Is there an idea of purgatory in Anglican Theology ?

Discussion in 'Questions about Anglicanism' started by Andy Cothran, Jul 20, 2012.

  1. Symphorian

    Symphorian Well-Known Member

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    There are many inscriptions in the Roman Catacombs which leave little doubt that this was the faith of the primitive church.

    Some examples from the 2nd or 3rd centuries:

    Live in peace and pray for us.
    Januaria, rest well and pray for us.
    Pray for us for we know that thou art in Christ.
     
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  2. Andy Cothran

    Andy Cothran Active Member

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    Yes i agree too my grandmother who was not Anglican or Catholic used to tell me that ..
     
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  3. mark1

    mark1 Active Member

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    I will give an explanation that might even be acceptable to the evangelicals among us. God is outside of time and not contained by time. If I pray for someone who is now dead, that prayer may be made effective in our past. When I pray for a saint to pray for a friend, I am asking someone in heaven to pray. Again such prayers can be effective in the past, present or future. I guess my point is that we tend to have a very limited approach if we try to make God and heaven fit into linear time.

    And no, I cannot see any harm in asking for prayers from those who are not alive in this worldly realm.


    And just BTW, purgatory as the mudroom oaf heaven has always made sense to me. And yes, Lewis is one of my favorite author. And yes, I believe in the traditional Anglican teaching opposing to the Roman die of Purgatory, the nightmare form Dante.
    ==============================
    I have always been confused about what happens at death. Will not Jesus come to raise the living and the dead? Will we not go to heaven at that time? Some have said that this will seem as the next day after our earthly life. Some consider that Paradise must be an intermediate state.

     
  4. Joshua

    Joshua New Member

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    Can Anglicans believe in a form of purgatory? The Answer is yes and no. Anglicans believe in imputed righteousness. Which means we understand that the grace of Christs cross is given us by faith and not by what we do. The Roman Catholic view of purgatory is the result of their understanding of infused righteousness. Anglicans believe this runs contrary to scripture and the fathers. However, In Lewis’ vision, purgatory is the process by which God cleanses us, burning away our inequities and making us fit to be present in the Kingdom of God. While this resonates with the Roman teaching, it does not suggest the “treasury of merit” and the idea that the Church can dispense excess grace in order to bring a soul onward out of torment. Nor is there any language in Lewis’ description about punishment. His purgatory is purely a place of cleansing, all satisfaction having been made upon the cross.
    It seems to me that this kind of a concept of purgatory, while not arising from classical Anglicanism, is not expressly forbidden. Scripture is relatively obscure about what exactly happens to us in the moments between our death and our entry into the Kingdom. All we know for sure is that we will be brought before the Great Judgment Seat of Christ.
     
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  5. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Well put Joshua.
     
  6. gurneyhalleck1

    gurneyhalleck1 New Member

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    I struggled with this when I was Anglican, having come originally from a Catholic background at the time. Purgatory made sense and seemed logical. I tended to believe there was temptation and a continuing process in the afterlife. Problem was, Anglicanism made it pretty clear in the 39 Articles that purgatory was a farce to be sure. Purgatory is a Latin belief and the 39 Articles absolutely condemn the theology and thinking behind it. I know friends who claim that the 39 Articles are not required, not normative, and the argument is wobbly. The Tractarians and the Oxford Movement re-introduced the idea of purgatory into the picture of the Angican canvass but I still cannot see how one can reconcile it with the Anglican divines, the Articles, etc. As an Eastern Orthodox Christian, I believe more in the language of the Fathers with tollhouses and after-death temptation. I tend to see things in terms of St. John Climacus and the ladder of divine ascent. Makes sense.
     
  7. Joshua

    Joshua New Member

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    It comes down to the difference between infused righteousness (which Anglicans are against) and imputed righteousness. The 39 articles are required but the laity are not required to sign off on them. Some see this as giving the laity more freedom. I would not assert that, because if this is what the clergy is required to teach then why would the laity believe in anything else? Obviously the laity are supposed to be taught this. I have a very high view of Eastern Orthodoxy and if I were not an Anglican I would probably be there. However' infused vs. imputed righteousness is also a difference between Anglicans and the Orthodox. All Christians would agree that the great problem of the human condition is sinfulness, that our sin separates us from God. For the Anglican, the chief remedy for this condition is through faith that Christ’s work on the cross has saved us, without any effort on our part. "We are justified by faith alone, but justifying faith is never alone." Living faith produces works that give evidence of faith.
    The only thing that justifies us, that is, that gives us forgiveness of sins is the merit of Christ, which we receive through faith.

    Imputed righteousness means we use Christ’ righteousness accepted by faith alone to cover our unrighteousness – in other words we do not contribute anything and we are declared righteous. It is like Christ covers our dirty robe (the dirt represents our sins) with his spotless robe and He needs to do it only once.

    Infused righteousness, on the other hand, means God through Christ helps us to become righteous. Note that the source of righteousness is God, not us, yet the outcome of justification is we become righteous.

    Using similar analogy of dirty robe representing our sin, in infused righteousness God through Christ helps us to clean our dirty robe. This needs our cooperation and it is an on-going process. Our dirty robe is first washed clean through (Sacrament of) Baptism. Whenever we make it dirty again through sinning, God through Christ helps us to clean it through (Sacrament of) Reconciliation. When we die with our robe still stained with venial sin then purgatory will cleanse it.


    We Anglicans would disagree with infused righteousness because it would have us stand before a Holy God trusting in our own righteousness.
     
  8. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Joshua, how do you justify believing classical Anglican theology when it comes to imputed righteousness, and yet believe Anglo-Catholic theology when it comes to calling confession a "Sacrament"? Isn't it a bit of a contradiction, since confession to a priest or bishop is a work that can easily become a turn-style, like all works of Law?

    Our coming to a sacrament-of-reconciliation validates the arrogant assumption that we can stand before God trusting in our own righteousness.

    I've always found the dirty-robe-covered-by-a-clean-robe idea very distasteful. Revelation says that the righteous have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. There's no robe of Christ to be put on us, is there? The blood of Christ washes everything clean-white.
     
  9. Joshua

    Joshua New Member

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    Hello Consular,

    That is a great question but before I answer it, there is no angloreformed or anglocatholic or anglo anything else but merely Anglican. The reformed and Catholic traditions are both within the broader Anglicanism. They hold to the same essentials. The book of common prayer, The 39 articles, the ordinal, the catechism, and to a lesser degree the book of homilies. I am an anglocatholic but I hold first and foremost to Anglicanism. I have always felt like either Anglicanism is real or we should shut up about it. If we come come to the belief that something else has a greater understanding than Anglicanism than we should be that something else.

    On Anglo Catholics calling confession a sacrament? All Anglicans are required to believe that confession is a sacrament. When we go to confession we are not trusting in our own righteousness. Quite the opposite is true. It is because of the Holy spirit who was given us when we were baptized as infants that we are able to come to confession. When Jesus hung on the cross he became sin for us. He was the ransom for us. Christ won peace between God and man. In Confession as in Baptism Christ takes the burden of our sin and gives us in exchange His complete forgiveness and love. Justification is not a ongoing process. It is finished! Sanctification is an ongoing process. We are not adding anything to what Jesus has already done on the cross. We are allowed to cooperate in our sanctification as the Holy spirit is working in us. Philippians 2: 12 -13 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Catholics and Orthodox do not like to use verse 13)! Jesus came into our world with a massive cleanup of dirty clothing in mind. He came with the bleach that is "out of this world." He came to make the filthy rags of our righteousness bright and clean. He came to wash us and our spiritual clothes and to give us spotless clothing so that we can stand in the searing light of God's judgment and be found faultless. When the elder in heaven asks his question of Revelation 7:13:

    "These in white robes--who are they, and where did they come from?" we know the answer.

    "These are they who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
     
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  10. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Joshua, thank you for your detailed and fair-minded answer. :)

    I think it's only Anglo-Catholics who say there should be no distinction made between Anglican streams of thought. Reformed and "Catholic" Anglicanism have different conceptions of the nature & number of the Sacraments, among other things. If we refuse to label different things, we may fall into indifference. Your posts show that you know how important clarity is, however.

    Evangelicals believe that Anglicanism is real: it is a Catholic Communion with apostolic succession, but its articles expressly deny Purgatory as an empty invention of Rome - that Church which separated from the charity of unity by insisting on things like Purgatory.

    Your answer about the dirty-robes seems good, now that you've explained it. The way you originally put it sounded like the spurious quote from Luther about dung-heaps. I don't think clothing is the best metaphor for what God does entire, for that's akin to saying this is all masks & appearances.

    No Anglicans are required to believe Confession is a sacrament. In order for anything to be a sacrament, it must have been instituted specifically by the Lord in the Gospels; so, there are but two Sacraments of the Gospel. By these, grace washes into us - if we are of faith. Confession is sacramental, since the priest stands in the place of God to forgive us when we are repentant, but it is not a Sacrament. To believe it's a sacrament is to come very close to that whole system of purgation which we abandoned in the Reformation, isn't it?

    This is all asked in good faith.

    You might want to read this excellent history of Tract 90 by the Hackney Hub, which includes a bit about Purgatory:

    http://thehackneyhub.blogspot.ca/2012/08/the-destructive-influence-of-tract-90.html
     
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  11. Joshua

    Joshua New Member

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    If we follow the western model, the need to enumerate sacraments becomes crucial. Sacraments have a certain recipe, a certain form. If they have to be given directly by Christ in the Gospels for the salvation of souls, than perhaps it makes sense to say that there are properly only two sacraments, Baptism and the Eucharist, since every other sacramental action flows back to these two. It would seem to be logical to privilege these two in our teaching as they are generally necessary for all people by the explicit command of our Lord.
    Nonetheless, to say that there are only two mysteries would be a profound mistake. The entire action of God in the world through Christ is pregnant with mystery, leading to our final reconciliation with God and our transformation. Christ has initiated any number of means to fill our world with His presence, reclaiming it from the scandal of sin and the tyranny of death. These actions of Christ have their root in the ultimate mystery, the Church herself. Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, Confirmation, Confession and Absolution, and Unction would certainly qualify as divine mysteries, as would many other things, such as the washing of feet on Maundy Thursday or the blessing of homes. These things are not separate rites in which we are taken out of the world and set apart. Rather, they are part of the whole action being taken by Christ through His Church to reclaim the world.
     
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  12. Adam Warlock

    Adam Warlock Well-Known Member

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    Wrong. ACs don't say that there is/should be no distinction.
     
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  13. Joshua

    Joshua New Member

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    The agreement between the Reformed Episcopal Church an th Anglican Province of America should be a example for us all.
     
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  14. Joshua

    Joshua New Member

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    I think confession could be called a sacrament of the gospel. I've never quite understood why we do not count it as such, given that Christ explicitly institutes it and commands His apostles to carry it out. It may be because it lacks an element like Baptism and Eucharist have. I have no disagreements with classical Anglicanism regardless.
     
  15. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    That is quite so, because they are the only Sacraments given by our Lord with specific matter & form of words. :)

    I must disagree. There are only two Mysteries. The words mysterion & sacramentum, from whence we derive our terms, mean the same thing. The Holy Mysteries are Baptism & the Eucharist, as attested by Ambrose in De Mysteriis, Cyril in his last five catechetical lectures, and many other Fathers. Tertullian and Origen considered the wood of the Cross, the Sign of the cross, certain words, and many actions to be sacramental, but they did not understand anything to be Sacraments other than Baptism & the Eucharist, I think.

    It always seemed to me that the ultimate mystery is the Incarnation. That event is what gives physical Baptism its justification, the Cross its goal, earthly suffering its purpose, and the Resurrection its meaning. The Church is the assembly of all believers, in the Incarnate Word. I don't think you'll say the Washing of Feet and other things are sacraments, even if they're sacramental. It's very pedantic, this subject, like the subject of purgation itself.

    Well, it's good to clear that up. Thank you.

    The Eucharist is a Sacrament of the Gospel because we have matter & form:

    Bread & Wine are the matter.
    "This is my Body/Blood" is the form.

    Baptism is a Sacrament because we have matter & form:

    Clean water is the matter.
    "I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" is the form.

    Confession is a Sacrament because...?

    "Whosoever sins you forgive, they are forgiven; whosoever sins you retain, they are retained"?

    This is all deeply related to Purgatory, because the more sacraments we recognise, the more we have a chance to get into works-jusification.
     
  16. Joshua

    Joshua New Member

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    I think your probably right on this. I got a little Anglo Orthodox with my answer.
     
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  17. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    You're a charitable conversant, Joshua. Keep at it. :)

    I am sure we can lock horns (unfortunate expression? :p) in the future on many subjects, hopefully in charity.
     
  18. Joshua

    Joshua New Member

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    lol...I'm not much of a horn locker. Unless an Anglican says something that I believe contradicts the Anglican formularies, I am pretty open. I respect both reformed and catholic views, I think both can be understood in a way that is perfectly in line with the formularies. I do not think this is because Anglicans do not care about what people believe or that every position is correct, just that Anglicans are reserved when it comes to saying more than the early church said.
     
  19. Joshua

    Joshua New Member

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    Confession is a Sacrament because...?

    "Whosoever sins you forgive, they are forgiven; whosoever sins you retain, they are retained"?


    Having a chance to get into works-justification and actually doing it are two different things. If it is understood properly I think we are fine. As human beings we always are trying to convince ourselves that we play a role in our justification. I think it will be that way as long as sin is in us. Baptoevangelicals would use a similar argument towards us calling Baptism and the Eucharist a sacrament, but its because they do not properly understand it. It is not because the sacraments are about works-justification. The Holy Spirit is doing the work through the sacraments and not the priest.
     
  20. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I think the real issue is not "whether we can allow reformed & catholic views to coincide", but "whether purgatory exists". If Purgatory is not biblical, nor professed as absolutely true by the Fathers, Anglican Divines, or the 39 Articles, can we just let people believe as they wish? Correction is charity, just as much as feeding the poor and such.

    Of course, I take exception to making a dichotomy between "Reformed" and "Catholic". As far as the Reformed are concerned, their theology is the Catholic & Universal biblical belief of the ancient days.

    EDIT: Let's get off the sacraments, if you please. Though they're related to Purgatory indirectly, this topic is directly about Purgatory.
     

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