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Catholic view of Purgatory ... Is it real?

michael_legna's picture

No incongruity and Paul does discuss sanctification leading up

JStaller said -
Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to this, Michael; been pressed for time lately. I'd like to take this opportunity to point out a minor incongruity in your objection to my interpretation of 1 Corinthians 3.10-15. You said, (and I'll put the contradictory parts in bold):

I think they are misreading the section of verse then, because the works are not being purified. Think about the analogy of refining gold.

What is burnt away - the dross, not the gold. The gold is saved and pulled from the fire when the process is complete. Sure the sample is smaller having suffered loss of the mass that was constituted by the dross, but it is the pure desired material now.

What is burnt away in 1 Cor 3? The works not the man. The man is saved and pulled from the fire when the process is complete. Sure the man has suffered loss of that which was constituted by the works of stubble, but he is the pure desired person now ready to enter into heaven.

Put the statements side by side, and I think you might see why Protestants don't eagerly follow the interpretation:

"The works are not being purified."
"What is burnt away in 1 Corinthians 3? The works, not the man."

No I don't see the incongruity nor why Protestants don't follow the interpretation.

If we use the analogy of refining gold and replace the corresponding terms of the analogy in them these two statements you say are incongruous become immediately and obviously congruent instead:

The dross (works) is not being purified.
What is being burnt away in the verse is the dross (works) not the gold (man).

No incongruity.

JStaller said -
I think I see what you're trying to communicate. Your basic position is that the man (more specifically, his soul) is being purified? And that purification involves the removal of what? Sins, or works of stubble? Because those aren't necessarily the same thing.

Oh but they are. Going back to the definition of sin as being the missing of the mark, coming short of reaching the goal of following God's will; we see that sin and works of stubble (that which cannot withstand a testing by God) are the same. It is just as Paul tells us in Rom 14:23 "whatsoever is not of faith is sin."

JStaller said -
Unfortunately, you can't really have it both ways. Either the MAN and his soul are being purified/refined in the fire, or the individual's WORKS (like confused doctrines, which we know Apollos was prone towards) are being tried by fire.

You are confusing the terms tried and refined. They are the two terms here which are not the same. Gold is refined but the bits of dross in the initial smelting which are NOT gold is what is is tried and fails and so is burnt away. There is no having it both ways because I am not trying to have it both ways. These two items of discussion are being referred to two entirely different ways in the analogy.

JStaller said -
I suppose you could argue that the works themselves are what condemn the man's soul;

No I could not because once again the topic of purgatory has nothing to do with the topic of salvation as the individuals who go through this purification are already saved, since they built upon the foundation of Christ.

JStaller said -
an attempt at a reconciliation of the contradiction would probably look something like, "The man's soul is purified by a burning away of the works that are less than pure," but then you are arguing that our hypothetical works of stubble comprise the contents of our soul.

No, but they are mixed in with the man, just as the dross is not part of the gold, it is part of the sample dug from the earth, which is a mixture of gold and other lesser materials. Man is such a mixture, with a soul which is stained by sin even from birth (which is what original sin is) and is also affected with regards to his state of grace as we go through our life. This mixture is purified to some extent by our sanctification here on earth and our resisting temptation and our avoiding sin and our repentance and confess of the sins we do commit.

JStaller said -
Further, if Paul was talking metaphysics or soteriology elsewhere in the region of the chapter, you'd have something to argue about. But Paul doesn't begin his defense of Jesus Christ as the foundation with a discussion of faith vs. works, or spiritual wickedness, or the post-death condition of the soul.

You are focusing on a too localized view of the context for this section of scripture because we do see Paul addressing the issues of sanctification (which is much more closely related than the topics you looked for).

Were do we find the issues of sanctification? How about in the following:

In 1 Cor 3:1-3 we see Paul talking his readers not being spiritually developed far enough yet, still needing milk when they should be read for milk, that they are still carnally focused when they should have grown spiritually. It is specifically this forest of - lack of growth, sanctification and purification of them - which leads to you focus on these trees of infighting and division.

Paul echos this discussion of these same failing (along with sexual impurity) in 2 Cor 12:20-21

2 Cor 12:20-21 For I fear, lest when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: 21 And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.

...where we see his real concern was over their lack of repentance for them, which of course is right in line with the idea of purgatory and the burning away of works which have not been properly repented of.

1Co 3:21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;

- which harkens back to Paul's comments in the immediately preceding chapter where he works up the idea that the worldly do not think as God thinks.

In fact if we go back to the first chapter of this book

1 Cor 10:6-14 6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. 9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

...we see that Paul has written this letter specifically to warn the Corinthians that if God would not spare the false prophets in Ezekiel's time (which is covered in Ez 13:10-16 and Ez 28:28-30what this section of verse refers back to) for building with untempered mortar than they would not remain unscathed either for building with inferior materials.

So you see it all about spiritual growth and development. The internal strife is merely a symptom not the problem.

JStaller said -
1 Corinthians 3 is clearly about factionalism and infighting, preferential treatment of (perhaps) charismatic leaders, a congregation pulled in the many directions of persons other than Jesus Christ.

No that is just one of many symptoms as I showed above. The underlying message is all about spiritual growth and putting those things behind us as part of our sanctification which will be perfect by God's purifying fire to eliminate that which we did not repent of in this life.

JStaller said -
Paul is clearly talking about keeping the main thing the main thing--those things that AREN'T the main thing will vanish when God's refining fire puts them to the test.

Yes, but those refining fires will occur after our death when we have already had our last chance to repent of them and get rid of those attachments through out process of sanctification through a walk obedient to the Gospel and a life or repentance and confess seeking forgiveness for those times we don't.

JStaller said -
Look at the metaphor a little bit more; Paul isn't talking about vessels of honor/dishonor at all, he's talking about building materials that can form a structure, but can't necessarily stand the test of time.

Yes, it is always confusing to mix metaphors, but only if you take them too literally.

JStaller said -
Paul is teaching that Jesus Christ is the foundation of the gospel, and the erection of doctrine atop that foundation had better be pure, had better be on the mark, valuable, carefully wrought; otherwise, it will not last. Can you specifically point out why this explanation is inadequate to the entire text? Standing alone, without needing to be reconciled to the doctrine of purgatory, this explanation suits the text more than adequately.

It is inadequate because it fails to consider the rest of scripture which makes it clear we are not talking about doctrines here. Verses like this:

Mat 7:24-27 24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

Or do you contend that Jesus is talking about men developing doctrines here to and waiting for time to test them?

And in Galatians we see Paul equate building with performing works...

Gal 2:16-21 16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. 18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

The works discussed being rebuilt here are works which had been purged from the speakers life, which we see are clearly sin because if they are rebuilt we are transgressors. This is all even though we were now alive through accepting Christ and the Gospel.

JStaller said -
Because I want to be unequivocally clear at this point, and because this objection has so far gone unanswered, I'll be unusually direct: if you want to use 1 Corinthians 3.10-15 as an argument for purgatory, you'll have to provide OTHER Biblical evidence that suggests that Paul had this in mind when he wrote it, evidence NOT found in 1 Corinthians 3.10-15.

And I have provided other verses both previously in this thread which you have not addressed and more in this post which I await your response to.