Do Protestants believe in purgatory? (What do Protestants say about purgatory?)

The other day, some students in my theology class debated on purgatory existence. One lady mentioned that she prayed for her dead grandmother to make it to heaven. A gentleman backed her up, stating that Purgatory provided hope for people with venial sins. Another gentleman argued that Purgatory does not exist entirely as it is an invented concept by the Catholics. I remember we had the same debate back in theology school, where we asked the lecturer to mention some Protestant groups that believed in this doctrine. In the next lesson, he took us to the Pastor of a Baptist Church downtown, who clearly explained what Protestants believe regarding Purgatory. We even joined the Church’s weekly Bible study group to learn more about doctrines refuted by Protestants. So, when the students brought up the belief of Purgatory among Protestants topic, I was ready with all the answers and Scriptures. So, do Protestants believe in Purgatory?

No, Protestants do not believe in purgatory. According to their belief system, Protestants argue that souls usually experience sleep upon death and instant glorification upon resurrection. They reject the concept of retributive punishment for souls in the afterlife. Thus, they do not have any reason to pray for the dead.

In this article, I will take you on an expedition discussing what Protestants say about purgatory and so much more. Welcome aboard as we dig into this fascinating subject matter.

What do Protestants say about purgatory?

Do Protestants believe in purgatory?
What do Protestants say about purgatory? Image source: Pixabay

Protestants say that purgatory is an unbiblical corruption that infiltrated the church from the Roman Catholics in the apostolic age. They argue that purgatory is a doctrine with falsehoods invented in the Middle Ages by the Roman Catholic Church. As purgatory is believed to be a process of the final purification of the departed souls through a cleansing fire, Protestants assert that there is no place in the afterlife for the saved souls apart from Heaven.

Additionally, they argue that there is no pain in the afterlife and that being absent from the body is being present with Christ. Thus, they do not believe in any transitional state for purification upon an individual’s physical death. They reason that purgatory revokes the sufficiency of Christ’s work and that praying for souls that already died makes no sense.

Why don’t Protestants believe in purgatory?

Protestants do not believe in purgatory because the doctrine involves praying for the departed souls to save them and that salvation by good works is entirely unbiblical. Numerous Protestant denominations practice the doctrine of scripture alone or scripture first. The general Protestant standpoint is that the Bible contains no overt mention of purgatory, and thus they deny its existence because it is an unbiblical belief.

In addition, Protestants believe that faith alone is required to attain salvation and that good works are simply manifestations of that faith. Souls that had faith in Christ are saved by God and are destined for Heaven, while souls that did not have faith in Christ are not saved by God and hence will be excluded from Heaven. Protestants affirm that a soul enters the fullness of paradise or torment only after the resurrection of one’s body.

Additionally, the soul in that transitional state between death and resurrection lacks consciousness. They argue that people’s souls rest in peace when they die and will resurrect on the final Day of Judgment to await the fate in store for them. Therefore, according to Protestants, the dead will go to Heaven or Hell, and there is no middle ground known as purgatory for the living to change it through prayer.

When did Protestants stop believing in purgatory?

Protestants stopped believing in purgatory around 1530 in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther was a Protestant theologian who refuted the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church and led the Protestantism movement, which believed in the Biblical view of salvation and refuted the existence of purgatory, among other things.

Should Protestants reclaim purgatory?

What do Protestants say about purgatory?
Should Protestants reclaim purgatory? Image source: Pixabay

No, Protestants should not reclaim purgatory. As a result of the Protestant Reformation, there was a doctrinal shift concerning salvation and justification. In Roman Catholic theology, an individual is made righteous by divine grace and faith that is liaised with good works. After the reformation, justification refers to the declaration of an individual as righteous by God, who attributes the virtues of Christ upon the individual.

In this process, good works performed in faith are considered a nonessential consequence with no contribution towards an individual’s state of righteousness. Hence, becoming holy is understood as an instant act of God and not a journey of purification conducted in the afterlife. The Protestant belief system of justification does not provide any room for purgatory. They believe that people are justified through faith alone, and because of their faith in Christ, their sins are eternally forgiven.

When a person dies, their soul remains the same with no possibility of any change, whether they were saved or not. This illustrates that there is no need for any soul purification in the next life after physical death. Therefore, it is useless to pray for the dead, and Protestants should not reclaim purgatory.

Does purgatory have a prayer with Protestants?

No, purgatory does not have a prayer with Protestants. Protestants do not believe in purgatory; thus, they do not have any prayer affiliated with the doctrine. They only pray for themselves and other people but not for the souls of the dead.

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