Tag Archives: prayer

Purgatory: How Catholics Prove It Exists


The history of purgatory in ab0ut 805 words.

Ever wonder how Roman Catholics prove the doctrine of purgatory?

Yeah, me too.

That’s why I did a little digging recently.

Here’s what I found.

Purgatory: The Essentials

First, let’s define purgatory.

In a nutshell, purgatory is a place where redeemed souls go to purge their load of venial [forgivable] sins.

It’s a process of purification before they enter heaven.

Here’s what the :

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.

How long does a redeemed soul spend in purgatory? From what I can find, as long as it takes to purge those  sins.

Two days. Two millions years. Just depends.

See, your success in purgatory depends on you. That means you can fail purgatory. No one guarantees you’ll persevere.

Not even God.

However, the good news is that the living can affect your duration. They can pray for you. [See point below.]

So how does one get purged? Fire. It’s a good guess this is a metaphorical fire, but the point is purification–and pain.

Much of what we understand about purgatory originates from Dante’s –depicted as a mountain in the southern hemisphere with Jerusalem at the top, for instance [image above]–is sheer imagination.

Beautiful, but make believe. Which brings us back to our original question.

Purgatory: The Catholic Proofs

So, how do Catholics prove purgatory exists?

Well, for starters, it’s good to know that purgatory is inextricably wedded to the doctrine of . That means you can’t talk about one without talking about the other.

This is how it works.

Both doctrines have their seeds far back in certain pagan religions.

After that, a prayer for the dead can be found in the Old Testament. The catholic Old Testament. The  to be exact. In the context of Maccabeus leaders praying for the dead.

Then, early Christian church catacomb inscriptions bear witness to prayers for the dead.

Next, Catholics find proof in the New Testament. The two main texts used occur in  and .

After that, the doctrine gets it traction in the early church fathers–think Augustine, Bede, Jerome. This is the argument from tradition.

Protestants Reject Purgatory

The doctrine wasn’t seriously challenged until 1,000 years later–early 1500s–when the Reformers rolled up on the scene.

What was at stake? Justification by faith alone–Luther’s pivotal beef with the Catholic church.

The Catholics defended that justification was a life long process as demonstrated by the long history–from pagan to early church to present–of the doctrine.

But the Reformers disagreed.


Not to be rebuffed, the  affirmed that purgatory is necessary to blot out the full debt of venial sins.

What Luther and Co. argued was purgatory amounted to justification mingled with sanctification. Basically justification equals prayer and fasting in this life…fire in the next.

Purgatory: The Protestant Objection

With a formidable case for purgatory, why would any Protestant in his right mind reject it? Several reasons.

First, sola scriptura.

Affirming purgatory–with it’s rich, deep roots in tradition– otherwise compromises the very  as the Protestants rule of faith.

And what does that rule of faith teach? You guessed it: Justification by faith alone.

Take Paul’s defense in  as an example:

Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.

Then there’s Jesus’ parable of the . Jesus states that the tax collector is “justified” before God.

Or what about the ? Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Instant justification by faith alone. There was no more work to be done. That’s why Jesus, on the cross, said, “It is finished.”

What was finished? The work of atonement and propitiation.

In essence, sanctification is a result of justification. Not a prerequisite. And justification is an event that occurs at the moment of faith:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

Our justification is an accomplished fact. Not an unfinished project. That’s the Protestant stand. What’s your stand? And did I miss anything? Look forward to your thoughts.

This post was inspired by a reader question. Got a question? Email me.

An Orthodox, Biblical Style of Prayer

In just one verse that’s 31 words long Paul explains what the general character of a believer’s prayer life should look like.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but prayer is not the pill that cures everything.

Neither is it the mechanism you use to tax God when your feet are cold or your PC crashes or your girlfriend dumps you.

It’s deeper than that.

In just one verse that’s 31 words long Paul explains what the general character of a believer’s prayer life should look like.

The verse is :

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.

This is orthodox, biblical prayer. Let’s break the verse down.

1. All prayer and petition.

Indeed, we do bring all our requests to God, whether for obtaining blessings or averting the evil we fear. But there’ a catch.

2.  At all times.

The King James version translates “always.” And the Greek translation for always is “in every season.” In other words, not just when things are going poorly. Take every opportunity to pray–good or bad. And do it with urgency.

3. In the Spirit.

Charismatics think “tongues.” This is not what Paul meant. Paul meant under the influence of the Spirit. In submission to the Spirit. Guided by the voice of God. We , so we look to the Spirit to align us with God’s will. He teaches what we should pray for.

4. On the alert.

This is the manner in which we pray: Sober. Eyes-wide open. Aware of our surroundings. . Our enemy. The . Catastrophes won’t blindside you. Temptations won’t sweep you off your feet. And heaven will always hang in your vision.

5. With all perseverance.

The stamina involved in orthodox biblical prayer consists of constant, relentless training. Day in. Day out. Never ceasing.

6. Petition for all saints.

These are your objects of prayer: Brothers and sisters in Christ. Those strong in the faith. Those weak in the faith. Those who preach and teach, who plant and support. All saints, everywhere.

In a nutshell, Paul’s orthodox style of prayer looks like this: While we are urged to communicate to God all our needs and desires on a chronic basis, over time these requests will be shaped by the will of God whose constant influence on our lives grows as we stand in a watchful, alert posture.

So, how does your prayer life measure up to this standard?

Mine? Not even close. But that just means you have an opportunity to practice this biblical style of praying.

By the way, feel free to share your prayer needs–or those of someone you know–and I’ll promise to pray. Looking forward to your comments.