Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 14, 1954



The doctrine of "purgatory" is one of the most deeply imbedded and tenaciously held of all Catholic teachings. According to A. H. Strong's. Systematic Theology (page 1,000) the Catholic Church teaches that "all who die at peace with the church, but are not perfect, pass into purgatory." In this state they are "purged" (hence the name) of their unforgiven sins.

"Here they make satisfaction for sins committed after baptism by suffering a longer or shorter time, according to the degree of their guilt. The church on earth, however, has power by prayers and the sacrifice of the Mass, to shorten these sufferings or to remit them altogether."

In defense of this doctrine by the Catholic priests we have these words:

"Probably the best argument to prove that Purgatory is a revealed doctrine is that the Jews in the Old Law were taught to pray for the dead, and down to this day they observe a special feast on which prayers are offered for the deceased. Christ never corrected them for that practice. In the second book of Maccabees (12:43-46) the doctrine of the Jews is clearly stated, but this book is not contained in the Protestant Bible. They must at least admit it to be historical and it tells what the practice of the Jews was."

— Our Sunday Visitor, Nov. 15, 1953 Thus in the "official publication" of the Catholic Church we have what they consider the best argument possible to be made for Purgatory as a scriptural doctrine. And what is that? Why it is a single quotation from II Maccabees concerning a Jewish practice! And because Christ did not specifically condemn this practice (praying for the dead) the whole doctrine of "purgatory" is built up and foisted upon the people.

Let it be remembered that the Jews themselves reject the books of Maccabees. Neither Jesus nor his divinely inspired apostles quoted from them or gave their approval to them in any way. They were not in the "book" from which the Lord read (Luke 4:16); neither were they included in the "sacred scriptures" from which Timothy had received instruction since childhood. (2 Timothy 3:15.) They were not in the "law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms" from which Christ taught the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. (Luke 24.) But they are in the Catholic Bible. Thus the "best argument" to be made for purgatory is based on a passage which is from an apocryphal book; and has to do with a superstitious practice of the Jews of the period of time between the Testaments.

But what saith the scriptures? What does the New Testament teach relative to this doctrine? Absolutely nothing directly, for it was a heresy not yet invented when the inspired men penned their words. Its condemnation then is like the condemnation of sprinkling — it is to be found in the positive statements which make the practice impossible. Just as a "burial" prohibits and precludes the possibility of sprinkling for baptism, so there are many passages which contravene and debar the idea of purgatory.

II Corinthians 5:1-8. For Paul to be "absent from the body" was to be "at home with the Lord." This was not only the desire of Paul, but it embraced all of like mind. He says "we are willing rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord." Was the Lord in purgatory? Certainly not. Then when a faithful Christian is separated from the body, he goes to where the Lord is; and if the Lord is not in "purgatory" neither does the Christian go there.

Hebrews 9:27, 28. "And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment; so Christ also, having been once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to them that wait for him, unto salvation." The doctrine of purgatory vitiates and makes void the sacrifice of Christ; it suggests that Christ's sacrifice is not complete within itself to forgive sins, that it requires the sacrifice plus certain expiation on the part of the sinner. Christ pays a part of the penalty, the sinner pays the rest of it. But Christ's sacrifice was complete, adequate, and "once for all"; it is sufficient to cover every sin of which a man repents.

Luke 16:26. "And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, that they that would pass from hence to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from thence to us." This is as plain 'as words can make it. There is no crossing, either now, or later, or ever. The "great gulf" is fixed. And once one finds himself on one side of that gulf he remains there for eternity. Was the Rich Man in Purgatory? Then he remains there forever.

Revelation 22:11. "He that is unrighteous, let him do unrighteousness still: and he that is filthy, let him be made filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him do righteousness still: and he that is holy, let him be made holy still." When death comes, the condition in which it finds the soul is made permanent and eternal. There is no changing over; there is no "purging" to be done.

Ecclesiastes 11:3. "If a tree fall toward the south or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth there shall it be." What more could be said to impress the permanency and eternal unchangeableness of the status of the soul at the hour of death.' There is no second chance; there is no change, no purging, no expiation after death. After death comes the certainty of the judgment. The soul shall stand or fall in that final day according to the deeds done in the body — not in the disembodied state of some "purgatory."

— F. Y. T.