Once I’d said my bit, it seemed sensible to let Chalcedon have his before jumping in; apart from anything else, this is Jessica’s place and whilst she’s kind enough to let a bit of polemic in, it isn’t what she wants her blog to be about. Now C has expounded his case, let me add to the discussion.
First, I’m impressed. It would be easy enough to say that he’s really saying that in the past the church has said things about Purgatory we find uncomfortable and therefore it has to be redefined to make us comfortable; but as I read him he’s making a deeper point and one which we should all pause to consider: the effect of historicism on tradition. In itself, that’s a topic I’d like to discuss in future, so here I shall deal with it as it applies to Purgatory.
C says it is the way the Church explains some ancient customs, and that I accept, but if, as we both hold, doctrine matters, then we have to go there to see how far customs can be justified.
So, in keeping with his method, I shall set out what I believe our faith teaches and then ask whether Purgatory is consistent with those doctrines.
The basic foundation of the doctrine of Atonement and Redemption is that human beings are totally incapable of satisfying the Divine Justice of God and thus God who is alone unlimited was Incarnate and provided us with unlimited atonement and forgiveness through Our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my first proposition is that the existence of a place of purifying sufferings for believers implies that the blood of our Saviour was not enough to purify us in the first place. How does one justify it in the light of the following clear statements”
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [1 John 1:7-9]
25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
“He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him…” [Heb 7:25]
As if that were not clear enough, St Paul tells us:
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus [Rom 3:24]
We were bought with a price, once for all, not purchased in instalments. As He ceased His earthly existence, Jesus said ‘it is finished’. St Paul made it clear enough what had finished when he told the Colossians:
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross
Neither can I see how it goes with what we are told in Luke 7:36-42.
All of these are, of course, compatible with the idea that there is a purifying of us at the Last Judgement – which would explain 1 Corinthians 3:15 much better than the invention of Purgatory. So, how are we to read this in the light of tradition?