Purgatory: A Lesson Taught By Christ?

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First Published at All Along the Watchtower.

What is it about purgatory that divides Catholics from Protestants? Does it actually have to do with justification? At first, I think it’s important to state that there is only so much that we can possibly know about purgatory—like Heaven or hell.

My post here will be mostly informal and written from my observations having spent a great deal of time and having a magnificent opportunity listening to confessional Lutherans. I’ve heard told in many circles that Martin Luther, a pious Christian, had been using the sacrament of confession; however, after each time of reconciliation, the Augustinian monk, would hesitate a bit while walking back to his theological studies as he just remembered sins that he forgot to confess. Luther, then, thought something of the nature, “I must still be damned.” The term for this is called scrupulosity, in fact, I was having a discussion on Justification and purgatory one night, I said, “I believe that at best, I will no doubt have to be purified in purgatory, I then used the term, scrupulosity, in response to being told, “I just want you to have peace.” I looked very puzzled at the reply, “peace?” The individual thought that there was no possible way that I could be confident in my salvation if I had to continue to worry about my sins and practice the sacrament of confession. However, my response, “I already have peace. I can be confident in both my state of grace and the mercy of God; however, If I do deserve damnation, I have faith in God’s true justice.”

So, why do I have confidence in the doctrine of purgatory, as opposed to this individual and Luther? There are various proofs in Scripture that Catholics point to in regards to Purgatory such as 1 Cor. 3:11-15, Jn. 14:2, Mt. 12:32.

However, my confidence rests on the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew Ch. 5:23-26

23 Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, 24 leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny. [1]

The great accuser—The opponent– that we will all have at our judgment is Satan. So, here are two topics that many Christians fail to speak about in this day and age, Satan and Sin, mainly because most no longer believe in either. So, if most do not believe that there are Satan and Sin, is it fair to say that it would be difficult to believe in a purification of Sin? Could one make the argument that our failure to acknowledge such is founded in Sola Fide? Perhaps not, after all, many Catholics no longer believe that Satan or Sin exists. In regards to on the way to court, of course, this means our life on the way to the beatific vision, and our way to settle our debt of sin is with confession and penance.

It’s important to note that Christ then says, “you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.” Christ couldn’t be talking about hell as the verdict from the Judge by this statement because if the judgment is hell, the judgment is final; however, purgatory is not a final state, but rather a purifying state, in which one will be “released;” therefore, their judgment of salvation has been assured.

One of the best pieces of Western Literature is Dante’s Divine Comedy, one of the great attributes of the text is that it speaks to us today of the Christian worldview of a faithful Catholic in the 13th century before the Reformation.

Notice, even in both Canto III’s of the Inferno and Purgatory the difference of the fates of those souls:

The Inferno:

Here sighs, with lamentations and loud moans,

Resounded through the air pierced by no star,

That e’en I wept at entering. Various tongues,

Horrible languages, outcries of woe,

Accents of anger, voices deep and hoarse,

With hands together smote that swell’d the sounds,

Made up a tumult, that forever whirls

Round through that air with solid darkness stain’d,

Like to the sand that in the whirlwind flies.

I then, with horror yet encompast, cried:

“O master! what is this I hear? what race

Are these, who seem so overcome with woe?”[2]
Purgatory:

“O spirits perfect! O already chosen!”

Virgil to them began: “by that blest peace,

Which, as I deem, is for you all prepared,

Instruct us where the mountain low declines,

So that attempt to mount it be not vain.

For who knows most, him loss of time most grieves.”[3]

In Dante’s Hell, those souls, as with every circle of hell, are continuously moved in endless unending circles, but notice, that in purgatory, as Virgil says as the souls approach him and Dante, “O already Chosen!” those spirits are beginning to move forward as pilgrims to the reward they’re already assured as they can not move back.

The Book of Concord reads in regards to penance in indulgence:

They add further that satisfactions ought to be works of supererogation. These consist of the most stupid observances, like pilgrimages, rosaries, and similar observations, none of which have the command of God. [15] Then, just as they buy off purgatory with satisfactions, so they also devised a way to buy off satisfactions, which turned out to be very profitable. For they sell indulgences, which they interpret as the remission of satisfactions. They collect this revenue not only from the living but even more from the dead. They buy off the satisfactions for the dead not only with indulgences but also with the sacrifice of the Mass.[1]

As I read the above text, I hear the “voice” of the writer, in respect, to being angry at the selling for profit of indulgences in regards to removing penance. I fully admit that those in the Church, and yes even leaders, are sinners and did egregious actions. Regardless, Catholics and Protestants differ on how God conducts commands. Protestants claim Sola Scriptura while Catholics claim that Church tradition can also produce theological truths. However, after applying Christ words using scripture, can it truly be claimed there is no command from God? Furthermore, is it “works” to simply pray for souls in purgatory? It’s well noted in the historical record that Luther edited books from the canon that displayed prayers for the dead, as it opposed to his prospective theology. It’s clear from Catholic theology that souls who receive no prayers will still be purified and receive their reward, in this regard, no action from anyone is meriting salvation, as salvation is assured. God initiates by a free gift salvation. I implore my Protestant brothers and sisters to see that “works” is not a bad word. If salvation is granted to us Prima Gratia, Christ still speaks time and time again about “storing treasures in Heaven” by actions on earth.

[1] New American Bible, Revised Edition (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), Mt 5:22–26.

[2] Dante Alighieri, The Harvard Classics 20: The Divine Comedy by Dante, ed. Charles W. Eliot (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1909), 13–14.

[3] Dante Alighieri, The Harvard Classics 20: The Divine Comedy by Dante, ed. Charles W. Eliot (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1909), 157.

[4]Robert Kolb, Timothy J. Wengert, and Charles P. Arand, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000), 190.

32 Comments

  1. It could also be that our views on hell and purgatory are completely wrong. I suspect that these views are drawn from miscellaneous writings that are outside mainstream “inspired” scripture, and a great deal of imagination has been used as well.

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    1. Yes Crossman those views are just umbilical and we should keep to the Words of God and not to human doctrines. We should not be carried away by fiction nor by “a great deal of imagination”, but use our common sense and use the bible as our guide and rock, trusting the Almighty God Who tells us the Truth and no lies.

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      1. As stated, the use of Dante is only to understand a historical position prior to the reformation.

        The problem with using just scripture, as in Sola Scriptura, is that it’s self refuting and not Biblical.

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  2. Man does so much love stories and Dante’s book is a marvellous book, but always remember it is fiction and not reality. We should keep to the Bible concerning life and death matters and should remember that God tells us that by our death we pay for our sins. Already in life we have literal and spiritual fines (suffering) for what we do wrong. The Elohim is not such a cruel being that He would ask once again another payment after we have suffered already in our life time and after we paid our final sum by our death. Nowhere is there talked about or being a space for a purgatory nor a hell as torture places for those who died. After death they just decay and become dust again, everything being finished.

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  3. The “getting out” simply means your punishment is over, you are delivered over to death. The suffering, punishment or ‘torture” of you, your conscience and consciousness is simply the fact of you, your “raw” conscience, being confronted with your life of sin when compared with His purity. All will be tested by fire and what has not been of Him will be consumed, while what has been of Him will be returned to Him. (meaning people). See the parable of the rich man and Lazarus the poor man. Purgatory is a lie.

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    1. So, Crossroman, let’s examine the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus:

      However, first off let’s take a look 2 Tim. 1:15-18:

      You know that everyone in Asia deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord grant mercy to the family of Onesiphorus because he often gave me new heart and was not ashamed of my chains. But when he came to Rome, he promptly searched for me and found me. May the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day. And you know very well the services he rendered in Ephesus.

      So, in the context of this passage, we learn that Onesiphorus is dead. It’s clear because St. Paul doesn’t ask Timothy to greet him, furthermore, all of the Onesiphorus’ action on earth are spoken in past tense and the only time St. Paul changes to the present tense is when he prays for Onesiphorus. Prayers for the dead.

      In regards to the Parable, I’ll go ahead and quote Joe Heschmeyer: “Abraham refuses the rich man’s request on two grounds: that he can’t (since there’s “a great chasm” between Abraham and the rich man, Lk. 16:26) and that he won’t (since the rich man already had his chance). The rich man then offers up an intercessory prayer to Abraham, praying that someone will go to visit his brothers to warn them against leading a reprobate life. Here, Abraham simply refuses, since they have the Scriptures and “if they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead” (Lk. 16:31). The “great chasm” separating the rich man from Abraham seems also to separate him from his brothers, but it doesn’t cut Abraham off from those on Earth. Moreover, in light of the Resurrection, we should note that this refusal isn’t absolute. Someone does rise from the dead, “for our justification” (Romans 4:25).”

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      1. Hello Philip. No, it does not say Onesiphorus is dead. How can you draw this out of thin air? The rich man parable is a story and can not be connected to the resurrection of Jesus other than Jesus is forecasting that this situation will indeed apply to such as the brothers when he is resurrected. (does your comment end with “(Romans 4:25).” ? guess I won’t know until I push the “send” button.

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      2. Yes, Romans just references the last point.

        However, I do not draw it out of thin air in regards to Onesiphorus, it’s explained in the comment, Paul writes in past tense when speaking about Onesiphorus, but he changes to present tense when praying. The tense changes happens for a reason, Paul is not simply writing in the passive.

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      3. Hi Phillip – OK it might need a “tense” study but these things tend to get a bit airy-fairy just like the tense issues in Romans 7. My bible does not say he is praying either. There is too much in there that is clear and positive than to wander down the track of maybe’s and perhap’s. There are so many issues and problems associated with the differences between Catholic and Protestant views that I don’t think the omission of a book or two is going to explain. Not deliberately avoiding the present subject but things like the bodily assumption of Mary and the Mary worship that obviously goes on – but there is much more. I have to say that I do believe there is much evidence to support that when you die you are dead and in the grave until Christ returns, to mention just one point, so I do not follow traditional thought. You cannot pray to dead people. Some of my comment was a reaction to the Christadelphian comment there in reference to the nature or existence of hell. I did not really mean to address the whole issue of C vs P, yet here we are. Thanks. OK I see you have commented further so I will look at that one.

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      4. Well, as you said, off the topic, but I’ll tell you off the bat that Mary worship is heresy. However, the assumption of Mary is not only a Catholic held doctrine. For example in the West, we celebrate the Assumption, in the East–Orthodox–Dormition. (same thing). The Catholic Doctrine also doesn’t claim that Mary didn’t die. In fact, the orthodox, and Eastern Rite Catholics, believe that Mary died, laid to rest, and then her body was assumed.

        Pope Pius XII writes, “hus, to cite an illustrious example, this is set forth in that sacramentary which Adrian I, our predecessor of immortal memory, sent to the Emperor Charlemagne. These words are found in this volume: “Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten your Son our Lord incarnate from herself.”

        The point being, for there to be removal of issues, I believe it’s important to make clear what is actual Catholic belief vs. not.

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      5. Hi Philip. That is certainly true – I have had issues with Christadelphian beliefs but because they express themselves as individual groups whose beliefs sometimes vary widely, although they have basic doctrinal foundations, the Belgium group don’t seem to know what their basic doctrine structure even is. But back to the point I wish to make now – All of these writings you are quoting and examples of the beliefs of more mystic orthodox/non-orthodox churches, simply carry no authority at all. If there is error then there is error, no matter what the source is supposed to be. Some Pope writing some letter to somebody is completely meaningless, but that comes from one whose belief system is not Catholic of course. The content of that letter is your point though, in explaining what IS believed is that Mary “Mother of God” had her body raised into heaven. Now that is completely unacceptable to me and to Protestants in general. In my belief, Mary has absolutely nothing to do with anything – or at least, very little. Thus the wide gulf between Catholic and Protestant belief. I hope we can agree that Jesus abolished death for us so we could then have faith in Him and what He did in this regard.

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      6. OK Your knowledge greatly exceeds mine. My belief is that authority comes from the Spirit who is the risen Jesus. “The Spirit is the truth”. You are still referencing sources that to me are not credible because they are not tied to the Spirit that came out of His resurrection. Catholic teaching that authority only comes through the church and the priesthood denies the basic fundamental of all men having direct access to God via the Spirit, who is also our teacher. Jesus is the priest, there is no Pope over him or under Him, and certainly not over mankind. “Do not forbid marriage,” “Call no man father”. Sorry. next comment….

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      7. I’d have to ask first, do you believe Jesus to be a Spirit or the Incarnated Son of God?

        As I have shown there in 2 Thessalonians there is reference to learning oral traditions of the Church from Scripture. Furthermore, In Ignatius of Antioch’s, who was a disciple of John the Apostle, letter to the Smyrnaeans, he writes, “See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop.” Wouldn’t it be wise to learn tradition from one who learned at the feet of the Apostle John?

        Also, the Pope is the Bishop of Rome, Matthew 16:19 expresses that Jesus founded the Church with Peter who created the Catholic Church in Rome:

        “19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

        Apostolic Succession of Bishops is expressed by the naming of Matthias to replace Judas in Acts 1:12-26, do these not carry any authority?

        The Pope, for example, is the Bishop of Rome

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      8. My personal belief is He is both*, but terminology is sometimes used for our benefit because we otherwise would not comprehend the matter, and this can be a little wobbly at times. However, I believe the son was manifested to provide a vehicle for the expression of God on earth and which expression included the setting right of creation’s intention by healing man’s mortal wound and thereby becoming the first born of all creation, thereby enabling the rest of mankind to inclusive in His victory… *”have in yourselves this attitude which was also in Jesus….”. – Again you are using sources that are not central to the matter, and this is the whole problem I guess and the difference between us – that Catholicism includes and is based on multiple sources (seemingly every possible source) yet rather than discern the core of it so for it to be narrowed in visibility of truth, it becomes complex through universal inclusion. On the issue of Peter’s authority, it has been a long time since He was doing his thing, and what we see today may be indistinguishable from the church in those days. Things handed down tend to get distorted – there is enough trouble trying to establish the authenticity of scripture against a backdrop of those who would destroy Christianity altogether. But the scripture I use is, I believe, adequate to the task, but one which leads me to believe that dead people are dead and not available to be prayed either to or for. Obviously if I had been brought up in your house, I would probably think like you. But I was not, so I don’t. Hopefully we will both survive…next…

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      9. My father for most of my life was Methodist, my Mother Catholic; however, I know far more about the Catholic faith than she does. My collegiate degree is in history, I value the study of history. I believe Christianity to be true because I believe there to a great wealth of evidence that points to the historical resurrection Jesus– His resurrection validates His claims. I also believe in the historical evidence that the church was founded on Peter whom then appointed his successors down to the current day. I do not believe that that Church is without faults, the Church doesn’t profess that Popes are all the time infallible, we’re allowed to disagree with their opinions. However, I believe in the Christ’s Resurrection, His establishment of the Church, the Established Priesthood, and the Eucharist, and really those are the reasons simply why I am Catholic.

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      10. Thanks Philip, we have to go where the stream seems to flow and with what seems most comfortable. Thank you for the discussion, it was enlightening. Best regards from me.

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      11. Also, let me ask this, in regards to Mary. God selected Mary because in HIS omnipotence he knew she would accept, and say yes, but what if she would have said, “No”? It would seem that Mary’s role in salvation has a far greater significance than what many think, but I will also say that Lutherans, more importantly Luther, have a high respect for Mary. It’s also important again to reiterate that other Apostolic Churches also believe in the assumption of Mary. However, any Catholic should agree that it wasn’t necessary, so I don’t think the gulf is that wide.

        However, there is nothing in scripture that indicates that God would have chosen another woman had Mary said no. So, we’re left with nothing but the importance of Mary choosing to be the theotokos, in this manner, she’s led us to her Son, our Saviour, there’s nothing wrong in honoring her as the Mother of God, after all the 4th commandment decrees us to honor our own mothers. I, personally, do not have any sort of strong Marian devotion.

        I will agree that Christ conquered death; however, we can freely choose to cooperate with the Grace of Salvation, or at anytime, reject it.

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      12. Agreed on the grace cooperation. Mary could scarcely have refused God. Jesus could have said no, also. These are but’s what if’s and maybe’s. Mary was the natural mother of Jesus, John was the natural cousin of Jesus (although both had Spirit womb effects). But you can’t call Mary the mother of God, which is what all the Mary worship references are tied to because they place her not only on the same level of God himself, but even above Him. In this respect, trinitarian beliefs are convoluted…next..

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      13. First off, it’s simple logic to say Mary is the mother of God. Jesus is God, Mary is his mother, Mary is the mother of God. The Nestorian heresy, which denies the Theotokos, was put to rest at the council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. The council falls within the first seven ecumenical council, therefore, it is accepted by a variety of protestant churches. To conclude that Mary did not carry God, only Christ’s human nature is a philosophical mistake, as Mother’s do not carry “natures” in their wombs. They carry persons in their womb, and the Person that was in Mary’s womb was God.

        This, of course, would settle the matter of the Trinity. Jesus is very clear in Matthew 28, “Baptize in the name of the Father, and Of the Son, and Of the Holy Spirit.”

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      14. Ok of course I fall foul of this one because I allow myself to understand scriptural situations as I encounter them within their context, and of course in light of various discussions had with others. I see Jesus as having been born a human person who had ‘his own personality and character just as we do.’ so to speak. He knew his own identity to be that of son of God. Because of that he never sinned, not because he was incapable of sinning, and not because he did not have within him the capability to sin. He always said that he was not doing his own will (a lesson for us) but that he only did what he heard from the father, or saw him doing, this was what he did. He did nothing “of himself” In other words, he did only the father’s will, not because he WAS the father, but because he was his obedient son. Again an example to us. Because he was a perfect spirit in an imperfect body, he distanced himself from the imperfection, before finally confronting it, his own “inner” nature, and overcame it, healed it, which is what qualified him for immortality and then resurrection because of it. He now is not the Father in heaven, but is the son sitting at the right hand of the father. Sorry, that’s the best I can do, I cannot extrapolate scripture into something it does not appear to be. Although I accept the “oneness” of the “Godhead” I cannot express specifics as confirmed trinitarians do.

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      15. Apparently ran out of room for the last comment to continue. You can now disqualify me from further discussion on the basis of my many flaws 🙂 you can nominate when you want to stop (although I have to go soon) and I will leave you to the last comment after I look at the one you just posted 🙂

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      16. Another note is that the study of the tense in the passage is not my own theology. In Cardinal John Henry Newman’s Letter to Pusey in 1865 he writes, “Such too is St. Paul’s repeated message to the household of Onesiphorus, with no mentioned of Onesiphorus himself, but in one place with the addition of a prayer that “he might find mercy of the Lord’ in the day of judgment, which, taking into accound its wording, and the known usage of the first centuries, we can hardly deny is a prayer for the soul.”

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  4. “He who takes part in the FIRST resurrection will not be harmed by the SECOND death.” Jesus is the first resurrection and the second death is the judgement that comes AFTER death. “It is appointed unto man ONCE to die, and then comes THE JUDGEMENT” which is the return of Christ in fire, and by which fire some men will suffer as the old creation is burnt, destroyed, changed, converted and purified and by which other men who are ‘new creations” will simply be purified by that same fire. (The Spirit). TWO deaths, TWO resurrections. ONE fire.

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  5. You do realize that the Canon of Scripture was settled for approx. 300 years after Jesus’ resurrection? Also, If Protestants held the same standards to the books they accept that they reject in scripture, there’d be even fewer. In fact, no early Christian practiced the 66 Canon Scripture, so many early Canons would have contained say Maccabees. Again, taking books out of the canon of scripture out is a lie and also man made doctrine, it would include more Catholic scriptural evidence. Furthermore, 1 Billion Catholics who profess the doctrine of Purgatory is far more “mainstream.” Sola Scriptura is self-refuting because it isn’t Biblical, whereas, Paul talks about tradition being a method of learning and teaching. 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

    Furthermore, since the Church, founded by Christ, instructs both by the Magesterium and by deciding the Canon of scripture, 2 Macc. must be addressed:

    He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.

    So, I’ll quote a mock conversation from Shamless Popery, as the problem with our conversation:

    Protestant: “Prayers for the dead and prayer to the Saints aren’t in Scripture!”
    Catholic: “Sure they are. There’s prayer for the dead in 2 Maccabees 12:43-46, and prayers to a Saint, with explicit reference to the Saint’s ongoing intercession, in 2 Macc. 15:12-16.”
    (Protestant removes 2 Maccabees from the Bible).
    Protestant: “Look, prayers for the dead and prayer to the Saints aren’t in Scripture!”

    Historically speaking by the time of the Reformation, examine history, the 2 Macc. was in Catholic, Orth, and Coptic Canons of Scripture. The lie has been spread by the removal of Canon and the ignoring of St. Paul. It’s clear that what Scripture taught at prior to the Reformation was not Protestant doctrine, so Protestants had to edit scripture.

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  6. Hello Philip. You have some big words in there – it seems I am disadvantaged by not having all the books that your bible does 🙂 I cannot comment on books I don’t have, as you have said. But there is still a lot left in mine and none of it supports the general premise of what you are saying. Unless I am misreading what you appear to be saying, I do not currently believe that man can make atonement for the dead. As I quoted earlier, “It is appointed unto man once to die, and then comes the judgement.” You cannot conveniently fit purgatory into the middle of this. People are said to either “sleep” in Christ (meaning they are dead) or they are just dead.

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    1. You say, “It is appointed unto man once to die, and then comes the judgement.”

      Naturally, this is why I placed Dante’s work of fiction in this post to illustrate that pre-Reformation Catholicism understood that souls in purgatory have already received judgment and are assured their salvation.

      Furthermore, in regards to Maccabees, it would be a significant part of the problem when one simply takes books out of canon because they disagree with it. First off, different Jewish sects accepted different canons of scripture, eg. The Saduccess and Pharisees. So, I wonder do you have the letter of Hebrews in your Canon? It would be strange since it references 2 Maccabees 7 in 11:35-37–Might as well throw it out then.

      Therefore, because of the Canon discrepancy, it is an importance of establishing a reference to prayers for the dead and purgatory for souls to receive those prayers for the interpretation of Jesus’ words in the Gospel to carrying any weight in accordance to purgatory.

      Some claim the this theology was developed from paganism; however, it can be established that prayers for the dead can be historically presented by Maccabees as well as other sources. For example, the Mourner’s Kaddish is a Jewish aramaic prayer–still used today–offering prayers for the dead. I think that’s something we need to focus here, Jews to this very day still prayer for their dead.

      In fact, Jewish midrash Tanna Devei Eliyahu offers a first-century rabbi perspective of prayers of the dead freeing souls:

      Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai said: “One time I was going along the way and I came across a man who was gathering wood. I spoke to him, but he did not respond. Afterwards the man came to me and said, ‘Rabbi, I am dead, not alive.’

      “I asked him, ‘If you are dead, what do you need this wood for?’

      “He replied, ‘Rabbi, listen to what I am about to tell you. While I was alive my companion and I used to engage in sin in my mansion. When we came to this world we were sentenced to burning. While I gather word they burn my friend and while he gathers wood they burn me.’

      “I inquired, how long is this sentence to last?’

      “The dead man answered, ‘When I came to this world I left behind a pregnant wife. I know she is expecting a boy. I beg of you, keep an eye on him from the moment he is born until he is five years old. Then bring him to school, for the moment he responds, “Bless Hashem Who is blessed,” I will be released from judgment in Gehinnom.’”

      As we can see, it’s clear that Tradition, as shown by Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, must be utilized for a proper understanding of God’s revelation with Scripture. So, thereby, establishing the Jewish roots for purgatory, the assertion of purgatory being a Catholic invention of the middle ages melts away. One has to there consider 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 as a possible Purgatory proof, as there is a clear Jewish understanding of purgatory. Also, Jesus’ statement in Matthew Ch. 5:23-26 makes sense in regard to Jewish belief in Gehenna as the location of purgation.

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      1. I see nothing in Heb.11 35-37 that even remotely resembles what we are talking about – so who is referencing who? As far as some Rabbi story goes, it is not in my new testament which is what I use because it is a record of Jesus and what followed with Spirit inspired writings, so it carries no authority for me. Probably a good example of “spurious” “scripture”. Jews today praying for the dead is interesting, I would have to look it up. The NT does mention “otherwise what would people do who pray for the dead” or similar, this shows some of the errors that existed under non Spirit revelation. OK next comment..

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      2. Hebrews 11 references Maccabees, if Maccabees isn’t canonical, then Hebrews would be contradictory text and should also be taken out of any Canon that rejects Maccabees.

        You’d agree that Jesus was a Jew and Yahweh revealed himself to the Hebrews (Jews)? So wouldn’t it be wise to learn what Jews believed to have a better context of what is said in scripture?

        For example, Many people today claim that we have a constitutional right of separation of Church and State. However, NOWHERE in the United States Constitution does it say the phrase Separation of Church and State. The phrase comes from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1803 to Dansbury Baptist Church in respect to their religious liberty, the founders understanding of the 1st amendment, yet it’s often taken out of context by even contemporary judges.

        By learning what 1st century Jews taught on prayers to the dead, we discover that it existed prior to Catholicism of the middle ages, as well as that Jewish religious theology carries weight into what folks say in the New Testament. For example, when Jesus spoke to the Sadduccees, who only recognized the first five books of the Old Testament as Canon, he only used those to reference. When Jesus spoke to the pharisees, he referenced others like the Wisdom books.

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