The Roman Catholic church teaches that upon death the souls of believers enter a place called purgatory. According to www.catholic.com,

“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). It notes that "this final purification of the elect . . . is entirely different from the punishment of the damned" (CCC 1031).” The purification is necessary because, as Scripture teaches, nothing unclean will enter the presence of God in heaven (Rev. 21:27) and, while we may die with our mortal sins forgiven, there can still be many impurities in us, specifically venial sins and the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven.”

As an outsider looking in it seems that the Catholic church supports their doctrine from two primary sources. The first is an Apocryphal passage found in 2 Maccabees 12:42-45. In this passage Judas Maccabeus takes a collection to ransom the souls of his dead soldiers from their sins. The second source of support for the doctrine of purgatory is church tradition. In the Catholic faith church tradition is as authoritative as Scripture.

The most serious problem with the doctrine of purgatory is that it stands in stark conflict with Scriptural teaching concerning the doctrine of atonement. The plain teaching of Scripture is that Jesus Christ has done all that is necessary to atone for a person’s sin and present them justified before God. The Catholic doctrine of justification assumes that a person only finds atonement and justification for sin through Christ AND the progressive graces of the church. Purgatory is necessary because most people will not be able to complete the process of justification in their lifetime. This contradicts countless Scriptures which teach that Jesus work to redeem the lost soul is a finished work and salvation in its entirety can be found in Him (John 3:16, 1 John 4:10, Eph. 1:7, 2 Cor. 5:18, and should we mention the entire books of Romans and Galatians).

Purgatory is also in conflict with the plain teaching of Scripture that the departed soul of a dead believer enters immediately into the presence of God (Phil. 1:23, Luk 23:43, 2 Cor. 5:8). Purgatory is an in-between. In Canonical Scripture there is no such place.

For a great discussion on this subject consult Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, pp. 817 - 819 or John F. MacAruthur’s The Glory of Heaven, pp. 72 - 75. Being away from my office this week I packed only these two books but have found them thorough, logical, Biblical, and adequate on the subject.


Popular Posts