Is Purgatory a Biblical Doctrine?
Purgatory: the condition, process, or place of purification or temporary punishment in which, according to Roman Catholic belief, the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for heaven. Purgatory (Latin: purgatorium; from purgare, â€œto purgeâ€)
The claim of the Roman Catholic Church is that the doctrine of purgatory was something all early Christians believed and that it can be substantiated from the Bible, most notably, 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. However, what the text actually says and what Rome claims that it says are two different things. As Dr. James White points out: "where do you get the idea that this "fire" is in any way related to something that could be called "satispassio," (Satispassio: Suffering of Atonement) as Rome does? Purgatory (according to Rome) is for those who are headed to heaven: they died in a state of grace. The fire of purgatory (whether taken literally over time, as Rome obviously indicated for centuries on end, or now metaphorically, as the kinder, gentler Rome seems to indicate) is meant to cleanse away the temporal punishments of sins. But this testing in the day of judgment is about the motivations of the works done by Christian leaders. There is nothing here about temporal punishments. Besides, there is only one result of the testing in purgatory: everyone ends up in heaven. But there are two results of this testing: there are those whose works remain, and they receive a reward. And there are those who works are burned up, but they are saved anyway. So could someone tell me how there is anyone in purgatory whose works, upon being tested, are shown to be gold, silver, and precious stones? Aren't those the godly, the righteous, who receive a reward? But purgatory is for those who have in fact been judged, but, they are judged to have more temporal punishment for sin upon their souls than they have positive merit, so they must be cleansed and prepared through purgatory. So how does one get from a fire that tests works of Christian leaders, demonstrating who did what they did in life for the glory of Christ, to the fire of purgatory that should only be applied to those having temporal punishments of sin? You sure don't get there by exegesis."
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 (NASB) - 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. 14 If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Here is a very interesting interchange during the cross examination part of a publicly moderated debate between Dr. James White (the Protestant Christian apologist) and Father Stravinskas, a Roman Catholic apologist and priest. In this section, Dr. White is asking questions and Father Stravinskas is responding - JS: