A Response to the Indulgences Debate Discussion

This posting is actually in response to one who goes by the nickname of "Peace By Jesus" which I have shortened to "PBJ."  PBJ is responding to a thread on the BeggarsAllReformation Blog (BARB) which also discusses the Indulgences Debate, to which I have provided a fairly thorough response to here on Qui Locutus. PBJ is not responding to my commentary of the debate, but to a discussion on BARB. I have linked that discussion above for those who would like to see the context. I post here because this response became a bit too long and involved for a combox response. Without further ado...

> PBJ:  I do not check this email often, so i missed this reply.

SW: No worries - it has taken me a while to complete my response to you.

>> SW:   While I get the rationalizations you put forth,
> PBJ:  No, what you do not get then is that Scripture
> clearly speak of the next conscious reality for
> believers then it is with the Lord,

SW: Let's look at those verses, instead of just throwing out of context references, shall we? While the readers here will have the benefit of the verses actually being quoted - on BARB we were not afforded that luxury.

Lk. 23:43 "And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise."

SW: Purgatory IS part of Paradise. Only the SAVED can be in Purgatory.

2Cor. 12:4 "That he was caught up into paradise, and heard secret words, which it is not granted to man to utter."

SW: Context, my friend, context. This passage speaks of a man St. Paul knew and did not know whether or not that experience was in the body or out of the body. This speaks NOTHING about after this life, in fact St. Paul speaks of him in present tense that he KNOWS him (See verse 2). [Added: Perhaps this man to whom St. Paul speaks of never died? Scripture alone doesn't tell us.]

Rv. 2:7 "He, that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches: To him, that overcometh, I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of my God."

SW: All this says is that the one who overcomes will eat of the tree of life. You cannot use this as a statement against Purgatory - if anything, one could use it in support of Purgatory! He that overcometh (the trials of Purgatory) shall eat of the tree of life...

Phil 1:23 "But I am straitened between two: having a desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ, a thing by far the better. 24 But to abide still in the flesh, is needful for you."

SW: So here, St. Paul desires to be with Christ, but he is still needed to abide with the Church on Earth. Again, there is no negation of Purgatory here.

2Cor. 5:8 [“we”] "But we are confident, and have a good will to be absent rather from the body, and to be present with the Lord."

SW: Again, there is no denial of Purgatory here! The desire to be in Heaven does not mean there is no Purgatory.

1Cor. 15:51ff'- "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

SW: That we will be changed does not preclude going to Purgatory.

1Thess. 4:17 - "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."

SW: Keep in mind, those in Purgatory WILL be with Him forever too.  Still no preclusion of Purgatory here.

> PBJ: And the next transformative experience that is manifestly taught is that of being like Christ in the resurrection.

1Jn. 3:2 "Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God; and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know, that, when he shall appear, we shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is."

SW: And again, what we shall be does not mean we will not be purified before we get there.

Rm. 8:23: "And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body."

SW: Is anyone else seeing a pattern here? Again, waiting for the adoption, etc. does not equate to no Purgatory.

1Co 15:53,54 "53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption; and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 And when this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory."

SW: Yes, when we go to Purgatory our corruption puts on incorruption.

2 Cor. 2-4 "For out of much affliction and anguish of heart, I wrote to you with many tears: not that you should be made sorrowful: but that you might know the charity I have more abundantly towards you."

SW: I do not see any relationship at all here - assuming your meant 2 Cor. 2:4.

> PBJ: At which time is the judgment seat of Christ, which is the
> only suffering after this life, which does not begin at death,
> but awaits the Lord's return,

1 Corinthians 4:5 "Therefore judge not before the time; until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise from God."

SW: This one actually supports Purgatory! "Who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness..." but every man shall still have praise from God? Even though the things of darkness are exposed - "every man" who is in this purification IS saved and shall have praise from God!

2 Timothy 4:1,8 "I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming, and his kingdom." And: "As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love his coming. Make haste to come to me quickly."

SW: I would be relatively certain that St. Paul suffered his Purgatory while still on Earth, and he is speaking of himself in these verses. Between those two verses he speaks of those who will fall away due to following teachers with itching ears, etc., so the same context is talking about losing souls (so much for the once-saved-always-saved mentality). Anyway, nothing here speaks against Purgatory.

Revelation 11:18 "And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest render reward to thy servants the prophets and the saints, and to them that fear thy name, little and great, and shouldest destroy them who have corrupted the earth."

SW: Again, while it speaks of judgment here - and those who were "prophets and saints, and to them that fear Thy Name, little and great..." shall be rewarded and those who corrupted the Earth will be destroyed, nothing is denying a time of purification of those souls who WILL BE rewarded.

Matthew 25:31-46 "31 And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. 32 And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. 34 Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in: 36 Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. 37 Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? 39 Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? 40 And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me. 41 Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me. 44 Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? 45 Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me. 46 And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting."

SW: And again, you argue from silence. EVERY MAN who goes to Purgatory SHALL GO INTO LIFE EVERLASTING too! Just because THIS verse or THAT verse doesn't mention the purification phase does not negate those other verses which DO mention the purification and those being purged will "suffer loss" though they will still be "saved" in the end.

(A verse from me) 1 Cor. 3:15 "If any man's work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire."

SW: You can cite dozens of verses which don't mention the purification period (Purgatory) but if there is even ONE verse (and there are others) which CLEARLY represents where "ANY" man's work (not just preachers, as some will try to diminish the REAL meaning of this text, which you have before you in black and white) will be jugded and IF it is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself is still saved! That is PRECISELY what Purgatory is all about! Only the SAVED will be there, the chaff is already cast into Hell.

1 Peter 1:7 "That the trial of your faith (much more precious than gold which is tried by the fire) may be found unto praise and glory and honour at the appearing of Jesus Christ" and 5:4 "And when the prince of pastors shall appear, you shall receive a never fading crown of glory."

SW: Here again you mention a verse which overtly speaks of the "trial by the fire" - which IS Purgatory!

> PBJ: and is the suffering of the loss of rewards (and the
> Lord's displeasure) due to the manner of material one built
> the church with, which one is saved despite the loss of such,
> not because of. (1 Corinthians 3:8ff)

SW: And this is part of the context of the verse I quoted, 1 Cor. 3:15. Yes, the man spoken of here IS saved already, and though some of his works may cause him to suffer loss - he is still (already) saved. Yes, this IS Purgatory!

> PBJ: Since all you see are rationalizations I repeated what
> Scripture says, which all your strained or wrested appeals
> to texts which do not teach Purgatory cannot refute.

SW: Well first off, be accurate and truthful - you didn't "repeat what Scripture says," you presented a list of unquoted Bible verses.  *I* have provided the actual text(s) of what your list refers to and NOT ONE of those verses refutes Purgatory!  NOT EVEN ONE of them does! Arguments from silence are not valid and are therefore to be outright rejected from evidence. NONE of those verses mention that Jesus wore sandals either, but just because they don't say He did doesn't mean He didn't.

>> SW: I can provide prooftexts which allow us to rationalize that
>> there is indeed a Purgatory -
> PBJ: And which attempts have been refuted here in a succession of
> posts,

SW: Nope.  Didn't happen. Just because YOU believe there has been a refutation from your arguments from silence does not mean there as been even a SINGLE refutation.

> PBJ continues: and shown that belief in Purgatory is not
> what is manifest in the the only wholly inspired authoritative
> record of what the NT church believed (including how they
> understood the OT and gospels). But there is always another
> RC devotee who seems compelled to defend whatever Rome imagines,
> regard(les)s of how cultic it makes them look.

SW: First off, a "cult" is not necessarily a bad thing. Too many people out there confuse "a cult" with "occult" and the two are NOT the same and should NOT be equivocated so!  Whereas the "occult" involves things like magic and the paranormal - the word "cult" simply means a group or following.

>> SW: and- if it exists, then the Church, through her authority
>> to bind or loose whatsoever she chooses, could indeed loose
>> in a a plenary or partial fashion the time spent in Purgatory.
> PBJ: Please. Parroting prevaricating propaganda may be
> comforting to the Catholic choir but it simply will not stand
> the test of examination of what the NT church believed in the
> most ancient substantive record. But I do understand that Rome
> has presumed to infallibly declare she is and will be
> perpetually infallible whenever she speaks in accordance with
> her infallibly defined (scope and subject-based) formula, which
> renders her declaration that she is infallible, to be infallible,
> as well as all else she accordingly declares.

SW: THE POINT of THAT statement is that this really boils down to AUTHORITY. You adhere to the un- and anti-scriptural notion of sola scriptura (Scripture, nowhere, proclaims itself to be the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church); and I adhere to what Scripture clearly points to as infallible authority in one man (the pope) in Matthew 16:18-19 and the council of bishops in Matthew 18:18.

> PBJ: Maybe you want to try the "The Church ® gave you the
> Scriptures, thus it is the supreme infallible authority on
> what it means" argument.

SW: Well, did you listen to the whole debate? While Peter D. Williams DID make an argument regarding the Canon of Sacred Scripture... which IS a valid argument for Church Authority - I did not see that as a valid argument in the Indulgences Debate between him and White. MY point in bringing up Church Authority is that this is truly the root of our separated beliefs. IF there is merit to the Church having said authority THEN the matter of Purgatory is not really up for debate anymore. IF the Church does not have this authority - then Scripture lies to us in telling us she can bind or loose whatsoever she chooses and that binding and/or loosing is also in effect in Heaven. Or, perhaps you believe that error can be bound in Heaven?

>> SW: that indulgences are ONLY for those who are saved already.
> PBJ: I think I expressed that,

SW: GOOD! Then you concur that White lost the debate because IF indulgences are ONLY for those who are already saved THEN they cannot be a denial of the Gospel - which IS the question of THAT debate.  Thank you!

> PBJ: except that "saved" in Scripture means the next conscious
> reality for believers after this life it is with the Lord. Who
> is not in RC Purgatory.

SW: Well, 1) The Lord IS in Purgatory!  It is His LOVE and PRESENCE which burns at the souls of those who have ANY stain of impurity remaining when they stand before Him. 2) There is NO Catholic teaching on just how long Purgatory lasts. It could last just an instant - that instant we stand before Him - and it may SEEM like days, weeks, years, etc. Or it could last days, weeks, years. What relevance is "time" really in the realm of eternity? 3) I repeat, NONE of the verses you cited (and didn't quote) denied the reality of Purgatory anymore than they denied Jesus wore sandals.

> PBJ: May God peradventure grant you "repentance to the
> acknowledging of the truth." (2 Timothy 2:25)

SW: Thank you, and likewise - it is with modesty that I admonish you in your resistance to the Truth (same verse).

SW: I do wish you peace and openness to God's guidance to the fullness of truth and faith.


An Apologist View of the Assumption

The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was last week, August 15th. In the Eastern Rites this is celebrated as the Dormition of the Theotokos.
St. John Damascene (d. 749) also recorded an interesting story concerning the Assumption: "St. Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, at the Council of Chalcedon (451), made known to the Emperor Marcian and Pulcheria, who wished to possess the body of the Mother of God, that Mary died in the presence of all the Apostles, but that her tomb, when opened upon the request of St. Thomas, was found empty; wherefrom the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up to heaven." [Qtd. by Fr. Saunders in The Assumption of Mary at: http://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/maryc3c.htm]
The Feast is established in the Eastern Church by the Byzantine Emperor Mauritius (582-602)on August 15th and remains celebrated on this date in both Eastern and Western (Latin) traditions.
I selected this picture because it shows our Blessed Lady as an older woman. So many of the other pieces of art we have show the Blessed Virgin as a young lady, even at the time of her assumption into Heaven.

Is The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Contrary to Scripture?

While it is true, Scripture makes no mention of the Assumption, it is not something contrary to Scripture either. Enoch walked with God and was taken by God (Gen. 5:24). Elijah was taken up by a whirlwind as he and Elisha were talking and separated by a chariot of fire (1 Kings 2:11; 1 Macc. 2:58). Elijah's presence in Heaven is made evident as well by his appearance at the Transfiguration - and also at this event was Moses, indicating at least a third person was bodily in Heaven (Matt. 17:3). That being said, Scripture itself does imply she's already there! In Rev. 12:1 we hear of this "woman clothed in the sun" and "crown on her head with twelve stars" - again implying she is already there AND has been crowned, as we refer to her, as Queen of Heaven. We're also sure this passage is talking about the Blessed Virgin Mary because it also speaks of her as giving birth to a Son, whom the Devil sought to destroy, but that Son ascended into Heaven where He sits upon His throne.

Even the staunchest of "Bible-believering Christians" must accept that bodily assumption into Heaven is not something contrary to Scripture.

A Contradiction?

Some may point to John 3:13 and Jesus' own words where He says "And no man hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven." Does Jesus then contradict what is clearly recorded in Gen. 5:24 and 2 Kings 2:11? By no means! Enoch and Elijah were "taken" to Heaven, they did not ascend by their own accord - and neither did the Blessed Virgin! The only Man who has ascended into Heaven by His own will/accord - is the Son of Man, Jesus Christ.

Another Extraordinary Event During the Ordinal (Counting) Season

And yes, during this time of the liturgical year, in modern times it is referred to as "Ordinary Time," but this is yet another example of the extra-ordinary being celebrated. It is my ongoing mission and plea that we stop referring to this period in the liturgical calendar as "ordinary" and go back to what it was called previously - and that is "Ordinal Time." Yes, both "ordinal" and "ordinary" are from the same root and CAN both mean a period of counting - the more popular use of "ordinary" takes on a lesser meaning of something more general, or humdrum, or run-of-the-mill (see Thesaurus on "ordinary" for more).

Does The Church Have the Authority

Does the Church have the authority to declare such a feast day and dogmatically define such a teaching? Clearly, the answer here is YES! In Matthew 16:18-19 the authority to bind or loose on Earth and in Heaven of whatsoever he chooses is given to our first pope, St. Peter - and in Matthew 18:18 that same authority is given to the Apostles, our first bishops, as a group. So, while St. Peter and/or his successors, can declare such a teaching as dogma (and this did happen in 1950 when Pope Pius XII defined this very teaching as dogma in Munificentissimus Deus. I would add, the ONLY part of that document which is absolutely infallible is the definition itself, and that is:
that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.
Bottom line here is, before getting too far into a debate on the Assumption itself, it is best to establish the authority of the Catholic Church - which is truly the more/most fundamental difference between Catholics and those who protest against Catholicism.

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Feast of the Assumption

 The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - another example of "not-so-ordinary" days! These are COUNTING days - and...