What is the Anglican view on purgatory?

Discussion in 'Questions about Anglicanism' started by neminem, Nov 28, 2017.

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  1. neminem

    neminem Member

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    I am new to Anglicanism. I have several questions I need to now, my first question is: What is the Anglican view on purgatory?
     
  2. Philip Barrington

    Philip Barrington Well-Known Member

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    Article 22

    Perhaps a start to you information hunt may be here. This is certainly not the last word on the subject and I am sure there will be others who will chip in, but at least it may be a start to your enquiry.
     
  3. PotterMcKinney

    PotterMcKinney Active Member Typist Anglican

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    Traditionally, Anglicans denied purgatory, as the link Phillip posted indicates. The reason was because they felt as though that Christ's sacrifice sufficed to pay for both original sin and actual sins, with the medieval notion of purgatory being a punishment for actual sins, because Christ only atoned for original sin. From that, they also denied indulgences, private masses, and prayers for the dead being used to reduce one's time in purgatory, which they considered there only pertinent use.

    Theoretically, there are other ways one can view purgatory that doesn't fall under how the Reformers viewed it, like what CS Lewis held to; but a notion of a realm outside of Hell and Paradise in which sins are punished is foreign to Scripture and the universal traditions of the Church.
     
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  4. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    We can accept the middle state, and some Divines have taught the notion of the middle state, but that is a different concept from the medieval and modern Roman concept of Purgatory and the Treasury of Merits
     
  5. PotterMcKinney

    PotterMcKinney Active Member Typist Anglican

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    Certainly, this is what I was getting at, though clunkily.
     
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  6. neminem

    neminem Member

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    Thanks for responses.
    What about purgatory being purely seen as undergoing a purification of the soul?
     
  7. PotterMcKinney

    PotterMcKinney Active Member Typist Anglican

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    I think that that is fine, in general. The problem with Catholic purgatory, described as follows in the Canons of Trent:

    "As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come."

    Is that the Scriptures teach us that all of our sins forgiven by Christ and left unpunished, not that some are left unpunished. Christ's work on the cross is finished.
     
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  8. neminem

    neminem Member

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    I don't quite follow. Please be patient with me. Do you not mean ..."whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will (not) be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can (not) be forgiven in this age, but certain others (can) in the age to come."
    Mark 3:29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin."

    However, those that do sin, such as stealing, yet not made restitution, will their soul be subject to a purifying fire?
    If not, what sin would be subject to the purifying fire?

    Thank you for you responses.
     
  9. PotterMcKinney

    PotterMcKinney Active Member Typist Anglican

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    The quote is from the Roman Catholic """""Ecumenical"""""" Council of Trent, where they define purgatory contra Protestantism. You're additions in the first sentence forms a double negative, and your additions in the second just reverses what they said to no real detriment to its meaning. Just for clarification, the quote is the wrong belief, not what I am advocating.

    As to your second question, what restitution can any person make for their sins? I have sinned plenty, and will never be able to make restitution for them. The entire point of Jesus is that no one has to make their own restitution; Jesus did for us. So no sin is subject to punishment or must be paid for by us.
     
  10. Philip Barrington

    Philip Barrington Well-Known Member

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    Mark 3:28-30
    ‘Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’— for they had said, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’​

    All sin is forgivable in Jesus, save the absolute rejection of Jesus, which is described as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit who leads us to the Father through Jesus the Son.

    The Roman habit of classifying sins as Good Ones and Bad Ones fails to take seriously the nature of God as absolutely merciful, for all have sinned and are filling short of the glory of God. In a sense you need to read the Articles 9-18, to get a sense of forgiveness. Not of us is forgiven, the ledger is not set clean by a penalty paid the the cleansing fire, for the ledger is set clean only in the redemptive death of Jesus.

    Now surely in our carnal minds, we can see a distinction between this sin and that sin, however in the light of God's light they are just darkness. They are forgiven in that moment on the cross when Jesus cried out 'It is accomplished'.

    Some sense of a waiting between now and the end of time, as against the express bus to heaven with no stops on the way, seems to make sense, and it was popular at one stage to speak of the Church Triumphant in Heaven, The Church Expectant waiting for the day of resurrection, and the Church Militant here on earth. That of course is not three Churches but one Church. I think some people have tried to sneak in purgatory as the waiting period, which is an ok way to understand it, but it should not be dressed up as some place of fire, torment etc.

    John Donne said one short sleep past we wake eternally, Death thou shalt die.
     
  11. neminem

    neminem Member

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    Thank you PotterMcKinney and Phillip Barrington.

    Okay, so what then is the purpose of the purifying fire if one's sins are already forgiven?
     
  12. Philip Barrington

    Philip Barrington Well-Known Member

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    Hi @neminem could you point us to where you see this concept to discuss. I know that it term was used in the Council of Trent as something that must be believed, but to have the discussion in an Anglican way, it would be better coming from scripture.

    1 Peter 1.7
    so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.​

    For example this passage which I have seen used in the defence of the doctrine of purgatory, is a long way for defining the concept clearly, and indeed maybe is just an analogy for the tough things and challenges we face in the walk of faith.

    _____________

    hint: If you want to refer to someone directly type an @ symbol followed by the first few letters of their name and you should get an autofill to select.
     
  13. neminem

    neminem Member

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    Thank you @Philip Barrington for further clarification, and the tip about @.

    To explain my thoughts about purgatory, at this stage of understanding, I will try and string it together. This is what is on my mind:

    1. The Word of God is Truth and can be symbolized as a double-edged sword.
    Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.​

    2. God's Truth can also be symbolized as the purifying fire as with the flaming sword that protected the pathway to the tree of life.
    Genesis 3:24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.​

    3. God would not condone anything that is untrue or deceptive. To do so would contradict God as Truth.
    Matthew 7:23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'​

    4. So only what is true, in us, is worthy of acceptance and accessing the tree of life.
    Revelation 22:14 "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.​

    5. I am assuming repentance, and making amends for our untruths is how to was our robe. I am also assuming our robe is our soul.

    6. Even though I have been following a path of repentance and making amends, I know that I am not perfect, and may not have the right to enter.

    7. I feel that to be humbled unreserved before Truth would be like undergoing a purifying fire which penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

    8. Perhaps under such purification the soul will in deed emerge with whatever is true in it from my life on earth.
    Revelations 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.​

    9. So, what is left in my soul is what ever is true in it. Truth is the Great Reality, anything not true is not real and will pass away.

    Many years ago, during a time of great personal loss, I surrendered 'self' and discovered unconditional love and faith. As a result a revelation occurred where I realized that who we really are is spirit and has nothing to do with who we think we are 'a self or a person'. At that instant I also realized that my whole life was just a fabrication of my mind and that none of it was true, but just a story. From that day on I have been seeking Truth, knowing that truth from the spiritual perspective is the only reality. So my eternal question is 'how much truth does my soul contain, because before there was none, except that I surrendered 'self' to it.

    This is why I am convinced that the soul gets inundated by our beliefs whether they are of truth or not. Harboring sin is harboring an untruth. The soul cannot be accepted with an untruth. So it needs to be purified.

    I am also convinced that the soul is like a deposit given from God, and like the parable of the talents. Matthew 25:14-30. what we do with our deposit (soul) will be measured according to how much truth it contains. The rest gets burnt (so to speak) away from the soul - leaving a partial soul.

    Revelation 22:12 "Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.​

    So this is where I am coming from and I wish to know what the Anglican point of view is on this.
     
  14. PotterMcKinney

    PotterMcKinney Active Member Typist Anglican

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    I do believe that our sins will be purified in the next life by the presence of God, but it is nothing like purgatory as the Roman Church teaches it.
     
  15. neminem

    neminem Member

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    Thanks.
    Okay, so the next life must be before those entering through the gates into the city and to the tree of life. Otherwise falsehoods would be infiltrating the place of Truth.
    So when (not time) does the next life begin?
     
  16. Philip Barrington

    Philip Barrington Well-Known Member

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    Hi @neminem thanks for the clarity and for the sharing. Before I say anything searching for the Anglican point of view on anything is a troubled road, you will do better in the main if you look for Anglican approaches to a particular topic. A friend of mine use to say if all the Anglicans in the world were laid end to end they would never reach a conclusion. Whilst that may be a bit bold and not the whole truth, we do try to hold to the maxim, in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity which whilst not a direct quote from Augustine of Hippo is well in line with things that he did say.

    1]
    Hebrews 4:12-16
    Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account. Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.​

    The word of God is Truth, and when you add a little more context to the passage seems as relevant to life in Christ in the flesh.

    2]
    Genesis 3:22-24
    Then the Lord God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever’— therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life.​

    The story of creation and the fall is rich and deep. In Genesis 1 we are told of humankind created in the image and after the likeness of God, and yet at the outset of chapter 3 we find the serpent saying to the woman the reason why he does not want you to eat the fruit of the tree is because you will be like God. In a way the story is about trying to steal what we already have.

    3]
    Matthew 7:21-23
    ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?” Then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.”​

    The implications of this passage seem to be about the integrity of heart, not just saying, not just doing, but actually being servants of the Lord.

    4]
    Revelation 22:14
    Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.​

    This is part of the great invitation to the celestial city at the the end of the Revelation. Those who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb are the saints of God, the whole company of believers. The tree of Life which features in Genesis 2 and 3 was part of the beginning of this story and is to be part of the conclusion when our access to it is through the front door and an inheritor of the kingdom, not some sneaky back door theft as featured in Genesis 3. I am reasonably comfortable with what you are saying here, remembering of course as with all apocalyptic writing it is hard to nail an absolute on many things.

    Thankyou for sharing some of your personal perspective, and like you and many we have generally encountered moments of surrender, moments of realisation, seasons of discontent, times of growth, and part of those ultimately helps shape our perspective on humanity and divinity. Many speak of a person as a body with a soul attached, however I think that you like I would see it more as a soul living in a body which at some stage we will discard.

    None of this pushes me to embrace the idea of Purgatory as expressed in the Council of Trent, but rather to embrace the reality that this is a journey and whilst I sense the urgency of the gospel, I am not convinced that we are precluded from growth in holiness beyond the grave, for non of us are perfect, but one day we will be, for we shall see him as he is.

    2 Corinthians 3:12-18
    Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.​
     
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  17. neminem

    neminem Member

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    Thank you @Philip Barrington and @PotterMcKinney for your responses.
    So it looks like it is a matter of faith and willingness to accept anything (unconditional surrender) to be subjected for purification.
    This reminds me of ...
    John 8:31-32 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

    But those that do not understand the truth, or only have concerns for the flesh, would say that "the truth hurts". But the truth does not hurt. What hurts is the false-self (ego) losing its falsehoods (stories of validity). Perhaps it is this hurt which sees Truth as a "purifying fire" to avoid, while those that value Truth would welcome it. Much like those with pride fear humility, while those who are humble desire it. For where there is humility, humiliation or humbleness there is truth. False-self fears its truth, for it will be exposed as false. It is the false-self which dies through purification of the Truth.

    Those that follow the way, truth and life of Christ teachings would desire the truth, for they know it will set them free. They would welcome the purifying fire of Truth. It is only those that have something to hide that would fear it. Don't you think?
     
  18. PotterMcKinney

    PotterMcKinney Active Member Typist Anglican

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    This is a better conception of post-mortem sanctification, one which is acceptable in a classically Anglican theology.
     

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