What are your best biblical and historical arguments against the Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory? I am interested in hearing both sides and I would like to hear some insight from yourself as I do not believe you believe in Purgatory. Thank you for all you do and God bless.


Honestly, you should probably ask a Catholic apologist to explain why they believe in Purgatory.  There is no Scripture which mentions Purgatory.  Neither is there a single passage which even remotely suggests the idea of Purgatory.  Given that the idea is not in any way whatsoever biblical, I believe that is enough to prove that it is not a Christian doctrine.  As a Christian, I really do not need to argue against Purgatory, as it is simply not a Christian teaching.

The idea was invented in the early Medieval period, perhaps first invented by Pope Gregory I in the sixth century.  There is no mention of the idea in the first few centuries of the Christian faith.  That alone is sufficient to prove that Purgatory is not a Christian teaching.  You say that you want to hear from both sides on this debate, but I honestly do not believe that there are two sides here—at least not biblically.  My working assumption is that a Christian doctrine can only be defended from the Bible, and there is literally no warrant for Purgatory in the Bible.  The only real argument FOR the doctrine is that Roman Catholics defend the idea, not based on the Bible, but on their own church tradition.  I completely reject the idea that the Roman Catholic or any other church, for that matter, has the right to invent Christian teachings or doctrines.  Therefore, there really is nothing to discussat least not with a person like me who rejects our of hand any idea as “Christian” which is not in the Bible and which was clearly never taught by the primitive church.

Having said all that, the idea of Purgatory is this:  The doctrine assumes that baptism only provides for forgiveness of Original Sin.  In other words, a believer is forgiven of the sin of Adam in baptism, but for sins committed by the believer during this life, penance, confession, pilgrimage, indulgences and the like– in other words human workscan provide for forgiveness of sins, but those sins not forgiven by such pious acts during our life must be forgive while we wait in Purgatory.  Otherwise we will go to hell.  These sins are forgivenpurged–by acts of the living we leave behind.  Such acts are masses for the dead, indulgences, prayers and the like.  These acts by those left behind are what allows us to be released from Purgatory.

I ask you (or anyone else for that matter), what is the biblical support for ANY of this?  Every single point above is unbiblical and theologically ruled out.  First of all, the idea that we must be forgiven of the sin of Adam is completely against the Bible (Ezekiel 18:1-29, for example).  The very idea that we would be born guilty of the sin of another is such an abhorrent and unbiblical idea, it is hard to know how to respond to this Roman Catholic doctrine.  Then there is the idea that baptism into Christ only provides forgiveness of sins committed before we were born!  The blood of Christ provides for the purification from ALL sins (1 John 2:1-3), and this forgiveness is provided to us upon repentance as an adult and baptism as an adult (Acts 2:36-41).  The idea of works salvation, which is at the heart of the Purgatory doctrine is anathema to all true Christians (Ephesians 2:8-10).  There is no possible way for Roman Catholics to defend the doctrine of Purgatory in an open forum in which the only allowable “evidence” for such a doctrine is in the Bible.  That is my answer.

John Oakes

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