Friday, April 21, 2017

Where is Purgatory in the Bible?

The question of purgatory is fairly common among inquiring non-Catholics and Catholic Christians alike. It can also be one of the most misunderstood. Some of the more common questions centered around the topic go like this:

1) Where is Purgatory in the Bible? I don't see it anywhere in the Scriptures.

2) Isn't it just a man-made doctrine for those who want to make a way for sinful people to get to heaven, bypassing the work of the Cross?

3) Is it supposed to be a second chance at heaven for people could not make it the first time around?

4) If we can add to the work of Christ, by paying for "some" of our sins in purgatory,
then why can we not pay for all of them, eventually, in hell, and at some future point in eternity, escape hell?

In order to answer the first question, I need to answer the third. Because what Purgatory is *not*, is certainly not in the Bible. But what it *is* is there as clear as day. And if you are only looking at what Purgatory *isn't*, it'd be pretty pointless to show you where it *is*.

3) Purgatory is *not* a second chance. It's also not a final place of existence that's somewhere between Heaven and Hell. It is not an alternative to hell, and it is not where someone can be forgiven from any sins. Purgatory, according to the Church that teaches it, is a purging or cleansing. It's for the saved who have already had their sins forgiven, are going to Heaven, but are not yet perfectly cleansed. It's the place or process whereby we are cleansed before entering into Heaven. Think of it like taking a bath before heading to your friend's wedding. Except, in this case, the wedding feast you are heading to is your Savior's.

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” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1030).
The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned ” (CCC 1031).
This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: 'Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.'[2Macc 12:46]” (CCC 1032).

1) So, now that you know what Purgatory is *not*, and what it *is*, where is it in the Bible? The word "purgatory" isn't in the Bible, at least not that I know of, or without trying to translate back to the original languages. But the principle for it is there, quite clearly.

First of all, there is the explicit mention in 2Macc 12:46 of making atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from sin. "But wait!", you might say. "My Bible doesn't have the books of Maccabees, so they aren't Scripture!" Well, if your Bible doesn't have it, you have an incomplete Old Testament adopted by a 16th century Augustinian monk who decided to follow the same OT Canon as the people who rejected Christ as Savior...and still do. But, the Jews who converted to Christianity, as well as the first Christians from then on, all the way up to the 16th century, and to today, adopted the OT of the Greek speaking Jews, and it has the books of Maccabees (and some others, collectively known as the Deuterocanon). But I digress. Regardless of whether you accept 2Macc as the Word of God, it is explicit proof that the Jews believed in what Purgatory *is* (some place or process where the just are purged from some effect of sin prior to entering into glory). So, Purgatory is *not* a new invention, even if the word for it was not established at that time.  (No one is going to argue that the Holy Trinity didn't exist until we established that name for the Trinity, right?  Except non-Trinitarians?)  

But, let's pretend you don't want to look at that, and you are only interested in some of the protestant translations that omit the Deuterocanon. "Where *else* is Purgatory, or it's 'principle' [I see you rolling your eyes], in the Bible?"
 I'm glad you asked!
Look at 2Samuel 12:13-14, where David is punished for his sin AFTER he has been forgiven. Then go to Heb 12:22-23, where Paul tells us that there is a place or process by which the *spirits* of just men are made perfect. We also see in 1Cor 3:13-15 that there is a place where a saved man, *after he has died*, can suffer loss as through fire; and we know that, according to Rev 21:27, nothing unclean shall enter into Heaven.

Straight from the Bible, then, we see the Catholic principles for Purgatory: 1) Scripture shows us, explicitly, that a man can be punished for his sin AFTER he has been forgiven (2Sam 12:13-18). 2) Scripture tells us, explicitly, that there is a place where a man, after he has died, and is saved, can suffer loss as through fire (1Cor 3:13-15). 3) There is a place, or process, where the SPIRITS of *just* men are made perfect (Heb 12:22-23). 4) Nothing unclean can enter Heaven (Rev 21:27).

Where is this place that Scripture tells us about, where the SPIRITS of JUST men are made perfect; where a man, though he is saved, can suffer loss as through fire? Is it Heaven? No…we don’t suffer loss in Heaven. Is it hell? No….no one gets out of hell. The Church has given the name “Purgatory” to this place, or process, where our souls are made clean…because nothing unclean shall enter Heaven (Rev 21:27).

And let's not forget the Sermon on the Mount. In Mt 5:25-26 Jesus talks about making peace with your enemies, lest you be thrown in jail until you've paid the last penny.
Is this talking about temporal prison? I don't think so. Is it talking about Hell? Not unless you think you can pay your way out of it. No, Hell is eternal. Still, regardless of whether you agree with my interpretation of Christ's Sermon at this point, the other passages above are clear as day.

2) We already looked at what Purgatory is *not*, and what it *is*, and the fact that it is clearly laid out for us in Scripture. So, no, it's not a man-made doctrine. It's a Christian reality. And it isn't for making a way for sinful people to get to Heaven. People get to Heaven by God's grace. Purgatory is just a final purification for those who are already going to Heaven, yet are still imperfectly purified. Purgatory doesn't bypass the Cross. That final cleansing is possible only through the Cross!

4) This goes back to what Purgatory *isn't*. We don't "pay" for sins in Purgatory. We are cleansed, or "purged", there as through fire; we are made perfect, just like Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians and in his letter to the Hebrews. You don't earn your way out of Purgatory. You go there to take a bath so you can be perfectly cleansed for Heaven, because nothing unclean can enter there (Rev 21:27).

Image source unknown 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Is Ben Shapiro an Extreme, Judgmental Hypocrite?

I'll be perfectly honest. Until yesterday I didn't even know who Ben Shapiro was. Of course, I also don't watch television, listen to the radio very much, and I am married with 5 children. So, I don't know who a lot of people are. And in reality, I still don't know much about him, except for the tidbits that people have shown me in the past couple days. Here's what I DO know. Based on the little that was given to me, he has not said anything extreme, judgmental, or hypocritical enough for people to call him such.

I moderate a couple FB pages, and one of the administrators of one of those pages posted a 4-minute video of Mr. Shapiro defending a baby's right to life.
LINK to original VIDEO source

No sooner that it was posted did people start rebuking his message. And it wasn't just pro-abortion folks doing so. It was pro-life Catholics. So, I decided I had better watch the video and find out what he said that had them in an uproar. After watching, I went to one of the more vocal members to find out what she found so problematic, because I just wasn't seeing it.

Dave: "I think it's rather premature and rash to say that the guy is a hypocrite if we are just basing the judgment on this video. Everything he said was in the context of live oral debate, spoken "off the cuff". This was not a rehearsed video; not a written defense of the pro-life message. It was open debate. So, did he say anything hypocritical or contrary to the faith? I found 2 points worthy of addressing:

1) While agreeing that the perpetrator of rape should be punished for the crime, instead of punishing the unborn child, he included the verbiage, "[the rapist] should be...killed...". Obviously that statement, taken apart from the context of debate, is not in conformity with the Catholic faith, and isn't, per se, "pro life". As Catholics, we believe in due process and in reserving the death penalty for the most extreme circumstances which are rather a rarity today. Seems like this guy should understand that, right? So, as a "practicing Catholic who knows about the faith", *I* (and those crying out "hypocrite") would follow that part of the faith noted in paragraph 2477-2478 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, regarding rash judgment, and not immediately assume he meant that literally, that it was stated "off the cuff", and ask him to clarify/explain his actual position. It may well be that he really believes what he said and is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. But given the situation (open and "off-the-cuff" debate), I doubt that.

2) While empathizing with raped women who are in dire straights, and simultaneously emphasizing that killing a baby does not make bad situations become good, he said something vague about a woman having a right to choose in such-n-such a circumstance. It was unclear what he meant by that, in the smaller context of that brief statement. However, in the larger context of defending an unborn person's right to life, I don't see how it could be construed that he meant it is sometimes okay to purposefully kill a baby, and instead I would think that he meant that it is okay to treat a disease, even in a rare case that the treatment could cause the baby's death. This is in conformity with the Catholic faith.

Was there anything I missed?"

Kate B.C. - " I have followed and shared "Share Catholic" for quite awhile and really enjoy it. However, the post that was shared by Share Catholic made me sad because it shared an extremist's point of view on abortion. What we're really missing here is the fact that Mr. Shapiro can pass judgment and that is what caused me to even reply in the first place. I was taught that it was God's place to make that judgment. In the end, pro life is pro life and if we truly believe this, we wouldn't make "off the cuff" remarks/judgment that a person should be killed for the act he/she committed upon another person."

Dave: "Kate B.C., I'm not sure what makes him an extremist in the video. Is it that he said there is never a time when we can purposefully intend to kill an unborn child? That's not "extreme", it's solid Catholic doctrine. I'm not aware of anything else he said that was strongly stated one side or the other. And he DID allow for treatment of an ill mother [with cancer] where treatments might cause the unintended death of the baby. Again, not extreme, and in-line with Catholic doctrine.
Neither did I see him pass judgment on anyone. The scenario given by the lady debating him was not real. It was a pretend scenario involving a rapist. It isn't judging to acknowledge what someone has done and hold them accountable. So, where are you seeing him pass judgment?

Furthermore, who are you to judge what a true pro-lifer will or won't say? You can't call someone judgmental while simultaneously judging their degree of "pro-life" based upon your own personal standards without becoming a hypocrite yourself, can you?"

Jake C. - "Ben Shapiro supports the death penalty."

Dave: "Jake C., why does that matter and how does it support what Kate B.C. said? The Church supports the death penalty in the same rare circumstances as Mr. Shapiro, and that's hardly an extreme position given its rarity.
And putting a dangerous criminal to death is NOT the same as killing an innocent child who has done nothing wrong, so his position is not hypocritical. And it's not judgmental to hold someone accountable for what they have done, so it's not judgmental. Did I miss something?"

Apparently, at that point, the group Administrator became uncomfortable with the debate, because all commenting was removed and the ability to make subsequent comments was turned off. I can't say I blame her in one regard, because that particular page was never intended for debate, or even discussion. It's mainly just for sharing pictures and memes with the message of Christ. The posts were eventually restored and conversation commenced again, but there was never an answer to my questions, and there was never anything provided by those who were calling Mr. Shapiro a hypocrite that actually showed him to be one. The fact is, a man defended the right to life of babies in their mothers' wombs. He was called a hypocrite for an off-the-cuff remark about killing a criminal while defending the right to life of an innocent baby under the Pro-Life banner. He was called judgmental for recognizing personal accountability for our actions. And he was called extreme for...I don't actually know why...his position as actually stated was in conformity with Christian moral theology. Ben Shapiro doesn't appear to be any of the things he was accused of. He appears to be Catholic. And in our current age of moral depravity, that's probably the worst crime he can commit.

EDIT: One of my beloved readers pointed out to me that Ben Shapiro is actual Orthodox Jew, not Christian. What a great irony! That makes the argument against him, by the Catholics who were arguing, even more ridiculous. "Shame on that Orthodox Jew for sounding Christian while saying something Catholic that I disagree with!"