Join Michael Patton, Tim Kimberley, JJ Seid and Sam Storms as they continue their series on Roman Catholicism by discussing the topic of Purgatory.


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    9 replies to "Theology Unplugged: Roman Catholicism – Part 6 – Purgatory"

    • theoldadam

      Why then, the Cross?

      If it didn’t do everything, then it might as well have done nothing.

    • Irene

      I think you all hit on the key to understanding the reasoning behind purgatory at the very beginning when you mentioned (I’m paraphrasing) imputation vs. infusion.
      If you have a view of salvation in which God “labels” us “HOLY”, then I can see the bewilderment at the idea of purgatory. It wouldn’t make sense….maybe as a fear tactic.
      But just for the sake of argument, with an empathetic spirit (thanks, guys (: ), imagine that salvation is a transformation rather than a mere declaration. Purgatory is then a completion (to whatever extent necessary on an individual basis) of that transformation to holiness. It’s where we become detached from any sins we are still attached to, which is a painful process, become we are still attached to those sins. Maybe I could compare it to drug withdrawal. We think we need that sin, maybe even want it, and our lives are ordered around it, to varying degrees. When we see its true consequences, and it is ripped away from us, it’s not pleasant. The impurities are “burned away. We become fully cooperative with the life of God within us.

      The cross is certainly sufficient. It’s just a matter of Christ’s righteousness being applied, accepted, distributed, transmitted, or whatever word you’d like to use there. Back to the old imputation vs infusion again.

    • theoldadam

      Thanks, Irene.

      I do think He’s the same guy that does all of that for us, also.

    • Irene

      Hi oldadam,

      I listened to that whole sermon, paying special attention to the beginning. And, oh, does that bring back memories…in my youth I memorized those explanations well. Except back then, it was “by my own reason and strength”, rather than “understanding and effort” Anyway, I’m sure I understand the point you’re making -that it is God who gives us faith in the first place, and God who sanctifies us to the end. That we couldn’t even believe, or remain a believer, without his grace. We are powerless.

      One thing I’ve noticed during my conversion and afterward is that Prot and Cath theologies have different semantics when it comes to the word “grace”. Cath theology views “grace” as a word with a rich variety of meanings. There is actual grace, habitual grace, sanctifying grace, original grace, initial grace, special graces, sacramental grace, and probably other distinct kinds of grace I’m missing.

      In regared to conversion, we probably have more in common than you might think. CCC#2001, “The preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace.” #2010 may also be helpful, “Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.” (Just keep in mind that Cath and Prot definitions of original sin and grace overlap but don’t line up exactly.)

      As far as the work of God alone, remember Luther also believed in free will, not a Calvinist irresistable grace! #174 in the Small Cat.

      I am realizing more and more how many doctrines come together in the doctrine of purgatory! justification, free will, grace and merit, -it’s complicated!

    • Irene

      Since this series is about distinctions between Reformed and Catholic beliefs, I thought I would share this handy link. Easy to use, easy to compare, online versions of the most important Catholic catechisms. (some universal, some local)


    • James

      One of the first questions asked in this podcast session relates to to idea of from where Catholics developed the idea of purgatory and that it’s difficult for Protestants to relate because we don’t have a related idea. Recently, I started listening to Hank Hanegraaff’s show and he subscribes to an idea of a temporary heaven that we go to first and then a permanent heaven that we go to later. That may be a close Protestant “view” of purgatory; although, he doesn’t subscribe to the idea of penance during the first heaven.
      As a side note, I’m not sure how much longer I will listen to Hank’s program. I disagree with some of his teaching and he seems to hold several believes as essential or rather he treats those that don’t agree with him 100% as ignorant or stupid.

    • Irene

      I didn’t understand, during the discussion of the origin of purgatory, how the historical aspect of the story of the praying for the dead in Maccabees could be overlooked. The reference was mentioned, and it was said (something like), “Well, just because it’s history doesn’t mean it’s good theology.” Yet the question still came up, “where in the world did this come from?”, neglecting the ancient Jewish understanding as in Maccabees. True, purgatory was not completely developed from the beginning, but I think it’s unfair to say it came out of nowhere.

    • Jose D. Pinell

      I found the first half of the podcast, as a Catholic, very enlightening and respectful, but the second half was at times very difficult to listen to, sometimes even offensive. Offensive not because I’m closed to “attacks” on my faith, but offensive because our Catholic beliefs were so viewed and understood with such a heavy Protestant theological glasses, that a borderline straw man is the closest fault I could find in it. The cynicism that I felt from it was overwhelming at times. I think Irene did a good job of explaining what I mean, so I won’t repeat what she said.
      I will however point out that as Catholics we don’t believe in “once saved always saved”, but we believe that we can lose our salvation out of our own free will. We believe love is free, and this opennes of love leaves the possibility of rejection. We can choose, after knowing God’s love, to reject it.

      I can make this syllogism, for sake of the argument.
      Love in order to be genuine, must be free.
      If love is free, it must be open to rejection.
      Therefore, it is possible to reject love.

      The justification for the first premise is simply that if love is not freely chosen, and, given our states as beings predicated in the temporal time and space of our world, continually freely chosen, then it is simply something that is forced to us, despite our own choice, or rather what we fancy to be our own choice. Forced because we have no say in whether we want it or not.
      This idea of love being forced is problematic in many ways. For the sake of space, I will share one way I think is problematic.
      If love is forced then it must be predestined, because the one doing the choosing must predestine and thus fully decide who will receive this love.
      If love is predestined then those who don’t receive Love must by necessity be predestined as well.
      Therefore the one who is responsible for giving love is also responsible for not giving love.
      If we attain to an Augustinian view of evil, that is,…

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