This is a short, but time-sensitive post. I was listening to the Patrick Madrid Show on Immaculate Heart Radio this morning (Friday, June 23rd), and a caller asked about Purgatory. She wanted to know how to respond to a friend who was once Catholic, but now evangelical, and no longer believing in Purgatory.
Madrid quoted the standard apologetic verses such as 1 Corinthians 3:15 which, quite frankly, say nothing about Purgatory. Of course, he would typically answer that the Bible says nothing about the Trinity, either. I sent off an email to Patrick saying:
Brother, it seems to me that Catholics have to apply a forced interpretation of Scripture to make it say what it doesn’t even imply. You suggested that the caller ask her friend if he is perfectly clean to enter Heaven (Revelation 21:27). Thus the argument for Purgatory.
The implication is that we are all unclean; but Paul said some will endure the fire (their works, that is) and receive a reward. The apostle was speaking of crowns — not entry into Heaven. People will enter Heaven by the blood of Jesus though their works may be burned up. This says nothing about a soul being purified in a mythical Purgatory. Context, please.
Again, the faithful have been cleansed by the blood of Christ (1 John 1:7). I am clean to enter Heaven — not based on my works, but by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ though you disagree with this interpretation.
If you read this post in time you can hear the rebroadcast of this morning’s program tonight at 10 pm, Pacific. Patrick emailed me that he will discuss my points on Monday morning’s broadcast (6-9 am, Pacific).
For the purpose of context this is what Paul wrote:
Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw — each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).
… and John in Revelation 21:27:
But nothing unclean will ever enter it (Heaven), nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Patrick suggested that his caller ask her friend if he was clean enough to enter Heaven. The prompted response that he hopes to elicit is that no one is clean enough to enter Heaven, but this is a gross mishandling of the Word of God.
Madrid then cautioned his caller that her friend might answer with 1 John 1:7 …
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
… but the friend would be incorrect, said Madrid, since Catholics teach that a saved person might die in an imperfect state thus in need of purifying.
Nowhere is this doctrine taught in Scripture … nowhere.
The following commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:15 reminds us that we can’t take the verse out of context.
These words remind us that the whole passage, and especially the reference to fire, is to be regarded as metaphorical, and not to be understood in a literal and physical sense. Forgetting this, Roman divines have evolved from these words the doctrine of purgatory.
For the fire of purgatory, it is a fiction, and mere imaginary thing, and of no further significance than to make the pope’s chimney smoke.
Yet so as by fire — ὡς διὰ πυρός hōs dia puros. This passage has greatly perplexed commentators; but probably without any good reason. The apostle does not say that Christians will be doomed to the fires of purgatory; nor that they will pass through fire; nor that they will be exposed to pains and punishment at all.
I closed my email to Patrick saying:
Catholics apply the same meandering logic to most of their unique doctrines such as praying to Mary, and calling the Pope ‘Father’. It just doesn’t work.
I confess that my closing remarks were out-of-context, and unfair. I do not wish to start a fight with my Catholic brothers as readers of this blog know that I am especially kind to Catholics if only for the sake of unity.
My impression of Catholics and Protestants is from the perspective of the Jerusalem assembly 2000 years ago when there wasn’t a single Gentile in the church of Christ.
If you have further interest in this discussion please listen to the rebroadcast of this morning’s show, and try to catch Patrick’s response on Monday when he will address, what he calls, my incorrect interpretation.
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