Purgatory:  The Place for luke-warm Catholics?

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I have asked Dave to explain to me the idea behind Purgatory.  Is this some place where Catholics go if they failed to attend Mass EVERY Sunday?  How does one get stuck in this place? 

Here's what Dave had to say....

Purgatory is a principle, not necessarily a place.

I think most people would readily agree with the concept that only souls that are free from sin can enter heaven.  We see this basic concept in scripture.  In Rev 21:27, “But nothing unclean shall enter it”.  Also in Matthew 5:48, “You, therefore, must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

So what happens if on a Sunday morning you go to church, and let’s say you have a particularly good day in church, you pray particularly devoutly and walk out totally right with God.  On the way home, you commit some relatively minor sin.  Maybe, you are impatient at another driver.  Maybe you call someone and get in an argument and insult them.  Of course, as luck (or fate) would have it, WHAM, you are hit by a bus just before you arrive home and are killed.  You die, almost perfected but you have fallen just a little bit short.  You don’t have any grave sin on your soul, like murder or a willful rejection of God, but you are not perfect.  What happens if you stand in judgment before God in this state?

The key is in 1 Cor 3:13-15, “…each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day [of Judgment] will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” So there is a place / state that a man suffers loss after he dies through fire, but is still saved.  Clearly this is not hell, but neither is it Heaven.  So what is it?  This is the concept of Purgatory and this is literally almost all we know about it.

Purgatory could be a “place” in the sense that Heaven and hell are “places”.  The fire could be literal or a metaphor.  You could be there for an instant or some extended period of time.  It could be the process of death itself.  Perhaps, as the soul is about to leave the body you experience utter aloneness as if even God is gone.  (Sometimes I wonder if that is another reason why Jesus called out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” just before he died).  Or maybe the process of the soul separating from the body causes physical and / or spiritual pain.

It could be a moment, during the particular judgment, when all the bad deeds and failures of your life are laid out before you and you see from a new perspective the sorrows and pains you caused to others and to God and your heart breaks at your failures.  It could be when you enter into God’s presence for the first time that the soul is so overwhelmed by the brightness of the light that the stains of the earthly failures on your soul are “burned off” by God’s glory.  Or, it could be that the first time you experience the love of God in Heaven it is so overwhelming that you soul “aches with joy” at the wonder and infinity.  We just don’t know.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines purgatory as a, "purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven," which is experienced by those "who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified" (CCC 1030).

“But I thought the Church taught that for every sin you got a certain number of ‘days’ in Purgatory”?  It is true that the Church used to analogize Purgatory to a sort of “mini-hell” (although that is my term, I don’t think it was ever used by the Church) and analogized one’s time there to “days”.  However, those “days’ were meant to be metaphors for an unknown period of time.  This badly articulated and overly simplified analogy has lead to many ongoing misconceptions about PurgatoryMy unscientific research and assessment is that it remains one of the least understood doctrines.

In the end, what we understand it that while we strive to achieve Christian perfection in this life, few if any of us succeed this side of Heaven.  We know that at death something will happen to us to finish the process.  Whether that is some sort of punishment for past sins, a tremendous feeling of sorrow for our mistakes or incredible humility due to the profound forgiveness we will receive we are not certain. Purgatory is a dogma of the faith so all Catholics must believe in it.  However, because the specifics are unknown and undefined Catholics are free to speculate as to what is the actual nature of Purgatory.

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24 Comments

  • Jessica

    Jessica August 29, 2010

    Hey Dave it’s Jess.  I can’t figure out how to leave a comment under myself on Pats computer.  Anyway—

    I’ve always wondered what happened if you died in between asking God for forgiveness and sinning since we know we have to be without sin in order to get to heaven.

    I read somewhere that Catholics thoughts the purification process had to be painful is that true do you know?

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT August 29, 2010

    it’s “painful” but we don’t know in what sense.  it could even be so wonderful that you cry.

  • Jessica

    Jessica August 29, 2010

    Remind me again how we know it’s ‘painful”?

    Also, are people responsible for doing something in purgatory or is it just up to God to cleanse them?

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT August 29, 2010

    We know some pain is involved b/c Corinthians says the test is by “fire” and that we suffer loss.

    As far as I am aware we don’t know if we have to di anything.

  • Scott

    Scott August 30, 2010

    Jessica,
    The problem is that 1 Corinthians 3 is not teaching about purgatory. It is teaching about the Judgment Seat of Christ that born again believers will stand before Him at some point after death.

    Purgatory is not taught in the Bible. One of the key authorities for Catholic teaching on Purgatory is 2 Maccabees—an Apocryphal book not in “protestant” Bibles. Dave also neglected to bring up indulgences—a practise that is suppose to get people out quicker.

    The problem is that the Catholic church teaches that tradition and the leadership of the church are equal to what the Bible declares. They do not believe in Sola Scriptura and have issued curses on those that claim otherwise (See Council of Trent). Did you know, Jessica, that there is an interesting statue in Rome of Martin Luthor and Huss being tossed out of Heaven by Mary while angels are tearing up Bibles? http://www.hol.com/~mikesch/gesu.htm

  • Jessica Gavin

    Jessica Gavin August 30, 2010

    On this link below it says:  “Martin Luther also declared the Papacy to be “nothing else than the kingdom of Babylon and of very AntiChrist”

    Is this true?  Did Martin Luther really call the Catholic church the Antichrist like Babylon in Revelation?

  • Scott

    Scott August 30, 2010

    Yes, Jessica, he did and many, many others.
    Many thousands of people died simply because they had the Bible written in a common language—not Latin.
    Look at the life of John Wycliffe at this link. Note how he died, and then what the universal church did to his remains.
    http://www.wholesomewords.org/biography/biorpwycliffe.html

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT August 30, 2010

    Scott
    How is teaching about “the judgment seat of Christ” not talking about Purgatory?  Purgatory is the concept that at the time of judgment, by Christ, you are “purged” of your imperfections.  Changing the title doesn’t change the concept. 
    The problem is the Apocryphal books are also known as the Deuterocanonicals, they are well accepted in Scripture.  In fact, they books YOU deem Apocryphal were so well accepted that Jesus Christ, your personal Lord and Savior, paraphrased them.  The book of Tobit, which men have declared “apocryphal, 4:15 says, “Do to no one what you yourself dislike”.  In Matthew 7:12 Jesus takes this statement, as does what he does several times in the New Testament, he takes the old laws that prohibit wrong doing and makes them into positive requirements for the new covenant.  In this case Jesus announces the Golden rule. 
    Then there is Hebrews 11:35: “Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release that they might rise again to a better life.” Nowhere in the Protestant Old Testament can this story be found. One must look to a Catholic Bible to read the story in 2 Maccabees 7.  The story is fantastic; about a woman who would rather let her seven sons die they betray God.  I feel sad that you cannot read it.  There are many other such examples, perhaps you will take the time one day to investigate them.
    Here is what the book of Macabees says about Purgatory, “In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view; for if he were not expecting the dead to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin” (2 Macc. 12:43–45). Prayers are not needed by those in heaven, and no one can help those in hell. That means some people must be in a third condition, at least temporarily. This verse so clearly illustrates the existence of purgatory that, at the time of the Reformation, Protestants had to cut the books of the Maccabees out of their Bibles in order to avoid accepting the doctrine.
    As for Indulgences, doesn’t everyone know about them?  Doesn’t everyone learn about them high school history on the reformation.  If you have a question, ask it and I’ll due my best to answer.  But the short answer is that their was abuses on the sale of indulgences, for this Martin Luther left the Church, those abuses were cured 500 years ago, so what are you protesting now? 
    What the Church teaches on the Bible and the leadership of the Church is a question Jessica asked me when we first started this project.  It will be appearing in a future Catholic Friday post. 
    The Catholic Church does not issue curses.
    The Catholic Church has not declared that anyone, even Judas Iscariot, is in hell.
    I don’t know about the relief for which you posted a link.  But did you know that Martin Luther LOVED the Virgin Mary?

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT August 30, 2010

    Said by Martin Luther:

    The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart. (Sermon, September 1, 1522).

    [She is the] highest woman and the noblest gem in Christianity after Christ . . . She is nobility, wisdom, and holiness personified. We can never honor her enough. Still honor and praise must be given to her in such a way as to injure neither Christ nor the Scriptures. (Sermon, Christmas, 1531).

    No woman is like you. You are more than Eve or Sarah, blessed above all nobility, wisdom, and sanctity. (Sermon, Feast of the Visitation, 1537).
    One should honor Mary as she herself wished and as she expressed it in the Magnificat. She praised God for his deeds. How then can we praise her? The true honor of Mary is the honor of God, the praise of God’s grace . . . Mary is nothing for the sake of herself, but for the sake of Christ . . . Mary does not wish that we come to her, but through her to God. (Explanation of the Magnificat, 1521).

    “Our prayer should include the Mother of God…What the Hail Mary says is that all glory should be given to God, using these words: “Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus Christ. Amen!” You see that these words are not concerned with prayer but purely with giving praise and honor… We can use the Hail Mary as a meditation in which we recite what grace God has given her. Second, we should add a wish that everyone may know and respect her… He who has no faith is advised to refrain from saying the Hail Mary.” (Personal Prayer Book, 1522). —Martin Luther

    Without investigating it, I suspect that relief is a theological / eternal billboard meant to memorialize for eternity the mistake of pride. 

    Jess – Yes, I believe he did cal the Pope the antichrist.

  • Scott

    Scott August 30, 2010

    Council of Trent 1547 has never been retracted by the catholic church.
    Anathema:  one that is cursed by ecclesiastical authority—Merriam Webster Dictionary.
    Anathema: a person or thing detested or loathed: That subject is anathema to him.
    2.
    a person or thing accursed or consigned to damnation or destruction.
    3.a formal ecclesiastical curse involving excommunication.
    4.any imprecation of divine punishment.
    5.a curse; execration.
    Origin:
    1520–30;  < L < Gk: a thing accursed, devoted to evil, orig. devoted, equiv. to ana ( ti ) thé ( nai ) to set up + -ma n. suffix http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/anathema

    CANON XII.-If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.
    CANON XXIV.-If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema. http://www.thecounciloftrent.com/ch6.htm

    What these canons do is deny that Salvation is by grace alone.

    The Council of Trent in 1546, which placed translations of the Bible, such as the German, Spanish, and English, on its list of prohibited books and forbade any person to read the Bible without a license from a Catholic bishop or inquisitor.

    Following is a quote from Trent: “…IT SHALL NOT BE LAWFUL FOR ANYONE TO PRINT OR TO HAVE PRINTED ANY BOOKS WHATSOEVER DEALING WITH SACRED DOCTRINAL MATTERS WITHOUT THE NAME OF THE AUTHOR, OR IN THE FUTURE TO SELL THEM, OR EVEN TO HAVE THEM IN POSSESSION, UNLESS THEY HAVE FIRST BEEN EXAMINED AND APPROVED BY THE ORDINARY, UNDER PENALTY OF ANATHEMA AND FINE prescribed by the last Council of the Lateran” (Fourth session, April 8, 1546, The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, Translated by H.J. Schroeder, pp. 17-19).

    These rules were affixed to the Index of Prohibited Books and were constantly reaffirmed by popes in the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. These prohibitions, in fact, have never been rescinded. It is true that the Council of Trent did not absolutely forbid the reading of the Scriptures under all circumstances. It allowed a few exceptions. The priests were allowed to read the Latin Bible. Bishops and inquisitors were allowed to grant license for certain faithful Catholics to read the Scriptures in Latin as long as these Scriptures were accompanied by Catholic notes and if it was believed that these would not be “harmed” by such reading. In practice, though, the proclamations of Trent forbade the reading of the Holy Scriptures to at least nine-tenths of the people.

  • Scott

    Scott August 30, 2010

    Actually, Dave, I am not a fan of Martin Luther. Sadly, he was just as bad as the Catholic church in persecuting those that did not believe as he did.

    Luther also changed in regard to persecution and bloodshed. Early on in his reformation career, Luther did not support the death sentence against false teachers, though he supported their persecution short of death and their banishment. “Though naturally of a very warm and violent temper, he was averse to punishing heretics with death. He says in his writings, I am very averse to the shedding of blood, even in case of such as deserve it; I dread it the more, because, as the Papists and Jews, under this pretence, have destroyed holy prophets and innocent men, so I am afriad the same would happen amongst ourselves, if, in one single instance, it should be allowed to be lawful to put seducers to death. I can, therefore, by no means consent that false teachers should be destroyed. But as to all other punishments, he seems to think they may, lawfully, be employed: for after the above passage, he adds, it is sufficient that they be banished. Agreeably to these principles, he persuaded the electors of Saxony not to tolerate, in their dominions, the followers of Zuinglius, in their opinion of the sacrament; nor to enter into any terms of union with them, for their common defence against the attempts of the catholics to destroy them. ... He also wrote to Albert, Duke of Prussia, to persuade him to banish them from his territories” (J.J. Stockdale, The History of the Inquisitions, 1810, pp. xxvii, xxviii).

    Luther changed dramatically later on. He supported the utter destruction of the revolting peasants. “But when the peasants of Germany tried to apply this ‘liberty’ to themselves by overthrowing the tyrannical lords and gaining their independence, Luther raged against them: ‘The peasants would not listen; they would not let anyone tell them anything; their ears must be unbuttoned with bullets, till their heads jump off their shoulders. ... On the obstinate, hardened, blinded peasants, let no one have mercy, but let everyone, as he is able, hew, stab, slay, lay about him as though among mad dogs, . . . . so that peace and safety may be maintained… etc.’ [Martin Luther, Werke, Erlangen edition, vol. 24, p. 294; vol.15, p. 276; passim.] Luther’s writing on the peasant wars are full of such expressions as the above. When he was in later years reproached for such violent language, and for inciting territorial lords to merciless slaughter (they killed over 100,000 peasants), he answered defiantly: ‘It was I, Martin Luther, who slew all the peasants in the insurrection, for I commanded them to be slaughtered. All their blood is upon my shoulders. But I cast it on our Lord God who commanded me to speak in this way.’[Martin Luther, Werke, Erlangen edition, vol. 59, p. 284] (William McGrath, Anabaptists: Neither Catholic nor Protestant, http://www.pbministries.org/History/William R. McGrath/the_anabaptists_part1.htm).

  • Scott

    Scott August 30, 2010

    As for the Apocrypha:
    Following are the reasons the Apocrypha are rejected by Bible believers:
    1. They are not included in the original Hebrew O.T. preserved by the Jews. Ro. 3:1-2 states that God used the Jews to preserve His Word; therefore, we know that He guided them in the rejection of the Apocryphal books from the canon of Scripture.

    2. They were not received as inspired Scripture by the churches during the first four centuries after Christ.

    3. They were not written in the Hebrew language,
    which was alone used by the inspired historians and prophets of the O.T.

    4. They do not claim to be the inspired Word of God. Unlike the inspired Scriptures, the Apocryphal books contain no statements such as “thus saith the Lord” or “these are the words of God.”

    5. The Apocryphal writings are not quoted by the
    Lord Jesus or the Apostles, while every part of the O.T. Scriptures are quoted. This is a very important point. Though some claim to find allusions to the Apocrypha in certain N.T. passages (Mt. 7:12; 27:43-54; Ro. 9:21; Ep.
    6:13-17; He. 1:3; Jam. 1:6,19; 5:6), this is not a proven fact. While it is possible that the N.T. writers were familiar with the Apocrypha, it is plain that they did not directly quote from these books. The supposed allusions to the Apocrypha in the N.T. could just as easily be allusions to other O.T. histories or to facts given directly
    by revelation. We must remember that the N.T.
    Scriptures are not the product of man, but of God.

    6. Some Apocryphal books, though written as history, are actually fiction. This is a form of deception not found in divinely inspired books of the Bible. “Ostensibly historical but actually quite imaginative are the books of Tobit, Judith, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon, which may be called moralistic novels” (Oxford Annotated
    Apocrypha, p. xi). Noteworthy examples of ancient
    fiction they might be, but such books have absolutely no place among the seven-times purified Word of God (Ps. 12:6-7).

    The Council of Trent also placed an anathema on those that reject the Apocryphal books.

    It is true that early editions of the KJV (as well as many other Reformation Bibles, including the German Luther Bible) contained the Apocrypha, but these books were included for historical reference only, not as additions to the canon of Scripture. Alexander McClure, a biographer of the KJV translators, says: “...the Apocryphal books in those times were more read and accounted of than now, though by no means placed on a level with the canonical books of Scripture” (McClure, Translators Revived, p. 185). He then lists seven reasons assigned by the KJV translators for rejecting the Apocrypha as inspired. The Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England clearly states that the Apocrypha have no scriptural authority.
    “...[the Church of England] doth not apply to them to establish any doctrine.” The Westminster Confession says, “The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.” Luther included a note on the Apocrypha which stated, “These are books not to be held in equal esteem with those of Holy Scripture…”

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT August 30, 2010

    First, I commend you on your ability to totally avoid all the points I raised in my previous posts.

    Second, the Church teaches justification by faith.  I’m not sure what justification by grace is, I’ll assume you are just being inaccurate with your words.

    The Bible does not teach justification by faith alone, in fact, it specifically says the opposite. James 2:24. “You see that a man is justified by works and NOT by faith alone”.

    Cannon XII seems to me to say that our initial justification is by faith, for which we do nothing to merit.  Which is correct and I believe agreed to by most Christians.

    Cannon XXIV seems to me to say that once saved we are expected to do good works to evidence that faith, which I think most Christians agree with.

    “It is true that the Council of Trent did not absolutely forbid the reading of the Scriptures under all circumstances.”  Actually, it is my understanding (and I am the 1st to admit that I am no expert on this subject) that the language you cited prohibited the reading of books deemed heretical, NOT SCRIPTURE.  You are adding that now to serve your purpose.  This was done out of concern that the faithful would be lead astray, to, ‘protect them from themselves for their own good’.  It was a mistake then just like it is a mistake now as happens often today.  However, as with other mistakes the Church made over the years, it was corrected.
    Regardless, I find it ironic that someone who would argue for “the bible alone” would choose to attack the Church for what on its face appears to be attempts to assure the fidelity of translations into the vernacular.  Should the Church have allowed any person to read any translation of the bible no matter who did it?  Let’s ask some Jehovah’s Witnesses if that is a good idea.

    The Church’s mission, given to it by Christ, is to preserve the truth of the Gospel for all time.  It did so, by faithfully copying and preserving the bible, primarily in Latin, for 1500 years.  You have your bible today b/c of the work of the Chruch.

    By the way, those books you deem “apocryphal” copies of them were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Clearly they were being used by the most Orthodox of believers.

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT August 30, 2010

    Here are a list of quotes from the Chruch fathers, quoting the books you have decided are “apocryphal” in A.D. 100 and A.D. 200.

    The Didache

    “You shall not waver with regard to your decisions [Sir. 1:28]. Do not be someone who stretches out his hands to receive but withdraws them when it comes to giving [Sir. 4:31]” (Didache 4:5 [A.D. 70]).

     
    The Letter of Barnabas

    “Since, therefore, [Christ] was about to be manifested and to suffer in the flesh, his suffering was foreshown. For the prophet speaks against evil, ‘Woe to their soul, because they have counseled an evil counsel against themselves’ [Is. 3:9], saying, ‘Let us bind the righteous man because he is displeasing to us’ [Wis. 2:12.]” (Letter of Barnabas 6:7 [A.D. 74]).

     
    Clement of Rome

     

    “By the word of his might [God] established all things, and by his word he can overthrow them. ‘Who shall say to him, “What have you done?” or who shall resist the power of his strength?’ [Wis. 12:12]” (Letter to the Corinthians 27:5 [ca. A.D. 80]).

     
    Irenaeus

    “Those . . . who are believed to be presbyters by many, but serve their own lusts and do not place the fear of God supreme in their hearts, but conduct themselves with contempt toward others and are puffed up with the pride of holding the chief seat [Matt. 23:6] and work evil deeds in secret, saying ‘No man sees us,’ shall be convicted by the Word, who does not judge after outward appearance, nor looks upon the countenance, but the heart; and they shall hear those words to be found in Daniel the prophet: ‘O you seed of Canaan and not of Judah, beauty has deceived you and lust perverted your heart’ [Dan. 13:56]. You that have grown old in wicked days, now your sins which you have committed before have come to light, for you have pronounced false judgments and have been accustomed to condemn the innocent and to let the guilty go free, although the Lord says, ‘You shall not slay the innocent and the righteous’ [Dan. 13:52, citing Ex. 23:7]” (Against Heresies 4:26:3 [A.D. 189]; Daniel 13 is not in the Protestant Bible).

    “Jeremiah the prophet has pointed out that as many believers as God has prepared for this purpose, to multiply those left on the earth, should both be under the rule of the saints and to minister to this [new] Jerusalem and that [his] kingdom shall be in it, saying, ‘Look around Jerusalem toward the east and behold the joy which comes to you from God himself. Behold, your sons whom you have sent forth shall come: They shall come in a band from the east to the west. . . . God shall go before with you in the light of his splendor, with the mercy and righteousness which proceed from him’ [Bar. 4:36—5:9]” (ibid., 5:35:1; Baruch was often considered part of Jeremiah, as it is here).

     
    Hippolytus

    “What is narrated here [in the story of Susannah] happened at a later time, although it is placed at the front of the book [of Daniel], for it was a custom with the writers to narrate many things in an inverted order in their writings. . . . [W]e ought to give heed, beloved, fearing lest anyone be overtaken in any transgression and risk the loss of his soul, knowing as we do that God is the judge of all and the Word himself is the eye which nothing that is done in the world escapes. Therefore, always watchful in heart and pure in life, let us imitate Susannah” (Commentary on Daniel [A.D. 204]; the story of Susannah [Dan. 13] is not in the Protestant Bible).

     
    Cyprian of Carthage

    “In Genesis [it says], ‘And God tested Abraham and said to him, “Take your only son whom you love, Isaac, and go to the high land and offer him there as a burnt offering . . .”’ [Gen. 22:1–2]. . . . Of this same thing in the Wisdom of Solomon [it says], ‘Although in the sight of men they suffered torments, their hope is full of immortality . . .’ [Wis. 3:4]. Of this same thing in the Maccabees [it says], ‘Was not Abraham found faithful when tested, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness’ [1 Macc. 2:52; see Jas. 2:21–23]” (Treatises 7:3:15 [A.D. 248]).

    “So Daniel, too, when he was required to worship the idol Bel, which the people and the king then worshipped, in asserting the honor of his God, broke forth with full faith and freedom, saying, ‘I worship nothing but the Lord my God, who created the heaven and the earth’ [Dan. 14:5]” (Letters 55:5 [A.D. 253]; Daniel 14 is not in the Protestant Bible).

  • Scott

    Scott August 30, 2010

    I answered your statement about the Catholic Church not issuing curses. I think I showed that to not be true.
    I countered on your statement about Martin Luther. I am not sure where the statement about Judas Iscariot came from, but since Judas is called the son of perdition in the Bible, he is more than likely in Hell.

    As for indulgences, they are still used today, are they not. Maybe they are not being abused like they were during the Inquisition, for example, when people were offered indulgences to turn in those with Bibles. People pay for masses to be said for dead relatives in order to get them out quicker. I know of one person whose mother does that for her father.

    As for purgatory, I will get back to you when I have a little more time.

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT August 30, 2010

    Of course Indulgences are still offered today, why shouldn’t they be, they are 100% biblical: http://www.catholic.com/library/Primer_on_Indulgences.asp

    “Maybe they are not being abused like they were during the Inquisition” - EXACTLY

    The proper understanding of indulgences is articulaed, “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain defined conditions through the Church’s help when, as a minister of redemption, she dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions won by Christ and the saints”.

    Notice, idulgences remit punishment for sins ALREADY FORGIVEN.  The person must seek forgiveness on their own.  Forgiveness cannot be purchased or “dispensed” from the Church like a vending machine.

    As I explained in my original post, the concept of Purgatory being a set number of days was nothing more than a bad analogy used by the Church.  The concept of saying praryers or Masses to “get them out quicker” is left over from that analogy.  But really, all that is happening when this is done is the faithful praying to God to accept the soul of the deceased into heaven.  IF, purgatory is a long painful process then we ask God to make it go as quickly as possible for them.  All such prayers incorporate the concept that God’s justice is perfect and he will do what is best and right for that soul. However, his mercy is also infinite, so we ask him to extend as much of his mercy as possible to the deceased.

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT August 30, 2010

    By the way, I want to make one thing clear, Catholics do not go around counting indulgences like some kind of spiritual money in a bank.

    I likely have earned thousands of indulgences but I couldn’t tell you even 1/10th of them much less how much they “total”.

    For example, read the bible in the morning - indulgence.  Go to Church on sunday - indulgence.  Give to charity - indulgence.  Minister to the sick, elderly, imprisioned - indulgence.  Make a pilgrimedge - indulgence. 

    As a practical matter if something has an indulgence attached to it, it simply means that that particular thing will be recognized as a “good work” on your day of judgment.

  • Scott

    Scott August 31, 2010

    For example, read the bible in the morning - indulgence.

    Interesting, isn’t it? Only a few hundred years ago, that indulgence would have cost you prison time, a fine, or a painful death.

    Dave said:
    Should the Church have allowed any person to read any translation of the bible no matter who did it?  Let’s ask some Jehovah’s Witnesses if that is a good idea.

    The difference is that the JW’s were allowed to write their translation and even though it is wrong and self-serving, they were able to do it without fear of anathemas, torture, and death.
    The fact that you have a Bible in your hands, Dave is due to the fact that man like John Wycliffe worked so it could happen. Otherwise, we would not have a Bible in our language today.

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT August 31, 2010

    Repeating 1/2 truths over and over doesn’t make them any more accurate.

    So your solution is to allow anyone to translate, print and distibute any version of the bible they like therby risking their souls and the souls of countless others for all eternity - I see how that is better.

    You are just applying today’s standards to the world of 500 years ago. A world that was very different from ours. A world where Church and state were often identical. A world where even the smallest crime carried severe penalties even death. Many offenses were both civil and religious crimes. A world where the concepts of “due process”, cruel and unusual punishment and religious freedom hadn’t even been considered yet.

    The deposit of faith was entrusted to the Church by Jesus Christ. It was the Church’s job to protect it and so they did. From roman persecutions and Muslim invasions. Sometime they did it gloriously with men like Aquinas and Augustine. Sometime they were slow to catch up with changing times but happens out of prudence, not malice.

  • Scott

    Scott September 01, 2010

    MAL’ICE, n. [L.malitia, from malus, evil.] Extreme enmity of heart, or malevolence; a disposition to injure others without cause, from mere personal gratification or from a spirit of revenge; unprovoked malignity or spite. Webster’s 1858 Dictionary
    John Wycliffe translated the Bible into the English language and he preached against Romanism. This caused him to be hunted at times and his life was threatened many times. By whom? The Pope. John Wycliffe had the audacity to die of natural causes, but the Pope, forty years later ordered Wycliffe’s body to be exhumed and his bones and Bibles burned. The ashes were then scattered into a nearby river. An act of prudence by the Roman Catholic church.

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT September 01, 2010

    You know that my comment did address that point.

    I am not a church historian and it is not my role here to defend every action of every Catholic for the last 2,000 years. I could just as easily ask you to defend the people burned to death @ the Salem witch trialsn the anti-catholic laws of colonial America, or the people that drank the cool aid @ Jonestown.
    That fact is there is only one requirement to be a member of the Catholic Church - you must start out a sinner.

    Congratulations you qualify and so do I and so does every Pope that ever held the office.

    Which brings us back to Purgatory. Where sinners like you and I spend some time getting right what we got wrong down here.

    “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”.

  • Scott

    Scott September 01, 2010

    Actually, your comment tried to gloss over the point and quickly move past it. The church is suppose to be different from the world, not act as the world. Just as the believer is to not change his or her actions because of the culture or society. Believers should still behave as the Bible teaches, despite however the world is behaving.

    You are correct: the Roman catholic church was in control for quite a long time and its decisions did influence and control governments. Since the church and the believer is to reflect the love of God, you would think they would have shown mercy to those who wanted nothing more than the Bible in their own language. You would think that they show in mercy in the methods they used to punish and execute people—i.e. something quicker.

    There is nothing in the Bible that discusses a need for the Magisterium. And nothing in the Bible stating that 90% of the population should not read the Bible.

    FYI: The Salem witch trials resulted in about 35 people dying—a horrible fact. The Inquisition killed a thousand times that.

  • Scott

    Scott September 01, 2010

    Back to purgatory:

    While it is true that no sin can enter into Heaven, the great Bible words defining the Gospel explain that the purgation necessary to bring the soul into Heaven has already been accomplished on the Cross. Redemption means to be purchased from the slave market of sin by the blood of Jesus Christ. Propitiation means that the sin debt has been satisfied by the blood of Christ. Justification means the believer is declared righteousness by Almighty God because of what Jesus Christ has done for his soul.

    The true Christian goes directly to the presence of Christ at death (2 Co. 5:8; Ph. 1:23; 1 Th. 5:9). This is the consistent testimony of the Apostles. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. The Apostle Paul looked forward at death to “depart and be with Christ.” In discussing the resurrection and translation of Christians in 1 Th. 4:14, the Apostle Paul says the Lord Jesus will bring the dead saints with Him from Heaven when he comes. There is no hint of some coming from any other place, such as from purgatory. Death cannot and does not separate the believer from Christ. Nothing can. His blood has forever removed the sin barrier. When Christ died He cried, “It is finished!” (Jn. 19:30). At that moment, the veil in the temple was rent (Mt. 27:50,51), God thereby signifying that the entrance into His very presence had been accomplished! The believer can praise God for this blessed certainty. “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh” (He. 10:19-20). Sin does indeed demand suffering, but the Bible gives us the Good News that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, has already suffered for sin in our place (Is. 53:5-12; 2 Co. 5:21; 1 Pe. 3:18; 4:1).

    The Roman Catholic Church has turned the Lord’s
    Supper into a grand religious pageantry which they call a sacrifice, but it knows nothing about the real efficacy of the Sacrifice which the Supper pictures. That Sacrifice has entirely and eternally removed the sin barrier between God and that individual who exercises personal, repentant faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Jesus’ blood cleanses the believer from all sin and gives him perfect righteousness before God. No true believer will ever suffer fiery torment for his own sins (Ro. 3:21-24; 5:9; 2 Co. 5:21; Ep. 1:3,7; He. 9:12; 1 Pe. 2:24; 3:18).

    The Roman Catholic Church has no authority for
    offering Masses for the dead. The Mass, supposedly, is the Lord’s Supper. Where does the Bible indicate the Lord’s Supper is for the dead?

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT September 01, 2010

    I can’t possibly address all the logical errors, false assumptions and new subjects you raise in this post.  Suffice it to say that some of this stuff is in future Catholic Fridays and I’m sure I’ll hear from you then.

    The Story of the Prodigal Son, the discussion of “the Vines and the Branches” and 1 Cor 3:13-15, which I quoted in my original post, all show that your, “once saved always saved” type theology is inconsistent with the entirety of scripture. 

    That is not to say the Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t sufficient.  It certainly was, however, we must cooperate in our salvation and in that sacrifice.  1 Cor 3:9 “For we are God’s co-workers…”  This alludes to an important biblical principle.  Theology is rarely “either / or” it is almost always “both / and”.  Jesus’ sacrifice was both sufficient and you must cooperate in it or you can be lost.

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