Objections to Purgatory Answered in a Nutshell
By Steven Speray
Imagine if a Christian or anybody for that fact rejected the existence of Heaven or Hell. Would such a person be considered a Christian? Of course not, since Christians must hold to all articles of Faith such as the existence of Heaven or Hell.
Yet, Purgatory is also an article of Faith. It is as real and true as Heaven and Hell. All those claiming to be Christian who knowingly reject it are heretics, who are non-Christians claiming to be Christian.
Purgatory is the place or state which justified man is purified before witnessing the Beatific Vision. This purification could be for the atonement or punishment of forgiven mortal or venial sins and for the inordinate love of self, others, or the world.
Purgatory comes from the word meaning to purge.
There are 4 main objections heretics use for rejecting Purgatory.
Objection number 1: Purgatory is not found in the Holy Bible; therefore it is not an article of Faith.
There are many words not found in the Holy Bible that must be believed such as Holy Trinity, hypostatic union, Incarnation, or even “bible.” These things are based on a deduction of the facts using sound logic and reason. The Canon of Holy Scripture (Books of the Holy Bible) are not even found implicitly in the Holy Bible but must be believed based on an authority outside of Scripture.
All of Scripture is most certainly inspired and can be used for teaching, defending, and promoting the Faith but never does the Scripture say that it ALONE constitutes everything that must be believed. If it did, then you could not even follow it since it does not give an inspired table of contents. How ironic heretics would use such an illogical argument. This is a tradition of man that nullifies the Word of God.
Be that as it may, Purgatory is most certainly found in the Holy Bible by way of implication just as the Holy Trinity and Incarnation.
Apocalypse or Rev. 21:27 says nothing unclean can enter Heaven. This implies that all men must be made clean before entering Heaven.
First Corinthians 3:9-17 states: “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw — each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If any one destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are.”
The Day is Judgment Day. The temple is man. Gold, silver, and precious stones represents good works. Wood, hay, and straw represents venial sins. Destruction of the temple is mortal sin.
Mortal sins are sins unto death, and venial sins are sins not unto death (First John 5:16-17). For instance, in Matthew 5:19, Jesus states that men can commit certain sins and even teach others to commit that sin but would be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven. Other sins however, Jesus says would cause men liable to hell fire. Therefore, different types of sins have different types of punishment.
“The person will be saved as going through the fire. Those who destroy the temple will themselves be destroyed.” These verses are not about rewards because St Paul was not only talking about rewards but a JUDGMENT, and as been shown, this judgment varies.
Those who build with gold, silver, and precious stones will be rewarded (this is Heaven), those who build with wood, hay, and straw will suffer but will be saved as going through the fire (this is purgatory), and those who will not build but destroy the temple will themselves be destroyed (this is hell).
The Old Testament Book Second Maccabees 12: 43-45 states: “In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view; for if he were not expecting the dead to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin”
Why pray for those eternally lost in Hell or saved in Heaven? This verse clearly references another place for those expiating sin and because it so clear in this book of the Holy Bible, heretics eliminated it precisely because this verse didn’t square up with their systematic theology that rejected Purgatory.
Purgatory is Scriptural and it is logical. Its rejection is anti-scriptural and illogical.
Objection number 2: Purgatory is contrary to First John 1:7 that a Christian is only purified by the blood of Jesus. Christ did it all and nothing can be added to His shedding of blood. Christ’s atonement replaces any atonement needed by man. In other words, Christ’s atonement on the Cross was not good enough if Purgatory is true.
The fact is (I John 1:7) says, “The blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin.” not that “we are purified only by the blood of Jesus.” However, Christ alone purifies and if it is not done on earth then it will be done later. Mortal sin takes one to hell not Purgatory. Again, Purgatory is for the saved sinner who is purged of all imperfections including the atonement of forgiven mortal and venial sins before entering Heaven since nothing unclean can enter Heaven (Apoc. or Rev. 21:27).
The shedding of Christ’s blood is applied to man through justification and sanctification. Christ’s atonement is sufficient and complete. However, it must be applied and we must cooperate by doing our part designated to us by God.
Objection number 3: Purgatory does not fit into the theology that claims Christ’s righteousness is only imputed to man’s soul thereby justifying the man. This justification happens only once. Rom. 4:8 and II Cor. 5:19 denotes that sins no longer count against the justified and Hebrew 10:14 says Christ has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
The fact is Christ’s righteousness is infused into man’s soul, which actually makes the soul righteous. Imputation denotes a covering only. If it were merely imputed then the soul itself would remain unclean. Nothing unclean can enter Heaven; therefore an unclean man with a mere covering or imputation of righteousness would violate the very Word of God. Christ’s righteousness must be infused or else no one could enter Heaven.
It does not happen only once. Justification is a process as Holy Scripture shows. Abraham “believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness (Rom. 4:18-22). Paul was referring to (Gen. 15:6) where Abraham was given the promise of many descendants. This clearly shows Abraham was justified at the time he believed the promise.
“By faith Abraham obeyed…went out, not knowing where he was to go” (Heb. 11:8). This passage refers to (Gen. 12:1-4). We see clearly from Scripture that Abraham had saving Faith years before the promise in (Gen. 15). Abraham could not have saving faith if he were not already justified.
“Was not Abraham our father JUSTIFIED by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? It was reckoned to him as righteousness” (James 2:21-23). Abraham offered Isaac upon the altar in (Gen. 22) years after (Gen.15).
We have three instances where Abraham was re-justified by faith and works, denoting justification as a process.
It is true that St Paul in Romans and Second Corinthians denotes that sins no longer count against the justified but this applies to past sins only, not future sins. St Paul gives future senses of justification. “We wait for the hope of justification” (Gal. 5:5). He also states in (Heb 11:1) that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. If we know absolutely we are going to Heaven, where is our hope? Hope would not be hope if the object could be seen.
As for Hebrews 10:14, St Paul is referring that once sanctified, one is perfected forever provide that one does not sin again. Another translation is, “Being made perfect forever those who are being sanctified.” ‘Being’ is a present participle that denotes an ongoing process.
Since justification and sanctification is a process. It can be said that Purgatory is the finishing process of sanctification. “For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29).
God is constantly purifying us as we live on earth and it will continue after death if necessary. It is Christ who is doing the purifying by his justice. Purgatory is the application of Christ’s atonement to our souls after death. Christ’s atonement was perfect and complete, but it must be applied.
This objection arose with the ex-Catholics in the 16th century to create a new religion with a new theology. It is anti-Christian.
Objection number 4: Purgatory is contrary to the belief that Christ paid the complete sin debt meaning that He accomplished all that is needed without any cooperation from man.
Jesus tells Christians in (Matt. 6:12-15) in the Lord’s Prayer to “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors…If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
If Jesus paid completely the sin debt of Christians, why would we need to ask the Father to forgive our debts if Jesus already paid them? Jesus even qualifies his next statement with an ‘IF.’ “IF you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” Why would the Father exact the same debt that Jesus supposedly just paid? Would God exact an unfair double payment? Of course not, therefore this objection is ridiculous and even blasphemous.
You will not find a Scripture passage state or imply that Christ paid the complete sin debt of man.
What Christ did on the Cross was redeem man by freeing him (saving) from absolute death. All men would absolutely go to hell without the Cross, but not necessarily granted Heaven (saved as in final salvation) or else all men would go to Heaven. Christ died for all men but He didn’t grant all men salvation into Heaven.
God will save the man who cooperates with His grace by working, praying, and obeying. This is how man builds up the temple St Paul was referring to in First Corinthians.
Provided man does not destroy the temple by mortal sin, his working, praying, and obeying will be tested. As gold is purified by fire, so too, man will be purified by fire of God’s justice. If a man’s working, praying, and obeying are not perfect (wood, hay, and straw), that man will suffer loss but will be saved. This is Purgatory.
Purgatory can be bypassed altogether provided that man suffers all that is needed while on earth.
Interestingly, the proper understanding of Purgatory and salvation gives a new meaning to suffering on earth. All suffering becomes worthy of some cause especially when offered up in unity with the Cross of Christ.
Like fire on earth, suffering on earth can be useful and praiseworthy leading to a greater love for Our Lord or it can be detrimental leading to rage, envy, and despair.
The suffering in Purgatory is a fire good only for purification.
Lastly, Purgatory is part of the historic Christian Faith. It is part of the Holy Gospel first delivered to the Apostles.
Christian worship was done in the early Church for the poor souls in Purgatory, as masses for the dead were commonplace especially in the catacombs.
The historic practices come from this interpretation of these Scripture verses. Any other interpretation that would deny the existence of Purgatory would be contrary to history and logic.
The Holy Scriptures themselves tell us to hold fast to everything that has been taught and delivered from the beginning. (II Thessalonians 2:15, Jude 1) Novel interpretations that run contrary to the historical teachings and practices are warned against by St Paul in (II Timothy 4:3-4) and (Galatians 1:7-9.)
The rejection of Purgatory equals a gospel contrary to Christ.