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Catholic view of Purgatory ... Is it real?

michael_legna's picture

Purgatory does not dimish the sacrifice of Christ

Council of Trent (1545-1563 CE found at http://www.catholicapologetics.org/ap090400.htm)
"We constantly hold that purgatory exists, and that the souls of the faithful there detained are helped by the prayers of the faithful."

Dan Fugett said -
So a person who didnt (history) love his mom enough to pay all his money to have those Keys reduce her time in Purgatory, was really a bad son? At least that is the argument.

Where do you get this idea from? This teaching is not contained in the quote above at all. What is mentioned are prayers not money.

Dan Fugett said -
Can one see how this doctrine quickly became a money maker??? And the person who dies with many friends to pray (today) for them is in much better shape than the one who doesnt???

Not unless you exchange money for prayers, but that is contrary to the doctrine you quote. It did happen in the middle ages, but these were abuses of men and not condoned by the Church. They were corrected in the Counter Reformation of the Catholic Church.

Dan Fugett said -
Does that even remotely sound like a scheme a just God would create???

Yes it is very similar to the idea of praying for one another (once you accept that the Church is not divided by the thin line of death) that unless of course you deny that the prayers of a righteous man are effectual?

Catholic catechism
1031: "The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent"

Dan Fugett said -
I agree entirely with the catechism which admits that Florence and Trent are where the idea of Purgatory all started rather than having any basis in scripture.

That is not what the Catechism says and you know it. It says that was where the doctrines were formulated. Doctrines are only formulated (much like the creeds) in response to attacks on points of belief or the arising of a heresy which is counter to that which is widely held by the Church.

The belief in Purgatory existed in the Church from the earliest times and I can show that (simply as a matter of historical fact - and not as a proof of the truth of the doctrine) by appealing to the comments and teachings of the ECF if you like. Again I would not be appealing to the authority of the Church as a proof, only as a means of correcting a misunderstanding of the Church's position on this issue.

Vatican II documents state:
"The doctrine of purgatory clearly demonstrates that even when the guilt of sin has been taken away, punishment for it or the consequences of it may remain to be expiated or cleansed. They often are. In fact, in purgatory the souls of those who died in the charity of God and truly repentant, but who had not made satisfaction with adequate penance for their sins and omissions are cleansed after death with punishments designed to purge away their debt" (Vatican II documents at http://www.cephas-library.com/catholic/catholic_pope_says_nonbelievers_can_be_saved.html).

Dan Fugett said -
By authority not derived from scripture,

Where do you get that this authority does not come from scripture? Nowhere does this statement from the Vatican II documents claim or admit that there is no support from scripture for this teaching.

Dan Fugett said -
the assertion is that Jesus expiated the guilt but not the consequences (before God) of sins.

No that is not what is said - you are reading that into the statement. Christ's sacrifice paid the eternal price of sin, that of spiritual death. Because of His sacrifice we do not have to be condemned to hell, even though that is what we deserve.

The consequence of sin that is not expiated is the temporal consequence of our actions. A good example is that just because Jesus died on the cross does not mean we are free to break our neighbors window and tell him tough luck I am not going to pay for it because Christ expiated all my consequences of sin. That simply is not true repentance.

Dan Fugett said -
Catholocism is teaching that genuine repentance isnt enough (before God) unless satisfaction with adequate penance is made. That's a direct quote.

The distinction between genuine repentance and complete repentance including penance or restitution and reconciliation is subtle but significant.

Dan Fugett said -
This quote is very clear that biblical repentance is insufficient in a theological system...

It all depends on how you define biblical repentance. I define it as not only genuine but also complete, including the idea of reconciliation and restitution. If you think those ideas are out of place then perhaps you could defend that position with scriptural support.

The remainder of your statement was patently offensive and probably meant to be so, so I will merely ignore it.

Dan Fugett said -
Also, this lays to rest forever the assertion that Purgatory has nothing to do with salvation because the very heart of the Gospel is at stake in this doctrine.

No it does not lay to rest the claim that Purgatory has nothing to do with salvation because once again it only applies to those who will be judged to be saved at the judgment.

The heart of the Gospel as you understand it may deny the need for reconciliation and restitution for a complete repentance, but I disagree and challenge you to prove it.

Dan Fugett said -
Vatican II (briefly quoted) and Michael's teachings seem in unison as laid out in the post "Time to drop the skeptic stance and try to rebut actual issues" (http://www.ccel.org/node/810/17962#comment-17962). Unfortunately, none of the scriptures used in this post prove that the consequences of sin (before God) arent expiated by the atoning blood of Christ.

Interesting claim but until you make even the slightest effort to rebut the interpretations and offer alternative ones you are in no position to support such a claim as anything other than personal opinion.

Dan Fugett said -
Why? Because the Catholic Church, and Michael, have not scripturally proven there is an unexpiated consequence to sin that is obligatory before God to fullfill on penalty of not getting into Heaven even temporarily.

Then please provide another explanation for 1 Cor 3:10-16. What is going on there at the judgment seat, when the man's works are burnt away and we suffer loss, but are still declared to be saved? And when you are done there please explain the other verses I referenced instead of merely making personal claims with no support.

Dan Fugett said -
Please look up or see the posting above for the scriptures already posted. Here are a few.

I am not sure where you are referring to - is there some post you made that has scripture verses I have not already addressed? If so let me know and I will provide an interpretation for them.

With regard to these verses that follow, you again avoid doing any type of analysis to show where you get your interpretation, and the intent you claim to see in them is not obvious to others such as myself, but I will reply to them as best I can.

Dan Fugett said -
Joh 15:1-11: actually demonstrates that there are two possible positions the believer can be in: in Christ where fruit results, or rejected as a dead fruit tree branch.

Joh 15:1-11 1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

But these two possible positions are not the precursor to these works, but they are a result of them. We are do not stop bearing fruit because we are cast off, we are cut off and cast off because we stop bearing fruit. We abide in Christ first because we love, then yes we do love because we abide in Christ, but it is clear that it is our choice, otherwise no one could stop loving once abiding in Christ and no one would ever be cut off and thrown into the fire.

Dan Fugett said -
1 Jn 1:9: confession of sin means admitting or agreeing that sin is sin. No mention of requiring confession to be to man or authorizing man to mete out acts of penance.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The point of this verse as I referenced it has nothing to do with whether we confess to men or not, just that confession is necessary and so to is forgiveness, even after we have had our sins expiated by Christ's sacrifice. If Christ's sacrifice covered all our sins, and there was no need to repent and seek forgiveness then there would be no need for the Father to cleanse us again as the verse says.

But with regard to confessing to men, we need to be careful not to draw conclusions from one verse in isolation, as confession to the Church is supported by other sections of scripture, as is reconciliation and restitution.

All in all I don’t see either of these sections of verse contradicting the doctrine of purgatory but rather supporting it.

Dan Fugett said -
Isa 4:4: See Matt 3:11 Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire. It is this fire, which accompanies the Holy Spirit in all believers (Rom 5:5-9), that provides purgation during this life (Rom 8:13) if the child of God yields to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

I am not sure of your point here or how it relates to Purgatory but will try to respond to each verse but I cannot be sure I will cover all you intended by them, since you offered no analysis to show where you got your ideas or even how they relate to the topic.

Starting with
Isa 4:4 When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.

I think you are correct to link it to

Matt 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

…where Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire, but only as a partial fulfillment of the statement of Isaiah. This refinement and cleansing occurs throughout our life in sanctification and must continue on after death to purify us of all sins which were not properly repented of or reconciliation and restitution was incomplete. If the baptism by the Spirit and by fire was the only cleansing we needed, then there would be no point to the doctrine of sanctification either, so your use of this verse is inconsistent with even main stream Protestant positions.

With regard to...
Rom 5:5-9 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

I am not sure how you link this to the "fire, which accompanies the Holy Spirit in all believers", so I cannot comment on what you thought you saw in this, other than to say it should not be interpreted to deny the process of sanctification and so cannot be extended to be contradicting the doctrine of purgatory.

Moving on to…

Rom 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

I agree that the topic of this verse is about providing purgation during this life (sanctification), and that indeed it only occurs if we yield to (I would say cooperate with) the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. It is not all the work of the Holy Spirit though because we have a free will, and can, as you have shown above, choose to stop cooperating (or yielding) and be cut off from the vine for refusing to produce fruit. This is of course more related to salvation because the process of sanctification (in our life on earth) is necessary for salvation, in the sense that it keeps us from being cut off. This is not related to what happens in Purgatory as it is all before our death. But I realize you are still struggling with this relationship and how it relates or does not relate to Purgatory so I am addressing it, even though once sanctification in this life is complete our choice has been made, and we are either saved or not and the further and final purification that occurs in Purgatory does not affect that choice.

Dan Fugett said -
I am nor denying the necessity of obedience for the true believer while maintaing that works is not corequisites to faith for salvation.
How can that be a self-consistent position to hold? Either faith alone is necessary or works too are necessary as you state in this sentence above? What are works of loving obedience necessary for if not for salvation? And is that thing which they are necessary for part of the process that ultimately leads to salvation?

Dan Fugett said -
Notice that 5:9 says God's children (justified by faith 5:1) are saved from wrath (the wrath of God is one of the consequence of sin between God and man according to Rom 1:16-18)

I think by 5:1 you are referencing this…

Rom 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

But once again you are interpreting a verse in isolation and only getting part of the picture. It would be a correct interpretation to imply we are justified by faith alone (thus eliminating all works from consideration) if no other scripture could be found which says others things are necessary for salvation, and I have shown you a long list of them which you have been unable to rebut through any form of analysis other than to simply deny them without actually addressing them.

Rom 5:9 does indeed mention God's wrath but it is as you point out only one of the consequences of sin. God's wrath is manifested in the punishment of eternal death and suffering in hell.
Rom 1:16-18 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

Purgatory does not address this aspect of God's wrath or the removal of it, as it is determined by our faith and sanctification before death, that is why (once again I repeat) Purgatory is not a salvation issue. Purgatory addresses the removal of anything that defiles so we can enter into His presence.

I am not sure what you think these following verses show since you did not interpret them. But again I will show how they are consistent with the doctrine of Purgatory.

Dan Fugett said -
"...and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA : The Lockman Foundation, 1995, S. Ro 5:5-9

Ro 5:5-9
If we do the above works and keep our faith alive then we will have the tribulation that comes with living in an evil world and the hope that these things generate and God will not disappoint us in that hope. I think the key here is that this message is parallel to the one James gives about the relation between faith and works. Hope comes indirectly from tribulation, without tribulation there is no hope, just as without works there is no living faith. We bring that tribulation on ourselves, through our life’s work and decisions as a Christian. If we really choose to accept the gift our life and works will reflect it and we will see these things in it. Yes hope will not disappoint but you have to get there first. Getting there once is not enough either, for you can become luke-warm and the tribulations will end and your faith will die unless you return to your first works.

The Greek word for hope is a lot stronger and it means "confident expectation." Confidence is built into the word. And when Paul talks about the Christian hope, he is speaking of a confident expectation that God is willing and able to do what he promised.

But confidence is not certainty.

On top of that, he adds the words "will not disappoint." Not only does the Greek word have the connotation of confidence but Paul drives the point home with his addition of the idea that our hope will not disappoint us. "and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

The point is that God will not disappoint – but we can certainly let Him down and ourselves as well. If we lose our salvation we have no one to blame but ourselves.

None of this is inconsistent with the need for purification after death before entering into His presence.

Dan Fugett said -
...for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA : The Lockman Foundation, 1995, S. Ro 8:13-14

Ro 8:13-14
Here the condition is set showing that those who do not accept the gift through a changed life filled with good works, which are in contrast to carnal lusts (referred to here as live after the flesh), they shall not be saved (referred to here as shall die). But if they do have a life of good works, fulfilling the spirit of the law through love (referred to here as throught the Spirit) they will be saved (referred to here as shall live).

Some will claim that You said there is a supernatural link between "abiding in Christ" and works. Abiding in Christ is continuing in a life of discipleship. There is a supernatural element to it.

Walking in the Spirit is continuing in a life of discipleship.

We know that abiding in Christ is works. We also agree that abiding is required for salvation. But we are ready to make the jump they seem unwilling to – that therefore works are required for salvation. Free works of our freewill, not just a supernatural event of Christ working through us. There is a supernatural element to these abiding works but it is not fully a supernatural event otherwise it would be impossible to lose our salvation and it could never really be considered obedience if it was all coming from the Holy Spirit – so we make the other jump they are unwilling to and that is that we play a role in the works that make up abiding in Christ which are required for salvation.

Dan Fugett said -
...16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.” 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA : The Lockman Foundation, 1995, S. Ro 1:16-18

This section of verse makes it clear that the Gospel is for salvation, it is the power of God in fact! But what is the Gospel? Is it just good news that Christ died for our sins? No of course not. The Gospel is all of His teachings and they include what is expected of us – which implies works. That is why both Paul and Peter tell us that the Gospel must be obeyed:

2Th 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

1Pe 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

You cannot obey good news, you can only obey instructions and that obedience is works (works of love) and they are required for salvation.

Dan Fugett said -
21 But now ... the righteousness of God has been manifested, ..., 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; ... 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.
New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA : The Lockman Foundation, 1995, S. Ro 3:21-25

Ro 3:21-25
Lets not restrict our analysis to just these 4 verses (with parts removed from them) but lets look at them in total and in the broader context.

Rom 3:21-31 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. 29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

When we do we see that this section of verse while it supports the idea of salvation is by faith, it does not support salvation by faith alone but by faith which rather than making the law void actually supports the spirit of the law. True works aimed at being able to boast are denounced, but works of love that establish the law through recognizing its intent.

Dan Fugett said -
The revealed wrath of God in Rom 1 is entirely propitiated (appeased) by the expiation (atoning or cleansing) of our sins by Jesus Christ. There is no consequence of sin we are required to atone for. In fact, such beliefs weaken the doctrine of the atonement because Jesus dies once and for all. Jesus sacrifice atoned for the guilt and eternal consequences of sin, and eternal consequences are the ones God focuses on in Heb 7:25-27; 9:13-15.

No, because God does not focus on JUST the ETERNAL consequences of sin, but on the TEMPORAL ones as well, since they defile as well, and nothing that defiles can be in His presence. The eternal consequence of sin is eternal death, the temporal consequence of sin is the restitution and reconciliation we must make in order to have truly and fully repented of the sins we commit.

Moving on I have to complain once again that this habit you have of quoting verses as if merely reading them proves your position appears to be aimed more at your avoiding putting out any effort in the discussion than it does anything else. This is because I know all these verses and if the meaning you get from them was obvious I would have seen it before and also seen how it contradicted the doctrine we are discussing.

Still I will do my best to address you concerns in them and show that they are not contrary to the doctrine of Purgaotry.

Dan Fugett said -
25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA : The Lockman Foundation, 1995, S. Heb 7:25-27

This verse addresses salvation, and the sacrifice Christ made to expiate the eternal consequence of sin, eternal death. It does not show and should not be taken to mean that His sacrifice alone is the only step in the process of salvation – else as I have shown before that would mean all men were saved. There must be a part we play in our own salvation to distinguish ourselves from among those who do not accept and follow Him. I don't see this related to the doctrine of purgatory at all or even why you reference it – which is why it is so important that you make the effort to show how it is you are interpreting these verses if you want to make a point.

Dan Fugett said -
13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA : The Lockman Foundation, 1995, S. Heb 9:13-15

Yes, the redemption we receive is from the penalty due to sins under the old covenant, that of eternal death in hell. That is replaced by the reward of eternal life. This section of verse is all about eternal consequences not temporal ones so it is not at all related to the doctrine of purgatory.

It also does not support a doctrine of salvation by faith alone for two reasons. First of course it can only be read that way if you interpret it in isolation from the rest of scripture, especially those verses I showed you which specifically say other things are required in order to properly distinguish ourselves in the manner we accept the free gift. Second is it does not say works of love are not needed to follow Him, only that no more sacrifice need be made to expiate the penalty of eternal death.