Purgatory


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Who does not know these things? Paul then states v. This is the one which Protestant radio personalities slur into "to be absent from the body is to be present with Christ. First of all, he is speaking concerning himself, remember, not concerning people in general. There are quite a lot of Christians, and to be frank, it is the majority of them, who would much rather be present in the body than die and go to be with Jesus.

But there is a big difference between saying that one wants something to happen and that it will infallibly happen. Third, there is an even bigger difference between saying one wants two things to happen and to say that when one happens the other will happen instantaneously. For example, if I as a single person said, "I want to go home and eat dinner," I would not mean that the instant I go home I will be eating dinner.

There is obviously some time lag between my home-going and my dinner-eating. The same would can be said in the case of a person who says, "I want to go home and watch my favorite program. And notice that in the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man Jesus pictures the dead soul as being carried by angels to his place of rest Luke Obviously, under this image, some transport time is pictured.

Fourth, it also does not follow, even if one thing automatically follows from another that the two are identical. Thus this inaccurate summary of Paul's language has passed into the realm of myth. It is one of those mythical verses that people have heard so often they think the Bible says it even though it actually doesn't for example, "Spare the rod and spoil the child," "The lion shall lie down with the lamb," among Pentecostals: "Speaking in tongues is the evidence of baptism in the Holy Ghost," and the king of all mythical verses: "He helps those who help themselves".

Fifth, it is especially ironic that this passage is used to disprove purgatory since it speaks vv. Good for you! What he actually said is that he 'would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Examples of “purgatory”

The second thing you should point out is this: "Hey! Remember: Purgatory may be instantaneous! So even if we were instantaneously in Christ's presence after death contrary to Christ's illustration of being carried by angels to our destiny , so what? That doesn't make one whit of difference to the Catholic position since time does not work the same way in the after life and purgatory may simply be an instantaneous 'in the twinkling of an eye' transformation.

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They will ask, "If one has died and the time of finding forgiveness is over, how can praying make any difference? And if one's purification takes no time, how can you pray for it after the fact? In answer to the first question, remember what purgatory is: The final stage of sanctification. Now sanctification can be painful or non-painful usually the former , including the its final stage. So just as we may pray for others in this life to be made holy more quickly or in a non-painful way, so we may pray for those in the final stage of sanctification to be made holy more quickly or in a non-painful way.

Consider an analogy: Suppose you have a friend who goes to join the army and is in boot-camp. Now theoretically everyone who enters the army must be brought up to a certain level of physical excellence, which is the purpose of boot-camp. It doesn't matter where you start from, boot-camp's purpose is to bring you up to that level of physical excellence. This is what purgatory does. Purgatory is the boot-camp of heaven. The purpose of purgatory is to bring you up the level of spiritual excellence needed to experience the full-force presence of God.

It doesn't matter where you start from, there will be no sinning in heaven, and you have to be brought up to that level during final sanctification, before you are glorified with God in heaven. Now when you have a friend in boot-camp, whether a physical boot-camp here on earth or the spiritual boot-camp in the afterlife, you can pray for him that boot-camp will go easier on him, that he will brought up to the level of excellence he needs in the most painless way possible. It may or may not shorten his time in boot-camp in fact, in the U.

Army boot-camp is of a fixed length , but you can still pray that it will go easier on him as he is brought to where he needs to be. In regard to the second question, how we can pray for someone if their purification was instantaneous, this is no different than praying for any past event. God is outside of time and so knows your request from all eternity, meaning he can apply your request to whatever period in time it is relevant to.


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Thus many a Protestant minister, thinking of someone who has just died and whose profession of faith was doubtful, will say, "O Lord, if it is your will, may he have put his faith in your Son before he died! May she not be dead, O Lord! She has already died or not died. But it is still rational, because God is outside of time and hears all of our requests at once, to ask God to not have let something happen to her while we were gone.

Thus it would be irrational to pray that Abraham Lincoln not be assassinated, since one already knows that he was, or it would be irrational to pray that the Nazis lose a particular battle in World War II if one already knows they won that battle. In those cases it is irrational to pray since one already knows the will of God on the matter and knows that it was not your will.

"My good friends the souls in purgatory" - Opus Dei

But so long as one does not know what God's will is concerning something, whether it is past, present, or future, it is still rational to pray. Thus if it turns out that purgatory is instantaneous at the point of death, it is still rational to pray that that final sanctification will have gone easier on those who experienced it, the same way it is rational for a Protestant minister at a funeral to pray in his heart, "O Lord, may this man have put his trust in your Son!

The idea here is that since purgatory involves suffering, it must some how infringe on the sufferings of Christ and imply they weren't sufficient. Remember: Purgatory is simply the last stage of sanctification. Sanctification in this life involves pain, for "For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.

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In the same way, the suffering during the final sanctification in no way infringes on Christ's sufferings or implies they were insufficient. Quite the contrary! Thus it is because of Christ's sacrifice that we receive the final sanctification in the first place! If he had not suffered, we would not be given the final sanctification or the glorification to which it leads , but would go straight to hell. Purgatory is in no way an unbiblical doctrine.

Rather, it is completely biblical on both implicit and explicit grounds. Implicitly, it can be derived from the biblical principles that we still sin till death but that there will be no sin in glory. Thus between death and glorification must come purification. Explicitly, we not only have the witness of passages such as 2 Maccabees 12, but also the witness of passages describing our accounting before Christ in the particular judgment, including the especially vivid depiction of one escaping through the flames in 1 Corinthians Jesus himself adds to this when he speaks in Matthew of a sin which will neither be forgiven in this age nor the age to come, implying that some sins venial ones of which we have not repented before death will be forgiven when we repent the first moment of our afterlife.

Furthermore, in Matthew , Jesus tells us: "Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny. In this parable God is the Judge, and if we have not reconciled with our neighbors before we see God, God will hold us accountable for the wrong we did to them.

In that case, God will not hold the offender accountable for the wrong he did on a human level i. Thus theft is a sin against our neighbor from whom we stole and a sin against God, whose law we broke. We must obtain forgiveness from God for the divine aspect of our sin, but, as Jesus tells us in Matthew , we must obtain forgiveness for the human aspect of our sin from the human we sinned against. If we do not, God will hold us accountable. Of course, since humans are finite beings, our sins against them can only merit finite punishment compared to our sins against God, who is an infinite being, so our sins against him can merit infinite punishment.

Because this punishment is finite, it must be temporary for an eternal punishment is infinite since involves the reception of pain over an infinite period of time. But if this punishment we will receive when we are judged by God according to Jesus' parable is temporary, then it's purgatory. In any event, more than enough has been said to show the inaccuracy of the charge that purgatory is an unbiblical doctrine.


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  • In reality, it is very firmly rooted in Scripture. One who was very explicit about it was C. The action is so spontaneous, so all but inevitable, that only the most compulsive theological case against it would deter me. And I hardly know how the rest of my prayers would survive if those for the dead were forbidden. 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? Would it not beak the heart if God said to us, 'It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you.

    Enter into the joy'? Partly from tradition; partly because most real good that has been done me in this life has involved it. But I don't think the suffering is the purpose of the purgation. I can well believe that people neither much worse nor much better than I will suffer less than I or more. The treatment given will be the one required, whether it hurts little or much. I hope that when the tooth of life is drawn and I am 'coming round',' a voice will say, 'Rinse your mouth out with this.

    The rinsing may take longer than I can now imagine. But beyond Protestants like Lewis, who openly admit their belief in purgatory, it may be said that Protestants in general believe in purgatory, they just don't call it that. For every historic Protestant will admit that our sinning in this life does not continue into heaven. In fact, they will be quite insistent that although our sanctification is not complete in this life, it will be completed instantaneously, they say as soon as this life is over. But that is what purgatory is! Thus it is permissible to say that many Protestants believe in purgatory without even realizing it.

    Does purgatory exist?

    All of these reflections help one understand how to respond to challenges a Protestant may make to the doctrine of purgatory. However, since they are rebuttals, they do not of themselves constitute a positive explanation of the doctrine for Protestants. Because we still sin in this life, but will not be sinning when we are in glory, between death and glorification must come purification.

    This is something even Protestants admit. Purgatory is thus the final rush of our sanctification. It is our transition into glory. All through the Christian life God is purifying our hearts, giving us greater holiness, but this sanctifying process is not complete or anything like complete until the end of life. Thus what God did not choose to give us in this life, he chooses to give us once we are dead. The Church does not teach that purgatory occurs in a special region of the afterlife or even that it takes place over time, for we have little idea how time works in the afterlife, and purgatory may be instantaneous from our point of view.

    Purgatory (1999)

    In general, you should use the term "sanctification" rather than "purification" or "purging" because "sanctification" is a term Protestants understand and are comfortable with. By phrasing the doctrine in terms of sanctification it makes it intelligible to them and knocks down many of their key objections for example, the idea that purgatory implies the sufferings of Christ were insufficient.

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