This is a debate between Jim Drickamer and myself on the topic of purgatory. The rules were as follows:
- 3 rounds (opening, rebuttals and conclusion)
- No more than 500 words per post.
- A week to submit reply (week starts upon reception of reply).
- The debate will be submitted upon completion and each round will have its own article (On Catholic365.com).
Standard debate rules apply which means the affirmative goes first.
Kevin Noles’ Opening Statement: Affirmative
First off I want to thank Jim for taking this debate up. It took a couple of attempts for us to find something that we disagree on which tells me that there is a lot that my brother in Christ and I do agree on.
I will be using the RSV-CE for my quotations unless otherwise noted.
I am taking the affirmative as I believe that purgatory is Scriptural. While the Scriptures do not say “purgatory,” (much like they don’t say Trinity either) there are many allusions to a purification process that needs to be undergone.
Let’s define purgatory first. When a person dies, there are two places they can go, heaven or hell. If they die in God’s grace they go to heaven but may undergo a purification or “purging” process as nothing impure can go to heaven (Rev. 21:27).
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 is probably the clearest passage representing purgatory:
“For 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, stubble— 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.”
St. Paul here clearly talks about a third state. In heaven we will not suffer loss, but instead we gain. In hell, we are not saved. Neither heaven nor hell meet the conditions of what St. Paul describes here.
We see in 2 Maccabees 12:39-42, 44-45, whether you take this book as part of the Bible or not does not matter in this case, that Jews would offer up atonement and prayers for the dead.
Since in heaven we would not need prayers to help us and in hell we are beyond any help at all, we can clearly see that there is a time, once we are dead, that prayers would help us. This is where purgatory fits in. Jesus never denies that there is a third state when talking about the afterlife which he would have if the practice of prayers for the dead ran contrary to the Truth. This combined with the Jewish belief in prayer for the dead and we get a very good reason to believe in this Truth which Jesus Himself accepted.
Jim must show that prayers cannot help us once we are physically dead (but alive in Christ), that there is no third state, and that there is absolutely no need for purgatory. Since all three of these can be found in the Bible this will be a difficult task for him.
Word Count: 484
Jim Drickamer’s Opening Statement: Negative
(Unless otherwise noted, quotations of Scripture are taken from the English Standard Version of the Bible, and quotations from the deuterocanonical books are taken from the Revised Standard Version of the Apocrypha)
Scriptures teach that God’s righteousness is through faith in Christ for all who believe (Romans 3: 22). They teach we are justified by His grace as a gift through the redemption in Christ (Romans 3: 24). They tell us God has shown His righteousness so as to be just and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3: 26). They say that to the one who believes in Him Who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness (Romans 4: 5) And they say that by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous (Romans 5: 19).
Scriptures also teach that because of Christ you are in Christ Who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (I Corinthians 1: 30). They tell us that anyone in Christ is a new creation (II Corinthians 5: 17). They say God has reconciled the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them (II Corinthians 5: 19). They teach God made Christ Who knew no sin to be sin so that in Him we might become God’s righteousness (II Corinthians 5: 21).
Scriptures teach a man is justified through faith in Jesus (Galatians 2: 16). They teach that Christ gave Himself for me (Galatians 2: 20). They say Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (Galatians 3: 13).
Scriptures declare Christ gave Himself to redeem and purify a people for Himself (Titus 2: 14). They say Christ bore our sins so that we die to sin and live to righteousness (I Peter 2: 24).
A person who has been born again (John 3: 3) and given faith by God (Ephesians 2: 8-9) has a Substitute Who bore our griefs, carried our sorrows, was pierced for our transgressions, was crushed for our iniquities, was chastised to bring us peace, was wounded to heal us, and on Him the Lord laid the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53: 3-6).
Someone who believes in Jesus is justified, righteous, redeemed, sanctified, newly re-created, reconciled to God, purified, and God does not count his sins against him. Christ has caused all of these to be true of those who believe in Him by living in their place a sinless life, dying on the cross as a perfect sacrifice, and rising from the dead.
Purgatory, on the other hand, teaches that many who believe in Jesus are not justified, righteous, redeemed, sanctified, newly-created, purified, or reconciled, but do have God counting sins against them so they need additional purification after death. Purgatory sets aside the atonement accomplished by Christ, even though Hebrews 10: 14 says, “For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”
Is purgatory Scriptural? No, not at all.