This is Part 2 of a debate between Jim Drickamer and myself on the topic of purgatory.
Kevin Noles’ Rebuttal: Affirmative
Jim says that purgatory does not exist based on his mischaracterization (in other words, he built a straw man) of what Catholics believe purgatory is when he says:
“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”
I agree with Jim. If that is what the Church taught about Purgatory then it would be wrong. Fortunately, the Church is not wrong, nor is that what the Church teaches and nor does the Catholic faith reduce to his description.
The only thing he got right is that an additional purification after death MAY be needed. It is a rather clear teaching in the Bible.
We see that something is needed to get out of prison in Luke 12:57-59:
“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper.”
For clarity’s sake, Jesus is the judge, the officer is holding the prisoner in prison and this prisoner has to pay for their transgressions prior to being released. It is fairly simple. Once the transgressions are paid, off to heaven they go but not before then. This sure cannot be hell because the prisoner is released. It cannot be heaven because we don’t pay in heaven but are rewarded instead.
Hebrews 12:14, Ephesians 5:5, 1 Thessalonians 4:3 and 1 John 3:2-3 all talk of the necessity to stay pure by our own actions. My question is, if Jim’s position is the correct position, why? Why would we need to remain pure if God does not count sin against us?
In Matthew 12:32, Jesus talks about being forgiven in the age to come. Since we each have a particular judgment once we die, which is confirmed on the Last Day, what is this age to come? Sin is not forgiven in heaven since nothing imperfect can enter, nor is there a need for forgiveness in hell since the choice to go there is made. Jim’s position renders this passage incoherent on every level.
As I said in my opening statement, “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.” So far this has still proven difficult for Jim since he has refuted none but instead has bolstered all and has added even an additional question of why we should remain pure.
Jim Drickamer’s Rebuttal: Negative
The topic of this debate is, “Is Purgatory Scriptural?” What I must show is that Scripture does not teach prayers help the dead, a third state, and a need for purgatory. What Kevin must prove is that Scripture does teach these things.
Kevin defined purgatory as a postmortem purification process, because nothing impure can go to Heaven (Revelation 21: 27). This verse is silent about how or when the impure is purified.
Kevin showed prayers were offered for the dead (II Maccabees 12: 39-42, 44-45). He failed to show God commanded or approves of such prayers. Judas may have been praying contrary to God’s will, given Old Testament condemnation of witchcraft and divination.
Kevin cited passages which talk of the necessity to stay pure. He asked why we would need to remain pure if God does not count sin against us. God does not count sin against those who are in Christ (II Corinthians 5: 19). And the reason we should remain pure is our love for God which glorifies Him.
Kevin quoted Luke 12: 57-59 to show some people are released from prison after fully paying their debt. The prison could as likely be hell as purgatory. God would be unjust to keep someone in hell who fully paid his debt regardless of the impossibility of paying in full.
Kevin quoted Matthew 12: 32 to show there is forgiveness in the age to come. That verse only speaks of a blasphemy that will not be forgiven either now or in the next age. It is silent about possible forgiveness for other sins in the next age.
Kevin quoted I Corinthians 3: 11-15 which says in context that each man’s work in building the kingdom of God will be manifested, disclosed, revealed, and tested. It says nothing about testing or purging sins in general. Nor does it speak of purging beginning at death but only at the Day.
Thus, Kevin has presented no evidence from Scripture to prove or imply purgatory.
In addition to what was presented in my opening, Scriptural evidence against purgatory includes Romans 7 and 8. In 7: 18-19, Paul writes that he desires to do what is right but is not able to do it. He does not do the good he wants to do but does the evil he does not want to do. In 7: 20, he writes that he is not sinning. It is indwelling sin doing the evil.
Paul is a prime candidate for purgatory to eradicate the indwelling sin. He cries out, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” and answers, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Jesus purges sin, not purgatory.
In 8: 1, Paul declares there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Given that, if purgatory were true, God would be the One Who would condemn people to purgatory, no condemnation means God condemns no believer to purgatory.
Purgatory is not Scriptural.