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Seminarian John Aerts wrote:

Hi, guys —

Can you help me defend each of the areas listed in this attachment below:

Reasons why Purgatory does not exist.

Here are some examples of what follows:

  • Some Sacred Scriptures to nullify the errors on immortality
  • No judgment before the Second Coming, et al.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated,

God Bless, a seminarian,

John Aerts

  { Can you help me defend each of the areas listed in this list: Reasons why Purgatory doesn't exist? }


Reasons why Purgatory does not exist from a Protestant view.

  1. For the wages sins is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Roman 6:23

    This text informs us that the punishment for sin is death. However, if we choose Jesus Christ we will be rewarded with the gift of life. The gift of life is not rewarded on a merit basis or on the basis of how many people can pray you out of Purgatory. No, the gift of life is rewarded because of Jesus. Simply accept Jesus. That is all we can to do to receive the gift of salvation.


  2. God . . . who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To Him be honor and might and power forever and ever. Amen.

    1 Timothy 6:16

    If I am not mistaken this text preaches that God alone is immortal. As such if when you die you go to purgatory then possibly on to heaven you cannot be immortal. I'm assuming if you are in heaven you want to be alive or it is just not worth the trip. As such this text is in direct conflict of purgatory or so I think.


  3. Listen, I tell you we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed ... at the last trumpet.
    For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed. For the perishable must cloth himself with the imperishable and the mortal with the immortal.

    1 Corinthians 15:51-53

    This text lets us know when we will become immortal and ready to go to heaven to live forever. This will happen during the second coming at the last trumpet sound. Not before. Hence I am inclined to believe that since we are not immortal because only God is immortal and we do not become immortal until the last trumpet blows, then when we die we can not possible go anywhere other than the grave because we are mortal, and death is death. It is not death for a little while, then Purgatory, then possibly Heaven.


  4. For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun.

    Ecclesiastes 9:5-6

    This text to me seems pretty straightforward. The dead know nothing I can not explain that in any simpler terms. In addition they have know further reward. Their reward does not come until the second coming and the dead in Christ rise and are then caught together in the clouds with the living righteous, then they go to Heaven. Not before, even though the idea sounds very comforting especially at funerals to tell a love on "Oh so and so is in heaven right now". It is not true.


  5. Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep . . . so then he explained to them simply he is dead.

    John 11:11-14


    Here Jesus likens death to sleep when he is talking to the disciples. This is why I feel death really is a deep sleep where we know nothing until we are awaken in the Second Coming.


  6. . . . the dead in Christ will rise first. After that we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

    1 Thessalonians 4:16-17


    So we will get to heaven. That's the great news!!!!! However we have to wait until He comes the second time. IF we are dead in Christ we will rise, if we are alive on this day we will join the dead in the clouds and go to heaven together. That is pretty awesome!!

Jack Perry replied:

Hi, John —

First, we need to summarize the true doctrine of Purgatory.

We need to distinguish between justification and sanctification. Justification is the joining of a person to the Body of Christ; in Paul's legalistic terms, it is that which we receive when Christ's righteousness is imputed to us. The Greek word used in connection with this is diakosune, righteousness, as in, God's righteousness. This is usually what anti-Catholics mean when they are talking about salvation. It is the one and only requirement for salvation, per se. This is why an infant, once baptized, goes to heaven if he dies. For a fuller treatment of justification, see
this web page
.

Salvation on the other hand, involves sanctification as well as justification. "Salvation" comes from the Latin for healing, salus and the Greek word used for salvation in the New Testament is sozo (healing). Sanctification is growth in holiness. Christians are obliged to respond to God's grace and to grow in holiness, and God rewards us for these good deeds. If your acquaintance needs you to point to the Bible to prove that, he is not very well-read in Scripture. But, here are some examples:

Matthew 5:43-48
Matthew 6:19-21

Matthew 18:21-35, esp. verses 32-35
Verse 35 is frequently cited as Scriptural grounds of a Purgatory.
Matthew 25:37-45, especially verse 45

Purgatory is not a means to salvation. Whoever arrives in Purgatory is already justified, and therefore, "saved" from Hell. Purgatory is, rather a means of sanctification; it is a healing of the blindness of the soul so that she can see her beloved Lord clearly in Heaven (1 John 3:1-3). There is simply no way to repay God for all His gifts; there is no way to achieve a break-even balance in "the ledger", let alone a positive one. (Luke 17:10) Purgatory is not a question of a ledger of sins versus good deeds; it is a question of orientation, and of healing.

For all sins committed after Baptism, there is a corresponding punishment, or purification. This is in spite of the fact that God forgives our sins; forgiveness and absence of punishment are not the same thing. See for example Psalm 99:8, where God forgives the Israelites, although He still punishes their misdeeds. Punishment and forgiveness are not mutually exclusive: forgiveness puts the offender back in communion with the aggrieved, while punishment is a way of healing the offender's defect that first caused the offense. It helps to see Purgatory as purification for the elect who have not been purified before death. This purification is necessary since nothing impure may enter the heavenly Jerusalem. (Revelation 21:7)

An excellent book to read on this is St. Catherine of Genoa's Treatise on Purgatory. A summary of the treatise can be found here; while an on-line version of the treatise can be found at:

Now, to refute the opposition point by point.

Rebuttals to the above attachment,
Why Purgatory does not exist from a Protestant view.
  1. For the wages sins is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Roman 6:23

    This text informs us that the punishment for sin is death. However, if we choose Jesus Christ we will be rewarded with the gift of life. The gift of life is not rewarded on a merit basis or on the basis of how many people can pray you out of Purgatory. No, the gift of life is rewarded because of Jesus. Simply accept Jesus. That is all we can to do to receive the gift of salvation.

    The Catholic reply: This passage is absolutely correct; it is proper Catholic doctrine. To be justified, we must throw ourselves at the feet of Jesus. There is nothing else we can do but respond to the grace offered in Christ. This has no effect whatsoever on the question of Purgatory, since Purgatory has nothing to do with justification; the argument is irrelevant to the question.

  2. God . . . who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To Him be honor and might and power forever and ever. Amen.

    1 Timothy 6:16

    If I am not mistaken this text preaches that God alone is immortal. As such if when you die you go to purgatory then possibly on to heaven you cannot be immortal. I'm assuming if you are in heaven you want to be alive or it is just not worth the trip. As such this text is in direct conflict of purgatory or so I think.

    The Catholic reply: The incorrect interpretation of this passage is the source of your acquaintance's difficulty. The interpretation is rather extreme and in direct conflict with John 14:25-26, as well as the presence of the martyrs at the throne of God before the resurrection: see Revelation 6:9-11 and 7:9-17. These scenes occur before the first resurrection in Revelation 20:4-5 and the second resurrection in Revelation 20:11-15.

    For the next three passages he has cited:

  3. Listen, I tell you we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed ... at the last trumpet.
    For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed. For the perishable must cloth himself with the imperishable and the mortal with the immortal.

    1 Corinthians 15:51-53

    This text lets us know when we will become immortal and ready to go to heaven to live forever. This will happen during the second coming at the last trumpet sound. Not before. Hence I am inclined to believe that since we are not immortal because only God is immortal and we do not become immortal until the last trumpet blows, then when we die we can not possible go anywhere other than the grave because we are mortal, and death is death.
    It is not death for a little while, then Purgatory, then possibly Heaven.


  4. For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun.

    Ecclesiastes 9:5-6

    This text to me seems pretty straightforward. The dead know nothing I can not explain that in any simpler terms. In addition they have know further reward. Their reward does not come until the second coming and the dead in Christ rise and are then caught together in the clouds with the living righteous, then they go to Heaven. Not before, even though the idea sounds very comforting especially at funerals to tell a love on "Oh so and so is in heaven right now". It is not true.

  5. Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep . . . so then he explained to them simply he is dead.

    John 11:11-14

    Here Jesus likens death to sleep when he is talking to the disciples. This is why I feel death really is a deep sleep where we know nothing until we are awaken in the Second Coming.

    The Catholic reply: The confusion your acquaintance has is caused by his understanding that there is no soul that lives apart from the body. While in the Old Testament "the dead know nothing", this is not true in the New Testament.

    The soul continues on, as the Gospel (Luke 23:43, Luke 16:19-31), the book of Hebrews (12:1, 12:23), and the book of Revelation (Revelation 5:8, 7:9) demonstrate plainly.



  6. . . . the dead in Christ will rise first. After that we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

    1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

    So we will get to heaven. That's the great news!!!!! However we have to wait until He comes the second time. IF we are dead in Christ we will rise, if we are alive on this day we will join the dead in the clouds and go to heaven together. That is pretty awesome!!

    See the previous answer.

I hope this helps; let me know if you'd like more information.

Jack Perry
PhD Student (Computer Algebra) + NCSU

John replied:

I would clarify one thing.

Jack writes:
We need to distinguish between justification and sanctification. Justification is the joining of a person to the Body of Christ; in Paul's legalistic terms, it is that which we receive when Christ's righteousness is imputed to us. The Greek word used in connection with this is diakosune, righteousness, as in, God's righteousness.

This is close but not altogether true. Paul does say in Romans that we are declared righteous diaskosune, but this only appears to be legalistic language to the Western mind. Remember,
Paul is a Jew, writing to Jewish believers in Rome when he wrote this. In the Semitic mind, when God declares something, it is as good as done. Isaiah 55 says "God's word will not return void but go forth and accomplish that which He has purposed it to do". So God declares us righteous and infuses us with the Righteousness of Christ; it is not just imputed.

The difference between Catholic theology and Classic Protestant theology of Justification is that Protestants have seen Paul's writing in light of a juridical model whereas Catholics and Orthodox have always viewed justification in the "adoption" model.

In Protestant theology, justification is a forensic declaration of acquittal. In Catholic/Orthodox theology, justification has been all that and an intrinsic infusion of the life of God. Luther argued that justification is like God throwing a pile of snow on top of manure, whereas the Church would say no, God is turning the manure into snow.

So my one issue with Jack's reply is that it seems to assume that Luther and Calvin, both lawyers, were correct in their legalistic understanding of Paul, because Paul wrote using legalistic terms.
I would argue that Paul is using words that his original readers would not interpret legalistically, especially when you put the words in context with the entirety of the Bible.

Overall, Jack does a good job in setting some ground work, but he does seem to perpetuate the idea that Justification is a onetime event, rather than an ongoing dynamic action of the Holy Spirit, which begins at Baptism. I don't think this was his intent. He seems to be very orthodox.

John DiMascio

Mike replied:

Hi, John —

I'd like to take a different approach and share with you my Catholic notes on this topic:

Catholic Notes:

When talking with friends and family on Purgatory, it’s important they know the basics:

  • Purgatory does exist.
  • Purgatory is not a third place along with Heaven and Hell nor it is a second chance.
  • Purgatory has nothing to do with Limbo, which was only a theological opinion and was never a doctrine of the Church.
  • Purgatory is like the Holy Hospital of Heaven.
  • Souls in Purgatory have been saved just as much as the souls in Heaven.

Purgatory refers to a temporary state of purification for those who have died in the state of grace but still need to get rid of any lingering imperfections (venial sins, earthly attachments, self-will, etc.) before entering the perfection of Heaven.

Purgatory has nothing to do with one's justification or salvation. Those in Purgatory are justified; they are saved.  Purgatory has to do with one's personal holiness and the burning away of remaining self-love.  Revelation 21:27 It's our personal holiness because each person uses their free will differently in life to make good or bad choices on our pilgrimage to our particular judgment.

This article by Emily Stimpson from Our Sunday Visitor (osv.com) September 29, 2013 will also be helpful.

If you struggle to understand the Catholic view of Purgatory, this analogy may help:

Think of sin as a self-inflicted wound in your life.

When we physically hurt ourselves, many times we have to be brought to the hospital and the doctor or nurse will put an alcoholic disinfectant in our cut or wound. It will hurt ... a lot!!! but it's a good hurt; it's a holy hurt, that is needed to make us physically better.

We also have to distinguish between less severe physical injures where we cut ourselves and require stitches and more severe injures, like a NASCAR racing driver who gets into a major collision and ends up with third or fourth-degree burns over 90 percent of their body. There are varying degrees of damage that we do to our bodies, not only physically, but spiritually too!

Because Revelation tells us that nothing impure can enter Heaven (Revelation 21:27) and because God Himself is all Holy, we too, have to be all Holy to enter Heaven. To achieve this, any remaining self-inflicted spiritual wounds (meaning self-love) from our pilgrimage on earth has to be burned off, healed, and purified.

  • If our spiritual injures are along the line of just needing stitches, that healing period where our self-love has to be burned off will be short;
  • but if our self-inflicted injuries are along the line of third or fourth-degree burns, the healing process will take longer.

Saints in the past have had private revelations from the souls in Purgatory. They [the Holy Souls in Purgatory] have shared that, while the [healing|burning] fires of God’s Love in Purgatory are painful (Hebrews 12:29, Exodus 3:1-6), at the same time they had an internal, burning joy because they knew they were being conformed to the image of God and their final destiny would be total union with Him.

Instead of the good healing pain that the alcoholic disinfectant gave us under a doctor’s care to prepare us to re-enter the earthly world again, in Purgatory, we experience a holy, healing pain under Jesus’ Care which purifies our souls and prepares us to enter eternal life with God who is all Holy.

It's true that the word Purgatory doesn't appear in the Bible (neither do the words Trinity, Incarnation or even Bible). Purgatory is a Latin word and, up until the beginning of the fifth century, Greek was the spoken language among the people. That said, Greeks weren't going to give us a Latin word. Nevertheless, you'll see the sentiments of the teachings on Purgatory from the Early Church Fathers and the Scriptures. What's important is not the word, but the doctrine.

That said, the doctrine of the final purification of the elect, apart from Heaven or Hell, is clearly taught in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

2 Samuel 12:13-14
David, though forgiven, is still punished for sin.
Job 1:5
Job prayed for the Holy Souls or Faithful Departed regularly.
2 Maccabees 12:39-45

"Next day, they came to find Judas (since the necessity was by now urgent) to have the bodies of the fallen taken up and laid to rest among their relatives in their ancestral tombs. 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. All then blessed the ways of the Lord, the upright judge who brings hidden things to light, and gave themselves to 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; 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. For had he not expected the fallen to rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead, 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 this expiatory sacrifice offered for the dead, so that they might be released from their sin."

Note: Though this book was rejected by the Protestant reformers and therefore is not in Protestant Bibles, one can not ignore the historical reality of this event and the reality of the words which were said.

Matthew 5:25-26
"You will be thrown into prison and not be released until you have paid the last penny."
Matthew 5:48
Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect. (Perfection is to be strived for on earth.)
Matthew 12:32
Sin against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, in this age, or the next.
Matthew 12:36
You will have to account for every idle word on judgment day.
1 Corinthians 3:10-16
"If someone's work is burned ... the person will be saved, but only as through fire."
1 Corinthians 15:29-30
Paul mentions people baptizing for the dead.
2 Timothy 1:16-18
St. Paul prays - asks that God have mercy on his dead friend, Onesiphorus.
Hebrews 12:14
Strive for that holiness without which one cannot see God.
Hebrews 12:29
For our God is a consuming fire.
James 1:14-15
When sin reaches maturity it reaches death.
James 3:2
We all fall short in many respects.
1 Peter 3:18-20 to 1 Peter 4:6
Jesus preached to the spirits in prison.
1 John 5:16-17
Distinction made between deadly sins and one that are not deadly.
Revelation 21:27
Nothing unclean will be allowed to enter into Heaven.
See also:
Leviticus 26:41-43, Isaiah 4:4, Isaiah 6:5-7, Isaiah 33:11-14, Micah 7:8-9, Zechariah 9:11, Malachi 3:2-4, Matthew 18:34ff, Luke 12:58ff, Luke 16:19-31, 2 Corinthians 5:10,
2 Corinthians 7:1, Ephesians 4:8-10, Philippians 2:10-11, 1 Peter 4:6, Revelation 5:3, 13

Interested in what the very first Christians thought, taught, and died for?
Check out what they said on this topic.
Hope this helps,

Mike


Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
Suggestions for this web page and the web site can be sent to Mike Humphrey
© 2012 Panoramic Sites
The Early Church Fathers Church Fathers on the Primacy of Peter. The Early Church Fathers on the Catholic Church and the term Catholic. The Early Church Fathers on the importance of the Roman Catholic Church centered in Rome.