2/26/2013 11:39:38 AM
Why is Purgatory Problematic?
Purgatory has long been central to Roman Catholic theology. The Catechism defines purgatory as "A state of final purification after death and before entrance into heaven for those who died in God's friendship, but were only imperfectly purified; a final cleansing of human imperfection before one is able to enter the joy of heaven."
Notice the language used, "imperfectly purified." Since Christ is the One whose perfect sacrifice made satisfaction for the sins of those who receive Him, this notion of an imperfect purification is an assault on the work of Christ (2 Cor 5:21) and on the Father's love in sending His son so that sinners might be saved (1 John 4:10). Not only does purgatory question the power and sufficiency of Christ's perfect blood to cleanse believers completely, but it dares to claim that man can pay for his own sin and make satisfaction before God. In Heb 9:22 we read that, "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." Purgatory challenges that Christ's perfect blood fully atoned for sins and instead says through fire instead, the job will be finished by man.
In contrast to the fear Catholics should rightfully have of Purgatory, consider the following truths which bring comfort and rejoicing for those who are in Christ:
- "And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross." -Col 2:13-14
- "For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds, then he adds, I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more." -Heb 10:14-17
Catholics often try to build a scriptural case for Purgatory based on 1 Cor 3:13-15. The problem with that argument is that the context is the testing of works, not the burning of men. Here we see that it is both the works that become evident and the works which are tested. The exhortation is for believers to go on to do good works which have eternal value.