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The Roman Doctrine of Purgatory.

27/02/2020

The Roman Doctrine of Purgatory.

In our previous studies in Eschatology we have been looking at ‘the intermediate state’ – and we have seen that people are comprised of Body and Soul/Spirit, and that after we die, our soul/spirit lives on, in heaven with the Lord, until the resurrection day, when the dead shall rise – both the saved and the lost, the saved to be the inhabitants of the new Jerusalem, a new heaven and earth, reunited now with their physical bodies, now like Christ’s risen, glorified body.  Between our physical death and the resurrection we are with the Lord, in paradise, we shall know each other, and shall have fellowship with each other.  Families of every generation will be reunited.  The Roman Catholic Church has some different ideas.  They believe in something called ‘PURGATORY’ – a place where the Christian goes after death, and before they are admitted to heaven.

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Before we can understand Purgatory, we need to find out why Catholics would think it necessary for such a place to exist.

1 How is a Catholic ‘Saved?’ 

To understand why Catholics NEED a doctrine of purgatory we need to try to understand the difference between Protestant soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) and how Catholics believe people are saved – rescued from the eternal consequences of their sin. Like evangelicals, Catholics believe that God created the world, and created Adam and Eve, as beings perfectly in communion with him.  But Adam fell, and original sin entered into the world.  They believe that all have sinned, and therefore cannot enter God’s presence.  Like evangelicals, they believe that Jesus is God’s only begotten Son, sinless and without blame; He entered into the world and loved a perfect life, and died on the cross, to bear in his own body, the punishment for our sins.  Catholics believe that salvation is an act of God’s grace – alone.  So far so good.  A Catholic can recite the Apostle’s Creed and mean every single word of it.

Where it gets complicated is in how God’s saving grace is APPLIED to the sinner.  Whereas the Protestant believes that we are Saved by GRACE alone, through FAITH alone, The catholics believe that God’s grace, (his unearned favour) is transmitted to us by way of the sacraments and obedience.  So, God infuses his grace to the sinner at BAPTISM, and the rest of the sinner’s life will be a continual reception of grace through good works, communion, mass attendance, confession, marriage, holy orders.  But what if at the end of life, the grace that we have received through our imperfect obedience falls far short of the amount needed to cleanse all of our sins, how can we enter into heaven?  Nothing sinful will ever be there!  So, one Catholic apologist writes…

…purification is necessary because, as Scripture teaches, nothing unclean will enter the presence of God in heaven (Rev. 21:27) and, while we may die with our mortal sins forgiven, there can still be many impurities in us, specifically venial sins and the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven.’ (1)

 

2 The Catholic Dilemma. 

Now, that is ‘the Catholic Dilemma’ – if salvation is by works righteousness, – ie by works of religious righteousness, – the sacraments, and by good works done in life, – HOW CAN WE EVER KNOW IF WE HAVE DONE ENOUGH?

It was just in this manner that Martin Luther’s conscience was so stricken.  He was riddled with guilt because of his sin, and he was in great dread over his eternal wellbeing.  What if he died with this burden of sin, still weighing so heavily upon him?  He received all the sacraments of the church, he entered the monastery, he observed a rigid monastic life, he prayed and fasted and did penance, he crawled up the steps of St Peter’s in Rome until his knees bled, – and still he could never escape the terrible burden of guilt.  He had sinned, he had broken the Law of God, and terrible divine wrath and punishment lay ahead of him, for no matter how much he did, all his efforts to earn God’s grace would fall short.

(It’s not just Catholics who have this problem – some modern evangelicals, who believe in semi-pelagianism will have the same doubts – have I said enough prayers, read my bible enough, given enough tithes, gone the second mile enough, given my all enough, etc etc)

It is to deal with that dilemma that the Romans Catholic Church invented the doctrine of Purgatory. (They would, of course deny that they had invented it!).  The Catholic Catechism states:-

1030 All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

So Purgatory for the Catholic is the final purification of the Christian, to remove any enduring traces of sin that remain at the end of life, and to make the Catholic fit for heaven.

 

3 How does Catholicism Think of Purgatory? 

Now, this final ‘purification from sin’ that Catholics will go through after death is not at all pleasant!  Catholics are quick to point out that Purgatory is not the same as the punishment reserved for the lost in Hell, but nevertheless is A CLEANSING FIRE.  The Catholic Catechism again:-

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:  As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offences can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.

Yet, for Catholics, they are taught by their clergy and literature that the Doctrine of Purgatory is a ‘Most Comforting Doctrine!’   William Hendrickson writes,

The story is told that a certain devout member of the Roman Catholic Church, realising that death was approaching exclaimed, ‘O blessed purgatory!’. Cardinal Gibbons called the doctrine of purgatory ‘a blessed doctrine,’ and writes, ‘I cannot recall any doctrine of the Christian religion more consoling to the human heart than the article of faith which teaches the efficacy of prayers for the faithful departed.  It robs death of its sting.’”

Catholics underline their doctrine of Purgatory by superstition.  Like other Catholic beliefs, traditions of the church are given equal weight with Scripture, and then attested to by means of superstitious ‘revelations’ visions.  Among others, Purgatory was endorsed by none other than the Virgin Mary herself, in a vision at Fatima. A Roman Catholic based website reports:

The existence of purgatory was reaffirmed by the Blessed Virgin during the first apparition on May 13, 1917, and in terms which are quite sobering. She told Lucia that one of her friends who had recently died would “be in purgatory until the end of the world.” Lucia would later write that this seemingly harsh sentence was, in fact, to be looked at as a mercy of God that she was saved, and is a reminder that we are to pray for the souls in purgatory because our offerings of prayers and Masses can help lessen their time there.

Apart from what Our Lady said at Fatima, though, we do have other insights from the lives of the saints as to the nature and reality of purgatory. For example, Saint Faustina, the apostle of the Divine Mercy devotion, revealed in her diary about how her guardian angel took her to purgatory:

“I saw my Guardian Angel, who ordered me to follow him. In a moment I was in a misty place full of fire in which there was a great crowd of suffering souls. They were praying fervently, but to no avail, for themselves; only we can come to their aid. The flames which were burning them did not touch me at all. My Guardian Angel did not leave me for an instant. I asked these souls what their greatest suffering was. They answered me in one voice that their greatest torment was longing for God.

So, let’s summarise Purgatory:

  • A place where the souls of the vast majority of Christians go at death, to suffer anguish, and thereby to be gradually purified of any remaining sin, and made fit to enter heaven.
  • In Purgatory, souls pay off the remainder of their debt to God, whatever remains from their earthly life.
  • The duration of suffering in Purgatory differs for each soul, according to their residue sin to be cleansed, and also upon what their relatives and friends on earth are doing on their behalf, ie. offering prayers, buying indulgences, masses for the dead.
  • The living must pay for the masses being said for the dead.  These payments are made to the local clergy, – often by the sale of Mass-cards.
  • The pope has at least some authority over purgatory, for it is his prerogative to offer indulgences which can shorten the time spent in purification.  The pope, apparently, by logic, could even terminate purgatory if he chose to do so!

 

4 Paying Your Way Out. 

One of the most disturbing aspects of the doctrine of Purgatory is the responsibility of the living to secure the release of the souls of the dead from Purgatory.  Ian Paisley used to say, “The Roman Catholic Church is worse than the taxman, for at least, when you die, the taxman leaves you alone…“. The Catholic Church continues to ‘tax’ you, or rather your relatives, on your behalf.  The Catholic Catechism:-

1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.”From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:  Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.

There are two methods that the RC Church uses for this:-

  • Masses for the dead.  here are said on a frequent basis in RC Churches, – money for the dead changes hands, prayers for the dead are made, naming the person concerned, mass-cards are sold, candles sold and lit…   Those whose families can afford to have frequent masses said will spend less time ‘;being purified’ than those in poorer families.
  • Indulgences.   Pay for an indulgence and get your poor suffering late loved one out of fire…  It was the proclamation of the indulgence that angered Martin Luther in 1517.  Throughout some of the regions of Germany an indulgence had been proclaimed, to raise funds for the completion of St Peter’s basilica in Rome.  The cleric who was raising the funds.  Roland Bainton in ‘Here I Stand’:-

“The instructions given to the indulgence sellers declared that a plenary indulgence had been issued by His Holiness Pope Leo X to defray the expenses of remedying the sad state of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul and the innumerable martyrs and saints whose bones lay mouldering, subject to constant desecration from rain and hail. Subscribers would enjoy a plenary and perfect remission of all sins. They would be restored to the state of innocence which they enjoyed in baptism and would be relieved of all the pains of purgatory, including those incurred by an offence to the Divine Majesty.  Those securing indulgences on behalf of the dead already in purgatory need not themselves be contrite and confess their sins.”

Is it any wonder Luther was incensed by this.  The thought that a person could have their sins forgiven, just by pay a sum of money, with no conviction of sin and no repentance, was repugnant to the man who had learned, on his own quest to find peace of heart before God, that ‘the justified soul lives by faith, and faith alone.’  Tetzel’s doctrine of salvation by works was abhorrent to Luther and abhorrent to Scripture.

 

5 The Biblical Position. 

a) The CATHOLIC PROOF TEXTS. 

Does the Bible support the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory?   Roman Catholics who believe in purgatory interpret passages below as indicating that there is a time of purification in Purgatory after death for the Christian (In the interests of fairness, these passages are taken from the New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition):- 

-oOOo-

From the Apocrypha:  2 Maccabees 12:41-46, So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous judge, who reveals the things that are hidden; 42 and they turned to supplication, praying that the sin that had been committed might be wholly blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened as the result of the sin of those who had fallen. 43 He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin-offering. In doing this he acted very well and honourably, taking account of the resurrection. 44 For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. 45 But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, so that they might be delivered from their sin.

The apocryphal books are NOT part of the canon of Scripture, and therefore cannot be used for an important doctrinal issue such as this.  On a more technical point, this passage is praying for soldiers who had died in the MORTAL sin of idolatry, whereas the sins that are purified in Purgatory are VENIAL sins – a distinction between levels of sin only found in Roman Catholicism, and without any Biblical basis. 

-oOOo-

2 Timothy 1:18, may the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! 

Matthew 12:32, Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Catholics say that Paul is speaking of forgiveness that is available after death.  In fact the simple meaning of the text is that such a sin WILL NEVER BE FORGIVEN – at all!  Even if the Catholics were right, and there was forgiveness available in the Age to Come, they are still wrong, for the ‘age to come’ in this passage is after the second coming of Christ – when the Catholics think Purgatory will have ceased to exist.

It’s a long stretch indeed to think that either of these passages bear any relevance whatsoever to Purgatory!

-oOOo-

1 Corinthians 3:11-3:15  12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. 14 If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If the work is burned, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.

This is a major proof-text for Catholics who are defending the doctrine of Purgatory. Paul seems to be saying that those who have built their life upon ungodliness cannot hide that when they stand before God, because FIRE will reveal it, and such a person can only be ultimately saved, through the application of cleansing flames, burning away the dross.  That, they say, is purgatory.  But the context says otherwise.  In this passage, Paul is addressing deficiencies in the CHRISTIAN MINISTRY.  Certain people at Corinth had been rallying under the names of great preachers, some saying, ‘I follow Paul,’  ‘I follow Apollos,’ etc.  Paul then points out that these men are just servants, through whom the Corinthians have been brought to faith in Christ.  They compliment each other, they are not rivals.  They are builders, and the people are the house they are building.  Paul laid a foundation, and others are building upon that foundation.  All of those builders are building upon a greater foundation, that of Jesus Christ.  But if any of these BUILDERS misuse the foundations that have been laid, by erecting a sub-standard house (wood, hay or straw) then each one of them will be caught on! On judgement day when the REWARDS for service are being given, they will receive loss, not reward.  The passage is not about every Christian needing further cleansing after death, it is about the evaluation of the Christian preacher’s work.  This evaluation will happen on ’the day’ – the judgement day, when according to Catholic doctrine, Purgatory will be a thing of the past.

-oOOo-

Hebrews 12:29 …for indeed our God is a consuming fire.

He is – but this is about his intrinsic holiness, not about Purgatory!

 

b. Why Protestants DON’T BELIEVE IN PURGATORY. 

  • It Contradicts the Biblical Doctrine of Man.  In the Bible we learn that mankind cannot save himself. Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus  Salvation is God’s work alone. Romans 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.   Salvation is the work of God alone.  Psalm 32:1-2 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity and in whose spirit there is no deceit. Ephesians 2:8-10  (ESV) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Titus 3:4-7 (ESV) But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 1 Peter 1:18-19 …knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot..   But Purgatory shifts the work of man’s redemption from God to man.  According to Rome, I must bear the punishment for my sins, in my own torment, in Purgatory.  Unless of course, in this life I am able to life such an obedient and sinless life that I perform more good works than I need to cleanse my sin, and the surplus can then be carried over into Purgatory to alleviate the suffering of the souls there.  This whole doctrine is a monstrosity – making poor sinners pay the price for their sins, a price which has already be paid on the cross by Jesus, the only Saviour.  Hendriksen: “Such a doctrine fails completely to fathom the depth of man’s fall, and deprives God of the honour due to him.”   Romans 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. 
  • It Contradicts the Biblical Doctrine of Christ.  Jesus paid it all! At the Cross he exclaimed, “It is finished!”  The saving work was complete, and no further sacrifice would ever be required for repentant sinners to enter into heavenly rest. Hebrews 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,   He obtained for his people eternal redemption, by the sacrifice of himself.  Hebrews 9:26  …for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. This offering is so extensive, that EVERY SIN ever committed is blotted out by his own precious blood.   Because all our sins are blotted out by Jesus at the Cross, why would we need a place like Purgatory?  Hebrews 10:14  For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 
  • It Contradicts the Biblical Doctrine of Salvation.  Salvation is by grace, through faith alone, not by our works, whether in this life or after it as ended.   Romans 5:1, Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  Our sanctification is the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit, preparing us for heaven, not the work of some imaginary fires in Purgatory.  2 Thessalonians 2:13  But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 
  • It Contradicts the Biblical Doctrine of the Church.  When Paul describes the relationship in a marriage, he likens it to the love that Christ had for his church, that redeemed church in it’s relationship with Christ, is presented to him as his bride, spotless, splendid…   Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  The church pictured by the Catholic Church is not spotless, without blemish, – it still needs more works done. 
  • It Contradicts the Biblical Doctrine of The End Times.  Scripture teaches us that God’s purposes for man in the end of time has already been determined.  For all those who will place their trust in Christ, humbly believing in his saving work on the Cross, his resurrection from the dead, and under the conviction of the Holy Spirit repents of their sins, there is the certain promise of Heaven, an eternal home prepared for God’s own people.  For those who reject the Gospel there is Hell, the place of eternal conscious punishment for sin, separated from God.  Daniel 12:2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Matthew 7:13-14  “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:24-27  “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” John 3:16  “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10   in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from[a] the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. Revelation 20:11-15  Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 22:14-15  Blessed are those who wash their robes,[a] so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
    The Biblical opinion is that there is no purgatory.

 

Epilogue.

A young Roman Catholic man, a devout worshipper at the local Catholic Church was persuaded to enter the priesthood, applied for Maynooth Seminary and was accepted.  He had next door neighbours who were Christians, and he told them what he was going to do. The neighbours told him that they would be praying for him, and before he left they presented to him a Bible, and asked him to make sure to read it every day.  He looked upon this as a kind act by a fellow Christian.  

At Maynooth he began his studies, and in catechism class he learned the doctrine of Purgatory.  Back home for a few days, he was telling his neighbours about everything that he learned, and they invited him in for tea and warmly spoke to him about his studies.  He told them about catechism classes, and the doctrines he was learning and he mentioned purgatory in particular.  His neighbour urged him to read the Bible, mark all the passages that spoke of Purgatory and tell him about them.  He couldn’t find any, so he went back to his neighbour and said so.  The neighbour offered to help. “I’ll show you Purgatory in  the Bible.”

He turned to Hebrews 1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high“There’s purgatory right there, at the cross, where Christ purged away all our sins by his own blood, and having finished the work of purging, he has sat down, for complete salvation has been already accomplished.”  The seminarian was puzzled, for his professor hadn’t mentioned this passage.  When next term started he asked for a tutorial, and he asked the professor to show him purgatory in the Bible.  Needless to say the Professor couldn’t do so.  When he showed the professor the text in Hebrews 1:3, the professor had no answer.  That same day he left the seminary, never to return.  The last time I met him he was testifying in an evangelical church to the saving grace of God in Christ, who redeemed him by God’s grace alone, saved him from all his sins, and cleansed him from ALL unrighteousness. 

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.  – Job 23:10

 

Appendix: Catholicism and the Death of Infants. 

What happens to babies who die in infancy?  Understanding that Catholic doctrine teaches that grace is initially suffused to the sinner at Baptism, then consequently, all baptised babies are elect, and after death are treated like every other elect sinner at death, suffering in the fires of purgatory, to be finally cleansed of their sin, through the merits of the saints, the prayers of the living, the requiem masses, the indulgences and of course the payments made to priests. 

But what about babies who die before baptism can be arranged?  These babies have never known God’s grace, according to the RC Church, and so they cannot be elect, or destined for heaven after their final purging.  For them the church invented LIMBO.   

See:- 

  • Definition of Limbo.  Limbo is a strange word, – when I her it I think of ‘limbo dancers’ in the Caribbean, – those acrobatic dancers who wriggle themselves under a pole!  In fact ‘limbo’ is derived from a Latin word, LIMBUS – which means a ‘hem’ or an ‘edge.  So, ‘limbo’ is (or rather was), somewhere out on the edge…. Not heaven, and not hell – a third place, where the souls of unbaptised babies go after death.  But why would this be necessary?  Remember that Catholics believe in original sin, just like evangelicals do.  So although unbaptised babies haven’t had the opportunity to actively sin, they would have inherited Adam’s sinful humanity, and so were unfit for heaven, but because they hadn’t purposed to sin, weren’t deserving of hell …. So the Catholic Church invented a third eternal destination, especially for them.  “These souls are denied eternal life in Heaven and the Beatific Vision due solely to the effects of Original Sin”.  Other occupants of Limbo included ‘good people who died before the death of Christ.’ 
  • Biblical Basis for Limbo.  Essentially the answer to the question of where the Catholics find the Biblical basis for limbo is easily answered.  There isn’t one!  One RC website explains it like this, “limbo is a theological supposition that became a popular way of dealing with a teaching of our Lord regarding the necessity of baptism for eternal salvation and what happens to the souls of individuals who die without being baptised.”   So there it is.  Limbo was never based on any Bible teaching whatsoever – it was a ’theological supposition.’ – a human invention!   
  • Is Limbo Similar to Purgatory?  No.  Purgatory will (apparently) end.  Catholics believe that the souls purgatory are being prepared for eventual entry into the presence of God in heaven.  When that preparation is completed, they will enter into  
  • The Abandonment of Limbo. Limbo was abandoned as a doctrine by the Catholic Church in 2007, when Pope Benedict authorised the publication of a document, titled “The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptised,” which effectively consigned Limbo to history.   

The issue is that if the Catholic Church can come to its senses and abandon a totally unbiblical doctrine like limbo, can or would it do the same with another unbiblical doctrine, that of Purgatory? 

 

References:

(1) https://www.catholic.com/tract/purgatory

 

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