Growing up in a Christian background and attending theology school, I have interacted with people from all denominations. In College, I loved interacting with Catholics to learn their fascinating belief in Purgatory. I joined a Catholic Bible study group just to learn more about this place. Luckily, the Parish Priest was always there to explain everything and by the end of my studies, I was well versed with the concept of purgatory. Recently, our online Christian forum turned into a heated debate with the Protestants challenging the existence of Purgatory. I looked on for a few minutes before I decided to give my insight. Being a theologian and having solid knowledge on this topic, I explained all about purgatory and its existence in details. So, is Catholic purgatory real?
No one can prove beyond reasonable doubt that purgatory is real. This is because, unlike heaven and hell, purgatory has less biblical support to back it up. Therefore, despite attempts by the Catholic Church to prove the reality of purgatory, it still remains debatable.
Join me as I unpack some interesting facts about purgatory. I will examine why some people believe purgatory is real, whether the Catholic Church still believes in this doctrine, and whether you must go through purgatory before going to heaven. Keep reading to learn about this and much more.
Can a Catholic explain how the Bible proves purgatory is real?
Catholics have come up with several biblical scriptures and analogies in an attempt to prove that purgatory is real. First, because the Catholic Church teaches and believes in this doctrine, so, almost automatically, Catholics believe that it is real. Other than the teachings of the Catholic Church, Catholics believe that several saints who have lived lives beyond reproach have testified to the reality of this in-between space referred to as purgatory. They argue that these saints have visited purgatory in spirit or have been visited by souls in this space begging for penance prayers on their behalf.
When it comes to proving that purgatory is real using the Bible, most Catholics often quote Mathew 12:32. This verse notes that anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven now in this age, or later, ages to come. Catholics argue that this verse implies that there is forgiveness in the ages to come, which is the refinement and cleansing one undergoes at purgatory.
Furthermore, Catholics quite 2 Maccabees 12:41-45 when debating about the realness of purgatory. This verse provides a clear picture of praying for the dead souls in purgatory . However, most Protestants do not believe in this book as it is a part of the Apocrypha.
Is purgatory biblical?
Purgatory does not have enough biblical support to back it up. Though those who believe in this concept have gone out of their way to find some biblical support to back up this doctrine, it is still not enough, as purgatory contradicts the key teachings of salvation. What purgatory suggests is that we gain salvation through our works, yet the scripture is clear that salvation is given to those who believe and totally lies on the grace and mercy of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Furthermore, purgatory mocks the work of Christ because on the cross, Christ said it is finished. Therefore, the need for one to be cleansed after death cannot be fully supported by the scripture (John 19:30).
Why do some people believe that purgatory is real?
Most people believe in the doctrine of purgatory because it is taught in the Catholic Church. Other than just being taught in the Catholic Church, there have been a lot of verses that have been extracted from the Bible to support the realness of purgatory. For example, those who believe purgatory is real often quote Luke 12:59, which says that none of us will get out of prison till we have paid up to the last penny. Some Catholics argue that the prison used in this verse refers to purgatory.
Furthermore, the book of Maccabees, which is not considered part of the Holy Bible by Protestants, backs up the doctrine of purgatory. The book of 1 Corinthians 3:15 also notes that man will be saved through fire. Because purgatory is a temporary space for those who walk with God but have a stain of sin on them, many people believe that the fire that this verse describes is the temporal punishment that happens in purgatory.
Do you have to go through purgatory before you go to heaven?
No, you do not have to go through purgatory before entering heaven. According to Catholic teachings, only souls that had a blemish of sin on them at the point of death yet were saved and predestined for heaven are the ones that head to purgatory for cleansing before entering heaven. However, if you die with no blemish on your soul, you head directly to heaven. And at the point of death, if you had not repented and sought forgiveness for your sins, then you go directly to hell.
Does the Catholic Church Still Believe in Purgatory?
Yes, the Catholic Church still believes in purgatory. The church has consistently held onto the belief that souls predestined to heaven but are still attached to sin will be purified after death. They teach that God’s mercy does not just end with the living but also after death. Furthermore, the Catholic Church also argues that the doctrine of purgatory is supported by the Bible ( 1 Corinthians 3:15, Luke 12:59, Mathew 12:32, 2 Maccabees 12:41-45).
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.