Monday, July 29, 2013

Why this is Purgatory, nor am I out of it…


From Rev'd Dr Peter Mullen:

Pope Francis is turning out to be the new Elvis. Hear him on Copacabana beach offering the kids time off purgatory if they will follow him on Twitter. This morning the BBC characteristically sneered at this gesture as 'medieval'. I’m not sure if they meant the doctrine of purgatory as medieval or Twitter. I would gladly spend more time in purgatory if this enabled me to avoid Twitter, Facebook, Ipods, Youpods and portable phones in general.

Of course Anglicans take their traditionally high-minded attitude towards purgatory, reviling it in the XXXIX Articles as 'the Romish doctrine'. Interestingly, John Henry Newman – before he jumped ship – said it wasn’t purgatory itself which the Articles condemned but 'the Romish doctrine of'. But there’s no other doctrine than the Romish one, John. I can see a lot of spiritual sense in the idea of purgatory because I’m a filthy sinner and I don’t fancy going immediately from my customary cesspit into the dazzling presence of God. Purgatory is a variety of sun-glasses. Or think of it as a boot camp. You’ve avoided the straight and narrow all your life and charged happily along the primrose path that leads to the everlasting bonfire. Purgatory is your chance to go straight.

It will be painful. But then some pain is worth it. It’s astonishing, for example, how much trouble people will put themselves to in order to get thin or develop muscles. To detox, botox and all the other toxes obligato. Is it not worth spending a bit of effort on your spiritual condition? That’s the one you’ll have to live with forever. And in the spiritual gymnasium too there’s no gain without pain.

The BBC wanted an expert opinion on this matter so, after consulting the arch-modernist Peter Stanford who’s forever introduced as someone who used to be something on The Tablet – that liberal RC heresy sheet which Malcolm Muggeridge used to call The Pill – they went to the Catholic World Youth Festival in Kent. Where else? They interrupted the kids’ listening to their homogenous modern church musak and jiving with Jesus hymns and asked them what they thought. Well, they thought it a good thing innit.

Incidentally, when the BBC wants to refer to something as particularly nasty, why do they always have recourse to the adjective 'medieval'? The Middle Ages gave us the cathedrals, Thomas Aquinas, Anselm, Dante, Gregorian plainchant, Perotin, Giotto, chivalry, courtly love and a Christian Europe. The wonderfully progressive modern period gave us two world wars, Hitler’s holocaust, Stalin’s slaughter of 20 million, Mao’s killing of 70 million, the hydrogen bomb, abortion as a means of contraception, the destruction of marriage, Tate Modern, Jacques Derrida and the EU.

Purgatory here I come – please.

Rev'd Dr Peter Mullen is an author and former rector of St Michael's, Cornhill in the City of London.

374 Comments:

Blogger LEN said...

The doctrine of purgatory does violence to both logic and scripture.

Romans 6:23 says "the wages of sin is death"( ie eternal separation from God" Not a limited time in purgatory!.

Only Christ can make the sacrifice from sins through His shed blood.It is impossible for suffering to cleanse the heart of sin, it is also unnecessary for the pardoned sinner to suffer for his sin because Christ has paid the full penalty demanded by God`s justice.

The false idea of purgatory was invented by Pope Gregory in 593.

Of course the false doctrine of purgatory has been a 'good earner' for the for the Catholic Church.....'As Soon as a Coin In the Coffer Rings, a Soul From Purgatory Springs'(well according to the false doctrines of the Catholic Church anyway!)

29 July 2013 at 09:24  
Blogger Peter Simpson said...

The doctrine of purgatory must be rejected, because it strikes at the very heart of the Gospel. There are no second chances after death. “It is given unto man once to die, after that the judgement” (Hebrews 9:27). The sinner is cleansed only by the blood of Christ.

The pain of removing sin is not ours to bear, but has been borne once and for all by the Lord Jesus Christ. No suffering on man’s part can remove the guilt of a single sin, nor can the pain of purgatory be lessened one jot by the mass, because (with courtesy to those who adhere to the mass) Christ’s death cannot be repeated.

The Lord, as He died, declared, “It is finished”, meaning His work of salvation. Purgatory implies that Christ’s work is not finished, and is in fact incomplete.

The sinner’s obligation is to repent and flee to Christ. If he does not do that in this life, he is eternally lost.

The doctrine of purgatory takes away the Christian’s glorious hope, and renders meaningless the Lord’s words on the Cross, “Today thou shalt be with me in paradise”, which plainly teach immediate entrance for the blood-cleansed believer into heavenly glory.

Yours amicably, Pastor Peter Simpson

29 July 2013 at 09:35  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Earning your way into heaven? Expiating your own moral condition? Adding to Christ's sacrifice? Sounds like an accursed doctrine to me...

I'm surprised there's only one comment so far - expecting plenty more to come.

29 July 2013 at 09:37  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Wait for it... wait for it.. He'll be here any minute...

29 July 2013 at 09:41  
Blogger John Thomas said...

Remember that C. S. Lewis (an Anglican) defended, or came round to, the idea that something like Purgatory was rational, reasonable, and ultimately right (see particularly The Great Divorce).
"Hitler’s holocaust, Stalin’s slaughter of 20 million, Mao’s killing of 70 million, the hydrogen bomb, abortion as a means of contraception, the destruction of marriage, Tate Modern, Jacques Derrida and the EU." - but you must realise that the BBC would consider most of these to be Good Things", and the worst of them at least a price worth paying for the supposed-splendours of modern values/society

29 July 2013 at 09:51  
Blogger Albert said...

A good piece from Dr Mullen, followed by three, rather misdirected Protestant responses. How can the Protestant doctrine of private judgement be correct, when it is evident that these Protestants (at least), do not understand the doctrine they are rejecting?

Bit of an own goal, I think.

29 July 2013 at 09:55  
Blogger IanCad said...

Astonishing!!

The Word of God dosen't even hint of such a thing as Purgatory.
It is of the doctrine of Devils.
To even flirt with the notion is to hold the Reformers as of no account.
It is the gateway to superstition and Spiritualism.
A great means, along with its sister heresy of an everlasting, everburning Hell, to extract money from the sheep.

"And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement" -- Hebrews 9:27

29 July 2013 at 09:58  
Blogger Tim Sloan said...

The verses below suggest to me that judgement could be potentially painful for the 'saved' who have not carefully worked out their salvation. Granted there is no specific place or period of time specified to justify the Catholic doctrine of purgatory.

1Cr 3:15-17 NKJV - If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and [that] the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which [temple] you are.

29 July 2013 at 10:05  
Blogger Albert said...

Well said, Tim. IanCad:

"And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement"

Do you seriously think that that passage refutes the doctrine of purgatory? How? Have you any idea of what the doctrine of purgatory is?

29 July 2013 at 10:08  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

*sets up popcorn stall*

29 July 2013 at 10:10  
Blogger LEN said...

I think it rather revealing the response of 'the World' to Pope Frances.'A man of the people' one might say.
Jesus tells us what the response of 'the World 'would be to true believers."If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first."(John 15:18)

"In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted"(2Timothy 3:12)

"Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4b).
The Apostles far from being welcomed with open arms faced persecution almost everywhere they went and almost all of them met violent deaths by the crowd.

To hold out false hope of a 'second chance' to sinners is to delude them and condemn them to Hell.People MUST be told God`s Truth and Catholicism does not do that!



29 July 2013 at 10:10  
Blogger LEN said...

Tim 'Works'.


29 July 2013 at 10:14  
Blogger Albert said...

Len,

Jesus tells us what the response of 'the World 'would be to true believers."If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first."(John 15:18)

"In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted"(2Timothy 3:12)


Indeed, and didn't the article show how the BBC and has been ridiculing the Pope? And isn't that also what you Protestants have been doing?

In the meantime, let us not forget that "God so loved the world", and that the Church is "a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues." Now tell me, does that quotation from Revelation more describe your congregation on a Sunday or Pope Francis' congregation at WYD?

So you see, both kinds of passage are fulfilled in Catholicism - we receive the hatred of the world, and also the vastness of multitude of the elect.

29 July 2013 at 10:20  
Blogger Richard Watterson said...

Are there really only good things to come out of the middle ages, and bad from the modern era? Or are you just a Berk?

29 July 2013 at 10:25  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Albert @ 10:08

Another instance like with that dread word S------?

Do contributors here mean different things in their use of the word 'P--------'?

Definition time, I suspect.

29 July 2013 at 10:30  
Blogger Albert said...

Richard,

Are there really only good things to come out of the middle ages, and bad from the modern era?

Where did Dr Mullen say that? Wasn't he sending up the dimness of the BBC for thinking Medieval is all bad and modern is all good?

Hard to disagree with that, I would have thought (unless you like bloodshed on an industrial scale).

29 July 2013 at 10:30  
Blogger Zauq said...

Thank you, Dr Mullen. Nice post! It brightened my morning.The first few responses did not make the brightness tarry long though... I like the concatenation at the end with Derrida.

Len, mate, take it easy!

29 July 2013 at 10:30  
Blogger David B said...

It is very easy to avoid twitbook, by the simple expedient of not opening an account at either, just like me.

Similarly, who needs an ipod? Not me! Which is why I don't have one.

Mobile phones can be useful, however, especially smart ones which can be used as satnavs, photo albums, holders of novels and reference books, and for keeping in touch with the cricket scores, as well as for reading Cranmer and its comment feed.

They can also be used to talk to people.

Smarphones come highly recommended by me.

If Dr Mullen wants to avoid modern technology altogether, then perhaps he should just do so - then we would be reading something else this morning.

But Purgatory? I don't recall seeing anything in the Bible about it. Have I missed something?

Or is Purgatory not, like Limbo, an invention of theologists deciding what the Emperor's clothes must look like, without establishing first whether or not the Emperor is wearing clothes, or, indeed, whether there is really an Emperor?

David

29 July 2013 at 10:33  
Blogger Tim Sloan said...

Len - yes true it does say works. The passage does suggest to me this will be personally painful and destructive though. What do you think Paul means when he says 'If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him' and 'If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss'? Can a person's works/practices be separated entirely from their soul life?

29 July 2013 at 10:33  
Blogger Gael said...

@Peter Simpson

Who says that it is not the Blood of Christ that continues to work in Purgatory?

29 July 2013 at 10:35  
Blogger Albert said...

Explorer,

I expect that the real difficulty is with our doctrine of God, actually. Since the late Medieval period there has been a tendency to put God and creation on the same ontological level. In this context, if something is attributed to creation it is denied of God. However, the traditional biblical teaching sees God and creation on quite different ontological levels. So that, if something is attributed to the creature it is a fortiori attributed to God as its cause.

Consider this comparison. If I praise Michaelangelo's Pieta, if I find goodness in it, then I am surely praising its creator. It sometimes seems to me that Protestantism vis a vis God has this back to front. If I recognise any good in something made, then I am denying something of the creator. But that makes no sense.

Thus in salvation, because God is sovereign and good, he can genuinely place, by grace and faith, his goodness within us, without this implying any sense of us being good by ourselves, or denying it of God. And that seems to be to be the biblical doctrine of salvation:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church

Bear fruits that befit repentance


Purgatory provides an occasion for God to appropriate the righteousness of Christ, to us - as the quotation about being purified as through fire, shows. Purgatory has got nothing to do with us working rather than God working in us, but rather:

it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I can do all things in him who strengthens me.

29 July 2013 at 10:44  
Blogger The Explorer said...

David B:

One may not subscribe to Twitter oneself, but that does not render one immune from its consequences if it influences public opinion.

As an extreme example, the Jews might not have liked 'Mein Kampf'; but it impacted on them, none the less.

29 July 2013 at 10:48  
Blogger ardenjm said...

Who has the authority to interpret scripture?
The Church.
Who is guided (infallibly) by the Holy Spirit that leads them "into all truth" and "tells them the things to come": the Church.
The Church decided on the Canon of Scripture.
Martin Luther rejected that Canon.
He had his Protestant reasons.
He also wanted to get rid of the Epistle of James from the New Testament calling it an "epistle of straw" because Scripture teaches us in James's Letter that 'faith without words is dead.'

You can quarrel as much as you like about the above - and whether you want a Bible whose books have been decided on by the Church or decided on by Jewish authorities subsequent to Our Lord's establishment of the Church.

I'll stick with the Church.
And the Church includes 2 Maccabees in Scripture.
And therefore Scripture teaches us this in chapter 12 vs 38-46.

"Judas rallied his army and went to the city of Adullam. As the week was ending, they purified themselves according to custom and kept the sabbath there. On the following day, since the task had now become urgent, Judas and his men went to gather up the bodies of the slain and bury them with their kinsmen in their ancestral tombs.

But under the tunic of each of the dead they found amulets sacred to the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. So it was clear to all that this was why these men had been slain. They all therefore praised the ways of the Lord, the just judge who brings to light the things that are hidden.

Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out. The noble Judas warned the soldiers to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen. He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice.
In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view; for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin."

The Protestants on here are refuting their version of purgatory not the Catholic teaching. They are being intellectually lazy and giving in to reflex reactions when they see the word purgatory.
Praying for the dead - especially those you love - is one of the most charitable things a Christian can do.
But let us be clear:

Purgatory is not the place where sins are forgiven. Sins are forgiven on the Cross and the grace of forgiveness is given to people during their lives here on earth.

Purgatory is the place where souls are prepared to enter in to the presence of the One who is Truth and Love. Their sin hasn't separated them from God (it's not mortal sin, as James 2 vs 10 teaches us) but it means that they are not holy.

Protestants believe in extrinsic justification: simultaneously just and a sinner - so the merits of Christ clothe us but don't sanctify us.
The Catholic Church has always taught that sanctification HAS to happen if we want to come into the Presence of the Holy One.
Purgatory is the time where we are happy to suffer the purification not of sin but of the consequences of sin on our souls.

But in the end this discussion is about the Church's authority to set the Canon of Scripture, interpret it correctly and teach the things both new and old that Christ wants us to teach for the salvation of souls.

Protestants reject the Church.
Happily, it's mostly by ignorance - and that's easier to correct.
But sometimes it's by malice.
We should pray for them.

29 July 2013 at 10:49  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

A fiver says this comment thread will have a hundred comments before it's finished...

29 July 2013 at 10:58  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Lovely to see you Albert! Thought I might see a few italics from yer goodself on this one.

I hope all of those in the crowd in Brazil will also be in the crowd in heaven. The Rev Mullen is, I quite understand, 'aving a larf, and yes, the modern world and the BBC are targets.

As for understanding Purgatory - I do, and I'm not sure how you work out that I don't.

No doubt you'll tell me...

29 July 2013 at 11:05  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

‘The concept of purgatory implies that Christ’s work on the cross was incomplete and insufficient to save us from judgement for our sins. We know, however, that the full redemptive work of Christ was accomplished on the cross, just as Christ Himself declared, “It is finished” (John 19:30).’—CARM

A rather pleasing argument.

29 July 2013 at 11:08  
Blogger Albert said...

Thank you Rasher,

As for understanding Purgatory - I do, and I'm not sure how you work out that I don't.

Well it was mainly this bit:

Earning your way into heaven? Expiating your own moral condition? Adding to Christ's sacrifice? Sounds like an accursed doctrine to me...

Someone in purgatory is not earning their way to heaven. They are in purgatory because they have been saved by Christ. Expiating, I don't have any difficulty with, provided it is understood to be done as a result of grace - I have already given scripture on that one. Adding to Christ's sacrifice? No (unless you mean it in the sense that Paul uses), I would say "appropriating Christ's by grace."

29 July 2013 at 11:10  
Blogger Albert said...

Johnny,

No it doesn't.

29 July 2013 at 11:11  
Blogger The Explorer said...

An experiment:

What's the difference between 'All Saints' Day' and 'All Souls' Day'?

29 July 2013 at 11:12  
Blogger Peter D said...

No one can come into the presence of God without being perfected. That's what purgatory does - removes any remaining individual culpability for sin already forgiven by Christ's death and perfects our souls.

Protestants do not to believe we are perfected - ever. Rather our sins are 'covered' but we remain corrupt. How can we thus come before God?

Purgatory makes a great deal of sense to me and, as ardenjm says, its what the Church teaches.

The words "Trinity" and "Incarnation" aren’t in Scripture, yet those doctrines are clearly revealed in it. Likewise, Scripture teaches that Purgatory exists, even if it doesn’t use the word.

29 July 2013 at 11:17  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Ardenjm,

Quite right. Why would Jews determine the composition of the Christian Bible?

The Wiki says that the Christian Bible was compiled over a period of time and it wasn't until the 5th century that 'revelation' was considered to be a part of your scripture. Also it says that the Council of Trent formally confirmed the Christian Bible (on a vote no less- I learn something new every day as I thought voting on religion was just a C of E thingy) :

"In light of Martin Luther's demands, the Council of Trent on April 8, 1546, by vote (24 yea, 15 nay, 16 abstain)[31] approved the present Catholic Bible canon, which includes the Deuterocanonical Books, and thus confirming the same list as produced at the Council of Florence in 1442 and Augustine's 397-419 Councils of Carthage.[32] The Old Testament books that had been rejected by Luther were later termed deuterocanonical, not indicating a lesser degree of inspiration, but a later time of final approval. Beyond these books, some editions of the Latin Vulgate include Psalm 151, the Prayer of Manasseh, 1 Esdras (called 3 Esdras), 2 Esdras (called 4 Esdras), and the Epistle to the Laodiceans in an appendix, styled "Apogryphi", (see also Biblical Apocrypha#Clementine Vulgate).
In support of the inclusion of the 12 Deuterocanonical books in the canon, the Council of Trent pointed to the two regional councils which met under Augustine's leadership in Hippo (393 AD) and Carthage (397 and 419 AD). The bishops of Trent claimed these councils formally defined the canon as including these books".

29 July 2013 at 11:21  
Blogger Albert said...

David,

I think we can also add that if the longer canon of scripture had supported the Protestant position (instead of the other way around), the Protestants Reformers would have included it.

29 July 2013 at 11:30  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Really getting a bit fed up of the "time off purgatory if you follow the Pope on Twitter" line being rehashed - not least because it's wrong.

If anyone wants a real explanation of what is really being talked about you will find a very good explanation here from Peter D's least favorite Jesuit.

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/07/17/sorry-you-cant-get-out-of-hell-by-retweeting-the-pope/

I really really like Fr Martin. But he isn't everyone's cup of tea, Peter D, I do understand that.

29 July 2013 at 11:38  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Ughhh.

Is there anything worse on a Monday morning than being 'preached' to by RC's about the delightful unbiblical doctrine of purgatory invented by Rome but completely missing from the writings of the early church fathers who lived closest in time to the apostles teaching and how we cannot get our poor likkle protestant heads around the concept of 'working' our way 'ungracefully' towards Heaven where Christ is seated, aided by the 'works/alms' of the living.

John 10:28
"And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
If Christ gives it immediately and it is eternal, how can you lose it..it is NOT therefore eternal life, is it?

and MOST IMPORTANTLY!

Romans 8:1

There is (*) therefore now no CONDEMNATION (judgment) to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

(* St Paul means everything I have just expounded from Romans 1 about coming judgment/wrath of God to here, such as...
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,e just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” ).

The RC's really do love their fables with a passion, do they not!

Blofeld

It's like finding the blog infested with Romanian squatters who talk about the joys of Rumania but refuse to say why they are here in the first place and not back home! *Chortling crazily*

29 July 2013 at 11:39  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

And Dr Peter Mullen, it's not you I'm bitching about, it's the BBC (and every other damn news outlet that saw an (inaccurate) headline and didn't do their homework. :)

29 July 2013 at 11:40  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

29 July 2013 at 11:41  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Albert,

I'm sure they would have done. In so much that the Torah was also complied over the years, I wouldn't see it is a criticism.

Better that than,say, a belief that a holy book got interpreted by an angel to a man and proclaimed as holy writ.

29 July 2013 at 11:42  
Blogger Albert said...

David,

In so much that the Torah was also complied over the years, I wouldn't see it is a criticism.

Indeed, not, although there is something a bit unnerving about a position which claims to be definitely scriptural, but which only accepts something as scripture if they agree with it.

29 July 2013 at 11:51  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Peter D @ 11:17.

Protestants think we are never perfected and remain corrupt.

"The command 'Be Ye Perfect'... is not a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command." ('Mere Christianity', Ch 9).

C S Lewis was one Protestant, at least, who thought otherwise.

29 July 2013 at 12:00  
Blogger Corrigan said...

Can anyone tell me where the word "Bible" appears in the text of the Bible? How about the 39 articles? No?

29 July 2013 at 12:02  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Can anyone tell me where the word "POPE" appears in the text of the Bible? How about the extreme unction, confessional - one on one, apostolic succession to mere bishops? No? Oooh dear.

Blofeld

29 July 2013 at 12:07  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Albert

They are in purgatory because they have been saved by Christ.

Purgatory is exactly the opposite of grace (being given what I don't deserve). Expiation can only be done by Christ - never by us.

There is a sense in which I don't understand this purgatorial nonsense - the same sense you don't, nor does the 'magisterium', nor the Council of Trent, nor the poor benighted 'eathen that invented it in the first place.

That is the last comment you make - 'appropriating Christ's [sacrifice] by grace.'

Faith appropriates, and is the only way we are permitted to stand before God. Works or time in the cooler do not. What a pox has purgatory to do with grace?

You cannot get purgatory from the scriptures you have quoted. When I work out my salvation I work out the effects of something already granted. Yes - a living faith has works, but do we then negate faith by works? Was that what James wanted? How desperately circular, but effective in bringing us back to the bondage of our own efforts. I'm justified from sin by Christ's death being mine by faith - I will not go to purcatory to sit and 'appropriate' it. How will that be done - by the passing of time? By suffering for my own sins? Those scriptures don't describe purgatory - a land after death where I'm sat on the naughty step to get purged. Christ offered a once for all sacrifice for sin. Paul taught that I'm dead to sin and alive to God. It's Binary. I have been saved from the penalty of sin. I am being saved from the power of sin. I will soon be saved from the presence of sin when I go where He is, and there is no wretched calculation in the scripture that gives tables of time spent to achieve that end.

Do we suddenly develop a blindness to what else Paul says clearly? To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord? Oh no - I've died and I'm not there yet. This is the doctrine of the Catechism of the Council of Trent: "They all descended, some to endure the most acute torments; others, though exempt from actual pain, yet deprived of the vision of God, and of the glory for which they sighed, and consigned to the torture of suspense in painful captivity." And that was what happened to 'the just'!

The darkness is palpable. My spirit is painfully excited within me, so I shall repair unto mine own internet pages and write a more fulsome, less ranty and perhaps more gentle anti-purgatory note. I can't think our host wants another 5,000 words from any of us.

Give it up, Albert my friend - it's not your nonsense to defend.

29 July 2013 at 12:11  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Albert,

I would guess if you mean a religion could suddenly decide to add or takeaway from its holy scriptures after years of saying they were or were not part of the canon, then yes I see the point. ]Which is what my example above noted, which was pertaining to Mormons, not that I'm Mormonaphobic (: ].

Although as noted in both Judaism and Christianity, the canon of each was decided by a group or body of 'holy people' (for want of a better word). For you it is the Church, for us the Rabbis-as Ardenjm notes.

On the Wiki page I quote from there was a section about the compiling of the New Testament and a long list of books which didn't get into the final version (gospel of thomas being one), presumably because the authorship couldn't be verified or because they were 'heretical'.

I think one just has to work with the grain of these things. For example,Hanukkah is discussed in the Talmud, but the full story is recounted in 1 and 2 Maccabees, which are not formally a part of the written Torah, but are a part of the Roman Catholic canon.

29 July 2013 at 12:12  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Well done Peter Mullen,
A very interesting and amusing Post. It has certainly got Albert on his high horse.
For me, this life is sometimes Purgatory, but I am grateful that my sins have been forgiven by his final work on the cross and they exist no more.
How does the BBC go about finding their so called experts?

29 July 2013 at 12:16  
Blogger ardenjm said...

@Blofeld

Hmmmm I think you're making a basic mistake.
Protestants believe in Sola scriptura.
You'd think, since it's one of their key pillars that "the Bible alone" would, logically, be something they get from the Bible.

But the Bible doesn't teach sola scriptura.

In fact, St Paul says very clearly in 1 Timothy 3 vs 15 that the Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth.

Catholics believe Scripture has to be read and understood in the same way that it was written and transmitted to us: via the Tradition of the believing community - the Church - to whom the Holy Spirit is given, as John chapter 15 and 16 teaches us, in order to guide the Church into all truth, remind the Church of all of Christ's teaching and to give to the Church the truths that are to come.

The truths of the Faith are found either explicitly or implicitly in Revelation and Sacred Scripture is the written record of that Revelation.

Your quarrel isn't with the Catholic Church - you've clearly never read the Catechism.
Your quarrel is with a strawman that it suits you to maintain as the Catholic Church because that way you can feel reassured that you are in the right.
It's called pride.


29 July 2013 at 12:24  
Blogger The Explorer said...

ardenjm:

And '1 Timothy 3:16 continues with , "And great beyond all question is the mystery of our religion."

The territory where I find myself today, given the nature of Catholic/Protestant disagreements.

29 July 2013 at 12:31  
Blogger ardenjm said...

@David Kavanagh

The Books of the Maccabees were included in the Septuagint, however...
But as you note, the essential question is what group has the authority to discern the trueness of the content of the vast swathe of books that were presented as inspired by God?

And here you see that there is a certain priority of the Church (as upholder of Tradition - but above all as guided by the Holy Spirit) to make that discernment.

The Church doesn't GIVE authority to Scripture that has been inspired by God; obviously that authority comes from God directly. But the Church's authority ALSO comes from God directly. So what the Church is doing in establishing the Canon is to discern correctly and authoritatively those Books that contain the Truth and are inspired by God for salvation of souls. She is not putting herself above Scripture in making that discernment: she's doing the job that Scripture makes quite clear to be part of the job of the Church:

"Truly I say to you, Whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Mt 18 vs18

29 July 2013 at 12:33  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

Albert: How can the Protestant doctrine of private judgement be correct, when it is evident that these Protestants (at least), do not understand the doctrine they are rejecting?

Bit of an own goal, I think.


Bit of a non-sequitur, I think.

Now tell me, does that quotation from Revelation more describe your congregation on a Sunday or Pope Francis' congregation at WYD?

Well there are large Protestant gatherings, but more to the point it may have escaped your notice that this gathering is a heavenly one, so the reference is irrelevant.

if something is attributed to the creature it is a fortiori attributed to God as its cause.

So you attribute sin a fortiori to God?

If I recognise any good in something made, then I am denying something of the creator. But that makes no sense.

Good job Protestants don’t believe that then, isn’t it?

Thus in salvation, because God is sovereign and good, he can genuinely place, by grace and faith, his goodness within us, without this implying any sense of us being good by ourselves, or denying it of God. And that seems to be to be the biblical doctrine of salvation:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church

Bear fruits that befit repentance


Do you really think the passages you have quoted support a Catholic doctrine of salvation as opposed to a Protestant one? Because if you do, you don’t understand Protestant soteriology.

Moreover, seeing as Catholics deny the sufficiency of grace in salvation, your response is disingenuous.

Someone in purgatory is not earning their way to heaven. They are in purgatory because they have been saved by Christ.

In what sense have they been saved? Surely they are being saved if anything, in accordance with Roman Catholic teaching.

I think we can also add that if the longer canon of scripture had supported the Protestant position (instead of the other way around), the Protestants Reformers would have included it

I seem to remember you got rather uppity with me when I suggested that N. T. Wright’s motives for supporting women’s ordination were less than absolutely pure, and perhaps rather influenced by culture. Funny how you don’t have any problem accusing the Reformers of such theological pragmatism. Rather inconsistent, don’t you think?

Indeed, not, although there is something a bit unnerving about a position which claims to be definitely scriptural, but which only accepts something as scripture if they agree with it.

There is something a bit unnerving about a position which claims to have three equal sources of authority where one source of authority has effective control over the other two and means the Magisterium has no external check.

29 July 2013 at 12:37  
Blogger ardenjm said...

@David Kavanagh

It was in studying a little bit Hebrew that I realised that Scripture needs to be read within the whole Church and that the Church's Tradition is also where Revelation is transmitted.

Just as the vowels in Hebrew weren't written down and standardised for centuries - but the 'right' reading was maintained by the Hebrew-speaking community of believers - so too, analogously, the Church, having received Revelation, reads the meaning of Scripture correctly. The two go together.

I like the way the Hebrew language itself anticipated that dual relationship....

29 July 2013 at 12:40  
Blogger Albert said...

Rasher,

I just wonder which Bible you are reading. You haven't responded to the passages I have given (or at least not most of them), but you have set yourself up against other passages:

Purgatory is exactly the opposite of grace (being given what I don't deserve).

Well, scripture says:

I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.

when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish.

God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do.


Now clearly, none of these things can be done without grace. However, they being done, by grace, they merit a reward. As St Paul says:

or no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw --
each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.


The point I am making seems to be on every page of scripture (unlike your sola fide, which is nowhere). It amazes me that the point needs to be laboured.

29 July 2013 at 12:43  
Blogger David B said...

@ardenjm, who said -

"...The Church.
Who is guided (infallibly) by the Holy Spirit that leads them "into all truth" and "tells them the things to come": the Church..."

Was the Church, do you think, guided (infallibly) when for centuries it had the habit of chopping off the balls of kids so that their choirs sounded better to them?

David

29 July 2013 at 12:45  
Blogger ardenjm said...

@Thomas Keningley

Just sticking my oar in here.
You can't in fairness accuse Albert of not getting Protestant (which version, by the way - Lutheran? Reformed? Baptist? Arminian? Wesleyan?) teaching right and then come out with so much muddle when it comes to Catholic teaching.

It would take pages and pages to go through each little bit.
Permit me to refer you to a couple of websites that do just that:
http://www.radioreplies.info/radio-replies-vol-1.php?t=84
http://www.scotthahn.com/purgatory.html
http://www.catholic.com/

29 July 2013 at 12:47  
Blogger Albert said...

Thomas,

Well there are large Protestant gatherings, but more to the point it may have escaped your notice that this gathering is a heavenly one, so the reference is irrelevant.

Well, will not heaven be made up of people who were members of the Church on earth?

So you attribute sin a fortiori to God?

Sin is not a thing - obviously.

Do you really think the passages you have quoted support a Catholic doctrine of salvation as opposed to a Protestant one? Because if you do, you don’t understand Protestant soteriology.

Well, why don't you explain it then?

Moreover, seeing as Catholics deny the sufficiency of grace in salvation, your response is disingenuous.

How dare you. Think it possible that you are mistaken (or that I am) before you accuse me of insincerity.

I seem to remember you got rather uppity with me when I suggested that N. T. Wright’s motives for supporting women’s ordination were less than absolutely pure, and perhaps rather influenced by culture. Funny how you don’t have any problem accusing the Reformers of such theological pragmatism. Rather inconsistent, don’t you think?

I see no parity there.

There is something a bit unnerving about a position which claims to have three equal sources of authority where one source of authority has effective control over the other two and means the Magisterium has no external check.

Which is not, of course, even remotely, a summary of Catholic teaching.

29 July 2013 at 12:51  
Blogger ardenjm said...

David B

No.

Martin Luther took truths that are true about the Church as a whole and applied them to individuals - which explains why there are 10,000 Protestant Churches. The members of the body become fragmented and say to the other members "I don't need you any longer". He tried to row back on this fragmenting principle he introduced - but the subsequent history of the Reformation proves how the damage had been done. Unity amongst Protestants is just an aggregation of private judgements arrived at via consensus. It's a far cry from that organic, bodily unity Our Lord speaks of.

In Protestantism each person becomes their own personal magisterium, for example. So, when there are disagreements they just divide off a start a new "truer" Church. What was true on the level of the Church as a whole: the magisterium - becomes untrue when applied to the individual member of the Church.

Likewise, the Church is made up of saints and sinners. Luther applied this on the level of the individual: we are simultaneously just and sinful.
However, on the level of the whole Church there is truth in this:
People in the Church have done and will do terrible things.

That's not where the infallibility comes in.
The infallibility comes in in the teaching of the truths that are necessary for our Salvation.
That many members of the Church fail to live up to that teaching isn't news to anyone.
St John Chrysostom said way back that hell would be paved with the skulls of bishops...
Some Bishops are saints, others are mediocre (purgatory for them, then!) others are mendacious and do evil.
Why are we surprised. Our Lord chose Judas Iscariot as one of His disciples.

The Church is fully aware of the moments both past and present where her members have failed to follow Christ: from the man at the very top down to the member of the Church in the pews.

Infallible teaching does NOT mean impeccable living.

29 July 2013 at 12:57  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

Ardenjm

Martin Luther rejected that Canon.
He had his Protestant reasons.
He also wanted to get rid of the Epistle of James from the New Testament calling it an "epistle of straw" because Scripture teaches us in James's Letter that 'faith without words is dead.'

You can quarrel as much as you like about the above - and whether you want a Bible whose books have been decided on by the Church or decided on by Jewish authorities subsequent to Our Lord's establishment of the Church.


Actually, Luther questioned James’ canonicity because he doubted its apostolicity. But apart from this, there was no conscience-binding canon at the time and Luther was one of many Catholics who questioned the Canon. He also included James in his translation of the Bible.

Protestants believe in extrinsic justification: simultaneously just and a sinner - so the merits of Christ clothe us but don't sanctify us.

We believe in extrinsic justification and intrinsic sanctification, all purchased at the cross. Of course, we actually attribute everything in our salvation (from regeneration, to faith, to justification, sanctification and final glorification) to Christ alone and his sacrifice.

Hmmmm I think you're making a basic mistake.
Protestants believe in Sola scriptura.
You'd think, since it's one of their key pillars that "the Bible alone" would, logically, be something they get from the Bible.


2 Timothy 3:15-17
and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

So scripture is able to lead you to salvation, and thoroughly equip you for every good work. Thus it is sufficient, thus no other source of authority is needed.

In fact, St Paul says very clearly in 1 Timothy 3 vs 15 that the Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth.

No, he says that a church in Ephesus is a pillar and bulwark of the truth, hardly the same claim.

The truths of the Faith are found either explicitly or implicitly in Revelation and Sacred Scripture is the written record of that Revelation.

That is not the universal position of the Roman Catholic Church.

come out with so much muddle when it comes to Catholic teaching

Feel free to demonstrate the muddle.

29 July 2013 at 13:00  
Blogger John Henson said...

The Explorer said...

What's the difference between 'All Saints' Day' and 'All Souls' Day'?


24 hours.

29 July 2013 at 13:08  
Blogger The Explorer said...

John:

Like it! Anything else?

29 July 2013 at 13:09  
Blogger Albert said...

Thomas,

I would just observe that when the NT refers to scripture, it is referring to the OT. Therefore, if your interpretation of 2 Tim 3 is correct, it means the NT is not required.

That is not the universal position of the Roman Catholic Church.

Does it need to be?

29 July 2013 at 13:09  
Blogger David B said...

@ardenJM

"Infallible teaching does NOT mean impeccable living. "

A doctrine of Infallible teaching would be difficult for even the most zealous and/or brainwashed person to maintain if Infallible teaching did mean impeccable living, wouldn't it?

But what sort of evidence is there to think that the teaching of the Church is infallible?

Some sort of reference to how the castrati were deemed fine for hundreds of years would help, as would the long record of killing heretics, as well as the doctrine of Limbo.

And then again there was the little misunderstanding over a geocentric universe. How long ago is it since Galileo received an apology because he was right and the Church was wrong?

It doesn't look very infallible to me.

David

29 July 2013 at 13:16  
Blogger Albert said...

David B,

A doctrine of Infallible teaching would be difficult for even the most zealous and/or brainwashed person to maintain if Infallible teaching did mean impeccable living, wouldn't it?

I really don't see why.

Some sort of reference to how the castrati were deemed fine for hundreds of years would help, as would the long record of killing heretics, as well as the doctrine of Limbo. And then again there was the little misunderstanding over a geocentric universe. How long ago is it since Galileo received an apology because he was right and the Church was wrong? It doesn't look very infallible to me.

Precisely, they weren't!

29 July 2013 at 13:23  
Blogger ardenjm said...

@Thomas Keningley

Happy to continue my discussion with you - further to the sites I referred you to.
You can email me: ardenjm@gmail.com

To avoid pages and pages and pages of discussion on here, however I shall limit myself to this key point:

You claim that I've misrepresented Catholic Teaching when I say this:
"The truths of the Faith are found either explicitly or implicitly in Revelation and Sacred Scripture is the written record of that Revelation."

You affirm instead, "That is not the universal position of the Roman Catholic Church."

Yes it is.

It is Catholic teaching that with Christ and the Apostles, revelation is completed. Dogmata issued after the death of his apostles are not new, but explications of existing faith. Implicit truth are specified as explicit, as it was done in the teachings on the Trinity by the ecumenical councils.

In 450 Vincent of Lérins asked in his famous Commonitory: "Will there be no progress in religion in the Church of Christ? Of course there will be progress. There will be much progress, but it will be progress in truth and faith, not change. Progress means addition, change means alteration."

The Church uses this text in its interpretation of dogmatic development: The first Vatican Council stated in 1870 that within the limits of the statement of Vincent of Lérins, dogmatic development is possible, Vatican II confirms this view in Lumen Gentium.

Perhaps you were thinking that I was saying something other than this.

I wasn't.

29 July 2013 at 13:23  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Ardenjm,

As usual I am on an ecumenical educational journey here! I am aware, from following the comments here for some time, that the Roman Catholic Church is (to its adherents) the *only* correct view.

But one thing I've meaning to ask is what you've alluded to above. The authority of the Church, I think the quote is the bit about Jesus and Peter "the rock" speech and I've read this many times here (unless you are sister Tibs, who to me seems to more in line with the 'real world' Catholics I've encountered).

But one thing I don't quite understand is that several Roman Catholic berate Protestants and others as 'biblical literalists' or of plucking passages to make ('incorrect') views (say on Israel or the book of Revelation)...

But doesn't the 'rock speech' fall into this category as well, as in it is one passage which is seemingly chosen to justify this authority the Roman Church claims? (or are there are parts of the New Testament that I haven't read yet, which elaborate further or at least hint at this authority of the Roman Catholic Church?).

Another related question is this emphasis on Peter as the Pope. Why didn't Paul become the first Pope, given he writes about half of the New Testament?

29 July 2013 at 13:27  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

These are not my words, but they'll do nicely.

"They can give a thousand cunning explanations about purgatory, which after all are but straw before the word of God; but the end is that the poor soul under this teaching needs, and feels it needs, purging in order to be with God. It does its best, is not purged; gets the sacraments, is not purged; and then goes to purgatory, and God knows when it will get out. For see what a poor case it is after all. A man is absolved, has the viaticum, the benefit of Christ's sacrifice; afterwards he is anointed, which is declared to wipe away the remains of sin, and then after all goes to purgatory. What is that for? Not to purge him — for the remains of sin are wiped away (I use the terms of the Council of Trent) by extreme unction: what does he go to purgatory for after that? The natural conscience feels it must be to purge the soul, not merely to satisfy a vindictive God; but, if it be, then the sacraments have not done it. And though they have had masses before which have not kept them out of this prison, and they get masses said to get them out when they are in, yet we never know when they will get out after all. They are helped, but we are not told (that is carefully avoided) whether the satisfaction is judicially received for the satisfaction of another: the offended judge is not bound to receive. It is probable it is; but they are only suffrages"

29 July 2013 at 13:28  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

Albert

Well, will not heaven be made up of people who were members of the Church on earth?

All of them from all times and geographical locations, yes, making your comment irrelevant.

Sin is not a thing - obviously.

This is far from obvious scripturally speaking (e.g. Rom 7:20), but even granting it, we can just rephrase it as “a lack of goodness”, which you must a fortiori attribute to God.

Well, why don't you explain it then?

Okay. Protestants believe we are extrinsically justified by faith, however salvation includes far more than justification, although it is occasionally used as a synonym for it. Salvation includes justification, sanctification (which necessarily follows it) and glorification. So “working out your salvation” is perfectly consistent with Protestant soteriology. So the passages you have quoted, which have nothing to do with justification, do not select for Catholic soteriology over Protestant soteriology. You think we don’t believe you need to bear fruit to be saved?

How dare you. Think it possible that you are mistaken (or that I am) before you accuse me of insincerity.

What, you mean the way you accuse the Reformers of gerrymandering the canon for their own purposes, not really believing the arguments they made for the shorter canon (as they couldn’t have done if they would have supported the longer canon had the position been reversed)?

I said that N T Wright’s conclusions were motivated by something beyond the theological arguments he was making. You said this was outrageous. You then claim that the Reformers’ conclusions about the canon were motivated by something beyond the theological arguments they were making for it. Or is it only wrong (according to you) to impugn someone’s motives if they’re still alive?

Which is not, of course, even remotely, a summary of Catholic teaching.

Is this a summary of Protestant teaching: a position which claims to be definitely scriptural, but which only accepts something as scripture if they agree with it.?

In any case, I didn’t claim it was a summary of Catholic teaching, but a summary of Catholic practice. Scripture is defined and interpreted by the Magisterium. Tradition is defined and interpreted by the Magisterium. Therefore both Tradition and Scripture are subject to the Magisterium in practice, resulting in the real Catholic polity of sola ecclesia

29 July 2013 at 13:29  
Blogger ardenjm said...

@David B

You confuse the infallibility of teaching on Faith and Morals which is part of the Deposit of the Faith with every other judgement members of the Church, including Popes have made.

The infallibility of the Church's teaching extends over truths that are necessary for the salvation of our souls.
Whenever the Church strays beyond that domain you can legitimately and politely ignore her pronouncements unless you find them pertinent, accurate and helpful - but you'll be judging them thus with the proper criteria of whatever domain they are concerned with.

What evidence do I have that the Church teaches with divine authority the truth of the Faith?
Well, we're in the realm of Faith here, not of Philosophy. The arguments are arguments of authority: Christ doesn't lie.
If you don't have the Faith - you want buy that.
That's fine.
It also explains why the Church has always taken Philosophy very, very seriously: it's the intellectual "space" where she dialogues with those who don't share her Faith. And in that space you don't use arguments from authority - but arguments from reason.

29 July 2013 at 13:30  
Blogger ardenjm said...

@Rasher Bacon

You're right they are not your words.
They come from John Nelson Darby, founder of the Plymouth Brethren.

That's fine, of course. But I just wanted to establish the weight of authority behind his words.
That's group number 6,453 out of the 10,000 different Protestant movements.
The Jehovah Witnesses like his translation of the Bible because he used the word Jehovah to translate the Divine Name.

But just because the JWs like him doesn't discredit him, of course.

29 July 2013 at 13:38  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

Albert: I would just observe that when the NT refers to scripture, it is referring to the OT.

Really? Paul (1 Tim 5:18) and Peter (2 Pet 3:16) would have been very surprised to learn that.

No, it doesn't need to be, I just think it relevant for those contributors less versed in these matters to know that the view that tradition is all implicit in scripture is one of two schools of thought within Catholicism.

29 July 2013 at 13:39  
Blogger Albert said...

Thomas,

All of them from all times and geographical locations, yes, making your comment irrelevant.

I don't think this point needs to be laboured. I wasn't trying to prove in any strict sense from that passage, I was merely observing how Len's position seemed ill-fitted to scripture. His point was about the world - and that's why I quoted Revelation.

This is far from obvious scripturally speaking (e.g. Rom 7:20), but even granting it, we can just rephrase it as “a lack of goodness”, which you must a fortiori attribute to God.

I am genuinely astonished that you are taking this line. Surely, any adequate doctrine of creation means God is the cause of all the goodness in his creation. He is not the cause of evil done within it. This isn't controversial is it?

Protestants believe we are extrinsically justified by faith, however salvation includes far more than justification, although it is occasionally used as a synonym for it. Salvation includes justification, sanctification (which necessarily follows it) and glorification. So “working out your salvation” is perfectly consistent with Protestant soteriology. So the passages you have quoted, which have nothing to do with justification, do not select for Catholic soteriology over Protestant soteriology. You think we don’t believe you need to bear fruit to be saved?

Not so fast. The passages I quoted say we get a reward for our good works, thus, by grace, they form part of our salvation.

What, you mean the way you accuse the Reformers of gerrymandering the canon for their own purposes

If you mean, do I think the Reformers were somewhat opportunist, then yes, I do.

I said that N T Wright’s conclusions were motivated by something beyond the theological arguments he was making.

The reason I don't see the parity is that this isn't at the foundation of Wright's religious position, whereas, I think it is for the Reformers.

a position which claims to be definitely scriptural, but which only accepts something as scripture if they agree with it.?

Of course not! But it is reflection of Protestant practice - at least in parts.

I didn’t claim it was a summary of Catholic teaching, but a summary of Catholic practice. Scripture is defined and interpreted by the Magisterium. Tradition is defined and interpreted by the Magisterium. Therefore both Tradition and Scripture are subject to the Magisterium in practice, resulting in the real Catholic polity of sola ecclesia

Which does not in fact defend your previous comment. However, we can apply the same problem to you. It is your interpretation of scripture that is final.

29 July 2013 at 13:43  
Blogger Albert said...

Thomas,

Really? Paul (1 Tim 5:18) and Peter (2 Pet 3:16) would have been very surprised to learn that.

That's just nit-picking and doesn't alter the problem with your interpretation. If scripture is sufficient by the time of 2 Tim, then any scripture written after that is extraneous. But when you speak of sufficiency of scripture you mean to include those passages not included by the time of 2 Tim, and thus you contradict your own interpretation of 2 Tim.

29 July 2013 at 13:46  
Blogger ardenjm said...

@David Kavanagh

Happy to email with you too, if you want to delve in to these questions.
ardenjm@gmail.com

If you prefer not to do that - just say - and I'll do my best here.

As for Catholics having proof texts that become totems - yes, unfortunately we do. Thou are Peter is, of course, a biggie (which is why you'll find it around the dome of the Basilica in the Vatican) but there are other reasons why the Church teaches what she teaches about his role - the Council of Jerusalem in Acts is embryonic in that respect. James was Bishop of Jerusalem - and yet the final directives of the Council are given by Peter for the whole Church.

As for God not choosing the brightest, most prolix or most super-apostle of the Apostles to be the Rock. Well, I think you have your answer there.
It's God's Church - and He knows what He is doing...
St Peter wasn't the first Pope, technically speaking.
The successor of Peter is one of the definitions of what the Pope is. But the Pope has a role that extends that Petrine Ministry: as the end of John's Gospel indicates: Peter must strengthen the faith of all the disciples. The whole flock. Not just a part - as the other Apostles - and Bishops - do.

29 July 2013 at 13:48  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Well the Pope has gone up in my view- apparently he is now saying gays shouldn't be marginalised or judged :

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-23489702

And I liked the 'dancing' Bishops in Brazil....

29 July 2013 at 13:48  
Blogger LEN said...

Breaking News! Catholics may have to review their attitude to 'gays' following the Popes latest remarks!.

29 July 2013 at 13:49  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

ardenjm

I didn't quote his name, because I knew I'd merely get ad hominem. I get it from Prods as well.

So glad I'm right about them not being my words - as for authority, are they true?

29 July 2013 at 13:51  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi David,

I think Purgatory is like the Jewish idea of Gehinnom...

29 July 2013 at 13:53  
Blogger ardenjm said...

Breaking news for @LEN
Guess what?
No, we won't!
Because this is what the Church has been saying for years.
Amazing, eh.
The Pope is Catholic.

I tell you what - from now on let's distinguish between the Catholic Church and "wwbltb" - what we've been led to believe.

Generally there is virtually a total disconnect between the Catholic Church and Wwbltb.

29 July 2013 at 13:59  
Blogger Corrigan said...

I think Purgatory is like the Jewish idea of Gehinnom

Not like it - essentially, it IS the continuation of that idea.

29 July 2013 at 14:12  
Blogger LEN said...

I suppose if you put your faith in the Catholic fallacy of suffering in purgatory instead of relying on the shed blood of Christ at Calvary Christ then there is actually a danger that God may give you what you have put your faith in (not that it will give you salvation).Be careful what you wish or pray for!.
IF it were possible to atone for ones own sin then we don`t need Christ at all do we?.
So in a nutshell there we have it.Pure religion Catholicism , Islam whatever is a way devised by man to God that does not involve Christ.

Jesus warned that those who attempt to enter in 'any way' other than Him;John 10:1, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door(Christ) into the
sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.





29 July 2013 at 14:14  
Blogger Albert said...

Len,

You really haven't understood a word that has been written, have you?

29 July 2013 at 14:18  
Blogger non mouse said...

Nice one, Dr. Mullen.

I would contend one main point though --- in agreement with Chaucer(HOF) and Dante: this 'ere's right at the mouth of 'Ell, at the foot of the mountain. Italian places are especially close, as your picture illustrates.

We've a long way to climb before our benighted souls reach the heights of anything resembling Purgatory.

Oh - and I do think your list might expand to give us Brits rightful credit for our contribution to the Light Ages (Medieval)! Our forebears gave us the brilliant corpus of Old English Literature and its superb development of rhetoric in our own language (a vast repository remains, despite the Vikings and the frogules); it's second to none - and the foundation of the language so widely used (and abused) today.

Their York gave Charleyboy Alcuin.

Then there were Monkwearmouth-Jarrow and Lindisfarne, and glorious manuscript art <-->Kells etc.

And Law Codes in English.

And all that long-lasting sculpture in stone and bone et al.... not to mention the later cathedrals. Frozen music even (Hegel citation? Certainly Flanders and Swann).

And skill in textiles and embroidery -->historical records like the one the frogs took to Bayeux.

And Arthurian Legend.

And Wyclif.

And CHAUCER, whose genius in irony and parody helped us (among other things) to achieve perspective on pernicious euro trends like Affective Piety and Courtly Love.

So the silly eurobabes at the Beeb can take their nEU Dark Ages and its toys, and play as they will. Like the RCs and atheists on here, they don't even know we're past the middle of World War III.

As someone suggested Einstein might have said, the next World War will be fought with sticks and stones.

29 July 2013 at 14:19  
Blogger IanCad said...

LEN @ 13:49 has just assured that this post will exceed three hundred comments.

29 July 2013 at 14:19  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

Albert

I am genuinely astonished that you are taking this line. Surely, any adequate doctrine of creation means God is the cause of all the goodness in his creation. He is not the cause of evil done within it. This isn't controversial is it?

It is controversial if you believe that God is exhaustively sovereign and decreed all that occurs. I deny the premise that an effect necessarily reflects the essence of its cause. You have some other ultimate cause in the universe apart from God, seeing as he didn’t cause evil.

Not so fast. The passages I quoted say we get a reward for our good works, thus, by grace, they form part of our salvation.

Well I hadn’t seen you quoting those passages, I was responding to the ones I re-quoted, sorry for any confusion. However, it is still a non-sequitur. Protestants have historically believed that there are degrees of rewards in heaven according to our works. What we deny is that works play any part in justification.

If you mean, do I think the Reformers were somewhat opportunist, then yes, I do.

Well, as you don’t know their hearts and yet are quite happy to question their motives, I think this makes your outrage sound rather hollow.

The reason I don't see the parity is that this isn't at the foundation of Wright's religious position, whereas, I think it is for the Reformers.

Could you clarify what you mean by this?

Which does not in fact defend your previous comment. However, we can apply the same problem to you. It is your interpretation of scripture that is final.

Yes, it does defend it, it precisely defends the claim I was making. Also, saying that I am in the same epistemic boat as you does nothing for your position which states that you are in a better epistemic position than me. I agree that we’re in the same epistemic boat, I just think you don’t recognise this fact.

That's just nit-picking and doesn't alter the problem with your interpretation. If scripture is sufficient by the time of 2 Tim, then any scripture written after that is extraneous. But when you speak of sufficiency of scripture you mean to include those passages not included by the time of 2 Tim, and thus you contradict your own interpretation of 2 Tim.

Is it nit-picking to refute what someone says? In any case, it is entirely plausible that 2 Tim 3:16 has a broader referent than the OT, referring to scripture in general rather than in particular and thus potentially encompassing future scriptures.

29 July 2013 at 14:25  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Albert - yes, there is such a thing as the judgement seat of Christ. At that point, I will find out whether this conversation with you was worth anything, and if not I will see IT go up in flames. The only reward I can think of is you standing beside me, justified only by faith (not on the principle of works, that no man may boast).

What else could I be rewarded with? What other loss could I suffer? Not my salvation, as the passage says. Not my justification, which Paul says is in Christ alone. Not money or political position - they have gone.

To get the Roman Catholic Doctrine of purgatory from this passage is a bit of a leap, and a leap in the wrong direction.

The passage in Corinthians has a direct application to holy living. That day is coming when I will stand before the man who loves me and gave himself for me and see the value of my response, in his estimation. It's me he died for, not my works, and he did it while I was still a sinner.

Now you've suggested I ignore large chunks of scripture, why not compare this from your Catechism:

"They all descended, some to endure the most acute torments; others, though exempt from actual pain, yet deprived of the vision of God, and of the glory for which they sighed, and consigned to the torture of suspense in painful captivity."

With this, from 1 Thessalonians 4?

"For the Lord himself shall come down from heaven with commandment, and with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead who are in Christ, shall rise first.

Then we who are alive, who are left, shall be taken up together with them in the clouds to meet Christ, into the air, and so shall we be always with the Lord.

Wherefore, comfort ye one another with these words." (Douay-Rheims Bible)

It's an inversion - why the desperate need to retain & defend it?

29 July 2013 at 15:06  
Blogger Anglican said...

The belief in Purgatory is of course speculative and is no part of Christian doctrine. But the idea itself is not nonsensical. C. S. Lewis thought it not at all an unreasonable belief. For those who have read carefully through Dante’s Divine Comedy (don’t stop at the end of the Inferno), it provides a sweeping and majestic account of God’s wish to redeem all who will turn to him. Dante provides of course a purely imaginative account of the after-life. But the imagination, as well as reason, is necessary to enter into the best understanding of revelation and the Christian Faith.

(Dorothy L. Sayers translation of Dante, though not the latest, is very good; for those not experts on the period when it was written reading the introductions and notes are essential).

29 July 2013 at 15:14  
Blogger David Anderson said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

29 July 2013 at 15:48  
Blogger Albert said...

Thomas,

I don't get your opening gambit, so perhaps you could clarify it. Surely, my position is the same as Calvin's?

Protestants have historically believed that there are degrees of rewards in heaven according to our works.

Well, let us suppose that I grant, for the sake of argument, that that is a possible interpretation of the texts (and I don't think each text will fit that pattern). We're still left with the position in which my interpretation is possible. So scripture does not seem so clear. Remember: I am not proclaiming pelagianism, everything we are or do is as a result of grace and there is nothing we can do to merit that initial grace, nor, without grace, to merit anything else.

Well, as you don’t know their hearts and yet are quite happy to question their motives, I think this makes your outrage sound rather hollow.

I think you are misreading me. I did not say (I hope) that they were dishonest (although given that they believed they are Simul justus et peccator, I think it odd that you would worry if I do not impute impeccability to them). I would simply observe that human nature tends to pick that which suits. I am quite sure that had the longer canon supported the Reformers they would have gone with it. I can hold that view without accusing them of dishonesty. It's pretty clear, is it not that there is something "on the hoof" about the Reformer's positions, sometimes? Luther promising his hat to the man who could reconcile James with his interpretation of Paul or having to retract mistranslations.

Could you clarify what you mean by this?

What I mean is that they are not equal positions. Wright is arguably misinterpreting scripture. The Reformers are arguably shaping scripture itself in the light of their interpretations.

Yes, it does defend it, it precisely defends the claim I was making.

It most certainly does not. This is what you wrote:

There is something a bit unnerving about a position which claims to have three equal sources of authority where one source of authority has effective control over the other two and means the Magisterium has no external check.

Now certainly we will not accept an external check on the Magisterium if you mean some Protestant's private judgement. But that does not mean there is no external check. No Catholic would accept what you have written here.

Also, saying that I am in the same epistemic boat as you does nothing for your position which states that you are in a better epistemic position than me.

I am not saying that you are in the epistemic boat. I am simply observing that there is a difference between scripture and its interpretation. You have no external check on your interpretation. We do.

Is it nit-picking to refute what someone says?

It is, if the point you make evades the substantive point, which was untouched.

it is entirely plausible that 2 Tim 3:16 has a broader referent than the OT

Special pleading, I'm afraid. Here's the whole passage:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Now clearly, Timothy cannot have been reading the NT since his childhood.

There is something, somewhat ironic about an appeal to 2 Tim.3.16 to defend the sufficiency of scripture (which it does not say) while relying on such inferences!

29 July 2013 at 16:03  
Blogger David Anderson said...

It is sad to see such an incisive and trenchant critic of secularism so ignorant of the full and final sufficiency of the work of Christ on the cross for our salvation.

Dr. Mullen; there is no need for purgatory, and the writers of the 39 articles criticised that doctrine, not because they did not see that they were filthy sinners, but because they did - and they saw that, as Scripture teaches, only the death of Christ (not any bearing of the penalty ourselves) can breach the gap.

Purgatory is wrong, then, for two reasons:
1) It under-estimates the work of Christ
2) It over-estimates out capacity to pay for our own sins.

The Reformers rightly saw that it was part-and-parcel of a doctrine of human-works-righteousness, and opposed to the evangel of free grace.

29 July 2013 at 16:03  
Blogger Albert said...

Rasher,

I'm a bit unclear on your interpretation of Paul here. It seems the passage has been evacuated of meaning.

why not compare this from your Catechism:

Would you kindly show me where the Catechism says that? It doesn't contradict 1 Thess 4, ironically.

29 July 2013 at 16:13  
Blogger Albert said...

David,

Purgatory is wrong, then, for two reasons:
1) It under-estimates the work of Christ
2) It over-estimates out capacity to pay for our own sins.


Another comment that shows a failure to understand purgatory.

29 July 2013 at 16:15  
Blogger Peter D said...

LEN said...
"Breaking News! Catholics may have to review their attitude to 'gays' following the Popes latest remarks!"

Why's that then? Besides, the views expressed were his personal opinions.

You seem to have odd views on rebuking Christians who may be heading for hell, as opposed to purgatory. Active homosexuality remains a perversity hated by God. Do you agree? And shouldn't people be warned of the probable consequences? Or, is it that once "born again" they can carry on in their sin?

Albert said...
"Len,
You really haven't understood a word that has been written, have you?"


Poor Len. He tries his best.

29 July 2013 at 16:20  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

HI Corrigan,

WOW! You are being very ecumenical there... are you feeling OK? What's next? Inspector 'coming out' or endorsing SSM?

I thought the one way, truth and life was the Catholic Church,not subscribing to Jewish theology...

hugs and kisses to you !

29 July 2013 at 16:47  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

29 July 2013 at 16:58  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Ardenjm,

I think my bro will be more than happy to have a dialogue with you...

I think you guys got off on the wrong foot, but attacking poor old uncle's views is a red flag to a bull. We allow him a bit a grace,given he's like an ancient tortoise (Grand Master Oogway- and it's not like flatmate is like the Kung Fu Panda, lol!) and a wonderful 'old chap'...

I think the problem is there are too many people with the first name of David. So for clarity I'll have to ask bro to change his first name to Dawid,Dāwîḏ; or something!

Hugs to you too!

29 July 2013 at 17:00  
Blogger The Explorer said...

An anecdote about Purgatory and Reformation England. (AS far as I remember, it's from Stephen Greenblatt.)

Pre-reformation: for the wealthy. Shorten your time in Purgatory by a) founding a chantry, or b) founding a hospital, and asking the inmates, in return, to pray for your soul.

Reformation. Problem. Chantries, simple: close them down. But who wants to close down a hospital? Solution. Leave it open: on condition that no inmate prays for the soul of the Founder. (How you would monitor that, given silent prayer, search me.)

29 July 2013 at 17:27  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Albert - why not tell us what you think Purgatory actually is - you've told just about everyone they don't understand it. Go on - enlighten us with a paragraph's summary.

Even if I give you the reference, you've said it's not relevant, so I don't see the point. Anyway - If you type in 'Catechism of Trent' you'll get this.

http://www.freecatholicebooks.com/books/catechism_of_trent.pdf

Find the article on 'He descended' and find it applied still, and purgatory taught.

"The souls of the just, on their
departure from this life, were either borne to the bosom of Abraham; or, as is still the case with those who have
something to be washed away or satisfied for, were purified in the fire of purgatory."

The torment described in my earlier quote is carried forward ("as is still the case").

In case you hadn't realised, one gives a descent to torment, the other an ascent to joy. That's where it falls short of the apostles doctrine.

29 July 2013 at 17:36  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Hannah,

That's what I like about you; you always seem to try and find good in people. Alas, I doubt myself and Corrigan will ever really agree on anything. Incidentally, I did pick up with the wiki on Purgatory that there are different classifications of sin; mortal sin and venial sin. Mortal sin is apparently unforgivable and venial sin is forgiveable (at least that's the Wiki view).

29 July 2013 at 17:39  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

PS, Wikipedia says the following are 'mortal sins' :


"The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) defines these sins as grave matter:[20]

(This is not necessarily all of the possible grave matters.)

Abortion (any formal cooperation in it)
Acceptance by human society of murderous famines without trying to fix it.
Adulation of another's grave faults if it makes one an accomplice in another's vices or grave sins, but it is not grave when it only seeks to be agreeable, to avoid evil, to meet a need, or to obtain legitimate advantages
Adultery
Blasphemy
Defrauding a worker of his wages
Deliberate failure to go to mass on Holy Days of Obligation unless excused for a serious reason or dispensed by one's own pastor[21]
Divination, magic, and sorcery
Divorce (If civil divorce, which cannot do anything to the spiritual marriage in the eyes of God, remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the protection of inheritance, or the care of the children it is not a sin.)[22]
Drug Abuse
Endangering their own and others' safety by drunkenness or a love of speed on the road, at sea or in the air
Envy (if to the level of wishing grave harm to another)
Euthanasia
Extreme Anger (at the level of truly and deliberately desiring to seriously hurt or kill someone)
Fornication
Hatred of a neighbor/to deliberately desire him or her great harm
Homosexual acts
Incest
Lying (the gravity is measured by "the truth it deforms, the circumstances, the intentions of the one who lies, and the harm suffered by its victims"[23] )
Masturbation
Murder (except when done in self-defense or defense of others when there is no other way)
Perjury and False Oaths
Polygamy
Pornography
Prostitution
Rape
Refusing or withholding a just wage
Rich nation's refusal to aid those which are unable to ensure the means of their development by themselves
Sacrilege
Scandal (deliberately causing someone to sin gravely)
Suicide
Terrorism that threatens, wounds and kills indiscriminately
Unfair wagers and cheating at games unless the damage is unusually light.

29 July 2013 at 17:42  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

Albert

I don't get your opening gambit, so perhaps you could clarify it. Surely, my position is the same as Calvin's?

Calvin believed in God’s comprehensive sovereignty, that all was a result of God’s decree. You seem to believe Him not to be the cause of evil, introducing a second ultimate principle in the universe.

Well, let us suppose that I grant, for the sake of argument, that that is a possible interpretation of the texts (and I don't think each text will fit that pattern). We're still left with the position in which my interpretation is possible. So scripture does not seem so clear. Remember: I am not proclaiming pelagianism, everything we are or do is as a result of grace and there is nothing we can do to merit that initial grace, nor, without grace, to merit anything else.

Well I believe good exegesis of reward texts will show them to be teaching the Protestant doctrine. And I also believe that clearer texts in scripture make justification by faith alone quite plain.

I don’t accuse Catholics of Pelagianism (denial of the necessity of grace), but of semi-Pelagianism (denial of the sufficiency of grace).

I think you are misreading me. I did not say (I hope) that they were dishonest (although given that they believed they are Simul justus et peccator, I think it odd that you would worry if I do not impute impeccability to them). I would simply observe that human nature tends to pick that which suits. I am quite sure that had the longer canon supported the Reformers they would have gone with it. I can hold that view without accusing them of dishonesty. It's pretty clear, is it not that there is something "on the hoof" about the Reformer's positions, sometimes? Luther promising his hat to the man who could reconcile James with his interpretation of Paul or having to retract mistranslations.

No I don’t think they give the impression of making up positions on the hoof. I think their published works show careful thought and study. Works like table talk, which give acontextual and often flippant remarks, may give that impression. As for your comments on the Reformers, they still seem inconsistent (to me) with your attitude to me suggesting N T Wright is influenced by the culture in his assessment of the women’s ordination issue.

There is something a bit unnerving about a position which claims to have three equal sources of authority where one source of authority has effective control over the other two and means the Magisterium has no external check.

Now certainly we will not accept an external check on the Magisterium if you mean some Protestant's private judgement. But that does not mean there is no external check. No Catholic would accept what you have written here.


No, but you’ve misread me. Perhaps I can clarify by rephrasing: There is something unnerving about a position which, whilst claiming to have three equal sources of authority, gives one source of authority effective control over the other two etc. Perhaps if I had added commas it would have been clearer, sorry about that.

I am not saying that you are in the epistemic boat. I am simply observing that there is a difference between scripture and its interpretation. You have no external check on your interpretation. We do.

Yes, but there is no check on the check. The check has pretensions of indefectibility. We only pretend indefectibility for the Scripture itself.

You are in the same epistemic boat because you have to privately assess the truth of the claims of the Roman Catholic Church before submitting yourself to its authority.

29 July 2013 at 17:45  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Clarification to the above post, apparently mortal sin needs to be confessed and forgiven, so they are not 'unforgivable' (I blame Wikipedia for contradicting itself, but a sub link tells you otherwise), if it's not repented of/confessed, it's straight to hell (apparently).

29 July 2013 at 17:46  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Now clearly, Timothy cannot have been reading the NT since his childhood.

There is something, somewhat ironic about an appeal to 2 Tim.3.16 to defend the sufficiency of scripture (which it does not say) while relying on such inferences!


True he can’t have read it since his childhood, but there is a movement from the scriptures which Timothy has read from childhood to all scripture. Since Paul viewed Luke’s gospel as Scripture, and his own writings as divinely inspired, the referent of verse 15 cannot be the same as the referent of verse 16. There is a movement from scripture to all scripture. Since this is a shift absolutely necessitated by the text, it’s hardly special pleading.

Obviously the OT is sufficient to instruct for salvation by faith in Christ Jesus, otherwise no-one in the OT (without apostolic tradition or Magisterium) was saved!

29 July 2013 at 17:46  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Ardenjm,

I would be happy to engage in discussions with you... when time permits!

29 July 2013 at 17:47  
Blogger Peter D said...

David K

Not quite Catholicism. All sins are forgivable.

Grave or mortal sin kills grace in the soul and has to be confessed to a priest. Until they are they preclude one from receiving Communion. Once forgiven by the priest through Christ, they leave a mark on the soul, a personal wound, that if not healed in this life has to purified in Purgatory.

29 July 2013 at 17:53  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Peter D,

Chillax that man!

I admitted my mistaken interpretation in my post at 17.46. As I've said before, that's the problem with reading outside material and why it is better to get theology from the horse's mouth (not to suggest that I compare you or Albert or Old Jim to a horse).

I was going to conclude with a praising bit of waffle about the new Pope, but I thought better of it...

29 July 2013 at 18:10  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

The other mystery is why in one of the ads opposite it says 'explore Brazilian singles', with a picture of a totally attractive woman in a pose that certainly endangers one to 'mortal sin'. I've never searched 'explore Brazilian singles'... so what's going on? Is it because I searched 'Pope Francis -Brazil'?

29 July 2013 at 18:13  
Blogger Albert said...

Thomas,

You seem to believe Him not to be the cause of evil, introducing a second ultimate principle in the universe.

No, I denied that evil is a thing, and therefore does not need a cause.

Well I believe good exegesis of reward texts will show them to be teaching the Protestant doctrine. And I also believe that clearer texts in scripture make justification by faith alone quite plain.

Which of course, I will refute. And remember, for Protestant teaching on scripture to be coherent, you need to be able to show that the Catholic position is obviously false.

I don’t accuse Catholics of Pelagianism (denial of the necessity of grace), but of semi-Pelagianism

Ironic, since Catholicism condemned semi-pelgianism 1000 years before Protestants ever existed.

No I don’t think they give the impression of making up positions on the hoof. I think their published works show careful thought and study. Works like table talk, which give acontextual and often flippant remarks, may give that impression.

Well, I don't find that convincing. Whatever the source, it is evident that Luther could not, at one time, at least, reconcile his doctrine of justification with that of James. That is to say, he could not reconcile his doctrine with that of scripture. Here's Luther's Preface of 1522:

In the first place it is flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture in ascribing justification to works. It says that Abraham was justified by his works when he offered his son Isaac; though in Romans 4 St. Paul teaches to the contrary that Abraham was justified apart from works, by his faith alone, before he had offered his son, and proves it by Moses in Genesis 15. Now although this epistle might be helped and an interpretation 2 devised for this justification by works, it cannot be defended in its application to works of Moses' statement in Genesis 15. For Moses is speaking here only of Abraham's faith, and not of his works, as St. Paul demonstrates in Romans 4. This fault, therefore, proves that this epistle is not the work of any apostle.

Now that cannot be characterised as "Works like table talk, which give acontextual and often flippant remarks, may give that impression", indeed, it is surely what you would call: published works show careful thought and study

In 1522 Luther, plainly and explicitly taught what he believed was contrary to scripture.

No, but you’ve misread me.

No I haven't. What I am objecting to, and what any Catholic would object to is your expression "no external check."

Yes, but there is no check on the check. The check has pretensions of indefectibility. We only pretend indefectibility for the Scripture itself.

Which just suggests you haven't understood the claim.

You are in the same epistemic boat because you have to privately assess the truth of the claims of the Roman Catholic Church before submitting yourself to its authority.

I do not claim to be able to propose propositions which I might be able to submit to de fide.

29 July 2013 at 18:14  
Blogger Albert said...

Thomas,

I think your interpretation of 2 Tim 3 is special pleading. This is ironic as you are wanting to rest the sufficiency of scripture on it. The simple fact is "all scripture" cannot, at the time of writing, have meant "all scripture" as you would have it as much of it wasn't written then. Therefore, if it mean sufficiency of scripture, as you mean it, later parts of the scriptures are necessarily excluded.

In any case, even if we let all that pass, it simply does not state the doctrine you claim it states.

Obviously the OT is sufficient to instruct for salvation by faith in Christ Jesus, otherwise no-one in the OT (without apostolic tradition or Magisterium) was saved!

Mmmm...I would have thought that they weren't saved until they received the preaching of Christ: 1 Pet.3.18-19. But if you mean to say the OT is sufficient, well and good. That is the position I was accusing you of saying.

29 July 2013 at 18:22  
Blogger Albert said...

Rasher,

When people refer to our Catechism, they tend to mean the one currently in use, not Trent - hence my difficulty finding the reference. I do not see how the passage is supposed to contradict St Paul, this is because Paul is talking about the eschaton. He is not making a claim about what happens prior to that. If he does, it comes in 1 Cor.3.

As for a definition of purgatory, you can find a good one in the current catechism:

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.The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect

Notice how different this is from the various Protestant characterisations. Firstly, no one is earning their way into heaven, they are in purgatory because of God's grace, and their salvation is already assured. Secondly, notice that it is something done to them (primarily, at any rate) "they undergo purification."

What's so hard here, to reconcile with 1 Cor.3?

29 July 2013 at 18:33  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Note, though, that no kind of ad would lead me into a 'mortal sin', as Mrs K is intelligent, articulate, tender, sweet, knows her own mind and doesn't like bull.

Her body is toned, with a sing song voice of the Welsh mountains; slender as a willow, but as athletic as an olympian, boasting ravishing elfin features and porcelain skin, like a nymph from a Greek Myth, whilst there is something timelessly mesmerising about her jet black hair and bright Sapphire eyes....

29 July 2013 at 18:40  
Blogger Albert said...

Sounds a bit pagan to me David!

29 July 2013 at 18:45  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

The Inspector is a God fearing man. He grins wryly and rolls his eyes when he hears of doing deals with God – like church acceptance of SSM, or the feminisation of the church itself, for example. But God is love they say. Is he really ? It’s been made perfectly clear that if we mess up in this life, we are damned. But what is this damnation. Is it where the soul is ushered into the furnace and the flames turned up, and the soul evaporates, Or is it the shower block where the soul be cleansed and put through the wringer ?

Do we really believe that a God who sent his son to earth to offer salvation to the lot of us, presumably an act of love, would vaporise those that fail this earthly test ?

So Protestant fellows. Be careful of being dismissive of purgatory. There is too much going for the concept to reject it out of hand. But at the same time, this man can understand the origins of its rejection. From the harsh thoughts of the Protestant pioneers, no less. They that needed no guidance to come to their narrow minded and bitterly stark conclusions…

Not sure about offering time off though. Is it in man’s remit to gift this ?





29 July 2013 at 18:46  
Blogger The Explorer said...

David K:

Hope she's reading your encomium.

29 July 2013 at 18:48  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Hello Inspector:

Glad to see you've survived Cressida.

Re the time off: what was the purpose of chantries?

29 July 2013 at 18:56  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Albert,

Not at all. Jews aren't so 'stiff upper lipped' when it comes to praising our better half or beloved in poetry or in romantic terms.

I think Solomon wrote a song about that in 'Shir Ha-Shirim' (song of songs), which is on the face of it about the love of two lovers, although others say the 'deeper' meaning is also about the love of G-d and humanity... [hence why we do include that scripture in our synagogue readings and why we have a Shabbat song, Lekah Dodi].

29 July 2013 at 18:59  
Blogger Albert said...

It was the nymph from a Greek Myth that I meant.

29 July 2013 at 19:07  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Besides which my step daughter, who is going to university, is all into classical mythology at the moment, so I'm 'boning up' on the ancient deities of the classical world (and it helps me understand my own faith viz Baal,Zeus and Jupiter!). Which is why I'll always say parenthood is such a joy.

29 July 2013 at 19:07  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Albert,

Ahem, I was writing in a somewhat passionate & passionate [sexual] metaphorically way re, Mrs K and a 'nymph'...

29 July 2013 at 19:12  
Blogger Albert said...

There you are - I knew there was paganism at the root of it!

29 July 2013 at 19:13  
Blogger Albert said...

I was writing in a somewhat passionate & passionate [sexual] metaphorically way re, Mrs K and a 'nymph'...

Errr...I'm not sure if I want to hear about it. What you do with your nymph is your own private business.

29 July 2013 at 19:14  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Explorer,

Oh yes & Mrs K is always trying to drag me away from posting here. As it is Monday, I have a bunch of flowers and chocolates for her... (:

29 July 2013 at 19:15  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Greetings Explorer. The purpose of chantries ? To get time off in purgatory of course !

Not saying it was a good thing or a bad thing, but questioning as to whether man has the authority to speed up judgement of the soul.

Incidentally, visited a few splendid examples in Tewkesbury abbey a couple of weeks back. Going back to a time when the area was controlled by around four powerful families, all of Norman stock. Each family had it’s own chantry and they were all close together, behind the high alter. One could imagine one chantry priest trying to outdo his neighbour on the pious praying and glory be front.

Who says you can’t have a laugh in church ?


29 July 2013 at 19:22  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Albert,

Singular, not plural (as we don't have multiple wives)... but I agree I shall leave you to debate the ins and outs of the theological, ontological and epistemology of the various erudite and spiritual discussion of Purgatory.

29 July 2013 at 19:22  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Albert,

Singular, not plural (as we don't have multiple wives)... but I agree I shall leave you to debate the ins and outs of the theological, ontological and epistemology of the various erudite and spiritual discussion of Purgatory.

29 July 2013 at 19:22  
Blogger Albert said...

David,

I shall leave you to debate the ins and outs of the theological, ontological and epistemology of the various erudite and spiritual discussion of Purgatory.

Thank you. It's so much more relaxing.

29 July 2013 at 19:28  
Blogger Peter D said...

Inspector

Basic Catholicism:

There are 3 possibilities when we die. First, straight to Heaven. Second, to Heaven via a stay in Purgatory. Finally, everlasting punishment and damnation in Hell.

29 July 2013 at 19:36  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Inspector:

Does man have the authority? Yes, if another man has the money: that seems to be the message of Chaucer's Pardoner.

On the other hand, does spending money in a good cause become an example of good works?

Belief in Purgatory sometimes had happy consequences: Balliol College, for one, if I'm not mistaken.

29 July 2013 at 19:37  
Blogger Albert said...

Explorer,

On the other hand, does spending money in a good cause become an example of good works?

I would say so:

About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, "Cornelius." And he stared at him in terror, and said, "What is it, Lord?" And he said to him, "Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.

Rather an awkward passage for Protestantism, I would have thought!

29 July 2013 at 19:40  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Indeed peter D, that is how the church has it. Wonder if it fits in with what God has in mind for us. When we know next to nothing of the hereafter and certainly none of the mechanics...

Explorer, one can think of no finer example of good works than to endow a church. When that bastard king took over Tewkesbury abbey, the population asked to purchase the church, which was allowed. The price being the value of the roof lead and bells. There was no Tewkesbury parish church. Presumption time here. The Benedictines must have been so impressed with the level of local support, they allowed the population to worship in the monks church, so they didn't need to build one. In contrast to St Peter’s abbey, down the road at Gloucester, where the monks shooed the population away to secular parishes. Fortunately, St Peters became Gloucester Cathedral, otherwise the royal blighter would have robbed that to the ground too.

29 July 2013 at 19:50  
Blogger Peter D said...

Inspector

In the situation of imperfect knowledge about God's greatest mysteries, I reckon its best to follow the teachings of His Church. And Christ did make it pretty clear there is an everlasting Hell.

One aims for Heaven but expects time in Purgatory. I pray for the souls of my family and friends who have gone before so that their time will be shortened.

29 July 2013 at 20:05  
Blogger IanCad said...

Peter D wrote @ 19:28--

"There are 3 possibilities when we die. First, straight to Heaven. Second, to Heaven via a stay in Purgatory. Finally, everlasting punishment and damnation in Hell.
"


None with a firm scriptural base.

29 July 2013 at 20:21  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "I pray for the souls of my family and friends who have gone before so that their time will be shortened."

Jeez, what a weird idea. Why do you buy into this rubbish?

29 July 2013 at 20:31  
Blogger Albert said...

Ian,

None with a firm scriptural base.

None? Not even heaven?

29 July 2013 at 20:35  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Peter D:

Like C S Lewis, I believe there must be some sort of purifying/purging ongoing after death before we are perfected; so I have sympathy with the idea of purgatory the condition, if not with Purgatory the place.

But I would see that as dependent on Christ and me: rather than on the prayers of others, however well intentioned.

29 July 2013 at 20:35  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

If sin on a human soul can be compared to bacteria on human skin, it does not sound unreasonable there is a place where you take ablutions, so to speak...

29 July 2013 at 20:40  
Blogger Peter D said...

DanJ0 said ...
"Jeez, what a weird idea. Why do you buy into this rubbish?"

Praying for the souls of the dead - rubbish? To me your opinion about a random and Godless universe is irrational.

Besides, according to my faith, you'll find out one day very soon why I believe it all.

29 July 2013 at 20:52  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Inspector:

Even if I were to concede you Purgatory the place, it would still be between Christ and me, and not dependent on the actions of those still on Earth.

The fact we are "asleep in Christ" need not mean we are comatose. From the limited data we have been given in the New Testament, I do not infer the concept of soul sleep: merely that we await our resurrection bodies.

29 July 2013 at 20:54  
Blogger IanCad said...

Now, Now Albert you are being a little guileful here.

The issue is not the existence of Heaven but the means of getting there and when.
Or otherwise.

29 July 2013 at 20:55  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...


DanJ0. Jeez, what a weird idea. Why do you buy into this rubbish?

Come on son, contemplate our Creator with us, on this very site. All you need to do is to renounce anal and sing ‘Amazing Grace’...

What are you waiting for ??


29 July 2013 at 20:58  
Blogger Peter D said...

Inspector
A good analogy! I was taught to think of it like a nail hammered into a piece of wood. Confession removes the nail but leaves a scar. Purgatory restores the soul to perfection.

Explorere said ...
"But I would see that as dependent on Christ and me: rather than on the prayers of others, however well intentioned."

I understand the qualms. Somehow indulgences don't seem quite right and, as we know, the practice is open to misunderstanding and abuse.

Once we're in Purgatory there's really not much we can do but suffer! Prayers, good acts and other acts of mercy in our life time and by others after our death, are means to help our souls reach the perfection needed to achieve the Beatific vision.

29 July 2013 at 21:01  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Explorer, one has the horrible thought from time to time that our resurrected bodies leads to a return to this place again. Really don’t want to risk scrapping a subsistence from a Calcutta rubbish dump next time round...

God save us all...

29 July 2013 at 21:02  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Inspector:

That sounds like reincarnation. I hope you don't think that's what I'm suggesting?

I'm talking 'I Corinthians 15: 42ff'. A totally different thing: and something Protestants and Catholics believe in common.

29 July 2013 at 21:15  
Blogger Albert said...

Ian,

Now, Now Albert you are being a little guileful here.

The issue is not the existence of Heaven but the means of getting there and when.


No, I wasn't being guileful. You mean no one can go straight to heaven?

29 July 2013 at 21:25  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

I was always fascinated by the description in Newman's "Dream of Gerontius" - the soul flying to the feet of Christ though wrapped in fire, and desiring to be purified and made fit to be with God.

Angel
…. Praise to His Name!
The eager spirit has darted from my hold,
And, with the intemperate energy of love,
Flies to the dear feet of Emmanuel;
But, ere it reach them, the keen sanctity,
Which with its effluence, like a glory, clothes
And circles round the Crucified, has seized,
And scorch'd, and shrivell'd it; and now it lies
Passive and still before the awful Throne.
O happy, suffering soul! for it is safe,
Consumed, yet quicken'd, by the glance of God.

Soul
Take me away, and in the lowest deep
There let me be
And there in hope the lone night-watches keep,
Told out for me.
There, motionless and happy in my pain"


Newman I think came close to the truth there. But none of us will know this side of death.

29 July 2013 at 21:27  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

So where do indulgences -like buying one's way into the after life- fit into this theology? I'm told the Pope is offering these indulgences if they follow him on twitter?

29 July 2013 at 21:30  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Hannah

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/07/17/sorry-you-cant-get-out-of-hell-by-retweeting-the-pope/

Very good explanation - and it isn't as simple as following the Pope on Twitter, despite what the Guardian thinks :)

29 July 2013 at 21:32  
Blogger IanCad said...

Albert,

Enoch and Elijah both went directly to Heaven. (Translated)
Biblical writings make it clear that when we die we sleep.
To be reawakened at the first resurrection if we are to be with Christ in Heaven.

29 July 2013 at 21:45  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...


Taking little comfort there Explorer. Might have to start patting Hindu children on the head. Anywhere but Calcutta...

“Police are after a white man in the Gloucester area who pats Hindu children on the head. We think he’s a sick individual, says city Superintendent”

29 July 2013 at 21:53  
Blogger Albert said...

Ian,

Enoch and Elijah both went directly to Heaven. (Translated)

So we can go straight to heaven.

29 July 2013 at 22:00  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Ian:

My understanding is that there are two schools of thought within Protestantism.

One is that we are judged immediately after death, and go to a temporary heaven or a temporary hell. The judgement is confirmed at the Last Judgment (when those alive at the time are judged): followed by the new Heaven and the new Earth.

The other is sleep for all until the Last Judgement.

The first allows for some sort of spiritual progress after death; the other doesn't.

29 July 2013 at 22:00  
Blogger Albert said...

Hannah,

So where do indulgences -like buying one's way into the after life- fit into this theology?

They don't. Indulgences do not mean buying one's way into after life.

29 July 2013 at 22:01  
Blogger Martin said...

Jesus paid the penalty for my sin on the cross, every sin. If I think that I can add one tiny part to what Jesus did I am putting myself in God's place. If I think that a place like purgatory can add to what Christ did I am guilty of idolatry just as if I 'venerated' saints or Mary.

Purgatory misses the whole point of the gospel, we are helpless, we have nothing to offer God but God saves His people.

29 July 2013 at 22:02  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Inspector:

Sorry to labour the point, but do you know what 'I Corinthians 15:42ff' actually says?

29 July 2013 at 22:02  
Blogger Peter D said...

Sister Tiberius
What a wonderful extract from Newman's "Dream of Gerontius".

Hannah
Indulgences are not that easy to obtain!

Here's the theology:
"An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints".

The gaining of indulgences require certain prescribed conditions and the performance of certain prescribed works.

To gain indulgences it is necessary to be in a state of grace i.e. one must be a Catholic, not excommunicated or in schism.

In order to obtain a plenary indulgence the faithful must, in addition to being in a state of grace: have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin (not easily achieved); have sacramentally confessed their sins;
have received Holy Eucharist; and pray for the intentions of the Pope.

Indulgences can be applied to oneself or to the souls of the deceased, but they cannot be applied to other living persons.

So randomly following the Pope on Twitter just doesn't count!

29 July 2013 at 22:07  
Blogger IanCad said...

Albert,

Pretty much right.
Obviously I'm with the latter group.
One quibble however; I think nearly all Protestants reject the doctrine of some sort of Limbo or Purgatory. Those of your former cited group believe they go straight to Heaven or to Hell.
Again, I would suggest they are most certainly not following Scripture.

29 July 2013 at 22:09  
Blogger Albert said...

Sr T,

Thank you for the blog on the indulgence. I'd also tried to find an original source, but it seems the Guardian doesn't need accuracy when it is knocking the Bride of Christ.

My favourite element of Newman's theology of purgatory in Gerontius is this sort of thing:

Consumed, yet quicken'd, by the glance of God...

Learn that the flame of the Everlasting Love
Doth burn ere it transform

29 July 2013 at 22:10  
Blogger Albert said...

Martin,

Purgatory misses the whole point of the gospel

Or maybe your post misses the whole point of the doctrine of purgatory.

29 July 2013 at 22:12  
Blogger Albert said...

Ian,

Well then I'm very confused. What were you taking me to task for?!

29 July 2013 at 22:12  
Blogger Albert said...

Just one final comment for the night. It is truly remarkable how necessary it has been for Protestants to misrepresent the doctrine of purgatory. I don't mean anyone here is guilty of dishonesty, I mean that Protestant apologists have evidently consistently misrepresented what we teach (and with it, what we teach about grace).

I wonder why that is.

29 July 2013 at 22:15  
Blogger Martin said...

The Bride of Christ is Christ's Church, the congregation of His people whom He has chosen before the foundation of the Earth.

They are saved by His sacrifice alone, not by any work that they may have done either on Earth or in any other place. They are saved by faith alone in His gracious mercy, a faith which God gives them.

Nothing of their salvation is of them, it is in its entirety of Christ.

29 July 2013 at 22:16  
Blogger Albert said...

If you mean by that, Martin that salvation is extraneous to us, I say that is not salvation.

29 July 2013 at 22:19  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Albert. Imperfectly purified. Achieve the holiness necessary.

Does being present at the eschaton give you points? Go straight to heaven and do not pass purgy?

Tell me how people are made holy, exactly.

Round and round and round we go...

Night night.

29 July 2013 at 22:20  
Blogger Martin said...

Albert

I mean we can do nothing to save ourselves, it is God who saves, not us because we are dead in our sins and incapable of pleasing Him.

29 July 2013 at 22:30  
Blogger Peter D said...

Martin
You have such a gloomy view of God's people. All this "dead in our sins" and "we can do nothing to save ourselves" mantra is so negative. We are born again with Christ at our Baptism, we die to sin and are raised with Him. We then embark on a life long journey with Him sparked and sustained by His Grace.

And of course we can please God!

Are all protestants so morbid or is it just Calvinists?

29 July 2013 at 23:02  
Blogger Martin said...

We are born again when Christ saves us, water baptism is merely a sign that this has happened.

The glorious thing is that though we were dead we are made alive, the heart of stone is removed and replaced with a heart of flesh.

We are saved to be His always, saved to do His works that He might be glorified in what we do.

It isn't morbid, it is wonderful, glorious, that we can go straight to Heaven clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

29 July 2013 at 23:08  
Blogger Peter D said...

IanCad

So many different 'theories' around and, of course, all are based on 'sola scriptura' - except they can't be, can they? Because, well, they are all different. And, who knows, tomorrow someone may dream up another one through private judgement. Frankly, it's hard to keep up.

Best stick with the Church so clearly scripturally established by Christ to lead us to all truth.

29 July 2013 at 23:09  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Explorer. Yes, but forgive this man. He has a lesser faith in the bible than you do...

29 July 2013 at 23:10  
Blogger Peter D said...

Martin

"clothed in the righteousness of Christ

Ummmm .... so you don't believe people are ever truly sanctified and made perfect before standing in the presence of God? They are cloaked? To me that's morbid.

29 July 2013 at 23:13  
Blogger Martin said...

Peter

Have you not read the parable of the wedding feast? We are sanctified by receiving Christ's righteousness, we have none of our own. If you try to get to Heaven based on your own righteousness you will be chucked out, just as the guest was.

How could we be righteous before the holy God. We cannot even atone for our own sins because it would take us an eternity of suffering to pay for them.

Frankly I see nothing morbid about it. It is glorious and reflects great glory on God who makes us righteous.

29 July 2013 at 23:22  
Blogger Peter D said...

Martin
Now you're (willfully?) misinterpreting what I've said.

"We are sanctified by receiving Christ's righteousness, we have none of our own."

Accepted we need to be one with Christ, through His unmerited Grace, to begin the process of sanctification. We need God's will to become our own free will.

"If you try to get to Heaven based on your own righteousness you will be chucked out, just as the guest was."

Well, yes, Catholics believe this. We have to cooperate with Christ and become perfect like Him before we can stand before God.

"How could we be righteous before the holy God. We cannot even atone for our own sins because it would take us an eternity of suffering to pay for them."

Agreed but Catholic's are referring to temporal reparation for sins committed after having accepted Christ's atonement. And we do have to be perfect - not just "cloaked" - to stand before God. We have to become the very image of Christ.

It intrigues me how protestants cry for earthly punishment for crime. The death penalty, for example, to restore a sense of moral order after a grievous crime or pain and suffering in prison. Yet they go into denial when the possibility of such temporal suffering is necessary after death.

"Frankly I see nothing morbid about it. It is glorious and reflects great glory on God who makes us righteous."

There you go again. God alone makes us righteous - no action on our part at all. No free will. We are either saved or damned before the world began. You overlook the fact that Christ died for all of us. He offers His grace to us all. For some it is efficacious; for others it is sufficient. Why? This is a great mystery. However you look at it, we have a part to play and we will need to make reparation for the temporal consequences of our individual sins.

30 July 2013 at 00:12  
Blogger Peter D said...

Inspector said...
"Explorer. Yes, but forgive this man. He has a lesser faith in the bible than you do..."

Chin up, that man. Who can fathom the bible? Really? Christians have been debating its intricacies for nigh on 2000 years!

The Church is all you need. The Truth existed before scripture. It resides in Christ's Church.

30 July 2013 at 00:17  
Blogger OldJim said...

Ok, Len

Let me see if I can explain. Because it seems to me that my co-religionists have on occasion become so frustrated with their feeling that their fellow Christians do not understand them that they have not payed adequate attention to making themselves fully understood.

Say that I have been living a dissolute life as a drug addict. My addiction has led me to do awful things - I have hurt and robbed people to feed my habit. Finally the law catches up with me. I am put on trial. I know I am guilty of all of the things of which I am accused. A hefty sentence is passed.

Then, at the last minute, a man appears, and he says "I will take the sentence. Free this man." Joy of joys! What undeserved and unspeakable generosity is this?

This kindness breaks my heart: in this stranger's love, I see the standing reproach to the awful way I have lived my life, and suddenly I do not want to simply be set free.

Because his love for me makes me see that I should not want to hurt my fellows me ever again, and I am still addicted to drugs.

The man can pay the price of my crimes, he can and will even stand by me, nurse me, care for me, but he cannot go through withdrawal for me. If my body is to be returned to its healthy state, a state in which I can once again walk amongst my fellows without causing them harm, it must go through the pain of becoming healthy, the agony of being fixed.

This is what purgatory is: it is not the just price of my wrongdoing, which Christ pays, it is the painful process of destroying in my soul the habits of mind that cause and lead to wrongdoing.

Grace is the manner in which they are fixed, and without God I could not be healed. But in order to stand in His presence, I do need to be healed. That might happen on Earth, with His aid.

But what if I repent at the last moment? What if Christ comes to me as I die? We are agreed that Christ will not say "You did not do good works whilst on Earth, so to Hell with you!". No one would be saved by such a standard.

But whilst Christ may pay the price of my sin, where is my opportunity, now I am dead, to be healed of my propensity to sin, and to be made humanly fit to stand in God's holy presence? I do not ask to be made worthy of God; no created being ever could be. I do not ask to be made justified to stand in God's presence, I know that I have sinned and only Christ can render it just that I stand at His throne, not my own efforts. But, having been cleansed of my sins, I am still not the way God intended me and the way He made me. My soul has been corrupted by my habits of sin, and how can I stand before my God so corrupted?

It is this, along with some Scriptural verses, that leads Catholics to believe in a Heavenly rehabilitation clinic. All those saved by Christ have a place in heaven by virtue of His Sacrifice. But few of those who die in Christ have walked with Him so far as to have been wiped clean all through; the Catholic believes that God can and will wipe us clean all through, heal us, and make us, if not worthy, then at least fit to be with Him.

30 July 2013 at 06:50  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Inspector/Peter D:

Just for clarification, I'm not arguing it must be true because the Bible says it is.

I'm saying that Paul's concept of the resurrection body is completely unlike the Hindu concept of reincarnation.

30 July 2013 at 06:55  
Blogger OldJim said...

So I suppose my question to Protestants would be:

You know, I suppose, that a man might genuinely have an experience of Christ, and come to faith in Him, and then, like a dog returning to his vomit, sin again. And you know that he will not usually pick a new sin at random: that he will return to the sins that have formed a habit in his soul.

These habits can often be healed, in time; but in most people, not all of them, and not always.

So: we are agreed that the sins of our past life form a great gulf between us and God, and that Christ, paying the penalty for our sins, allows us to be admitted to Salvation, and this through Grace, and not of our own merits.

But you are presumably also agreed that objectionable thoughts, temptations and tendencies to sin remain. Some heal, some do not.

When we die, which of the following do you think pertains?

A)Christ pays the price for our past sins, but the disfigured tendency to sin remains on our souls; we are admitted to God's presence "robed in Christ", like dung covered in snow.

B)All of our evil habits drop off with Original Sin at the point of death; the creature that comes out of the grave is markedly different from the creature that went in.

Or, on the same line of thought:

c)At the moment of death, God changes our personalities to render them more fitting for Him. We do not "experience" this, we just "wake up" that way.


Or is there something else that I am missing?

We are all of us agreed, you see, that man cannot pay the price of the sins he committed on earth. Only Christ can bear that burden, it is foolishness to seek it on our own merit. What we are talking about is the manner in which man's propensity to sin, the deformities of soul he has acquired from sinning, are fixed.

We are agreed that man cannot fix them on his own, and that they are fixed by Grace. If you think that they can be fixed on Earth, equally, I agree.

But we surely agree that many men who had a lively faith in Christ at death were still wounded and haunted by grave and ugly temptations caused by the habits of their sinful life. The question is: How are these cast off?

30 July 2013 at 07:06  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Old Jim:

What if I repent at the last moment?

As I have said earlier in the thread, I have sympathy with the sort of view you are expressing.

What do you make, though, of the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard? The late arrivals who receive the same payment as those who have been there for a while. The older brother's reaction to the Prodigal Son? What is the point being made there?

Why did Christ not tell the repentant thief he would need Purgatory first? There's a late conversion if ever there was one.

30 July 2013 at 07:14  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Old Jim:

As a Protestant (loosely) myself, I would point out to fellow Protestants the passage in 'Revelation' 22 about the New Jerusalem. The trees with the leaves that are for the healing of the nations.

That suggests some sort of ongoing process within Heaven itself.

I don't pretend to know. I am content to trust in Christ, and find out.

30 July 2013 at 07:41  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Come on Albert, I'm sitting in purgatory. Why, when I was given the viaticum?

And I get here by inadequate Roman Catholic rites, how do I get out again? Either there's no point in the viaticum or I shouldn't be here. Oh hang on, my friends can pray to release me and pay too - yes that was the original plan. My loved ones are told I'm not with Christ yet - I might be here for a thousand years in misery. So get praying and paying, because there's nothing I can do now, I'm banged up like Old Dorrit in the Marshalsea, and not even the Roman Catholic Church who put me here know how I get out.

The more I think about it, the more monstrous the whole thing becomes, wrought by centuries of allegorising.

Call no man on earth Father. Go on - get on with it. Start with something easy.

30 July 2013 at 07:55  
Blogger OldJim said...

Well, Explorer, to be perfectly clear, I do not believe in purgatory because of the argument or picture I am espousing; it is not the ground of my belief. The ground of my belief is the set of scriptural texts: Malachi 3:1-3, 2 Maccabees 12:38-46, 1 Corinthians 3:10-17, 1 Peter 7; the Christian practice of praying for the dead, and the teaching of my Church.

The use of the picture presented is neither to propound the ground of my belief, nor to persuade others. Rather, it is there to illustrate the place that purgatory occupies in Catholic Soteriology. I do not expect any protestant to change their mind on the basis of my explanation; I only hope that it may change the tone and substance of their objections.

Because it is one thing to be told that ones' argument is "unscriptural", "contrary to the teaching of the reformers", "based upon the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church". The former one expects, the latter two I consider merits rather than defects of my position. But it is quite another thing to be told that one is preaching "another Gospel".

The use of the picture is that it makes utterly lucid the difference between justification and sanctification, and that, notwithstanding some arguments around the scope and meaning of the concept "free will", it makes clear that both Catholics and Protestants assert that Christ is the only source and the only possible source of our Justification, and not our own efforts. I also attempt to make clear that grace is a necessary means of Sanctification, too.

The question is wholly one of the mode or manner by which Sanctification is achieved, if we are agreed that it is Gods' purpose so to achieve.

But, that understood: to answer your question. The parables of the workers and of the prodigal son both make the same point: we are not justified on account of our having done "more good" than others, because good and evil are not rival principles to be balanced in some cosmic ledger; we are to avoid all and any instances of evil, and all and any instances cannot be atoned for by "equal or greater" instances of good. Therefore, dependent as we are on God for our justification, we are not in a position to feel that He has outraged our sense of justice in Justifying whosoever he chooses. The topic of sanctification is not under discussion. It is an instance of milk before solid food, not a denial of the doctrine I am espousing.

As far as the thief on the cross goes, that is even more simply answered. Leaving aside the fact that Only God can see into the man's soul, Christ did not go to Heaven upon his death; he went to Harrow Hell; to Abraham's bosom, to preach the gospel to the righteous gentiles and to the Jews of the Old Testament who had a faith in God and did what they could to keep the law, but did not have an explicit faith in Him as Saviour.

This is the "Paradise" to which Christ must be referring. And so the question of when and in what circumstances the thief on the cross went to heaven is not at issue; it suffices for us to know that Christ's promise was kept, and that the thief was indeed destined for Heaven.

30 July 2013 at 08:01  
Blogger William Lewis said...

Old Jim @ 07:06

Or is there something else that I am missing?

Yes:

D) Trust in God.

for

"When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

30 July 2013 at 08:21  
Blogger OldJim said...

William Lewia

A wise position, I am sure. I just hope that I have helped my Protestant fellow-Christians see that my belief in Purgatory isn't contrary to the Gospel; it is actually a manifestation of that very trust in God of which you speak.

I'm also wondering how my fellow-Catholics might feel about my use of the concepts of "justification" and "sanctification" as separate and separable events -- usually a protestant stalwart, I realised as I was writing that in this instance they could be used profitably to express the distinction between the full and perfect salvation offered in Christ and the need for purification expressed in the doctrine of Purgatory.

30 July 2013 at 08:39  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Old Jim:

Thank you for your response.

For me, there are no saints who have fast tracked it into Heaven. All those who have responded to Christ are saints, and all are in Heaven enjoying a current state of rest before the bodily resurrection: in which state there may be development. That may come, though, only after the Last Judgement/New Heaven & Earth. I don't think we've been given enough date to say with certainty.

You spoke of "co-religionists". For me, Catholics are my co-religionists (although some of them, I know, would not say the same about me).

There are differences of emphasis (and probably we need each other, this side of eternity, since each side has strengths the other lacks) but they fade when we compare ourselves with say a Buddhist, a Muslim or a social Utopian.

30 July 2013 at 08:42  
Blogger William Lewis said...

OldJim

"... my belief in Purgatory isn't contrary to the Gospel"

Not explicitly no, although it does seem to question the efficaciousness of Christ's sacrifice. What would be contrary to the Gospel, though, is if a concept of Purgatory was used by the Church to promote extortion. That would be a travesty. It would be better to do away with the whole questionable concept all together and trust that God had it covered, in my view.

30 July 2013 at 09:05  
Blogger Albert said...

Martin,

I mean we can do nothing to save ourselves, it is God who saves, not us because we are dead in our sins and incapable of pleasing Him.

But a Catholic could say that too. The question is, what do you mean by that (this is what Peter's response has been trying to tease out)? Consequently, I think that we can best address this, by addressing the question I originally put:

Do you mean salvation is extraneous to us?

30 July 2013 at 09:09  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Old Jim:

I should have included the Orthodox tradition.

I have benefited from the work of, say, David Bentley Hart; just as I have from a Catholic like Luke Timothy Johnson.

30 July 2013 at 09:11  
Blogger IanCad said...

The Explorer wrote:

"---All those who have responded to Christ are saints, and all are in Heaven enjoying a current state of rest before the bodily resurrection---"


For the life of me I can see no Biblical basis for such an assertion.

30 July 2013 at 09:12  
Blogger Albert said...

Rasher,

You have said you understand purgatory, but your comments suggest you don't (and your increasing flippancy makes me minded not to reply).

I'm sitting in purgatory. Why, when I was given the viaticum?

You need to distinguish between salvation and purification. Viaticum, unless also grants an indulgence, relates to the former. Thus, the fact that you are in purgatory, could well be the result of viaticum.

30 July 2013 at 09:13  
Blogger Albert said...

William Lewis,

Not explicitly no, although it does seem to question the efficaciousness of Christ's sacrifice.

Not at all. Purification is as a result of the efficaciousness of Christ's sacrifice.

30 July 2013 at 09:16  
Blogger The Explorer said...

William Lewis:

On the subject of extortion, there's Chaucer's Pardoner:

"If there be one among you that is willing
To have my absolution for a shilling..."

There is no doubt that extortion did happen; although it must be pointed out that there were Catholics, as well as Reformers, who decried the practice.

30 July 2013 at 09:16  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Ian Cad:

On who's a saint: 'I Corinthians 1:2'; Philippians 1:1. (It will, I grant you, depend on which translation you refer to.)

On who's in Heaven, what's your answer to my question early in the thread about All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day?

30 July 2013 at 09:27  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Ian:

Let me put it another way.

It speaks in 'Revelation' about the saints under the altar.

Who are these saints? Are they the only ones in Heaven? If so, where is everybody else?

30 July 2013 at 09:52  
Blogger William Lewis said...

Albert

"Not at all. Purification is as a result of the efficaciousness of Christ's sacrifice."

Yet Purgatory is also a temporal punishment that can be alleviated by prayer and indulgences, is it not?

30 July 2013 at 09:53  
Blogger Peter Simpson said...

@Gael wrote, "Who says that it is not the Blood of Christ that continues to work in Purgatory?"

In amicable response, Because on the Lord's own testimony, His sacrificial work on the Cross is finished. What kind of "great salvation" is it to pass into an indeterminate period of punishment?

Also God has given believers the Holy Spirit to overcome their sin whilst here on this earth. Now is the time to be purged of our uncleanness.

There is an urgency about receiving the Gospel (Hebrews 4:7). This is because we only have this life to deal with the sin problem. If sin can be dealt with in the life to come, that takes away the urgency.

The process of purging/cleansing takes place in this life or not at all. This is what Paul teaches in 2Corinthians 7:1 - "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God".

To all RC friends I ask courteously, If purgatory be true, why did the thief on the Cross not have to go there, who surely had plenty of sin from which to be purged? Yet the Lord said that he would be with Him in paradise that very same day.

Pastor Peter Simpson.

30 July 2013 at 09:54  
Blogger Albert said...

William Lewis,

Yet Purgatory is also a temporal punishment that can be alleviated by prayer and indulgences, is it not?

Yes. Why is that in conflict with the efficaciousness of Christ's sacrifice?

30 July 2013 at 10:01  
Blogger Albert said...

Pastor Peter,

In amicable response, Because on the Lord's own testimony, His sacrificial work on the Cross is finished.

Yes, his sacrifice is finished, but no one is justified in that moment. The process of justification begins then.

If sin can be dealt with in the life to come, that takes away the urgency.

We are not talking about forgiveness of sins. We are talking about being cleansed of the consequences of sin. Anyone who is in purgatory has already had their sins forgiven and their friendship with God restored.

I think the passage about the repentant thief is difficult to make the point you want. Firstly, because paradise is probably not heaven, secondly because the whole language of "today you will be" is difficult. Elsewhere scripture teaches Christ went and preached to the spirits in prison.

But most importantly, because it is possible, to be perfectly purified by perfect repentance. So the passage might be teaching that - together with the fact that the thief is already doing extreme penance "the just punishment for our crimes." Now knowing that all this is happening in the presence of Christ himself, and putting all those things together, it strikes me as being eminently reasonable to suppose the thief when he died, needed no further purification.

30 July 2013 at 10:09  
Blogger Albert said...

Pastor Peter,

What's your take on 1 Cor.3.10-15?

30 July 2013 at 10:11  
Blogger IanCad said...

The Explorer; No wonder poor Albert was confused, in response to your post @ 22:00 I addressed him. I have on previous occassions baffled him; as I also quite regularly confuse myself I'm sure he'll let it pass.

"On who's in Heaven"?

I would assume, among others, vast legions of unfallen angels.

"All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day"

Well, I'm sure many well meaning people hold them dear. I would suggest that like Christmas and Easter, if you scratch the surface you will find at the root pagan origins

30 July 2013 at 10:16  
Blogger William Lewis said...

Albert

"Yes. Why is that in conflict with the efficaciousness of Christ's sacrifice?"

Did not Christ take on all our punishment on the cross?

30 July 2013 at 10:30  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Sister Tibs,

Thanks for that link and the explanation. I did think it a bit odd, but that's the Guardian all over.

30 July 2013 at 10:34  
Blogger Albert said...

William Lewis,

Did not Christ take on all our punishment on the cross?

Where in scripture does it say exactly that?

30 July 2013 at 10:44  
Blogger IanCad said...

Sorry, The Explorer, I didn't see your next post re: "The souls under the altar"
(Rev. 6:9)

Note, if you read further, these are those who were slain for the word of God and the testimony which they held.

In Rev.12:17 these are defined as the remnant: Those who remained faithful to the law of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ

30 July 2013 at 10:48  
Blogger LEN said...

I think we must be very careful not to lead people astray with false doctrines because we will be held accountable to God for promoting doctrines which rob people of their salvation.
God`s ordained method of salvation is made crystal clear in the scriptures if we add to Christ`s FINISHED Work at Calvary we are actually deceiving people (wittingly or not) and we will be held accountable for those lost souls.

30 July 2013 at 10:53  
Blogger Tim Sloan said...

I've read through virtually every comment above and noticed there has been much discussion around the role of faith and grace in complete salvation (justification, sanctification, glorification). I thought I would have a go at setting out what I understand these to be. I would be interested to know if anything I write puts me in conflict with the established Catholic or Protestant positions.

Eph 2:8-9 - we understand we are saved by grace not works and we enter into this by faith - even our faith was the result of God's working in our hearts, drawing us to Him.

Heb 6:17-19 - the original covenant was between a perfect God and imperfect man - this was to show that man was incapable of holding up his side of the bargain. The 'new' covenant has a perfect God holding up both sides of the bargain - Father agrees with Son, the Spirit enacts. As we place our hope fully in this and nothing else, we enter in through the veil into His most intimate presence.

Matt 5:34 - "Daughter, your faith has made you well" - Jesus attributes the woman's healing (and we could infer by extension our salvation) to the active steps she made to take hold of Him, touching His garment.

John 6:29 - whenever we are 'working' it is in engaging in the process of faith. Our faith must be tried, it must be perfected, it must demonstrate its authenticity by the way we live.

Matthew 7:21-23 - faith is about relationship - we need to know the person in whom we place our trust. Doing or claiming to believe 'the right things' will not ultimately save us, but rather knowing Him will, as this enables us to do the will of the Father - which we could not otherwise do.

Matthew 25:10-12 - the wise and foolish virgins - those who were prepared entered in. Those who weren't didn't. I don't see any suggestion of a second chance at this point. Both sets of virgins were waiting for the bridegroom - but some of them lacked something essential - what was that?

One of my favourite spiritual writers is St John of the Cross. In the Dark Night of the Soul he speaks about how when the light of divine love strikes a corrupt spirit the person experiences intense pain as it is purified. Therefore the process of sanctification could be experienced as like 'purgatory' in this life. I know from personal experience that the touches of divine discipline are certainly painful but ultimately lifegiving. In that sense, it makes sense to me that some form of 'discipline' may be an essential part of judgement for the faithful, although again I am not sure why this would necessitate a period of time. (is there even a concept of time in eternity??)

30 July 2013 at 10:53  
Blogger LEN said...

'Matthew 25:10-12 - the wise and foolish virgins - those who were prepared entered in. Those who weren't didn't. I don't see any suggestion of a second chance at this point. Both sets of virgins were waiting for the bridegroom - but some of them lacked something essential - what was that?'

Jesus will say to some who approach him "Depart from me you workers of iniquity"(these people obviously though they were 'Christians' )and described the 'works' they had done in His name.
Jesus also described those who attempted to climb into the sheepfold without entering through the Gate(Himself.)
Jesus is describing peoples attempts to reach God through means other than being united One Spirit with Him that is why He says " I knew you not" He knows who belongs to Him who is united One Spirit with Him.That is also why Jesus gave the direct command " You MUST be born again" ie linked One Spirit with Him.

30 July 2013 at 11:04  

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