Friday, August 17, 2007

From Jesus through Mary

Here ye, Here ye! Found on the internet...

Top Ten Reasons Why We Should Consecrate Our Lives To Jesus Through Mary

1. To emulate the sanctity of our previous Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, who selected the de Montfort Consecration (True Devotion) for his own Marian Spirituality

2. To provide the easiest, safest, fastest, most secure, and surest path to Jesus and to our own salvation

3. To obtain Our Lady's help in bringing us from our own unworthiness to the level of conversion, holiness, and perfection in our lives needed to enable us to become saintly

4. To turn our lives over completely and without reservation in service to Jesus through Mary to reflect our love and our trust in them now and for all eternity.

5. To obtain special graces and protection under Our Lady's sheltering mantle

6. To help bring others to Jesus through Mary for their conversion, holiness, and perfection through this total consecration devotion

7. To hasten the day of the Triumph of Our Lady's Immaculate Heart and the day when Mary and Jesus will reign in all hearts

8. To fulfill Our Lady's request for individual consecration of our lives to her Immaculate Heart, as given to us through Sister Lucia during the Fatima apparitions

9. To become an effective counter-force to the legion of evil so prevalent in the world by offering up our prayers, sacrifices, and sufferings to Jesus through Mary

10. To renew our Baptismal promises and to evangelize the world to Jesus through Mary

Now if one promises to do the above they will receive...
...a free Saint Louis de Montfort Total Consecration package, anywhere in the world, at no cost to you, if you pledge to use the package to Consecrate your life to Jesus through the Blessed Virgin Mary (for full text see here)

We go to the Scriptures and fail to find one instance of anyone going to Jesus through Mary. The message of Scripture is that we have an advocate to the Father in the Son. It defeats the purpose of the gospel-- where we find an advocate in Christ (1 John 2:1), the "only one" mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5)-- if we need another advocate to get to the Son. But within Roman Catholicism, we find Mary as both an advocate for us and an mediatrix to Christ. Even at the feast at Cana (where Catholics attempt to derive from this story a spiritual application to Mary), no one went through Mary to get to Christ. Mary simply asked Christ upon hearing of the dilemma and was rebuked for attempting to "speed up" His ministry. The writer goes on to cite some early fathers, but nothing earlier then the late 3rd century (granting that these are cited within their context).

In a church were there are many "mysteries" this is surely an oddity. I guess that's what happens when one incorporates the fallibilities of human reasoning. You wind up with sophistry.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cruising around the WWW

Every now and then I look around the web to see if anyone has written anything that's bypassed me. I've found some good things and some bad in regards to my articles. Some demand more attention then others do and some, due to time constraints, will remain in the backburner until I'm free to devote some time to them. Some I don't feel the need to respond to given that the writer(s) haven't really refuted anything I've put on my blog (or any of the articles I've written for Jim's blog for that matter). Although, I may eventually respond to these as well. Well, I found a response to my article Onesiphorus in Purgatory?, by a poster who calls himself "Mad Dawg." The article itself was submitted by a poster named "Ottofire" on the Free Republic forums. The responses are over a year old, but I registered on the forum and am presently awaiting approval. My intent is to let "Mad Dawg" know of my response here.

Mad Dawg's words will be in blue blockquote, any citations will be in brown blockquote, and my response will remain in black and standard format....

The first thing to say is that this is sloppy. What exactly does "according to Rome" mean? Is the statement de fide, an opinion, or what? and "the majority of us" is the majority of whom, please? Certainly we'd guess that the majority of those whose final stop is heaven will spend some time in purgatory, but that's not doctrine.

According to Rome” means according to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. I’m sure he is fully capable of understanding that Purgatory is a de fide teaching and, yes, it is understood that the majority of Christians, with the exception of martyrs and saints, WILL be going to purgatory. I never said that the amount of those going there is a “doctrine” but only that this is what is proclaimed by Catholics. I base the latter on my experience as a Catholic, on the dialogues I've had with Catholic clergy and laity and from the Catholic apologists I’ve interacted with.

ALL of those who "endure", as churchmouse puts it, Purgatory, will end up in Heaven. Purgatory is an interval, a way station, a pause, and from the point of view of eternity, almost a triviality. SO I think it's tendentious to call it "quite an oversight."
I am only using a word (endure) which has been used by many Catholics in my discussions. I think the word is appropriate considering this is ultimately what those in “purgatory” must do, they must "endure" the temporal punishments, the purgings, while awaiting their release (regardless of how instantaneous or prolonged it may be) to heaven. Mad Dawg trivializes the concept almost to the point of it being just a mere "waiting period" in a sea of infinity but this wasn't always the case. Prior to the Reformation, the emphasis was great on purgatory which was portrayed as a realm to which the souls were subjected to suffering in fire. How Rome portrayed the concept of purgatory historically is downplayed today. Yet, considering that the majority of Christians will go to purgatory, it isn’t a triviality, its impact on Christians cannot be downplayed, thus it speaks volumes that the “state/realm/place” where most Christians go doesn’t muster a single clear passage in Scripture. Instead, we are told that there are “implications” of the doctrine within it, but there is no evidence that these "implications" were interpreted as such by the early church? As medieval scholar Jacques Le Goff proves in his book The Birth of Purgatory, the concept didn't appear in the writings of the church until Clement of Alexandria and Origen. They were those who planted the seeds that would lead to a full-blown doctrine several centuries later. Thus, there is no purgatory in which to call an “…interval, a way station, a pause…” or even a “triviality.”

As a matter of fact, we do not "Realize" that,l and that statement is indicative of the lack of care which characterizes this attempt at a refutation. What churchmouse can reasonably say is that we have no surviving record from before Origen and Clement of "afterlife purgatorial thought". He cannot conclude from that that "there was nothing which even remotely resembled ...." He does not know. (or if He does know, he doesn't show us how he knows.

Using the same logic, the absence of any “surviving record” can mean there was no purgatory to teach. Yet, there are other ways of gleaning that no such concept was being taught in the early church. Not only is there no evidence of it being taught prior to Clement of Alexandria and Origen, but even even Augustine regarded it to be a theory. The question arises: How does one theorize that which is claimed to have been taught historically by the church? Either it was taught or it wasn’t and there would be no need for “theories” if it was truly a teaching of the church. In light of this, Mad Dawg's appeal to silence really doesn’t make much sense. And, yet there are other ways to show that the church didn't teach purgatory, but we'll get to this in a bit.
Succumbing to the temptation to present conjecture as known and demonstrated fact is easy and hard to avoid. In this case it casts doubt on the reliability of the writer.

As I have shown, it is hardly conjecture and CAN be derived from the history of the church. Rather, it is completely illogical to assume that a belief in a purgatory was the norm when there isn't any evidence of even the "recognition" of the concept. Again, why claim it as an Apostolic teaching when these same men aren't aware of such a teaching in the church and are left to speculate it? If purgatory were truly a teaching of the church then WHAT is there to speculate. It seems Mad Dawg's attempt to cast “doubt” isn’t grounded considering he is the one who assents to purgatory, yet doesn't provide any evidence that the church truly taught the concept.
And that doubt is justified, since we find Tertullian writing in the early 200's about 'sacrifices' for the dead being a custom of Christians. I think that would count as "before Origen" and as remotely resembling.
Tertullian doesn’t justify the concept. Le Goff clearly proves that Tertullian held no concept of purgatory in his eschatology. Tertullian believed in the concept of refrigerium (see the link below) which is much like the Orthodox. He believed in an intermediate place (Abraham’s Bosom and the hell of the damned of Luke 16) where the dead enjoy a “foretaste” of their eternal destiny, the righteous in Abraham's Bosom and the wicked in the hell of the damned. There is no comparison. For further evidence of what Tertullian believed, see my blog article here: Purgatory and the earliest Fathers

I wonder what churchmouse thinks of the doctrine of the Trinity and and its mention or lack thereof in the early days.

You know, I’ve always viewed this as a red herring. I don’t need the word “Trinity” present, front and center, to validate what Scripture teaches regarding the Godhead. I view the Trinity as a logical extension of Scripture. The "early days"? What did the Fathers see in the "early days"? Did they appeal to a longstanding “tradition” in the church regarding the Trinity? Or did they appeal to what I use—Scripture! For example, Augustine stated:

"For we behold and see as it were in a divine spectacle exhibited to us, the notice of our God in Trinity, conveyed to us at the river Jordan. For when Jesus came and was baptized by John, the Lord by His servant (and this He did for an example of humility; for He showeth that in this same humility is righteousness fulfilled, when as John said to Him, 'I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?' He answered, 'Suffer it to be so now, that all righteousness may be fulfilled'), when He was baptized then, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit came down upon Him in the form of a Dove: and then a Voice from on high followed, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' Here then we have the Trinity in a certain sort distinguished. The Father in the Voice,-the Son in the Man,-the Holy Spirit in the Dove. It was only needful just to mention this, for most obvious is it to see. FOR
. For the Lord Christ Himself coming in the form of a servant to John, is doubtlessly the
Son: for it cannot be said that it was the Father, or the Holy Spirit. 'Jesus,' it is said, 'cometh;' that is, the Son of God. And who hath any doubt about the Dove? or who saith, 'What is the Dove?' when the Gospel itself most plainly testifieth, 'The Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove.' And in like manner as to that voice there can be no doubt that it is the Father's, when He saith, 'Thou art My Son.' THUS THEN WE HAVE THE TRINITY DISTINGUISHED." (Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament, 2:1)

And what about his mentor Ambrose who stated...

""God, then, is One, without violation of the majesty of the eternal Trinity, as is declared in the instance set before us. And not in that place alone do we see the Trinity expressed in the Name of the Godhead; but both in many places, as we have said also above, and especially in the epistles which the Apostle wrote to the Thessalonians, he most clearly set forth the Godhead and sovereignty of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit....But if you require the plain statement of the words in which Scripture has spoken of the Spirit as Lord, it cannot have escaped you that it is written: 'Now the Lord is the Spirit.' Which the course of the whole passage shows to have been certainly said of the Holy Spirit....So he not only called the Spirit Lord, but also added: 'But where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. So we all with unveiled face, reflecting the glory of the Lord, are formed anew into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord the Spirit;' that is, we who have been before converted to the Lord, so as by spiritual understanding to see the glory of the Lord, as it were, in the mirror of the Scriptures, are now being transformed from that glory which converted us to the Lord, to the heavenly glory." - Ambrose (On the Holy Spirit, 3:14:94, 3:14:101-102)

And Basil certainly wouldn't agree that Scripture is unclear on the matter...

"But all who maintain that either Son or Spirit is a creature, or absolutely reduce the Spirit to ministerial and servile rank, are far removed from the truth. Flee their communion. Turn away from their teaching, They are destructive to souls. If ever the Lord grant us to meet, I will discourse to you further concerning the faith, to the end that you may perceive at once the power of the truth and the rottenness of heresy by Scriptural proof." (Letter 105)

And then there is Gregory of Nyssa who said...
"For that there is a Word of God, and a Spirit of God, powers essentially subsisting, both creative of whatever has come into being, and comprehensive of things that exist, is shown in the clearest light out of the Divinely-inspired Scriptures." (The Great Catechism, 4)

And Hilary of Potiers claimed that he knew of the Trinity through his study of Scripture before he heard the Nicene Creed (forgive me if the Greek fonts don't translate)...
"I call the God of heaven and earth to witness, that when I had heard neither word, my belief was always such that I should have interpreted o0moiou/sion by o0moou/sion. That is, I believed that nothing could be similar according to nature unless it was of the same nature. Though long ago regenerate in baptism, and for some time a bishop, I never heard of the Nicene creed until I was going into exile, but the Gospels and Epistles suggested to me the meaning of o0moou/sion and o0moiou/sion." (On the Councils, or the Faith of the Easterns,
Overall, I'm in good company. I see the Trinity in Scripture without the need for councils, but cannot derive a purgatory in the same way.

But I guess it needs to be said yet
again that the role of "proof from Scripture" is very different in Orthodoxy and
Catholicism from what it is in much of Protestantism.

Excuse typos, etc. In haste here ...

If I asked for “proof from tradition” would Mad Dawg be able to produce purgatory for me? And, ironically, he demeans the Protestant rule of faith and parallels his view with the Orthodox, but regardless of Scripture, tradition, or the authority of the church the Orthodox hold to no such doctrine and yet, claim the same antiquity as Rome. Why is it that the Orthodox share the same history, yet completely deny purgatory? How can one church claim that it was an apostolic teaching while the other denies it was ever taught, yet both claim to have received their teachings from the Apostles? And we are talking about a church that split with the West in the early 11th century? This implies that there was no real purgatorial view in the West until after the schism and none in the East? I think the answer is obvious folks—there was no such teaching in the church and the concept arose later through the musings of two Greek church fathers which would eventually lead to a full-blown belief in purgatory for the West.

Monday, August 13, 2007

On Sola Fide and Canon

Xavier, a Catholic participant at the Bereans Forums, commented and questioned some things I stated regarding Sola Fide. Considering his post also implicates canon issues, I thought I would post it here. If there is a question of context, I would ask that the reader review the original thread found here What Sola Fide Is/Isn't
Xavier's comments will be in blue font and blockquote. Mine's comments remain as is. Citations are in green font and Scripture verses in brown. He states:

It is essential to point out why this statement is misleading.

1.Martin Luther who first defined Sola Fide never thought that works was essential for justification. This is why he had reservation about the canonicity of James. He exerted considerable effort to have James bracketed with the deuterocanonicals all because James was very clear about the role of works in justification.

The doctrine is justification by Faith alone not by Faith and acts of Faith alone.
You are misrepresenting Luther. There were other factors by which Luther judged the epistle of James, the first being that it was questioned in the early centuries of the Church (along with 2 Peter, Jude, Revelation, etc.). This is why he held Paul’s view regarding justification over James, of whom Luther thought put a great emphasis on works. The only “misleading” being done here is in your attempt to draw a conclusion by associating his criticism of James TO his views on Sola Fide. Luther recognized clearly that a faith that is alone is no true faith at all. Why else would he state…

“Faith is a living, restless thing. It cannot be inoperative. We are not saved by works; but if there be no works, there must be something amiss with faith.” (Luther’s Works 69:46, 20).

“Accordingly, if good works do not follow, it is certain that this faith in Christ does not dwell in our heart, but dead faith…” (Luther’s Works 34:111)

Again, all the way up to the time of the Reformation, the Catholic Church had no fixed canon and various views abounded as to what comprised canon. Contemporaries of Luther, such as Erasmus, who published the first Greek New Testament in 1516, questioned the canonicity of books such as James, Hebrews, 2 and 3 John, Revelation, etc. and cites Jerome as an authority. Cardinal Cajetan, the same who opposed Luther, in his Commentary on All the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Testament commends Jerome for separating the canonical from the uncanonical. We all know that Jerome excluded books which Trent later deemed “canonical.” Cajetan goes even further and brings up Jerome’s skepticism of the book of Hebrews. As Lutheran theologian J.A.O Preus II rightly states in his expository The New Testament Canon in the Lutheran Dogmaticians…

Thus, when Luther in 1522 published his German New Testament with its much-quoted strictures on Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation, he was re-echoing some rather common, though new, thinking of the period. In other words, if Trent had not condemned Luther, his views perhaps would have gone largely unnoticed. Luther rejected these books partly on the basis of historical precedent and partly on the basis of his own rather subjective criterion of canonicity, namely, their seeming lack of witness to Christ.

And then there was Cardlnal Ximenes who, in his Complutensian Polyglot Bible, distinguishes between the apocryphal and the canonical books. My whole point in telling you all this is to show you how you tend to isolate Luther and paint him into someone who would stop at nothing to promote a Sola Fide devoid of works, even at the cost of endorsing the “Luther hated James” straw man once again.

2.Faith alone and Faith that is not alone mutually excludes each other. If Faith
is taken with Charity and Hope, then it is not alone. Faith + Charity +Hope does
not equal Faith Alone. Faith + good works does not equal Faith Alone.

Once again, this is but semantics on your part. The Protestant position is that salvation comes by “faith alone.” That’s it! There is nothing to add to salvation. However, the salvation which comes via “faith alone” does NOT present itself empty, devoid of works. This salvation presents its legitimacy by the works which comes as a result of that salvation. It is a byproduct of true salvation. It is not “faith + good works” but faith alone which results in good works through Christ.

3. St James made it very clear that good works was not a result of justification
but that justification resulted from good works.
Where does James say that justification “results” from good works? You are evidently reading something into James that he isn’t saying, but we’ll see this as we go on.

James 2:21-24
21Was not Abraham our father justified by his deed, because he offered his son Isaac on the altar?

22So you can see that his faith was working together with his deeds; his faith became perfect by what he did.

23In this way the scripture was fulfilled: Abraham put his faith in God, and this was considered as making him upright; and he received the name 'friend of God'.

24You see now that it is by deeds, and not only by believing, that someone is justified.

25There is another example of the same kind: Rahab the prostitute, was she not justified by her deeds because she welcomed the messengers and showed them a different way to leave?

As shown by James, Faith and Works are distinct but inseparable when it comes to salvation. And this is also taught by Paul who taught that God will give to each person according to what he has done.
It must be remembered that James is addressing “Christians’ who, evidently (from the context of the verse), aren’t helping brethren in need, but WHERE is James equating works to salvation? Especially in light of what other Scriptures say about “salvation” apart from works (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 4:5; Titus 3:5). Usually, it has been my experience to see Catholics isolating these verses FROM what Scripture states elsewhere, but here you divorce these verses from vss. 17-18 where James state very clearly…

Even so, if it does not have works, faith is dead, being by itself. But someone will say, You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith from my works.

Furthermore, preceding these verses, James speaks of the hypocrisy of saying one has faith, but fails to help their brethren when they are in need…

If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and if one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warmed and filled, but you do not give them those things which are needful to the body, what good is it? (James 2:15-16)

Who is it that James is speaking to here? It is the church, to those who claim to be Christians. Given this fact, no, James is NOT saying that works “save.” These folks believe to be saved already. Neither is he saying that the equation of faith and works brings salvation. He is rebuking those who allow needy brethren to walk away in their need under the false superficial religiosity that only serves to disprove their faith. James is telling them the truth—it is “dead faith” to think that salvation exists in a vacuum, void of good works. The type of faith that leads to justification is evidenced by the works which proves this faith. Again, one cannot take verses out of their context and out of what Scripture states as a whole to make a case for their own biases.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Sometimes we need to reawaken...

So many people, young and old, profess to be Christians. Many deceive themselves into thinking that, because they accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, they are therefore "saved." They get caught up in the emotionalism of their "salvation" but never truly show the change that comes with being a child of God. Their lives reflect what they've had before their "conversion", a life without the fruits worthy of repentance. They are "saved" but dishonor their parents. They are "saved" but continue to dress in a manner that dishonors God. Some claim to be "saved" but abuse alcohol and drugs. They are the ones found in churches lifting their hands in praise on Sunday and living like the "unsaved" on Monday. They profess that they "gave their lives to the Lord", but it is clear that all they did was mentally assent to a notion that--by saying a small prayer--they are somehow miraculously "saved." The life of repentance is lost under the delusion of their prefabricated assumptions about salvation. Only Christ is able to bring convinction of sin. Only Christ is capable of saving the sinner. Only Christ is capable of bringing a change in the sinner because He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. Our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), we are unclean, thus the only righteousness God will accept is the righteousness of His Son.

Pastor Paul Washer of HeartCry Missionary Society, who has worked in a variety of missions, such as Romania, Peru and Zambia, preached an eye-opening "in your face" sermon before a gathering of 5,000 people. It is a sermon which speaks to all. It is a cry for repentance in the church. Please listen with an open mind and an open heart. For those with slower connection speeds, you can download the mp3 file via Sermon Audio here: A Shocking Message to the Church

(*Before viewing the video, don't forget to turn off the music. You can do so by going to the bottom of this page and clicking the pause button)

Friday, March 30, 2007

Purgatory and the earliest Fathers

Over at the Bereans Forums, a Catholic apologist who goes by the tag of "catholic philosopher", wrote to inform me that he was going to engage my articles on purgatory. True to his word, today he posted a response (My original words are in brown, his words in blue, my response is in black, all citations are in purple):

2Maccabees 12:44 - For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should have risen again, it had been superfluous and vain to pray for the dead.

Churchmouse: Again, this passage pertains to the resurrection. The dead CAN rise again without inflicting a purgatory into the mix. Also, why must it be purgatory that Judas is implying? What if Judas was of the view that God can forgive and forget sin before the general judgment? So far, the implication Judas leaves us with is that if one dies in sin then one can pray that his sins be forgotten.

catholic_philosopher: Judas is implying purgatory since he probably believed that NOTHING UNCLEAN CAN ENTER HEAVEN. This men were UNCLEAN and for them to enter heaven, they must be “purged” from their filthiness. That’s why they prayed for the souls of the dead men just like Catholics pray for their dead loved ones.

You didn’t interact with what I stated regarding the Catholic concept of mortal sin (of which idolatry, which is the sin of these men, is considered) and the conclusion it leads to. Judas COULDN’T have had purgatory or the “UNCLEAN” in mind because these men would have been damned. You can’t argue for one position you adhere to and negate the other position you adhere to. Again, Judas was “mindful of the resurrection” and not purgatory. Neither is there any evidence of this being an orthodox belief on Judas’ part because the other simply states that “Judas” perceived that the godly (of which they evidently weren’t) gained favor and that it as a “holy and good thought” (vs.45).

Churchmouse: Understand that the book was written by an "epitomizer" of “Jason the Cyrene” and he’s speaking about Judas Maccabeus. From his vantage point, he assumes that Judas is of the thought that these men may have died godly due to their service to God and regardless of their blatant disobedience to the law. Judas believed in the resurrection, thus he prayed for them. The writer assumes this to be a “good and holy thought.” Judas does the “reconciliation” because he believed they may be delivered from their sins. Again, all this is written with the resurrection in mind and all the Catholic can do is inflict “purgatory” and assume that this is what Judas is implying, but there really is no reason to believe this to be the case considering it doesn’t say how this “deliverance” is to take place. Judas could have assumed that God would merely forget their sins due to their servitude sans a purgatory. IOW, there is no reason to believe that Judas, much less the Jewish people, implied or believed in a purgatory, but could have believed that God could forgive sins after death forthright.

catholic_philosopher: I respect the author’s opinion. But methinks, and I reiterate, Judas is implying purgatory since he probably believed that NOTHING UNCLEAN CAN ENTER HEAVEN. That’s why he and his men prayed. I don’t think they can stand before God’s holiness when they have died with venial sins. There’s an intermediate state for the cleansing of the souls. It’s just a matter of putting a name on it. Catholics call it PURGATORY, where there is purging. You, Protestants, can call it whatever you want it to be called. But what’s most important is that there is an intermediate state.

And I respect yours, but I reiterate that Judas was acting on his own, under his own perceptions, and this is what the “epitomizer of Jason the Cyrene” is indicating. The “epitomizer” doesn’t say that this was common thought, but that it was Judas’ thoughts. One thing to consider is the advent of Rabbis Hillel and Shammai about 2 centuries later which influenced Jewish thought immensely. In their writings we find the ponderings regarding afterlife purgatory. Shammai theorized the possibility and Hillel, although believing in an intermediate state (as Jesus alluded to in Luke 16), didn’t believe it was purgatorial. If Judas did indeed reflect a purgatorial thought, why would one sage be theorizing and the other denying almost two centuries later?


I don’t know how this would matter in terms of our discussion. The discussion isn’t about how I perceive myself because, if there is no purgatory, then there must be something, or rather Someone else who purifies us and makes us holy. What I perceive and what God does are two different things because God’s ways are not our ways. And the Christian life is a life of growing in sanctification. If there is no growth then I would question one’s Christianity. So, in light of this, yes, IN Christ I will be holy and pure enough to face God in his holy presence. He is our covering and our sanctification. I assume you have Hebrews 12:14 when asking this question. If we were going to use the wooden literality of the term “holiness” then Job 1 would make no sense. After all, the most unholy of all is not only standing before Him, but speaking to Him as well. Therefore, the holiness being spoken of in Hebrews 12:14 must be speaking of something else and and not a purity that is required to see Him.

Churchmouse: In ending, it seems the passages in 2 Maccabees 12 aren’t any more provocative then the common Scripture verses Catholics claim imply a purgatory. Truth is, Catholics cannot uphold this as evidence of a purgatorial belief anymore then the passages they claim from our common Scriptures. Again, there are no early writings which would corroborate that the early church viewed these passages to be purgatorial. Instead, as they do the common Scriptures, they seek implications and read their doctrine back into them.

catholic_philosopher: There are no early writings in the early church for purgatory? The most explicit extra-biblical evidence for the belief in the doctrine of purgatory in the ancient Church is found in its liturgies. Without exception, in the East and the West, the various Eucharistic liturgies contained at least one memento mori, “remembrance of the dead.” There would have been no point in praying for the dead if it was certain that they were already in heaven, as they would have no need of prayers. If they were in hell, prayer could do them no good. But the Church knew then, as she does now, that there is a “middle state” where some who die in the state of grace and are assured of their salvation can benefit from our prayers.

The problem with this is that the early church can pray for the “remembrance of the dead” without injecting a purgatorial thought into the mix. The church CAN pray for the dead independent of a purgatory and this is what the evidence reveals. Medieval historian and scholar, Jacques Le Goff, clears this up:

Finally, some of these texts describe a place which, though quite similar to the "bosom of Abraham," is not always identical with it: the refrigerium. A number of funerary inscriptions bear the words refrigerium or refrige-rare (refreshment, to refresh), either alone or in conjunction with the word pax (peace): in pace et refrigerium, esto in refrigerio (may he be in refrigerium), in refrigerio anima sua (may his soul be in refrigerium], deus refrigeret spiritum tuum (may God refresh his spirit).

An excellent philological study by Christine Mohrmann has clearly traced the semantic evolution of refrigerium from classical to Christian Latin: "Alongside these rather vague and shifting definitions, the words refrigerare and refrigerium took on, in Christian idiom, a very definite technical meaning: heavenly happiness. We find refrigerium used in this sense as early as Tertullian, in whose writing it denotes both the temporary happiness of souls awaiting the return of Christ in the bosom of Abraham, according to Tertullian's own conception of the matter, and the everlasting good fortune of Paradise, which is enjoyed by martyrs from the time they die and which is promised to the elect after the final divine verdict.. . Among later Christian writers refrigerium is used in a general way to denote the joys of the world beyond the grave, promised by God to the elect.

"Refrigerium has a special place in the prehistory of Purgatory only because of the personal conception of Tertullian, to which Mohrmann alludes in the above paragraph. Indeed, as we have seen, refrigerium denotes a quasi-paradisaical state of happiness and not a place. But Tertullian imagined a special kind of refrigerium, the refrigerium interim or "interim refreshment" reserved for certain of the dead, singled out by God as worthy of special treatment during the period of their death and the time of final judgment (The Birth of Purgatory, Ch.1, pp. 46-47).

As Le Goff rightly states, these prayers (the one’s you say are found in ancient liturgies) don’t reflect a purgatorial thought. One can pray for “refrigerium”, a refreshing of heavenly happiness. To put it within your perspective, prayers for the dead DON’T have to be pigeonholed into a “There would have been no point in praying for the dead if it was certain that they were already in heaven, as they would have no need of prayers. If they were in hell, prayer could do them no good” concept because some in the early church CAN and DID pray for refrigerium. So, yes, one can pray for the dead in the early church WITHOUT adhering to a purgatorial concept.

Here are some of the Church Fathers and what they have to say about Purgatory:

Before we begin, let me just state that I acknowledge that some fathers held to a view that figured into the prehistory of Purgatory, but these are later fathers. Earlier fathers, such as Tertullian, spoke of an intermediate state that was paradisiacal in nature (as I will explain below) and others, such as Augustine, theorized the possibility, albeit they had no firm convictions regarding it. What is very telling indeed is the absence of any writings early on formalizing a belief in purgatory. Also, you may want to add where to find these citations. I had to put each through a search engine, just to find the citation came from and found them cited by a multitude of Catholic websites for the purpose of supporting purgatory.

Tertullian (160-225AD)“We offer sacrifices for the dead[24] on their birthday anniversaries" (211 AD)

"A woman, after the death of her husband ... prays for his soul and asks that he may, while waiting, find rest; and that he may share in the first resurrection. And each year, on the anniversary of his death, she offers the sacrifice" (216 AD)

As Le Goff mentioned in the above passage, Tertullian believed in the refrigerium and held to no purgatorial understanding. Nothing in the passage you provided alludes to it in light of the refrigerium. Tertullian’s eschatology is somewhat like what the Eastern Orthodox teach, that the soul receives a foretaste of their eternal abode. The righteous in Abraham’s Bosom (or a state like it) and the wicked in the hell of the damned (see Luke 16:19-31), but there is no afterlife purgation in Tertullian’s eschatology. Again, Le Goff states regarding Tertullian (in its entirety, but pay attention specifically to the fourth paragraph which adds context to the citations you gave):

An African who died sometime after 220, Tertullian wrote a brief treatise, now lost, in which he argued "that every soul was confined in Hell until the Lord's [judgment] day" (De anima 55.5). This was an adaptation of the Old Testament idea of sheol. This other world was located under¬ground, and it was here that Christ descended for three days (De anima 54.4).

In Against Marcion and On Monogamy, Tertullian goes into detail about the other world and presents his concept of refrigerium. Marcion argued that not only martyrs but ordinary righteous people were admitted into Heaven or Paradise immediately after their death. Tertullian, on the other hand, basing his contention on the story of Lazarus and the rich man, maintains that, while awaiting resurrection, ordinary righteous souls reside, not in heaven, but in a refrigerium interim, the bosom of Abraham. This place, the bosom of Abraham, though not in heaven, and yet above hell, offers the souls of the righleous an interim refreshment [refrigerium interim] until the end of all things brings about the general resurrection and the final reward" (Adversus Marcionem 4.34). Until the end of time the bosom of Abraham shall serve as "the temporary receptacle of faithful souls.”

Tertullians’s thought in fact remains highly dualistic. In his view there are two contrasting fates: punishment, which is conveyed by such words as torment (tormentum), agony (supplicum), and torture (cruciatus), and reward, denoted by the term refreshment (refrigerium). In two places it is stated that these destinies are eternal.

On the other hand, Tertullian lays great stress on offerings for the dead on the anniversary of their deaths and asserts that pious practices may be based on tradition and faith even if there is no foundation for them in Scripture. (Broadly speaking, with the exception of Matthew 12:32 and Paul’s 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, textual underpinnings are almost entirely lacking for the doctrine of Purgatory.) Tertullian writes: “We make oblations for the deceased on the anniversary of their death…If you look in Scripture for a formal law governing these and similar practices, you will find none. It is tradition that justifies them, custom that confirms them, and faith that observes them” (De corona militis 3.2-3).

With regard to the prehistory of Purgatory, Tertullian’s innovation, if it was an innovation, was t have the righteous spend a period of time in refrigerium interim before coming to reside in eternal refrigerium. But there is nothing really new about the place of refreshment, which is still the bosom of Abraham. Between Tertullian’s refrigerium interim and Purgatory there is a difference not only of kind—for Tertullian it is a matter of a restful wait until the Last Judgment, whereas with Purgatory it is a question of a trial that purifies because it is punitive and expiatory—but also of duration: souls remain in refrigerium until the resurrection but in Purgatory only as long as it takes to expiate their sins.

All in all, CP, there is no purgatory in Tertullian’s eschatology. The citation you used is misleading in light of the fuller picture. But I’m assuming that you took it from another website.

St. Cyprian of Carthage (writing in 253AD) "The strength of the truly believing remains unshaken; and with those who fear and love God with their whole heart, their integrity continues steady and strong. For to adulterers even a time of repentance is granted by us, and peace is given. Yet virginity is not therefore deficient in the Church, nor does the glorious design of continence languish through the sins of others. The Church, crowned with so many virgins, flourishes; and chastity and modesty preserve the tenor of their glory. Nor is the vigor of continence broken down because repentance and pardon are facilitated to the adulterer. It is one thing to stand for pardon, another thing to attain to glory; it is one thing, when cast into prison, not to go out thence until one has paid the uttermost farthing; another thing at once to receive the wages of faith and courage. It is one thing, tortured by long suffering for sins, to be cleansed and long purged by fire; another to have purged all sins by suffering. It is one thing, in fine, to be in suspense till the sentence of God at the day of judgment; another to be at once crowned by the Lord."

Again, Le Goff speaks about this:

"Some writers have credited Cyprian with making an important doctrinal contribution to Purgatory as early as the mid-third century. In his Letter to Antonian [Letter 51:20] Cyprian distinguishes between two kinds of Christians: 'It is one thing to await forgiveness and another thing to arrive in glory; it is one thing to be sent to prison [in carcere] to be let out only when the last farthing has been paid and another thing to receive immediately the reward of faith and virtue; it is one thing to be relieved and purified of one's sins through a long suffering in fire and another thing to have all of one's faults wiped out by martyrdom; and it is one thing to be hanged by the Lord on Judgment Day and another to be crowned by him at once.'...Jay's refutation of the notion that Cyprian put forth a doctrine akin to that of Purgatory seems to me well founded. According to Jay, what is being discussed in the letter to Antonian is the difference between Christians who did not stand up to persecution (the lapsi and apostates) and the martyrs. It is not a question of 'purgatory' in the hereafter but of penitence here below. The reference to imprisonment has to do not with Purgatory, which in any case did not yet exist, but rather with the penitential discipline of the Church." (The Birth of Purgatory, pp. 57-58)

St John Crysostom (347-407 AD)“Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.

I checked where the passage came from (Homilies on I Corinthians, 41:5) and didn’t find anything that would bring a purgatorial context to passage. In light of the other fathers, Chrysostom could be talking about anything here. Do you have anything else from him to qualify this passage differently then the others?

St. Augustine (354-430AD)“We read in the book of Maccabees that the sacrifice was offered for the dead, But even if it were found nowhere in the Old Testament writings, the authority of the universal Church which is clear on this point is of no small weight, where in the prayers of the priest poured forth to the Lord God at His altar the commendation of the dead has its place.

I’ll cite my buddy, Jason Engwer on this one:

Augustine is widely considered the father of Purgatory. Roman Catholics often quote him referring to something similar to the modern Catholic doctrine. But what these Catholics don't explain is that Augustine acknowledged that he was speculating. In other words, he wasn't passing on some apostolic tradition handed down in unbroken succession from the apostles. Rather, he was speculating about what might happen in the afterlife. Jacques Le Goff explains:

"[Joseph Ntedika] has put his finger on a key point, showing not only that Augustine's position evolved over the years, which was to be expected, but that it underwent a marked change at a specific point in time, which Ntedika places in the year 413....In the Letter to Dardinus (417) he [Augustine] sketches a geography of the otherworld which makes no place for Purgatory." (The Birth of Purgatory [Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 1986], pp. 62, 70)

In other words, Augustine's views on the subject developed over time, and he was inconsistent. The Protestant historian George Salmon explains the significance of these facts:

"In like manner, when Augustine hears the idea suggested that, as the sins of good men cause them suffering in this world, so they may also to a certain degree in the next, he says that he will not venture to say that nothing of the kind can occur, for perhaps it may. Well, if the idea of purgatory had not got beyond a 'perhaps' at the beginning of the fifth century, we are safe in saying that it was not by tradition that the later Church arrived at certainty on the subject; for, if the Church had had any tradition in the time of Augustine, that great Father could not have helped knowing it." (The Infallibility of the Church [London, England: John Murray, 1914], pp. 133-134)

Here's an example of Augustine expressing his uncertainty:

"And it is not impossible that something of the same kind may take place even after this life. It is a matter that may be inquired into, and either ascertained or left doubtful, whether some believers shall pass through a kind of purgatorial fire, and in proportion as they have loved with more or less devotion the goods that perish, be less or more quickly delivered from it." (The Enchiridion, 69)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386AD)“Then we make mention also of those who have already fallen asleep: first, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition; next, we make mention also of the holy fathers and bishops who have already fallen asleep, and, to put it simply, of all among us who have already fallen asleep, for we believe that it will be of very great benefit to the souls of those for whom the petition is carried up, while this holy and most solemn sacrifice is laid out"

Again, at best, this citation could be used to convey that Cyril believed that those in heaven are praying for us and that we can pray for them while in celebration of the Eucharist. Again, in light of other fathers before Cyril, we can’t just assume that these prayers are for those in a purgatory.

St. Epiphanius of Salamis (writing in 375AD) "Useful too is the prayer fashioned on their behalf, even if it does not force back the whole of guilty charges laid to them. And it is useful also, because in this world we often stumble either voluntarily or involuntarily, and thus it is a reminder to do better"

I would like to see this in further context before I can comment. I understand this comes from his Panarium, but I can’t find it anywhere. I don’t know who he is directing the prayers to. It only states “on their behalf.” Who does the pronoun “their” refer to? How do you know if it is the dead being spoken of here? Maybe he did believe in afterlife purgation and, then again, maybe he didn’t. There is no way of really knowing. Besides, I think I got my point across.

St. Gregory of Nyssa, (writing in 382AD)"If a man distinguish in himself what is peculiarly human from that which is irrational, and if he be on the watch for a life of greater urbanity for himself, in this present life he will purify himself of any evil contracted, overcoming the irrational by reason. If he have inclined to the irrational pressure of the passions, using for the passions the cooperating hide of things irrational, he may afterward in a quite different manner be very much interested in what is better, when, after his departure out of the body, he gains knowledge of the difference between virtue and vice and finds that he is not able to partake of divinity until he has been purged of the filthy contagion in his soul by the purifying fire" (Sermon on the Dead).

The same thing goes here. However, Origen and Clement of Alexandria lived within the 2nd to 3rd centuries. They proffered the possibility of afterlife purgation. There are fathers living during or past this point who sought the possibility as well. So, it is no surprise to see purgatorial thought develop throughout. However, there were other fathers who contradicted the thought of purgatory. Again, I cite my friend, Jason Engwer and his comments:

Clement of Rome always refers to deceased Christians being in Heaven. He repeatedly mentions the concept, with no reference to Purgatory. The RCC believes that *some* Christians don't have to go to Purgatory, but how could Clement of Rome and other church fathers know that a person was able to avoid Purgatory? Since they wouldn't have had such knowledge, the most likely explanation for their referring to deceased Christians being in Heaven seems to be that they had no concept of Purgatory. Clement writes:

"Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him....Thus was he [Paul] removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.... To these men who spent their lives in the practice of holiness, there is to be added a great multitude of the elect, who, having through envy endured many indignities and tortures, furnished us with a most excellent example. Through envy, those women, the Danaids and Dircae, being persecuted, after they had suffered terrible and unspeakable torments, finished the course of their faith with steadfastness, and though weak in body, received a noble reward....Blessed are those presbyters who, having finished their course before now, have obtained a fruitful and perfect departure from this world; for they have no fear lest any one deprive them of the place now appointed them....All the generations from Adam even to this day have passed away; but those who, through the grace of God, have been made perfect in love, now possess a place among the godly, and shall be made manifest at the revelation of the kingdom of Christ." (First Clement, 5-6, 44, 50)


Gregory Thaumaturgus seems to have had no concept of Purgatory. Like Protestants, he refers to two realms of the afterlife, not three, with all "good men" going to Heaven at death:

"And the good man shall depart with rejoicing to his own everlasting habitation; but the vile shall fill all their places with wailing, and neither silver laid up in store, nor proved gold, shall be of use any more. For a mighty stroke shall fall upon all things, even to the pitcher that standeth by the well, and the wheel of the vessel which may chance to have been left in the hollow, when the course of time comes to its end and the ablution-bearing period of a life that is like water has passed away." (A Metaphrase of the Book of Ecclesiastes, 12)


Irenaeus didn't believe in the doctrine of Purgatory. We know that Jesus went to Paradise on the day of His crucifixion (Luke 23:43), and Irenaeus refers to all believers going to the same place until the time of resurrection. He also identifies this place as the place where Paul went in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4. Irenaeus refers to all believers going to Paradise, which he distinguishes from Heaven, until the time of the resurrection. As I explained with regard to Papias, Paradise is just another *region* of what evangelicals refer to as "Heaven". Irenaeus' terminology is different from that of evangelicals, but his definitions are basically the same, as is proven by his references to Jesus going to this place and his reference to 2 Corinthians 12. Roman Catholicism tells us to pray that deceased Christians can be taken out of a place of suffering prior to the resurrection. Irenaeus, on the other hand, refers to all deceased Christians being in Paradise, not a place of suffering, until the resurrection:

"Wherefore also the elders who were disciples of the apostles tell us that those who were translated were transferred to that place (for paradise has been prepared for righteous men, such as have the Spirit; in which place also Paul the apostle, when he was caught up, heard words which are unspeakable as regards us in our present condition), and that there shall they who have been translated remain until the consummation of all things, as a prelude to immortality....For as the Lord 'went away in the midst of the shadow of death,' where the souls of the dead were, yet afterwards arose in the body, and after the resurrection was taken up into heaven, it is manifest that the souls of His disciples also, upon whose account the Lord underwent these things, shall go away into the invisible place allotted to them by God, and there remain until the resurrection, awaiting that event; then receiving their bodies, and rising in their entirety, that is bodily, just as the Lord arose, they shall come thus into the presence of God. 'For no disciple is above the Master, but every one that is perfect shall be as his Master.' As our Master, therefore, did not at once depart, taking flight to heaven, but awaited the time of His resurrection prescribed by the Father, which had been also shown forth through Jonas, and rising again after three days was taken up to heaven; so ought we also to await the time of our resurrection prescribed by God and foretold by the prophets, and so, rising, be taken up, as many as the Lord shall account worthy of this privilege." (Against Heresies, 5:5:1, 5:31:2)


Justin Martyr contradicted the doctrine of Purgatory, not only by referring to the redeemed going to a better place, but also by mentioning only two regions of the afterlife, not three. He seems to have no concept of people going to a third place, then being transferred to Heaven sometime before the judgment:

"The souls of the pious remain in a better place, while those of the unjust and wicked are in a worse, waiting for the time of judgment." (Dialogue with Trypho, 5)


Athenagoras rejects the concept of Purgatory in favor of believers going to Heaven when they die. Not only does he say that believers go to Heaven, but he mentions Hell as the only alternative, without mentioning any Purgatory:

"For if we believed that we should live only the present life, then we might be suspected of sinning, through being enslaved to flesh and blood, or overmastered by gain or carnal desire; but since we know that God is witness to what we think and what we say both by night and by day, and that He, being Himself light, sees all things in our heart, we are persuaded that when we are removed from the present life we shall live another life, better than the present one, and heavenly, not earthly (since we shall abide near God, and with God, free from all change or suffering in the soul, not as flesh, even though we shall have flesh, but as heavenly spirit), or, falling with the rest, a worse one and in fire; for God has not made us as sheep or beasts of burden, a mere by-work, and that we should perish and be annihilated." (A Plea for the Christians, 31)

Why would I believe in a writer that was born in the 20th century and writing against purgatory? I’d rather put my faith in what the Early Church Fathers taught.

Answer: Because you are being selective and assuming that these fathers are implying purgatory, but it first starts with the assumption that a purgatory does exist. And you further assume that there was consensus amongst all of the fathers on purgatory, when there evidently wasn’t.

The nearer the source, the clearer the water.

My point exactly! The closer we are to the early church, the more we realize the absence of any purgatorial concept.

I challenge the author to refute what the Church Fathers said about Purgatory.

I believe I have given ample reason to show that none of these fathers speak of purgatory. You can only assume they are. The earlier fathers don’t speak of any such concept, other later fathers aren’t exactly clear what they believe, some fathers theorize the concept, other fathers contradict any purgatorial concept, and other fathers may have believed in some type of afterlife purgation, albeit done before the resurrection, but not indicating how. The bottom line is that the church fathers believed all sorts of things and can be equated to any Christian writer, past and present, who indulge us with their POV’s and musings. They aren’t infallible. The bottom line is that you can only assume they are talking about purgatory, CP, under the pretense that a purgatory already exists. That’s become evident in your last sentence.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Voice of an Old Friend...

I found this recently on YouTube. The life of Keith Green has been an inspiration to those growing up in my generation. He was a man who lived his life under the principle of "no compromise" to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a mission-minded evangelical who left us all too soon. Yet, presently, he is where all Christians strive to be--rejoicing before our Lord in heaven. May the Lord raise up more "Keith Greens" to preach the uncompromised Gospel to those who will receive Him in this dying world.

Who links to my website?