Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #40: “Today You Will Be with Me”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist begins a new section on “The Last Things” as he attempts to counter Protestants’ objections to Purgatory as they cite Jesus’s words to the thief on the cross, “Today You Will Be with Me.”

capture30

The Roman Catholic church teaches that all those who die with unconfessed “mortal” (major/deadly) sin on their soul are consigned to Hell, but those with “venial” (minor/pardonable) sin or any remaining “temporal punishment” for sin are delivered to Purgatory for purification before they can advance to Heaven.

“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.” – CCC 1031

Broussard notes that Protestants often refer to Luke 23:43 in their objections to Purgatory, in which Jesus spoke to the repentant thief next to Him on Calvary:

“And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.’”

Protestants insist that Jesus’s promise of Heaven to the repentant and born-again thief on the cross precludes the existence of an intermediate state of purification called Purgatory.

Broussard responds with four arguments:

(1) Broussard argues that the “paradise” Jesus refers to in Luke 22:43 may not necessarily refer to Heaven. Some theologians believe the “paradise” in this verse refers to a place (Sheol/Hades) where the Old Testament saints were consigned until Jesus’s atonement and/or ascension.

(2) Broussard then contends that God is not restrained by chronological time and that the thief could have theoretically been purified in Purgatory and entered into Heaven the very same day.

(3) Broussard continues by suggesting that since there were no punctuations in the original Greek text of the New Testament, Jesus could have possibly been saying, “Truly, I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise,” which would have then allowed for a lengthy purification in Purgatory.

(4) In his final argument, Broussard states that Catholicism teaches that not all souls require purification in Purgatory. RC theologians have historically claimed that the “good thief” made an “act of perfect contrition” while on the cross, i.e., he was sincerely sorry for sins simply out of love for God, by which God forgave all of his sins and restored “sanctifying grace” to his soul, enabling him to enter Heaven.

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

Broussard does his best to try to convince us the “good thief” may have gone to Purgatory when he died, only to concede at the very end that the RCC has historically taught the thief went directly to Heaven just as Jesus had told him he would.

It would be impossible to fully address Catholicism’s false doctrine of Purgatory in the remaining space allotted, but there are a few significant points I want to mention:

  • Catholicism errs by dividing sins into mortal/major and venial/minor. Sin is sin. Catholicism differentiates sins and created an intermediate state of purgation for minor sins as a “safety net” in its works-righteousness salvation system. The Roman church concedes few individuals are able to achieve the alleged “holiness” of a Mother Teresa or a pope John Paul II and that the best most practicing Catholics can hope for is Purgatory. In actuality, Mother Teresa and John Paul II were not holy and misled millions of souls with Catholicism’s false works-righteousness gospel.
  • Catholicism bases its doctrine of Purgatory on the apocryphal 2 Maccabees 12:39-45 and several Bible passages such as 1 Corinthians 3:15, which actually refers to the Judgement Seat of Christ/Bema Seat for the saved, where their works will be judged. In its misinterpretation of Scripture, Catholicism doesn’t distinguish between the Judgement Seat of Christ/Bema Seat for the saved and the Great White Throne Judgement for the unsaved.
  • Catholicism used to teach that the length of time spent in Purgatory was chronological and that receiving various indulgences could reduce purification time by specified days and years. The Roman church once even sold indulgences, which sparked the Protestant Reformation in 1517.
  • Catholicism once taught that the suffering in Purgatory was equal to the suffering in Hell (see here), although that view has fallen out of favor with modern Catholic theologians, who consider Purgatory to be something akin to a spiritual “rest stop.”

Purgatory, a spurious doctrine, is an integral piece of Roman Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation via sacramental grace and merit.

What does the Bible say about Purgatory?
https://www.gotquestions.org/purgatory.html

Next up: “At Home with the Lord”

28 thoughts on “Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #40: “Today You Will Be with Me”

    1. Thanks, David! Yes, it’s disturbing to contemplate that hundreds of millions of Catholic souls are relying on their own admittedly-deficient self-righteousness and the fraudulent purgatorial “safety net” rather than trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Hi, Papa Tom! When I first read “the good thief” I thought to myself, “what an oxymoron!” I find the idea of purgatory repugnant. I also find Broussard’s use of Luke mind boggling. I will admit, I am not so certain that “paradise” means heaven (I would love to hear Pastor Jimmy/SlimJim’s thoughts on this!); however, I in no way think that paradise is equivalent to Sheol or Hades or some form of underworld. Perhaps Broussard will mention this in a later chapter (I only read one at a time, it’s all my brain can handle) but why would Paul be so eager to be with Christ, absent in the body, present with the Lord if he was going to be in some purifying holding tank?! Paul admonishes all of us to have a mindset where to live is Christ and to die is gain. Again, this does not sound like someone who is a believer in purgatory.

    I absolutely agree with you that sin is sin. Some sins have greater consequences than others, but it is still sin nevertheless. It is again mind boggling that Broussard only interacts with Luke 22:43 but again cites the RCC catechism to no end.

    For Broussard’s counter-challenge, “Would you agree that before we try to show how a doctrine contradicts the Bible we should make sure that we correctly understand what that doctrine entails?” Normally I understand Broussard’s counter-challenges but in this case I am not sure if that question is directed to Protestants or RCC adherents. In my ever humble opinion, this question is more profound then he realizes! Whether this is directed at RCC adherents or Protestants we need to know both Scripture and doctrine. This is why I appreciate you and Pastor Jimmy so much. You’re both exposing and refuting lies and contradictions in two totally different ways, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in Christ’s Name to the glory of God the Father!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mandy! Thank you for all of the good comments! Yes, Purgatory is antithetical to the genuine Gospel of grace, but is an essential “safety net” in the RCC’s works-righteousness system.
      I know there’s some debate among believers on the topic, but I believe after Jesus died He set the Old Testament captive saints free who were in “Abraham’s Bosom” awaiting the Lord’s atonement.

      Yup, Paul makes no provision for Purgatory in 2 Cor. 5:8 – “…we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” or in Phil. 1:21 “…to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Broussard (somewhat) examines 2 Cor. 5:8 next week.

      RE: Big sins, smaller sins
      Good point! Yes, the Bible definitely teaches that some sins are of a greater magnitude (John 19:11), but that as you know is not the issue. Everyone is a sinner and no one can justify themselves. Catholics actually believe they can obey the Law to a great degree in order to merit their salvation. Thanks for allowing me to clarify the greater-smaller sin issue.
      RE: Counter-challenge
      This is definitely directed to Protestants and it’s a logical fallacy. Broussard is assuming most Protestants aren’t all that knowledgeable about Purgatory and condescendingly scolds them for challenging the doctrine. Not to boast, but I think I’m more knowledgeable about Purgatory and associated doctrines than 95% of Catholics and I know it’s anti-Scriptural and anti-Gospel.

      Thank you again for all of your good thoughts! Praise the Lord Jesus Christ for leading us to salvation in Jesus Christ by faith alone rather than toiling on a works-righteousness religious treadmill trying to merit our salvation!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Amen! “Religious treadmill” great imagery! I would also agree that you are knowledgeable more than most Catholics. We had a neighbor who has attended mass for 30+ years and had no idea why Jesus died. With that said, I am amazed by Broussard’s arrogance.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Mandy!
        RE: neighbor who has attended mass for 30+ years
        That reminds me of a person I used to work with 25 years ago, a very “devout” Catholic. He and his wife and children used to sit on the couch every evening and “pray the rosary” which took 30 minutes, in addition to weekly mass. We used to discuss spiritual things once in awhile and we got into an argument because he vehemently denied Jesus was God. Most Catholics only have a surface knowledge of their religion and almost zero knowledge of the Bible.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s funny as Chrysostom knew nothing about purgatory.

    John Chrysostom (349-407): I testify and affirm, that if any of us who have offended shall forsake his former sins, and promise to God with sincerity that he will turn to them no more, God will require no further satisfaction from him. For translation, see William John Hall, The Doctrine of Purgatory and the Practice of Praying for the Dead (London: Henry Wix, 1843), p. 203.

    John Chrysostom (349-407) commenting on Matthew 6:12: Let us know these and let us remember that terrible day and that fire. Let us put in our mind the terrible punishments and return once for all from our deluded road. For the time will come when the theater of this world will be dissolved, and then no one will be able to contend anymore. No one can do anything after the passing of this life. No one can be crowned after the dissolution of the theater. This time is for repentance, that one for judgment. This time is for the contests, that one for the crowns. This one for toil, that one for relaxation. This one for fatigue, that one for recompense. FC, Vol. 96, St. John Chrysostom on Repentance and Almsgiving, Homily 9.5 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1998), p. 129.

    John Chrysostom (349-407): Anticipate the exodus of the soul with repentance and correction, because when death comes suddenly, at absolutely no time will the therapy of repentance be fruitful. Repentance is powerful upon the earth; only in Hades is it powerless. Let us seek the Lord now while we have time. Let us do what is good so that we will be delivered from the future endless punishment of Gehenna, and will be made worthy of the Kingdom of the Heavens. Fathers of the Church, Vol. 96, St. John Chrysostom on Repentance and Almsgiving, Homily 9.7 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1998), p. 130.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Re: 2 Macc 12:39-45

    The warriors in that passage were struck down for idolatry. Based on Romanist theology, they should in hell, not purgatory.

    I’ve never heard a good explanation from any Romanist for that LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you brought up the blatant idolatry of the warriors in 2 Macc 12:39-45. You’re absolutely right. Catholics use this passage to support Purgatory, but overlook the fact that the warriors blatantly committed “mortal” sin.

      Like

      1. The patio furniture actually isn’t bad but my wife also wants to exchange the furniture in the family room with the furniture down in our basement (6 couch pieces total) because she says it gives her more support. A few years ago I would have asked my son to help me and we would have done it, but I’m getting too creaky for that kind of heavy lifting, OMS 👴🏻

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m going to have to look at the Greek with the word today and how it is syntactically. You wrote a good piece; purgatory itself is unfounded and I still need to write a post looking at 1 Corinthians one day…

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Re:No explicit biblical support

        Thomas Aquinas agrees with you

        Thomas Aquinas: I answer that, Nothing is clearly stated in Scripture about the situation of Purgatory, nor is it possible to offer convincing arguments on this question. It is probable, however, and more in keeping with the statements of holy men and the revelations made to many, that there is a twofold place of Purgatory. One, according to the common law; and thus the place of Purgatory is situated below and in proximity to hell, so that it is the same fire which torments the damned in hell and cleanses the just in Purgatory; although the damned being lower in merit, are to be consigned to a lower place. Another place of Purgatory is according to dispensation: and thus sometimes, as we read, some are punished in various places, either that the living may learn, or that the dead may be succored, seeing that their punishment being made known to the living may be mitigated through the prayers of the Church.

        Article 1, Supplement (Appendix 1), The Summa Theologiæ of St. Thomas Aquinas, Second and Revised Edition, 1920, Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province (https://www.newadvent.org/summa/6002.htm#article1)

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Crissy! Yup, there is no explicit support for Purgatory in Scripture, so Broussard must resort to “fumbling around” in an attempt to bamboozle his readers.

      Like

      1. Deception is so powerful that only God can open our eyes to the truth.
        Prayer is such an important weapon and why the enemy attacks when we pray.
        Blessings for your Lord’s Day Tom.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s