Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Luther and Purgatory

I tried to post this response once before, but
it seems to have disappeared, so I will post
it again now and also post a copy of it to my

I am also not implying that there was any
ill-will on Mr. Swan's part and that he may
have deleted my earlier response. I was
quite tired that evening when I attempted
to post it - and it's possible after I did a
few "previews" that I neglected to click
"publish." So, on with the response:

Mr. Swan, quoting Luther:
St Paul, in 1 Corinthians 3, says of the fire of the last day that it will prove the good works, and by it some shall be saved because they keep the faith, though their work may suffer loss. Of this fire also they make purgatory, according to their custom of twisting the Scriptures and making of them what they will.

Well, there's no "twisting" done by Catholics
here! If Luther would just read on in the same
context he'd find Scripture provides us with
the truth of the matter. Let's do that now,
and I will bold the text which Luther
quotes from and italicize the text which
answers him:

1Co 3:12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,
1Co 3:13 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.
1Co 3:14 If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.
1Co 3:15 If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (NASB)

It must be noted, this "testing by fire" is done
as a judgment for those ALREADY SAVED and
it mentions that if a man's work is burned up, he
will "suffer loss." He will "suffer" yet, still
is saved! This is a VERY CLEAR reference
to Purgatory in Scripture.

May God allow each of us to read this with objectivity
and humility. Purgatory IS scriptural - even if
Luther didn't see it as such. It also must be noted,
this article of Mr. Swan's reveals that even though
Luther did not believe Purgatory was scriptural, he
still believed it was true! Quoting again from Mr.
Swan's blog:

"That there is a purgatory cannot be proved by those Scriptures which are approved and trustworthy. I have never yet denied that there is a purgatory, and I still hold that there is, as I have many times written and confessed, though I have no way of proving it incontrovertibly, either by Scripture or reason..."

(We have just seen it is clearly found in Scripture)

"...in a word, I have decided for myself that there is a purgatory, but cannot force any others to the same decision."
(1521, Luther's response to Exsurge Domine qtd.
at: Beggars All Blog.

So Luther, though he THOUGHT he could not prove
Purgatory by Scripture - still believed in it.



  1. I thought your answer was very thorough. Mr. Swan's prejudice is very apparent. He is easily answered. Well done.

  2. Thanks cathmom5.

    Here's my latest response, which includes James' response to me:
    > James Swan said...
    > This is a misrepresentation of
    > the passage.
    > Scott, my apologies. Luther did
    > not assign verse 13, he only
    > states 1 Cor. 3, citing the
    > chapter generally.

    Agreed, but that would only further my point - the context shows more here than Luther lets on to.

    > The text is from the Old
    > Philalephia edition of
    > Luther's Works vol. 3. I took
    > the text from an on-line
    > version, without checking it
    > against the original, which I
    > just did.

    Thank you! That is appreciated. Is there an online reference to the original that we can all look at?

    > In the text, Luther is working
    > though a brief response to 49
    > articles written against him.
    > I've noticed the later responses
    > are much more sparse (he seemed
    > to be running out of gas, so to
    > speak).
    > I don't think its fair to say
    > Luther "overlooked the context",
    > when he was only speaking
    > generally of 1 Cor. 3,

    Well, as I said, the context reveals more than Luther lets on to. I agree his reference is not specific, but the quote was pretty direct.

    > and I think you would agree
    > Roman Catholics do refer to it
    > as a Purgatory prooftext. That
    > really is Luther's point.

    It really is a prooftext, even if Luther, et al, refuses to see it as such. It speaks of the judgment, wherein our works are tested - this is after this life when this happens. It goes on to say that if works remain, there will be rewards - but if the works are burned up, the person will "suffer loss, yet he will be saved." So we have a "saved person" who will undergo judgment/testing and IF his works are "burned up" this "saved person" will "suffer loss."

    As for bkaycee's comment:
    > Not sure how "suffer loss" of
    > reward is a "clear reference" to
    > purgatory.

    Well, it's NOT merely a loss of reward - THAT is a twisting of the Scripture! One does not "suffer" the "loss" of something they NEVER HAD! It is AFTER this SAME JUDGMENT/TEST OF FIRE that the person whose works remain WILL BE rewarded, whereas the one whose works are "burned up" - that person will "suffer loss." It is a clear reference to suffering after this life, but before entering into the beatific vision of Heaven.

    James Swan concludes:
    > I'm sorry I haven't gotten to
    > your blog entries yet, but then
    > again, you took quite a while to
    > write to me.

    Perhaps the reason it took me so long to write you is that I was not informed that you had posted a blog response about me and/or something I had written. When I blogged my response, I informed you here that I did so, I didn't wait for you to stumble upon it by accident well after the fact, (that's how I found your blog, using a Google search including my name).

  3. I just wanted to let you know, Scott. My blogger name is Cathmom5, but you know me as Materdon elsewhere. ;-)

  4. Thanks again cathmom5 - I had a feeling I knew you from elsewhere.

    God be with you.



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