Skip to comments.The Doctrine of Purgatory
Posted on 01/29/2007 6:45:51 AM PST by stfassisi
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Equally ancient are the inscriptions found in the catacombs, which provide numerous examples of how the faithful offered prayers for their departed relatives and friends. Thus we read from engravings going back to the second century such invocations as Would that God might refresh your spirit .Ursula, may you be received by Christ .Victoria, may your spirit be at rest in good .Kalemir, may God grant peace to your spirit and that of your sister, Hildare Timothy, may the eternal life be yours in Christ.
Writers before Augustine explicitly teach that souls stained with temporal punishment due to sins are purified after death. St. Cyprian (died 258) taught that penitents who die before the Sacrament of Penance must perform the remainder of any atonement required in the other world, while martyrdom counts as full satisfaction (Epistola 55,20). St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386) described the sacred rites of the Liturgy with the comment, Then we pray also for the dead, our holy fathers, believing that this will be a great help for the souls of those for whom the prayer is offered (Catechesis, 32).
This will be fun and interesting.-;)
Here we go again!
Hmmm it's tough to say which has less scriptural/historical support: the idea that folks will just disappear into heaven in some sort of pre-second-coming rapture, or that folks get to 'work off' sins in some sort of inter-life-death-waiting-room.
The example of the Maccabees reminds me of collegiality of all souls and the anticipation of the resurrection. We share a common nature and a common life. Each individual is responsible for his sins and must make personal satisfaction. But do we go to God alone? Do we cease to be the children of our parents, bothers or sisters to our siblings, Father and mothers and grandfathers and grandmothers to our own children, aunts and uncles to our nephews and nieces, cousins to our cousins? If we remain united in bllood, then what about the bond between the Baptised? Are these ties so broken by death that we are no longer in comminion with them? But does the brotherhood we share with Jesus defeat death? Does not charity keep us linked together despite all?
The difference between Purgatory and Hell is a medieval misunderstanding of Christians.
Jesus referred to "Gehenna", which is the Greek for "Genhinnom". Yes, it is a physical place outside of Jerusalem, a nasty place, but it was given that name because it was an earthly vision of the spiritual Genhinnom of Judaism.
Jesus wasn't making a new doctrine here. He didn't DEFINE Gehenna because he was speaking to JEWS, and JEWS all knew (and, if they have studied their religion, know) what Genhinnom is). Jesus didn't MODIFY anything about the Jewish view of Genhinnom. He simply referred to it, implying that the Jewish view was correct and didn't need to be modified.
So, what IS Genhinnom? Genhinnom - Gehenna in the Greek translation - is Hell, as opposed to Gan Eden, which is Paradise. When the body dies, according to the Jews then and now, the soul departs and goes to judgment before the fair and perfect judge: God Almighty. The soul is judged in the balance, between the good deeds that one has done - the mitzvot - including adherence to The Law - and the evil one has done. If the good deeds far outweigh the bad, and there is nothing horriffic on the bad side, the truly good soul goes straight to Gan Eden: heaven. Everybody else goes to Hell: Genhinnom. But this is the key. Every soul cast into Genhinnon does not STAY there. Genhinnom is a place of purification and pain - where the fire never ceases and the worm never sleeps. And there, those whose balance of good and evil was more even, or those who had a dastardly act in their past but were otherwise good, etc., are purified: THEN they go to Gan Eden. The truly wicked and depraved, whose souls had such a lopsided toll of evil and who did little to no good, stay in Genhinnom forever.
So, you see, Gehenna - Jewish Hell - is both Hell AND Purgatory. The impure but salvageable soul is harrowed through Hell, and purified in the flame, and THEN goes to Heaven.
That's what the Jews believe, and believed. That's what the people Jesus was talking to believed. And that's what Jesus SAID, too, by using the term "Gehenna", just like that, unadorned, unmodified, uncorrected. When Jesus corrected tradition, he always said 'Scripture says, but I tell you...'. When he refers to a tradition and DOESN'T modify it or correct it, and just incorporates it into his speech, he is telling the Jews hearing it that (A) their tradition is essentially correct and (B) given that, because you don't want to go to Hell (even if you get purified in the end, you don't want to get boiled in oil in the first place), do right and follow the teachings and commandments now.
Jesus' sermon is very Jewish. And if we listen to it as a Jew of the First Century (as opposed to a Catholic monastic of the Middle Ages who knows nothing about Judaism other than popular legends filled with blood libel, and the glimpses of it in the New Testament), we discover that Jesus has laid out the directions of the afterlife, and that the Jews have it right: Heaven for the pure, Hell for everyone else, with Hell serving a purifying function for some before they go on to Heaven, while the wicked stay in Hell forever. That's what Jesus SAID by invoking Gehenna and not modifying it.
If Catholics understood the Jewish Jesus better, they would understand that Purgatory IS Hell, and Hell IS Purgatory. The only distinction is that for those souls to be purified there, Hell ENDS at some point and they leave for Heaven, thus making Hell a Purgatory. But for the wicked, there is no purgation. It's just hell and flames and torment forever, without end.
How to avoid that end? Don't blaspheme the Holy Spirit is the biggie Jesus warned about. Every other sin can be pardoned, eventually, according to Jesus. And given that Jesus was God Incarnate, he ought to know.
There really should not be a debate about Hell and Purgatory.
Those who say there IS NO PURGATORY because it's not in the Bible are wrong. It IS in the Bible, from Jesus' lips no less: Gehenna.
Those who say there IS NO HELL are wrong. It IS in the Bible, from Jesus' lips no less: Gehenna.
Those who say that Hell and Purgatory are DIFFERENT PLACES are mistaken. They misunderstand the Jewish meaning of Gehenna. Gehenna is Hell, and Hell is Purgatory, for those who are sent there to be purged. For the damned, there's no purgation and they just stay there. Jesus said that too, by speaking of Gehenna over and over, and not correcting the Jewish belief in the slightest. Wherever the Jewish tradition about which Jesus was speaking was wrong, in error, departed from the will of the Father, Jesus said so. But when it DIDN'T - when Jesus just used the words and texts and asserted them to teach - then Jesus put his own imprimatur on them.
Hell and Purgatory are both Genhinnom - Gehenna - Jesus used the term as a Jew does, uncorrected. Which means that the Jews are right in their understanding of the structure of the afterlife and judgement.
Which means that yes, there IS a Purgatory, and yes, it IS in the Bible. So, the Catholics aren't WRONG, exactly. Where they err is in imagining them to be separate places, and then building up theological traditions based on that difference. There is no difference. Jesus said so, if you understand him, a Jew, as a Jew understands him.
Purgatory is interesting, because it's a doctrine that the Catholics/Orthodox actually have mostly RIGHT, based on the BIBLE ITSELF, but the Protestants miss out on completely because they don't have the Jewish understanding of the texts. Catholicism/Orthodoxy started out as Judaism, so that memory of the meaning was there, and was passed on. But it became strained as the link with Judaism was broken and there was only the text to fall back on. Christians TODAY can run over to their Jewish neighbors' synagogues and ask "So, what's this Gehenna business", and have the eye-opening experience of realizing that Jesus is referring to BOTH Hell AND Purgatory in the same single word. But medieval Christians, especially theologians, didn't talk to Jews about theology, and indeed, despised them.
So, there's the real answer.
I suspect it will satisfy nobody, because Protestants have their TRADITION of bashing Catholics about Purgatory, and Catholics have their TRADITION of the power of the keys, and teaching authority of the Church.
The real solution is that Jesus taught Purgatory, and Hell, and they're the same place: Gehenna. That's the truth. Let him who is able, hear it.
doesn't ROCOR have something very similar with the concept of the toll-houses?
Mumbo jumbo, mumbo jumbo.
I counted a total of three (3) Scriptural references in the entire dissertation. None of which has anything to do with purgatory.
The silence of Scripture screams loudly the full message that anyone need to know.
This purgatory doctrine is drivel, created for the sole purpose to control people and frighten them from their funds.
If your postulate is true, can souls in Gehenna-Purgatory be bought (or otherwise earned) out of their suffering?
Hey God, let's make a deal!
What's really sad is when they actually try to use scripture to support such nonsense. I think seeing that kind of abuse of the Word of God is even more offensive than when they ignore it completely.
Go look up every time Jesus Christ used the word "Gehenna".
That IS Purgatory, and Hell, both. Whether it ends up being one or the other depends on whether the soul gets out or not.
And yes, I have my books now, but I am at work, so no, I cannot cite you specific chapter and verse until this evening.
Purgatory is in the Bible: Gehenna. Jesus says it a lot.
Also consult 2 Maccabbees for an instance of prayers of atonement for the souls of the dead.
But again, to give you specific chapter and verse, as on the other thread, I must have the book in front of me (which I do) and the time (which I don't, right now, but will this week). So, keep a running list as I am trying to do, and I will give you your Scripture, line by line.
For Purgatory/Hell, it's simple: find Jesus referring to Gehenna, and go look up the ancient Jewish understanding of Gehenna. Jesus didn't correct that, as he did Scripture which contained erroneous tradition (e.g.: marriage and divorce, with the divorce laws referenced in the Torah not ever having been the law of God).
Although you have to admit, the mega-rich have got to be attracted to the idea of purgatory. If they leave a billion dollars to the pope, they can get away with pretty much anything here on earth. It's the poor that get screwed by the doctrine. You can't buy any really good sins with $50 and an old pair of shoes.
Those folks have hacked the books of Maccabees out of their (abridged) "Bibles". That's far more offensive than when they ignore the passages which they haven't hacked out (but which refute their false doctrines).
You're over four hundred years behind the times. The selling of indulgences was explicitly condemned by the Council of Trent.
But the prayers of the living can help the living souls in Gehenna just as the prayers of the living can help the living. (See 2 Maccabbees...I will give you chapter and verse later).
God is the God of the living Abraham and Isaac. Bodies may be dead, but they're still alive nonetheless. This is Jesus in Matthew. Once again, you have to wait for the cite until I have time.
Getting myself fired right now in order to have that discussion would be a sort of earthly Gehenna to which my wife would add some scourges and maybe an asp, so I am going to go radio silent, but I have not run away and I have not forgotten you. Please keep a list.
Oh, and no, you're not going to go to Hell forever or maybe even at all for getting the doctrines wrong and fighting about it. Don't blaspheme the Holy Spirit, and you'll eventually get to heaven: Jesus said so.
And follow the mitzvot of the Torah, as modified by Jesus (kashrut is no longer required, see Mark), and don't do evil, and love God with all your heart and your soul and your mind and your strength, and you will probably be able to skip the Gehenna part completely and go straight to Gan Eden.
As for me, well, I'm afraid I was a young man once, and I still have a young man's mind, so God will have to be really, really forgiving to let me off the hook without some purgation. The Church says it's all forgiven by confession...but if you go right back to your vomit (in your mind, anyway), well, I'm not looking forward to my life review. I deserve some pretty nasty things, all told.
Some folks just don't 'get it'. Arguing against somebody else's doctrine is one thing. Some folks, though, argue against a doctrine they've made up and then imputed to other people. It's basically a 'straw man' argument, and it reflects very badly on the folks who make it.
If one can't state one's "opponent's" position clearly, completely, and correctly, in terms with which he would agree, and which he would find inoffensive, one has absolutely no business commenting on the matter.
I've finally found a post of yours I can (almost) agree with! 8~)
Certainly, of the two, the latter is far more contrary to Scripture and borders on heresy by explicitly denying that the atonement of Jesus Christ upon the cross has paid for the sins of His sheep.
The bizarre notion of purgatory always reminds me of the after-death waiting room scene in "Beetlejuice."
Purgatory is a dangerous, ungodly fiction.
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