Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Is Purgatory really Hell?

I would like to use the Catholic argument that Purgatory exists to show what hell ACTUALLY is....since God wills to save all men, you can see in the “proof of Purgatory” exactly how God can save even dead sinners...how our works are Judged before we can be declared righteous. I do believe Purgatory was invented as a separate entity to allow St. Augustine’s eternal damnation theory.....but there is no ETERNAL damnation, St Augustine was wrong, and what the Catholics call Purgatory is simply Hell....not a place of eternal torment by any means.


If scripture tells us anything about what happens beyond death, it is that the Protestant view is incorrect. The Bible clearly shows that the standard Protestant view of One Heaven, One Hell is not borne out by scripture:

* Jesus said "In my Father's House are many mansions" Implying several different possible outcomes.
* There is the Highest Heaven where God is worshiped by the Saints and Angels, described in Revelation 4 and 5.
* There is the Lake of Fire of Revelation 20, the final destination of Satan and his servants.
* There is Hades of Revelation 20:13, which holds many yet to face the Final Judgement.
* There is the Bosom of Abraham, where Lazarus and the Rich Man went after death in Luke 16.
* There is the Holy City, New Jerusalem, of Revelation 21, where God will dwell with men.

* Peter tells us that Jesus:
"went and preached to the spirits in prison" (1 Pet. 3:19), and,
after his resurrection, Christ himself declared: "I have not yet
ascended to the Father" (John 20:17). This alone proves there to be another state besides heaven and besides hell.

* Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12, speaks of someone being caught up to the third heaven, to paradise, which strongly implies more than one heaven.

Now whilst all Christians agree that the Ultimate Fate of Mankind is to be with God in Heaven or else apart from God in Hell. Traditional Christian teaching permits that some Christians may be cleansed or punished for a while in purgatory - and then admitted to heaven.


No. As we shall see, belief in a purgatory, a place of cleansing and purification beyond death, is a very ancient Christian and Jewish doctrine.


The simple answer is because of the Holiness of God.

Protestant objections to Purgatory have their origins in a failure to truly understand God's ABHORRENCE of Sin. He can have no sin in His presence. Yet even the finest of Redeemed Christians is not perfect.

"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is
not in us." I John 1:8.

Scripture teaches that: nothing unclean shall ever enter heaven (Rev. 21:27) and, while we may die with our sins forgiven, there can still be many impurities in us, In this state very few would ever enter heaven.

Jesus makes clear the type of perfection which is necessary for Heaven. "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matt. 5:48. Therefore a change must occur in all of us sinners after death. Before Christians can enter the presence of God in heaven, purification is necessary.


Christ's sacrifice atones for and pays for all our sins, but even though Justified Christians may be accounted as righteous, they are not truly righteous.

The Apostle Paul, righteous though he was, knew that not all sin had been purified from within him "For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me." Rom 7:19-20

Although baptized, believing and justified, Paul remained a sinner. He remained liable to commit sin. Perfection and complete sanctification of Christians as individuals doesn't happen on this earth, However, since God cannot tolerate sin, perfect cleansing has to occur at some point before we can enter Heaven. Without this, humans would continue to commit sins in heaven. Since we know that most Christians are not perfectly cleansed before death, this necessary purification must take place after death, in the place, or state of existence, called Purgatory.


Yes. Christians have had their sin, and the penalty for sin washed away by the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. But as we have seen, our propensity to sin still remains. That sin is real and must be truly eradicated, not just "covered up."

A Christian may be "accounted as righteous", that is, spared Hell, through the blood of the lamb. But is that person truly righteous? As an illustration, some passenger trains used to carry bicycles on board. Since there was no ticket for bicycles, they travelled on a dog ticket, at the fare normally charged for a dog. In other words the bicycle was "accounted as a dog". Does this mean the bicycle became a dog? No. It remained a bicycle. So it is with sinners "accounted as righteous". They still remain capable of sin until purified.


If the suffering of Christians on Earth does not conflict with Christ's atonement, why should anything that is suffered in Purgatory conflict with that atonement?


Not at all. The doctrine of purgatory, and the usefulness of prayer for the dead have been part of Christian belief since the earliest times. Christians during the persecutions of the first three centuries recorded prayers for the dead in the catacombs. Indeed, some of the earliest Christian writings outside the New Testament refer to the Christian practice of praying for the dead. Such prayers would have been offered only if Christians believed in purgatory.

"A woman, after the death of her husband, is bound not less firmly but even more so, not to marry another husband....Indeed, she PRAYS FOR HIS SOUL and asks that he may, while waiting, find rest; and that he may share in the first resurrection. And each year, on the anniversary of his death, she offers the sacrifice." Tertullian, MONOGAMY 10:1,4 (A.D. 213)

The Jews of Jesus's time, and also those of today, believe in a purification (a purgation) which takes place after death. When a Jewish person's loved one dies, the soul descends to a place of punishment and/or purification, generally referred to as Gehinnom, Gehenna, or sometimes as She'ol. It is customary to pray on his behalf for eleven months using a prayer known as the mourner's Qaddish (from the Hebrew word meaning "holy"). This prayer is used to ask God to hasten the purification of the loved one's soul. The Qaddish is prayed for only eleven months because it is thought to be an insult to imply that the loved one's sins were so severe that he would require a full year of purification.

2 Maccabees 12:39-46, attests to Jewish belief 150 years before Christ:

40:But when they found on each of the dead men under their tunics, objects dedicated to the idols of Jamnia, which the Law prohibits to Jews, it became clear to everyone that this was why these men had lost their lives. 41. All then blessed the ways of the Lord, the upright Judge who brings hidden things to light, 42. and gave themselves in prayer, begging that the sin committed might be completely forgiven. Next, the valiant Judas urged the soldiers to keep themselves free from all sin, having seen with their own eyes the effects of the sin of those who had fallen; 43. after this he took a collection from them individually amounting to nearly two thousand drachmas, and sent it to Jerusalem to have a sacrifice for sin offered, an action altogether fine and noble, prompted by his belief in the resurrection. 44. For had he not expected the fallen to rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to PRAY FOR THE DEAD, 45. whereas if he had in view the splendid recompense reserved for those who make a pious end, the thought was holy and devout. Hence he had the expiatory sacrifice offered for the dead, so that they might be released from their sin.

A few other biblical passages:

May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me; he was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me eagerly and found me -- may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day -- and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus." ST PAUL, c. 67 A.D. (2 Tim 1:16-18 )

Paul appears here to be praying for the Soul of Onesiphorus.

'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; 33 and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' 34 And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, TILL HE SHOULD PAY ALL HIS DEBT. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart." (Matt. 18:33-35)

In this passage Jesus is telling a parable to illustrate the Kingdom of Heaven, comparing God's treatment of us in heaven, to the master's treatment of his servant on earth. So in this passage Jesus is talking about a punishment beyond death, that is a TEMPORARY PUNISHMENT, not a permanent and eternal punishment, as in Hell.

"For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw-- 13* each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15* If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire." (1 Cor. 3: 11-13)

We know that if someone goes to hell, he will not be saved, so 1 Corinthians cannot be talking about Hell. [ How do we “Know someone going to Hell will NOT be saved?...] We also know that if someone goes to Heaven, he will not suffer, so this passage is not talking about heaven. It is talking about the purification or purging away of sins in purgatory.

Christ refers to the sinner who "will not be forgiven, either in this
age or in the age to come" (Matt. 12:32), suggesting that one can be
forgiven after death of the consequences of one's sins.

So, Purgatory is actually very simple:

1. God will not have sin in his presence. (Revelation 21:27)

2. If we say we have no sin in us, we are liars. (1 John 1.8)

3. Even though we are Justified, we must still be Purified before we can enter God's presence.

Some further quotations:

We offer sacrifices for the dead on their birthday anniversaries." Tertullian, THE CROWN 3:3 (A.D. 211)

"Standing by, I, Abercius, ordered this to be inscribed; truly, I was in my seventy-second year. May everyone who is in accord with this and who understands it PRAY FOR Abercius. Nor indeed, shall any man place another in my tomb." EPITAPH OF ABERCIUS, Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia Salutaris, 180 A.D.

Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?
1 Corinthians 15:29

"You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; 33 and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' 34 And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, * till he should pay all his debt. 35* So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart." (Matt. 18:23-35)"

I do see where this argument for a place to have our sins purged is coming from. I agree with it. Many many Christians who have learned that hell is eternal falsely accuse Universalism as being easy on sinners. I believe in Hell. But I cannot find any evidence that it is eternal. Despite the fact that early English translations of the Bible translated the Greek according to the Latin Vulgate's earlier mistranslation.

Even C.S. Lewis, an often quoted Protestant, did not believe that Heaven could be entered without a purging.
"Of course I pray for the dead. At our age the majority of those we love best are dead. What sort of intercourse with God could I have if what I love best were unmentionable to Him? I believe in purgatory. Our souls demand purgatory, don't they? My favourite image on this matter comes from the dentist's chair. I hope that when the tooth of life is drawn, a voice will say, 'Rinse your mouth out with this.' This will be purgatory." (Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, 107-109)

I do not believe there are three places, only two. There is far more evidence for a "Purgatory" than there is for an eternal Hell.

Wonder what the Moody institute meant in the radio program they aired when they stated "...not all the dwelling places in heaven will be the same size...it will depend on how well each person lives out their faith... "(The Moody Institute Feb. 3, 2005)?

a couple of years ago, I was reading a popular Christian book as part of my church's midweek study. I was amazed by a passage in it and wondered what it meant;
"At the end of your life on earth you will be evaluated and rewarded according to how well you handled what God entrusted to you. That means everything you do...has eternal consequences...you will receive a promotion and be given greater responsibility in eternity ..." (The Purpose Driven Life, pg. 45)
Does this mean what I think it means? You can be punished with less reward? Pastor Rick makes it clear that the faithful who do not do their best are still going to heaven but they are not getting the full reward.