Thanks for joining me today as we continue our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist and philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018).
Claim #35: I am a Catholic because I need Purgatory
The Roman Catholic church teaches that everyone who dies with unconfessed mortal sin (a violation of one of the Ten Commandments) staining their souls will go directly to hell, but that those who have venial (forgivable) sin or who have unmeted temporal punishment for mortal sins absolved in the confessional will be sent to purgatory for retribution and cleansing prior to being admitted to Heaven.
Kreeft opens the chapter by pondering his possible alternatives to purgatory:
- That he is holy enough to go directly to Heaven without purgatory. Kreeft rejects that possibility.
- That he is going to hell, even though, he states, “I love Jesus and Jesus loves me.” Rejected.
- That he will be reincarnated. An un-Biblical notion. Rejected.
- That he will live on earth forever. Rejected as biologically impossible.
- That he will cease to exist when he dies. Rejected because he is made in God’s image with an immortal soul.
Kreeft concludes that purgatory is the only viable option. He continues his musings on purgatory with some analogies. “Have you ever been constipated for a long time and then suddenly needed a long visit to the bathroom? If so, you know something of the joys of Purgatory” (p. 114). Kreeft goes on to compare purgatory to a very necessary hot cleansing bath before attending a formal banquet. Kreeft states that while the cleansing fires of purgatory are more painful than anything experienced on earth, the joys of purgatory outweigh the joys of earth because of the anticipation of eventually being admitted to Heaven.
Purgatory is a Roman Catholic theological novelty. Evidence for purgatory cannot be found in the Bible, although Catholics point to the apocryphal 2 Maccabees 12:41-46. However, the dead soldiers mentioned in the passage were blatant idolaters and by Catholicism’s own definition were excluded from Heaven.
Catholic apologists also point to 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 as an alleged reference to purgatory, but of course Apostle Paul is referring to the Bema Seat of Christ, where believers’ service will be judged. The existence of an intermediate, purgatorial state is nowhere to be found in the Bible. In contrast, the Bible teaches, without any ambiguity, that upon death a believer will immediately be with the Lord:
“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” – 2 Corinthians 5:6-8
“I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” – Philippians 1:23
Purgatory is an essential cog in Catholicism’s false religious system of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. Catholics are taught they must become intrinsically and subjectively good and righteous in this life in order to merit Heaven at the moment of their death. That’s a tall/impossible order, so the Roman church has broken sin down into two categories; major/mortal and minor/venial. It teaches that if anyone has unconfessed mortal sin on their soul when they die, they will go straight to hell. But any minor sin will consign a person to purgatory for a period of time. The Roman Catholic church augmented its doctrine of purgatory with a number of ancillary teachings including the granting of indulgences to reduce time spent there. The construction of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome was financed through the sale of indulgences, which sparked the Reformation. Catholics prelates of old taught that the suffering in purgatory would be equal to that of hell, but many modern clerics liken purgatory to the comfortable waiting room of a train station.
Gospel Christians believe, as the Bible states, that we cannot become intrinsically and subjectively good. We are all sinners and even the things that we do that we call “good” are tainted with sin. We are made righteous before God ONLY by repenting of our rebellion against God and accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith alone. It is the perfect righteousness of Jesus that is imputed to us when we accept Him as Savior that justifies us before a Holy God.
“And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” – Philippians 3:9
The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses a believer not of just some sin, but of ALL sin.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:7
Praise my Savior that I don’t have to merit my salvation as Catholicism teaches!!! I couldn’t possibly merit my salvation and no one else can either. Purgatory is a lie and a deception.
Next week: Claim #36: I am a Catholic because, as St. Thomas Aquinas says, no man can live without joy