Purgatory

Josiah

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The video below is 10 minutes long (too long for many, so I apologize). I think it does a good job of laying out this issue.




MY experience - as a former Catholic and conversations with Catholic family and friends - this is a Dogma of the Roman Catholic Church that seems... well... ignored if not abandoned. I don't recall a single case of this even mentioned in my Catholic parish.... no sermons, no teachings. And I've been to several Catholic memorial services and (surprisingly) not one mention of this...ever. Indeed, I recall SPECIFIC mentions of the loved one "BEING in heaven."

Some in the East have a MUCH more vague and non-required view that is a bit similar, but Purgatory is a new and distinctive Dogma of just The Catholic Church, just that one denomination.. As I understand it, the "roots" of this do go back to the Early Church but it developed very uniquely in the West and did not gain dogma status until Florence and Trent (15th and 16th Century).
 

Lanman87

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I believe the concept of Purgatory goes back to Greek Philosophy hundreds of years before Christ and was well known to the Platonist in the early church. I believe some of the early Church Fathers took the Greek idea of purgatory and wedged it into Christianity, adding it to "Tradition". Which is different that the "rule of faith" that was handed down by Christ and the Apostles.

This is one example of why we can't get to caught up in "tradition". Tradition needs to be tested against the "rule of faith" and the only reliable source of the "rule of faith" we have are the Holy Scriptures. And, as your video pointed out, the only way to get "purgatory" out of scripture is to have a preconceived understanding of Purgatory then mine the scriptures for things that "allude" to purgatory.

Here is an article from an Orthodox source on purgatory.
 

Josiah

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I believe the concept of Purgatory goes back to Greek Philosophy hundreds of years before Christ and was well known to the Platonist in the early church. I believe some of the early Church Fathers took the Greek idea of purgatory and wedged it into Christianity, adding it to "Tradition". Which is different that the "rule of faith" that was handed down by Christ and the Apostles.

This is one example of why we can't get to caught up in "tradition".


Thank you.


IMO, "purgatory" is not a part of Tradition. It is the invention of one single, individual denomination (and quite late at that).


Here we see a difference in definitions. Protestants (well, Lutheran, Anglican and Reformed) use the term to refer to ANCIENT and ECUMENICAL belief that is not explicitly stated in the words of Scripture and not contradicted by such - something NON-Biblical (but not UN-Biblical) that is universally believed from ancient times. We do not consider such to be 'norma normans" (the rule, measure, canon) and so under Scripture (note that it cannot be unbiblical) BUT part of the faith of the church. Purgatory CLEARLY does not qualify, indeed, it does not exist outside of one single denomination and even in that case, not ancient (and as I noted in the OP, IMO, not embraced anymore even there). You called this "rule of faith." Catholics, however, define Tradition as whatever the singular, indvidual RCC currently says it is - that one denomination determines what is and is not Tradition. And such is simply what IT (that one, singular, individual denomination) has taught (how far back doesn't matter). It's a word Catholics and Protestants use. but mean something very different by it.





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Lanman87

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IMO, "purgatory" is not a part of Tradition. It is the invention of one single, individual denomination (and quite late at that).
Catholics do believe it is part of Tradition. Which is the context in which I am using the term "Tradition".

Which begs the question, "How do we decide what is Authentic Tradition"? Anyone can claim anything is part of "Tradition". How do we know that the "Tradition" in question is part of the "rule of faith" that was delivered to the first century church?

The Catholic church answer to that question is to say "We are inerrant and whatever we say is Tradition IS Tradition".

How do the rest of us answer that question?
 

Josiah

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Catholics do believe it is part of Tradition. Which is the context in which I am using the term "Tradition".

The Catholic church answer to that question is to say "We are inerrant and whatever we say is Tradition IS Tradition".


Yup. The Catholic Church simply defines "TRADITION" in a unique way. As you correctly note, there "Tradition is what we say it is." For Lutherans, Anglicans and many Reformed, "Tradition" (in this sense) is ancient, ecumenical belief that perhaps is not specifically stated in Scripture but is not unbiblical (simply NON-biblical). A different use of the term.

Yes, by the RCC definition, "Purgatory" is "Tradition" (EVERYTHING that denomination teaches is) but clearly it is NOT ancient and NOT ecumenical.


Clearly, it is not biblical. Is it UNbiblical? I think so, as the video in the OP notes, but perhaps not clearly so.

And as I noted in the OP, in MY experienced, it is an abandoned dogma. Years ago, one of the leaders of the RCIA class of my former Catholic parish told me that the Catholic Church cannot admit error in dogma without destroying the entire foundation of that church, SO it doesn't do that. I either just redefines all the words so that it NOW means something VERY different than it originally did (same words, different definitions) OR simply lays it aside and ignores it. I think both are seen here, but mostly the "let's just forget our church teaches this." In fairness, I think this happens in Protestantism too.




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Castle Church

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FWIW, it was mentioned in my old parish on occasion, particularly around sermons or discussions on Reconciliation as well as being talked about in the RCIA program.
 

Albion

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Catholics do believe it is part of Tradition. Which is the context in which I am using the term "Tradition".

We have to be careful about answering this one because the word "Tradition" is rather imprecise, especially when used in Christian theology. But Josiah is correct.

Purgatory is not a belief that has been defined for the Catholic churches by way of what is called "Sacred Tradition."

This term means it's not explicit in Scripture but it's considered true nonetheless because it allegedly always was believed throughout the church, and we can attribute that to the Holy Spirit.

Turning to Scripture, the idea that the eternal fate of those who have passed on to the next life has not as yet been finally determined arguably has a tiny bit of a basis from Scripture, But the "Scripture" we're speaking there is mainly the Apocrypha which, however, isn't part of the Bible.

Even if the passage in question were to be considered part of an inspired book, the quick mention of something in 2 Maccabees is unclear and very definitely nothing more than a hint at best.

So this would leave only Sacred Tradition; and we know that Purgatory simply does not meet its requirement of continuity and universality.

"Purgatory" is a complicated and very specific idea, not a generalization meaning that the destiny of the dead is up for grabs or something like that. It is almost totally the creation of the Medieval Church and has support from neither Tradition nor the Bible.
 
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Lämmchen

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I used to attend my husband's churches when we lived in another state (he went from one to a different one) and neither one spoke about purgatory in the service or in the homily.
 

NathanH83

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I don’t think that purgatory is biblical, nor do I think that 2 Maccabees is endorsing purgatory.
 

Albion

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I used to attend my husband's churches when we lived in another state (he went from one to a different one) and neither one spoke about purgatory in the service or in the homily.
The interesting absence of Purgatory these days from Catholic sermons and literature almost certainly owes to the fact that hardly any laypersons in the church today are willing to believe this Medieval speculation that their church has described as being just like Hell except that it's not forever.

And they absolutely are not going to accept the idea that, after a lifetime of being told "Do this and you'll be saved," they're going at death to face either: 1) Hell for having failed to perform or 2) Purgatory for having performed but not perfectly.

Those are the two possibilities, according to Roman Catholic teaching.

All that the clergy can do in our own times is redefine Purgatory from a place of punishment to a place where a quick re-orientation session takes place in which the soul gets ready for heaven (where is that found in Scripture?)
 

Hope1960

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Catholics do believe it is part of Tradition. Which is the context in which I am using the term "Tradition".

Which begs the question, "How do we decide what is Authentic Tradition"? Anyone can claim anything is part of "Tradition". How do we know that the "Tradition" in question is part of the "rule of faith" that was delivered to the first century church?

The Catholic church answer to that question is to say "We are inerrant and whatever we say is Tradition IS Tradition".

How do the rest of us answer that question?
Yeah, that’s the problem. The CC says “We are inerrant and whatever we say is Tradition in Tradition.” There doesn’t have to be anything to back up that claim.
 

Hope1960

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FWIW, it was mentioned in my old parish on occasion, particularly around sermons or discussions on Reconciliation as well as being talked about in the RCIA program.
What did they say about it? As a former long time Catholic I THINK it may have mentioned in a homily long ago, but I can’t remember hearing much if anything else about it, since.
 

Hope1960

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We have to be careful about answering this one because the word "Tradition" is rather imprecise, especially when used in Christian theology. But Josiah is correct.

Purgatory is not a belief that has been defined for the Catholic churches by way of what is called "Sacred Tradition."

This term means it's not explicit in Scripture but it's considered true nonetheless because it allegedly always was believed throughout the church, and we can attribute that to the Holy Spirit.

Turning to Scripture, the idea that the eternal fate of those who have passed on to the next life has not as yet been finally determined arguably has a tiny bit of a basis from Scripture, But the "Scripture" we're speaking there is mainly the Apocrypha which, however, isn't part of the Bible.

Even if the passage in question were to be considered part of an inspired book, the quick mention of something in 2 Maccabees is unclear and very definitely nothing more than a hint at best.

So this would leave only Sacred Tradition; and we know that Purgatory simply does not meet its requirement of continuity and universality.

"Purgatory" is a complicated and very specific idea, not a generalization meaning that the destiny of the dead is up for grabs or something like that. It is almost totally the creation of the Medieval Church and has support from neither Tradition nor the Bible.
Speaking of the Holy Spirit (I don’t want to derail this thread) but if Catholics are totally led by the HS in tradition and even selecting a pope, as they claim, then why isn’t he voting of the College of Cardinals always unanimous? I’d think that it would be.
 

Albion

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Good point. And not only are elections in the College of Cardinals not free from the crass ways of ordinary political elections, but they partake of almost all of them.

There is campaigning for votes by particular contenders, altering the rules for voting by sitting Popes in order to favor some would-be successor, rivalry existing between conservative and liberal factions in the College, plus ethnic and regional loyalties much like we see at work with our own presidential conventions.
 

Castle Church

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What did they say about it? As a former long time Catholic I THINK it may have mentioned in a homily long ago, but I can’t remember hearing much if anything else about it, since.
Well, the RCIA class was just the basics of the doctrine, the homilies were more touching on it than teaching. But then, in depth theology isn't really the point of the homily or the Mass anyways.
 

Castle Church

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Speaking of the Holy Spirit (I don’t want to derail this thread) but if Catholics are totally led by the HS in tradition and even selecting a pope, as they claim, then why isn’t he voting of the College of Cardinals always unanimous? I’d think that it would be.
Valid point, but the same can be said of all the different Christian denominations....if the HS is leading each one, why do the doctrines differ? The selecting of a pope is certainly one aspect the RCC needs to address, but all Christian denominations will have something akin to it in regards to the question "if the HS is leading the XZY then why do they ABC?"

In regards to the Pope, here is a good article and some parts I quoted below:
If an individual man seeks God’s guidance, he can count on it being given. This does not mean it will be easy to hear or understand, or that the man will act on it, but it does mean that God will offer his assistance in some way.

Similarly, when the College of Cardinals seeks God’s guidance in a conclave, they can be confident he will give it. Indeed, given the weightiness of the decision facing the cardinals and the implications it will have for the entire Church, they can expect he will provide even greater guidance.

This does not guarantee that the guidance will be easy to hear or understand, or that the cardinals will act on it, but it does mean that God’s assistance will be provided.
We should be careful about assuming that there is only one correct choice for pope, for the process of selecting a pope is similar to the process of selecting a spouse. Pop culture sometimes promotes the idea that all people have a soul mate—a single, best individual that they should marry—but the reality is more complex.......................
Similarly, candidates for the papacy have different strengths and weaknesses. Depending on whom the cardinals choose, the next papacy will unfold in different ways. But there may not be a single, best choice—or one that is humanly knowable.

From Benedict the XVI:
I would not say so, in the sense that the Holy Spirit picks out the pope. . . . I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us. Thus the Spirit’s role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that he dictates the candidate for whom one must vote. Probably the only assurance he offers is that the thing cannot be totally ruined.
 

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Is there any chance that the Church would say that the choice of the Pope by the College of Cardinals was made other than as was directed by the Holy Spirit? OF COURSE NOT!
 

Castle Church

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Is there any chance that the Church would say that the choice of the Pope by the College of Cardinals was made other than as was directed by the Holy Spirit? OF COURSE NOT!
Well, sure. But that kind of statement harks back to what I was saying earlier: all churches make similar statements. Would the Anglican Communion say that the person chosen to be the Archbishop of Canterbury was not directed by the HS? Would the ELCA say the HS did not direct the correct Presiding Bishop to be chosen? Would the Eastern Orthodox not say that the HS directed the choosing of who should be the Ecumenical Patriarch? The Pope of Alexander?
 

Albion

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Well, sure. But that kind of statement harks back to what I was saying earlier: all churches make similar statements.
I have to disagree. Some do, but many do not.

The fringe, cultic types of course tend to go in for that kind of thing.
Would the Anglican Communion say that the person chosen to be the Archbishop of Canterbury was not directed by the HS?

I've never heard it said. Nor would it seem likely, since the Church of England does not consider itself to be the "one true church" or the unique choice of Jesus Christ.
Would the ELCA say the HS did not direct the correct Presiding Bishop to be chosen? Would the Eastern Orthodox not say that the HS directed the choosing of who should be the Ecumenical Patriarch? The Pope of Alexander?
I couldn't say, but we still would be nowhere near justifying a claim that "all churches make similar statements," even if all of these churches that you've named did so.
 

Josiah

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Well, sure. But that kind of statement harks back to what I was saying earlier: all churches make similar statements. Would the Anglican Communion say that the person chosen to be the Archbishop of Canterbury was not directed by the HS? Would the ELCA say the HS did not direct the correct Presiding Bishop to be chosen? Would the Eastern Orthodox not say that the HS directed the choosing of who should be the Ecumenical Patriarch? The Pope of Alexander?


Well, most of all, I think we're getting way off track ;)



Albion Greenscapular

Greenscapular, I agree that Christians generally tend to believe THEIR decisions are HIS decision (a decision made with MUCH prayer and after careful discussion), especially when they are group/church decisions. I suspect that belief is (at times anyway) ... questionable.

That said (and meant, LOL).... Albion has a point. While others may believe their choice of pastor or bishop or whatever is that of the Holy Spirit, I don't think there is quite the equal of the Pope. While all organizations has SOME "final say", SOME way of resolving conflict, SOME desk at which the "buck stops" (Supreme Court in the USA?), the "choice" is not seen as the Vicar of God... and never infallible. I don't think this is true for the patriarchs of EOC churches (George here will need to confirm that). IMO, Albion is correct as well in that in Protestantism, "the church" is seen PRIMARILY as "the one, holy, catholic church", the communion of all believers (past and present) spread out over all the centuries and continents. Jesus is the Lord of that, Jesus guides that, the Holy Spirit works there.... primarily. We certainly have a sense of the visible church too (Anglicans more than Lutherans) but it's below and secondary. IMO, in Catholicism, it's a bit reversed.... "the church" is "the One, Holy, Catholic Church" headed by the Pope, administered by the bishops under him, the church in it's fulness. The rest of us are acknowledged as Christians (there is the Protestant sense in Catholicism, too) but we're kinda "looking in" from outside, LOL. It DOES make a difference in how we see our denomination.... and it can make a difference in how we see each other.



Now..... Purgatory.




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