so conceived is not only a matter of taking our choices and our freedom seriously, it is more importantly a matter of taking seriously God’s overwhelmingly gracious love to us and His power to redeem our lives, even “wasted” ones.

Construed along these lines, purgatory can rightly be characterized as a time and place of joy. While popular images of purgatory may evoke negative thoughts, we should recall that the New Testament frequently teaches Christians to rejoice in the adversity that purifies our faith. This is not to trivialize the pain of purgatory, but rather to point out that it should not be dreaded any more than the pain of moral transformation that we experience in this life.

Indeed, all believers, regardless of tradition, who have experienced as joy the purging involved in drawing closer to Christ can view the concept of purgatory not only as a natural doctrinal development, but also as a gracious gift of love.

Jerry L. Walls is Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Asbury Theological Seminary. He is the author of Heaven: The Logic of Eternal Joy (forthcoming from Oxford University Press), from which this essay is adapted.


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Mainline Protestant; Orthodox Christian
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1 posted on 10/30/2011 11:29:07 AM PDT by narses
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To: narses; Goreknowshowtocheat; Absolutely Nobama; Elendur; it_ürür; Bockscar; Mary Kochan; ...
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2 posted on 10/30/2011 11:30:22 AM PDT by narses (what you bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and what you loose upon earth, shall be ..)
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To: narses

Thanks.


3 posted on 10/30/2011 11:34:37 AM PDT by arkady_renko (I want to believe.)
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To: narses

If there is a purgatory, it’s here on earth and we are living it.


4 posted on 10/30/2011 11:37:02 AM PDT by DefeatCorruption
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To: narses

Purgatory isn’t needed in Jesus promise of salvation through his grace alone. It is however, critical if an earthly royal leader needs a way to control people while they are still alive. This is why the Roman church invented it. Jesus way has nothing to do with 3 to 5 in afterlife prison before getting into heaven.


5 posted on 10/30/2011 11:43:57 AM PDT by DesertRhino (I was standing with a rifle, waiting for soviet paratroopers, but communists just ran for office)
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To: DesertRhino

“Purgatory” , NOPE

Heaven vs Hell , YEP

Christ said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

He did not say wait a while till I make up my mind.


6 posted on 10/30/2011 11:48:01 AM PDT by Texas Fossil (Government, even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one)
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To: narses
Pray for Jerry L. Walls
to seek YHvH in His WORD.
shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach

7 posted on 10/30/2011 11:49:17 AM PDT by Uriel-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your law is my delight.)
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To: narses
According to Christian theology, the options were heaven, purgatory, or hell.

Incorrect. Jesus did not teach of Purgatory, nor did the Apostles or the early church father. In fact, a couple hundred years passed before a pope moved the teaching of the Catholic church away from scripture and incorporated the pagan concept into scripture. Thus it is NOT Christian theology, it is Catholic theology.

8 posted on 10/30/2011 11:51:09 AM PDT by taxcontrol
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To: narses

All those words and never once to scripture? Pitiable if not pathetic.


9 posted on 10/30/2011 11:53:27 AM PDT by gusopol3
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To: Texas Fossil

Ever notice how Christianity and the USA have a big similarity? Both have an original document thats clear enough for a 10 year old to understand. Only in the hands of constitutional attorneys and religious scholars does it become exceedingly complex,,,,
In both cases,, they are trying to put the britches on us.


10 posted on 10/30/2011 11:55:54 AM PDT by DesertRhino (I was standing with a rifle, waiting for soviet paratroopers, but communists just ran for office)
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To: DesertRhino

Good post.


11 posted on 10/30/2011 12:03:51 PM PDT by Michael Barnes (Obamaa+ Downgrade)
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To: narses

Thankfully, Hebrews 10:10 eliminates the need for purgatory.

Either Christ’s sacrifice “once for all” is sufficient or it is not.

Bless your day.


12 posted on 10/30/2011 12:08:26 PM PDT by Colonel_Flagg (Barack suffers from ADD -- "Additional Deficit Disorder".)
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To: DesertRhino

Damn good arguement, and amazingly accurate.


13 posted on 10/30/2011 12:09:58 PM PDT by Carl from Marietta (Cain, there's a new sherrif in town.)
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To: DesertRhino

Correct. The usual motives.


14 posted on 10/30/2011 12:11:18 PM PDT by Texas Fossil (Government, even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one)
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To: DesertRhino

Another good and logical point, how long before you go off the tracks? he he


15 posted on 10/30/2011 12:12:56 PM PDT by Carl from Marietta (Cain, there's a new sherrif in town.)
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To: narses

“As Nobile observed, this remark implied Diana was in purgatory.”

.
Nobile doesn’t know what he is talking about — no one but God knows the condition that Diana’s soul was in. Everything else is but idle speculation.


16 posted on 10/30/2011 12:13:51 PM PDT by 353FMG (Liberalism is Satan's handiwork.)
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To: narses

Sigh.....................will they ever learn?

Many are called but few are chosen.

So many Protestants are going to be surprised at the moment of their death when they find Christ sending them to Purgatory. Actually that’s good news, because eventually they will enter heaven after being purified for all that they did not make amends for on earth.


17 posted on 10/30/2011 12:16:31 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: narses
First Things - Purgatory for Everyone
What the Church means by Purgatory
Radio Replies Second Volume - Purgatory
Purgatory Exists. And It Burns
The Month of November: Thoughts on the "Last Things"
To Trace All Souls Day (Protestants vs Catholics)
Radio Replies First Volume - Purgatory
The Doctrine of Purgatory [Ecumenical]
The Heroic Act [Catholic-Orthodox Caucus] (Offering everything for the Souls in Purgatory)
MONTLIGEON MIRACLE: HOW PRIEST TURNED INTO 'TRAVELING SALESMAN' OF PURGATORY

IN BRUSH WITH DEATH, PRIEST SHOWN HELL, PURGATORY, DEGREES OF SUFFERING
Praying for the Dead [All Souls Day] (Catholic/Orthodox Caucus)
Purgatory: Service Shop for Heaven [Ecumernical]
Beginning Catholic: Catholic Purgatory: What Does It Mean? [Ecumenical]
OF GUARDIAN ANGELS AND THE ROLE THEY PLAY NOT JUST ON EARTH BUT IN PURGATORY [Catholic Caucus]
IN ANNALS OF SAINTS IS CONVERT'S STRIKING DEDICATION TO THOSE SOULS IN PURGATORY [Catholic Caucus]
Explaining Purgatory from a New Testament Perspective [Ecumenical]
PURIFYING THE SOUL ON EARTH IS WORTH 100X WHAT IT TAKES AFTER [Catholic Caucus] What Happens After Death?
Purgatory
A Brief Catechism for Adults - Lesson 12: Purgatory

The Doctrine of Purgatory
The Early Church Fathers on Purgatory - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
Required for entrance to Purgatory? Personal question for Cathloic Freepers.
(Protestant) Minister Who Had Near-Death Episode Believes In Purgatory
Straight Answers: What Is Purgatory Like?
Do Catholics Believe in Purgatory?
Purgatory, Indulgences, and the Work of Jesus Christ (Discussion)
Prayer to Release the Souls of Purgatory
The Forgotten Souls in Purgatory
Praying for the dead [Purgatory]

18 posted on 10/30/2011 12:20:35 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: DesertRhino
Hey purgatory mass (Gregorian Mass) is big business! My uncle had his estate pay the church to pray him out of purgatory.

The practice of Gregorian Masses goes back to a tradition hailing from Pope St. Gregory the Great (540-604). According to legend, a deceased monk appeared and requested 30 Masses to be celebrated for the release of his soul from purgatory. On completion of the stipulated days he appeared once more radiant in heavenly glory. From this legend the practice of celebrating 30 consecutive Masses for one and the same person with the intention of procuring release from purgatory became an established custom which has been regulated in various ways over the centuries.
19 posted on 10/30/2011 12:36:46 PM PDT by TSgt (Legal Disclaimer: View my profile at your own risk)
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To: DesertRhino
Purgatory isn’t needed in Jesus promise of salvation through his grace alone.

Yet for some silly reason Jesus seemed to think it important for Peter to reverse his thrice denial....hmmmmm?

I guess "grace" means. never having to say you're sorry.

20 posted on 10/30/2011 12:42:54 PM PDT by papertyger (What has islam ever accomplished that treacherous, opportunistic, brutality couldn't do on its own?)
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To: gusopol3
All those words and never once to scripture? Pitiable if not pathetic.

I'll take an honest appeal to general revelation over a heretical interpretation of special revelation any day!

21 posted on 10/30/2011 12:51:14 PM PDT by papertyger (What has islam ever accomplished that treacherous, opportunistic, brutality couldn't do on its own?)
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To: narses
2 Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

The concept of purgatory indicates a debt that needs to be paid. Christ paid that debt. For someone to assume that guilt is to step away from the grace of God.

Romans 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

God imputes righteousness without works.

Romans 4:6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

We obtain that righteousness while here on earth, not after we die.

Jesus was made sin for us.

2 Corinthians 5: 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Why would anyone reject what Jesus did for us and try to do it themselves when we are told that’s impossible? We know that we already have righteousness through faith.

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

So it’s impossible to please God without faith, and faith already gives us the righteousness that is required by Him why would anyone reject God’s freely given righteousness to once again return to the law of works which we know doesn’t even please Him?

On the cross Jesus last words were “it is finished”.

John 19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

In the Greek, the phrase, “it is finished”, is written as one word – “tetelestai”. In english that means “paid in full”. By claiming that people go to purgatory to either pay for their sins or have someone else pay for them they are calling Jesus a liar.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ” (Romans 8:1)

Psalm 103:12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Even Catholic agree that if we accept Christ we are “in Christ”. If we are then in Christ and are told that there “is no condemnation for those who are in Christ” and our sins are removed “as far as the east is from he west”, what are we judged on? 1 Corinthians 3:15 is talking about the fact that since we are no longer condemned we will not stand before Christ in judgment of sin but rather in judgment of our service to Him for our rewards

If we are justified by faith we will not only escape damnation but in Hebrews we are told that God will not even remember our sins.

Hebrews 10:17 Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.

We are also told in Hebrews that once we accept Jesus sacrifice there is no more offering for sin. Not on this earth and not in some place called purgatory.

Hebrews 10:18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

No purgatory.

22 posted on 10/30/2011 12:51:14 PM PDT by CynicalBear
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To: Colonel_Flagg

23 posted on 10/30/2011 12:53:31 PM PDT by narses (what you bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and what you loose upon earth, shall be ..)
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To: papertyger

To each his own! BTW, perusing the pro-Protestant headlined threads on the forum today, I see a lot of very tendentious Catholic input (trolls?). The Catholic caucus is left pretty much alone by Protestants.


24 posted on 10/30/2011 12:55:09 PM PDT by gusopol3
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To: CynicalBear

So I guess Jesus himself didn’t have all that much to say about salvation, hmmmmmm?


25 posted on 10/30/2011 1:06:53 PM PDT by papertyger (What has islam ever accomplished that treacherous, opportunistic, brutality couldn't do on its own?)
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To: gusopol3

Caucus threads are left alone by their opponents by definition, or didn’t you get the memo?

Similarly, threads that are used to criticize the theological opposition automatically lose caucus status and become “open.”

Consult the Religion Moderator’s homepage to get a clue.


26 posted on 10/30/2011 1:15:38 PM PDT by papertyger (What has islam ever accomplished that treacherous, opportunistic, brutality couldn't do on its own?)
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To: papertyger

Happily! Give me the link or just quote the policy.


27 posted on 10/30/2011 1:24:09 PM PDT by gusopol3
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To: gusopol3

2. Thin skinned RF posters should stick with the “closed” threads. I can and do intercede to keep posters from “making it personal.” There is nothing I can do to prevent a poster from “taking it personal.” And, frankly, many posters come to the RF with huge chips on their shoulders. Such posters are as guilty of causing flame wars as the ones who actually do “make it personal.”

3. “Closed” threads on the Religion Forum include devotionals, prayer threads and caucuses. The header of the thread should make it obvious that the thread is closed, i.e. like a church meeting behind closed doors. Such assemblies will not be disturbed. Any challenges or ridicule will be removed. Any thread can be designated a caucus - e.g. labeled as a “[Catholic Caucus]” or “[LDS Caucus]” - provided that neither the article nor any of the posts challenge or ridicule any other confession. These are “safe harbors” for those who are easily offended or are ill equipped to defend their own confession.

It is disingenuous to complain that your confession is being maligned when you are NOT using the caucus designation to protect the thread from challenges!

4. All other threads on the Religion Forum are “Open” which means they are like a town square. Challenges and ridicule will occur. Expect them to be contentious, rough or even insulting. Your confession will be maligned on open threads. Your beloved religious figures will be ridiculed. Don’t complain because the author or a religious figure is called a liar, demon, heretic or whatever on an open thread. It is to be expected in the town square. Remember too that the Religion Forum is densely populated with highly educated theologians. If you are ill-equipped to defend your confession, you’ll get beat up on “Open” thread. When in doubt, ping one of your best defenders and withdraw to a “Closed” thread.


28 posted on 10/30/2011 1:32:14 PM PDT by papertyger (What has islam ever accomplished that treacherous, opportunistic, brutality couldn't do on its own?)
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To: TSgt

For whatever it’s worth, when my mother-in-law died, we received several beautiful cards indicating that a mass had been “paid for” to be said for her after death. I have to agree with what you say here. It really reminds me of the whole indulgences fiasco.


29 posted on 10/30/2011 1:54:30 PM PDT by Paved Paradise
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To: DesertRhino

Exactly so. One either has faith or one doesn’t. There are no half measures, and you can’t work your way to Heaven from here, Hell or purgatory.


30 posted on 10/30/2011 1:55:26 PM PDT by Scotsman will be Free (11C - Indirect fire, infantry - High angle hell - We will bring you, FIRE)
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To: CynicalBear

I enjoyed reading the thread’s main article, but I thank you - and bless you - for the scriptures you posted in your comment.


31 posted on 10/30/2011 1:56:17 PM PDT by Paved Paradise
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To: Colonel_Flagg

Amen, Colonel.
The Plan of Salvation is so simple anyone would need help to misunderstand it. Apparently, that’s where priests come in.


32 posted on 10/30/2011 2:07:11 PM PDT by Tucker39
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To: Paved Paradise

>>For whatever it’s worth, when my mother-in-law died, we received several beautiful cards indicating that a mass had been “paid for” to be said for her after death. <<

Did you know that I can walk into my parish and get a mass said for anyone without paying one thin dime? Have you ever heard of “Free Will donations”? Catholics may pay for the card or donate to an organization or priest to say a Holy Mass in order to cover expenses, but if one would like a Holy Mass said for a loved one who passes, we do not have to “pay” for them. With that, I have NEVER seen a card from anywhere that says a Holy Mass was “paid for”. You made an assumption, period.


33 posted on 10/30/2011 2:09:58 PM PDT by netmilsmom (Happiness is a choice)
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To: Paved Paradise
Thank you for mentioning it. Christ died for our sins once for all. Christ was the perfect sacrifice that once and for all erased our sins and need to somehow earn our way. The RCC has led many astray with works based salvation, needing to somehow add to the sacrifice or our Lord thus demeaning what He perfectly accomplished.

There are many of the Protestant churches also who seem to have gone astray and left their “first love”. It is becoming more and more evident that we must rely on Jesus alone, as it was in the beginning and is intended to be, rather than rely on what so called leadership in organized “religion”. I rely more and more each day on the words of our Lord and the Apostles He appointed. The words they wrote with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit are the only source we dare go to other than the Holy Spirit within us who guides to all truth.

34 posted on 10/30/2011 2:11:58 PM PDT by CynicalBear
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To: CynicalBear

35 posted on 10/30/2011 2:12:28 PM PDT by narses (what you bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and what you loose upon earth, shall be ..)
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To: Tucker39

All it takes is a childlike faith...


36 posted on 10/30/2011 2:13:43 PM PDT by TSgt (Legal Disclaimer: View my profile at your own risk)
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To: narses

If we’re gonna keep purgatory, why don’t we keep “indulgences,” too? How much do I have to “pay” for my sins?


37 posted on 10/30/2011 2:17:29 PM PDT by Grizzled Bear (No More RINOs!!!)
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To: narses

So simply quoting scripture is “my own interpretation”?


38 posted on 10/30/2011 2:28:46 PM PDT by CynicalBear
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To: narses
According to Christian Catholic theology, the options were heaven, purgatory, or hell.

There. Fixed it. Only Catholics believe in the non-existent purgatory.
39 posted on 10/30/2011 3:10:40 PM PDT by crosshairs (Liberalism is to truth, what east is to west.)
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To: papertyger

thanks


40 posted on 10/30/2011 3:54:05 PM PDT by gusopol3
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To: Colonel_Flagg

Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and 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


41 posted on 10/30/2011 4:08:00 PM PDT by Excellence ( CTRL-GALT-DELETE)
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To: narses
Oooooooo doggy. That them is a lot of words for something so simple.

The correct and simple answer is that God does not look upon our righteousness. Our characters are not perfect either now or when we pass on. We are ushered into the Kingdom (not purgatory) based upon the perfection and righteousness of Christ. God the Father sees Christ-not us. We receive a new body (a resurrected body) based upon Christ's work which God has promised.

Any other doctrine is nothing more than work based and blasphamy to the holy work of Christ and the sanctification process of the Holy Spirit. It should be noted this last part is the "unforgivable" sin.

42 posted on 10/30/2011 5:51:00 PM PDT by HarleyD
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To: HarleyD

43 posted on 10/30/2011 6:19:41 PM PDT by narses (what you bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and what you loose upon earth, shall be ..)
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To: Texas Fossil
That is silly.

Those in Purgatory KNOW they are going to Heaven. Has nothing at all to do with God making up his mind.

44 posted on 10/30/2011 7:15:08 PM PDT by starlifter (Pullum sapit)
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To: TSgt
Then your uncle and the estate were wastrels.
45 posted on 10/30/2011 7:18:21 PM PDT by starlifter (Pullum sapit)
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To: narses

Speaking as a sinner and a Protestant by heritage, I’d always hoped that there was a purgatory, being as it was about the best that I could ever hope for.


46 posted on 10/30/2011 7:24:54 PM PDT by headsonpikes (Mass murder and cannibalism are the twin sacraments of socialism - "Who-whom?"-Lenin)
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To: starlifter

What is silly is man’s arrogance and confidence about things unseen.

Much like Frederic Bastiat’s “Essays on Political Economy”

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/15962/15962-h/15962-h.htm

see:

“That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Not Seen”

“In the department of economy, an act, a habit, an institution, a law, gives birth not only to an effect, but to a series of effects. Of these effects, the first only is immediate; it manifests itself simultaneously with its cause—it is seen. The others unfold in succession—they are not seen: it is well for us if they are foreseen. Between a good and a bad economist this constitutes the whole difference—the one takes account of the visible effect; the other takes account both of the effects which are seen and also of those which it is necessary to foresee. Now this difference is enormous, for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favourable, the ultimate consequences are fatal, and the converse. Hence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good, which will be followed by a great evil to come, while the true economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil.”

“In fact, it is the same in the science of health, arts, and in that of morals. If often happens, that the sweeter the first fruit of a habit is, the more bitter are the consequences. Take, for example, debauchery, idleness, prodigality. When, therefore, a man, absorbed in the effect which is seen, has not yet learned to discern those which are not seen, he gives way to fatal habits, not only by inclination, but by calculation.”


47 posted on 10/30/2011 7:27:11 PM PDT by Texas Fossil (Government, even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one)
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To: Texas Fossil
I love the pseudo-intellectual bulk quotes on Religion Fora.
48 posted on 10/30/2011 7:40:16 PM PDT by starlifter (Pullum sapit)
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To: starlifter
I am puzzled about religious discussion on FR at all. It always makes me concerned if the point is to divide us.

It is as if some here on FR are constantly picking a fight about religious beliefs for no other purpose than to divide our strength. Dems would love that thought.

Then there is the constant bashing of first Palin, then Bauchman, then Romney (who I will not vote for, not because of his religion, but his politics), then Perry. A constant barrage to divide the troops. Ridiculous cheap shots.

Lets keep our eyes on the ball. On the enemy. On the enemies of all free men, all Christians and Jews, and all Religions who tolerate us.

It is not my place to judge others, to persuade them, yes. But never judge, that function belongs to God.

49 posted on 10/30/2011 7:50:33 PM PDT by Texas Fossil (Government, even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one)
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To: DesertRhino
Ever notice how Christianity and the USA have a big similarity? Both have an original document thats clear enough for a 10 year old to understand. Only in the hands of constitutional attorneys and religious scholars does it become exceedingly complex,,,, In both cases,, they are trying to put the britches on us.

AMEN.

Matthew ch 11 28Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.”

His burden given us are indeed light.

50 posted on 10/30/2011 8:29:24 PM PDT by cva66snipe (Two Choices left for U.S. One Nation Under GOD or One Nation Under Judgment? Which one say ye?)
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