Here is a very interesting doctrine, one which illicits all kinds of imaginitive scenes of dead people waiting, seemingly endlessly, for rescue by living friends, who are obliged, on the dead person’s behalf, to hold special masses, pray, and pay some kind of indulgence to redeem them from some holding penitentiary for the sinful, who are given another chance, even though they have died in their sins.
There are many unanswered questions to this doctrine which does not match scripture.
Firstly, is Christ’s redeeming power not enough to save those who are living who repent on earth?
Secondly, is the payment of an indulgence greater than the cross to redeem the sinful dead who could not be saved in their lifetimes by the death and resurrection of Christ?
Here’s what the Catholic Encyclopaedia has to say about this very strange doctrine:
Purgatory (Lat., “purgare”, to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.
Not fully paid? How is this doctrinally correct? Do we now have to pay for our own sin, or did Christ pay for our sin at the cross?
He surely died once and for all. And how do we pay? Our righteousness is as filthy rags, according to scripture. The wages of sin is death, which is eternal separation from the Father. There is no other way to the Father but through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. There is no payment we can make. He has paid it all. The only thing we can do is receive the free pardon he has won for us at the cross through faith in him. We are not saved by payment, but by grace through faith.
The faith of the Church concerning purgatory is clearly expressed in the Decree of Union drawn up by the Council of Florence (Mansi, t. XXXI, col. 1031), and in the decree of the Council of Trent which (Sess. XXV) defined:
“Whereas the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has from the Sacred Scriptures and the ancient tradition of the Fathers taught in Councils and very recently in this Ecumenical synod (Sess. VI, cap. XXX; Sess. XXII cap.ii, iii) that there is a purgatory, and that the souls therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but principally by the acceptable Sacrifice of the Altar; the Holy Synod enjoins on the Bishops that they diligently endeavour to have the sound doctrine of the Fathers in Councils regarding purgatory everywhere taught and preached, held and believed by the faithful” (Denzinger, “Enchiridon”, 983).
Further than this the definitions of the Church do not go, but the tradition of the Fathers and the Schoolmen must be consulted to explain the teachings of the councils, and to make clear the belief and the practices of the faithful.
The tradition of the fathers? Councils? Is this greater than the canon of scripture? The tradition of the fathers, in many deviations from scripture such as this, contradict the teachings of Jesus, Paul, James, John, Peter, Jude, and the writings of the Old and New Testament.
How are dead people in this purgatory helped by the suffrages of the faithful? What do the traditions of this doctrine say about their suffrages? It is by indulgences, penances and payments to buy the soul in purgatory out of the place of their holding. There is no scripture for this. On this point the traditions of the fathers seriously diverge from Apostolic teaching, with no scriptural basis from the teachings of the Apostles and of Christ.
What can the faithful pay that Christ hasn’t already paid? Is there something the faithful can do that God left out at the cross? The sin-prone faithful, says scripture, are barely saved themselves. How can they save those who have already gone on ahead through death?
That temporal punishment is due to sin, even after the sin itself has been pardoned by God, is clearly the teaching of Scripture. God indeed brought man out of his first disobedience and gave him power to govern all things (Wisdom 10:2), but still condemned him “to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow” until he returned unto dust. God forgave the incredulity of Moses and Aaron, but in punishment kept them from the “land of promise” (Numbers 20:12). The Lord took away the sin of David, but the life of the child was forfeited because David had made God’s enemies blaspheme His Holy Name (2 Samuel 12:13-14). In the New Testament as well as in the Old, almsgiving and fasting, and in general penitential acts are the real fruits of repentance (Matthew 3:8; Luke 17:3; 3:3). The whole penitential system of the Church testifies that the voluntary assumption of penitential works has always been part of true repentance and theCouncil of Trent (Sess. XIV, can. xi) reminds the faithful that God does not always remit the whole punishment due tosin together with the guilt. God requires satisfaction, and will punish sin, and this doctrine involves as its necessaryconsequence a belief that the sinner failing to do penance in this life may be punished in another world, and so not be cast off eternally from God.
Penitential works? Here is anther false doctrine coupled with that of purgatory. The doctrines of penance, which plainly declare that the work of the cross and God’s forgiveness is not enough. The sinner must pay for his own sins. This is gross error. The Roman Catholic church has a history of teaching that people must pay for their sins, sometimes through the shedding of their own blood. Luther recalls walking up the steps of St Peters on his knees until they bled as a penance. Why was Christ’s blood not enough to purge the world of sin?
Almsgiving as a penance? Yes, of course, and thus the Roman Church grows fat on the sins of the people whilst Christ and his cross are forgotten and set aside as not enough to forgive the sinner and break them free of their sin, nor empower them to overcome the temptation to sin. For the Church of Rome there is a convenience to allowing the ordinary person to remain powerless over temptation so that they can return time after time to the Confessional, to be given penance, and to the special masses for the dead to pay their way out. No wonder Luther was so moved to passionate action when his eyes were opened to the truths of Grace, Righteousness and Faith.
So not almsgiving as a willing offering to support the poor or the work of the church, but a payment for sin, and a charge against the sinner, rendered hopeless by false doctrine, which Christ had already paid at Calvary. A double payment by the penitent to the Church of Apostasy.
All sins are not equal before God, nor dare anyone assert that the daily faults of human frailty will be punished with the same severity that is meted out to serious violation of God’s law. On the other hand whosoever comes into God’s presence must be perfectly pure for in the strictest sense His “eyes are too pure, to behold evil” (Habakkuk 1:13). For unrepented venial faults for the payment of temporal punishment due to sin at time of death, the Church has always taught the doctrine of purgatory.
No, the Roman church has always taught the doctrine of purgatory, and what an admission of guilt to falsehoods and the captivity of souls to a wretched doctrine.
The True Church teaches that Christ has paid the price of our sin and that the only way we can be made clean is through faith in the finished work of the cross. Thereafter we are kept clean by the words of Christ and the blood, and by the faithfulness and righteousness of the Father, who forgives the contrite man or woman who confesses their sin directly to him.
To God be the glory for truth revealed.
Posted by Steve