Purgatory

A Catholic friend of mine said she doesn’t believe anybody who has broken God’s Law would go to hell aftey die, but rather they would go to purgatory where they would be purified and as a result escape hell. Encyclopaedia Britannica define purgatory as “the condition or process of purification or temporary punishment” whereby dead people who sinned against God are prepared for heaven. It is believed by those who hold to this view that transgressors of God’s Law have an opportunity to escape His justice, and all they need to do is commit certain sins, die, and all will be fine.

It is said that there are two different kinds of sins: mortal, which are not encouraged, and venial sins, which can be committed without any fear of punishment. Mortal sin is a “grave violation of God’s law” that “turns man away from God” and it is these sins that lead people to hell . Venial sin (meaning “forgivable” sin) “does not set us in direct opposition to the will and friendship of God and, although still “constituting a moral disorder”, does not deprive the sinner of friendship with God, and consequently the eternal happiness of heaven. . Those who hold to this view do not give us a list of mortal or venial sins, so I’m not sure how they expect people to know which sins to commit. Is lying a venial sin, since it’s considered one of the most innocent sins in the world, that won’t lead anybody to hell? Let’s say then it is, but didn’t the bible say all liars will have their part in the lake of fire (see Revelations 21:8), and didn’t God kill a man and his wife for lying (see Acts 5), and by the way didn’t Judge Karas sentence Marion Jones to six months in prison for lying? Then which sin is so innocent that God won’t punish with hell? The advocates of this doctrine know very well the foolishness of purgatory, and it’s not a coincidence that they have forgotten to give us a list of mortal and venial sins. Isn’t it cruel not to warn people against mortal sins when you know very well the risk involved, which is hell? And how do I know if murder is a mortal or venial sin? Since there’s no list of venial sins, then isn’t it possible that killing 10 million people doesn’t constitute a mortal sin, but rather a venial sin? In that case then Adolf Hitler, a man who advocated such a belief since he was a Catholic, is free from hell and can look forward to eternity in heaven alongside the people he killed. If that is true, then I have no fear in saying that any justice system that advocates purgatory is corrupt, evil and senseless.

What I find even weird is the fact that Jews also believe in purgatory, and they call it Gehenna in Hebrew. This Jewish belief is described as a “place where the wicked go to suffer until they have atoned for their sins. It is stated that the maximum amount of time a sinner can spend in Gehenna is one year, with the exception of five people who are there for all of eternity.” . First question that came to my mind when I read about Gehenna is “who are this unfortunate five people who get to be in Gehenna for eternity”? I quickly thought about all those dictators that I know who killed millions of people, like:

 Mao Tsedong, who killed 27 to 73 million Chinese people

 Joseph Stalin, who killed close to 60 million political opponents

 Adolf Hitler, who killed more than 6 million Jews

 Pol Pot, who killed 3 million people in Cambodia

 Mengitsu Haile Mariam, who killed 1.5 million Ethiopians

These 5 dictators have one thing in common – they have all lived in the 20th century. This means that if we go back in history then it’s possible that we could find dictators who have killed even more people. So who decides which five people would be in Gehenna for eternity and what is the requirement? It is clear from the doctrine of purgatory that some, if not all, of these monsters will escape justice. It is this logical thinking that shows you the foolishness of those who believe in purgatory (or Gehenna as a form of purgatory).

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5 Comments »

  1. crl said

    Though one year would seem to be an extremely short time to make up for such heinous crimes, the fact remains, eternity is A LONG TIME. If one admits that genetics, environment (perhaps in addition to free will or the action of a soul, though I will admit that this is not my belief) have some effect on behavior, than there is perhaps no one who truly deserves an eternity of punishment. If one is to go by the belief (the Christian belief, as shown by both the fall of man and the fall of Lucifer) that evil is corrupted good, than surely even the worst human (Adolph Hitler, by conventional example) has SOME GOOD left in him, and deserves some sort of mercy.

    • Many people make an objection against the eternal punishment that hell would be, and say that there is no sin that could ever be committed on earth to necessitate eternal punishment in hell; as such hell is illogical and unjust from a justice point of view. William Lane Craig answered this objection and said “if a person commits an infinite number of sins, then he would deserve eternal punishment. Now no one obviously commits an infinite number of sins in this life, but what about in the after-life? In so far as the damned in hell continue to hate and reject God, they continue to sin and thus they incur further punishment. And thus in a real sense hell is self-perpetuating because the sinning goes on forever, the punishment goes on forever. I want to suggest that there may be in fact a sin of infinite gravity and proportion which does merit eternal punishment, and this would be the sin of irrecoverably rejecting God and His forgiveness. It seems to me that for the creature to spit in the face of God his creator, to reject God irrecoverably is a sin of infinite proportions and could well merit eternal punishment”.

  2. crl said

    That makes sense. It would also mean that quite a few people would get out of Hell early, if they were to accept God, as, I think, most people would, if given the chance, would accept God (or just general good-ness), and those that don’t probably are hopeless cases.

    • That’s the problem with Purgatory, it assumes that people would accept God if given the chance. But aren’t people given the chance right now, and yet they refuse to accept Jesus? Apply the logic in civil law and you’ll see the foolishness of purgatory.

  3. crl said

    Not necessarily. For instance, I am an atheist, not because I reject the being, God/Jesus, but because I reject the idea of God/Jesus/Allah/Zeus/Thor. If I am wrong in this belief, it is due to logical error (perhaps compounded by emotions and life experiences; after all, I am only human), not ill will towards God or Christianity. I should hope that a just god would forgive an honest atheist (or Jew, Muslim, Hindu, etc.) for lack of intelligence or inconvenient birth, and give us yet another chance to accept the Lord after providing sufficient evidence He exists.

    Civil law and moral law are quite different in two respects: civil law attempts to keep order in society, whereas God’s law carries out ultimate justice; no human judge or jury can read minds, God can. In other words, civil law should deal with action, as we cannot fairly judge intention, and should mainly act as a deterrent, focusing on preventing crimes from ever occurring, whereas moral law should deal with intention, rather than accidental results, if we are to be measuring the true worth of souls, rather than of minds and bodies.

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