Is there an idea of purgatory in Anglican Theology ?

Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by Andy Cothran, Jul 20, 2012.

  1. Andy Cothran

    Andy Cothran Active Member

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    i got the impression from a friend of mine who is anglo catholic that there is or that there is something like it .. is this true ?
     
  2. Symphorian

    Symphorian Well-Known Member

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    Short answer: yes there can be, but it is generally looked on as an intermediate state rather than aligned with the Roman dogma of purgatory and associated indulgences etc. It is not a requirement of faith for Anglicans and may be accepted or not.

    See 'The intermediate state', page 217 of this PDF: Doctrine in the Church of England.

    http://www.philosophy-religion.org/beliefs/pdfs/Doctrine-In-Church-Of-England.pdf
     
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  3. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

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    I asked the same question of Dr. Keith Rayner (retired Primate of Australia) when he was still a priest at my childhood Parish, he told me our (Anglican) view of purgatory was a intermediate place called Paradise (sort of like a waiting room). I never really dug into the question any deeper after that answer.
     
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  4. Andy Cothran

    Andy Cothran Active Member

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    i find both of your posts helpful thank you ..
     
  5. Scottish Monk

    Scottish Monk Well-Known Member

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  6. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Andy, the answer to your question depends on what you mean by 'Anglican thought'. As with Roman Catholic thought, there has been a 'development' in the way individual Anglicans understand certain things. If you mean 'today's Anglican thought', I'm sure you can find theologians who support purgatory. If you mean "classical" Anglican thought, such as that of the Divines, you won't find purgatory.

    Thomas Bennett, in his "Confutation of Popery" from 1728, denies the existence of such a place as Purgatory. Zachary Grey, Charlies Leslie, and other famous pamphleteers against Rome all called Purgatory a vain, empty invention to justify superstitious prayer for the dead. These are their words. Most of the defining Anglican Divines were bishops, such as Cosin, Bramhall, Ussher, and Jewell.

    We proud creatures tend to think we have influence to get God to release souls from the suffering "due" to their sins. I charitably think that people who confess Purgatory lack a little understanding on what Christ did for us on the Cross. All pain & suffering due to us in our disobedience was thrown on His glorious person and He suffered the blows we deserve, in obedience and free will, alleluia. He destroyed all death and suffering, alleluia.

    Only those who willfully reject God at the very end suffer, and that is in Hell. Those who believe in Christ and are saved by following His commandments (alleluia!) need no 'purification' in a middle state. I personally see no need for Purgatory in Anglicanism, which tries to be close to Christ's Truth - which is The Truth.
     
  7. Anna Scott

    Anna Scott Well-Known Member

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    Andy,

    There is an interesting article on purgatory on a Classical Anglican website: The Conciliar Anglican
    Ask an Anglican: Purgatory and Grace

    Peace,
    Anna
     
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  8. Sean611

    Sean611 Well-Known Member

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    Great question and fascinating thread! I never knew of Anglican theology on an intermediate state after death, very interesting.
     
  9. Sean611

    Sean611 Well-Known Member

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    Fantastic article, thanks for sharing! His thoughts on purgatory are thought provoking and very helpful.

    I especially liked his explanation of invocation of Saints:

    "Anglicanism’s great concern over the invocation of the saints is not the idea that we can ask the saints to join us in our prayers, but that we somehow need the saints to intercede for us or else we will have an insufficient amount of grace for our salvation. It is this error in regards to grace that leads to the folk practice of worshiping saints as some kind of demi-gods. The issue is not the saints themselves. The issue is grace."

    And on purgatory:

    "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."
     
  10. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Bingo, on grace vs. not-enough grace. Catholics often speak about graces, plural - as if each person was ordained by God to have a certain number of graces before He can attain to his position in the hierarchy of grace/heaven. Since the saints are 'better' than us, they can 'merit' those graces for us so we can sneak into Heaven. It's all very grotty.

    Sean, Lewis' idea is more acceptable to Reformed theology, at least. :) If Purgatory is part of the eternity-bound cleansing that you and only you can experience in order to enter God's holy presence, there is no danger of superstition. God will burn away what is still black in our hearts, if He has not done so already in justification/baptism/faith.
     
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  11. Anna Scott

    Anna Scott Well-Known Member

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    Sean,
    I'm smiling reading your quotes, because these two things were what caught my attention, also. As I said previously, I thought as an Anglo Catholic I would have many disagreements with Fr. Jonathan/Conciliar Anglican--especially since he does affirm the 39 Articles. However, when I read his interpretation of the Articles, I found I agree with many of his theological positions.

    Anna
     
  12. Anna Scott

    Anna Scott Well-Known Member

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    Well, you could knock me over with a feather. We have agreement on this thread. :o
     
  13. Anna Scott

    Anna Scott Well-Known Member

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    Sean,

    I appreciate the link--iInteresting article in Britannica. You are right. Some Jews do believe in a purgatory.

    So, the idea of "purgatory" was not invented by the Catholic Church.

    The idea of Gehinnom is found in Jewish thought as a place not only for punishment, but also for "purgation." Another Jewish view is the wicked will be punished in Gehinnom for 12 months--and after, they will be annihilated. Though there may be a group of souls, who repudiated their loyalty to the Jewish people and the Jewish faith, who will suffer endless torment (I wonder if this applies to Jewish converts to Christianity???).

    Also found in Jewish thought is the idea that even the wicked, after having atoned for their sins in purgatory (a 12-month sentence,) will join the righteous in Gan Eden--sounds like universal salvation. Actually, my Jewish friends held this belief.

    A kind of intercession (though the word is not used) can be found in the Jewish belief that Abraham stood at the entrance of Gehinnom to prevent his circumcised descendants from being incarcerated there. Also, "the piety of a son may mitigate the punishment of a deceased parent."

    Also interesting is the idea that all the condemned would have "respite from punishment" on the Sabbath and that it is possible the "reprobates" might repent and open the way to their redemption, having acknowledged the "justness of their punishment."

    Source for all of the above:
    Paradise, Gehinnom

    Very interesting topic.

    Anna
     
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  14. Andy Cothran

    Andy Cothran Active Member

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    I am going to try to answer everyone briefly in one post .
    First thank you all for youre replies .. Consular ..when i say Anglican thought i am defining that as just simply what the majority of Anglicans believe ,, I do realive that is not all inclusive of course ,,But it just means basically that .
    Anna thank you for the link ..
    RA .. I wonder if ifts because that its more an Anglo Catholic idea rather than a simply Anglican idea ..I don't know
     
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  15. highchurchman

    highchurchman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Almighty God, with Whom do live the spirits of them that departn hence in the Lord and with whom the Souls of the Faithful ,after they are delivered from the burdens of the flesh, are in joy and felicity!
    Order for the Burial of the Dead. 1549!

    “I affirm the consentient and constant doctrine of the primitive Church t be this: that the souls of all the faithful, immediately after death, enter in to a place and state of bliss, far exceeding all the felcities of this world, though short of that most consummate perfect beatitude of the Kingdom of Heaven with which they are to be crowned and rewarded in the Resurrecti: and so, on the contrary, that the souls of the wicked are presently after death in a state of very great misery and dreading a far greater misery at the day of judgement.”
    He then he quotes S.Clement of Rome, all the generations from Adam to this day arepassed and gone; but they that have finished their course in charity according to the grace of Christ possess the regions of the Godly!
    Bishop Bull. Answer to the Bishop of Meaux. Post Reformation. 1713!

    The Souls of the righteous after death are in light and rest, with a fortaste of eternal happiness: but the souls of the wicked are in a state the reverse of this.
    Orthodox catechism.
     
  16. highchurchman

    highchurchman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Some years ago, I took lessons at the Roman Church! Not, I might add because I thought of joining, but to learn! There I was taught that purgatory was an intermediate state where mankind is purged of its sins. Usually as far as I remember, through pain.
    Within the Church in England we were taught quite clearly that after death Catholics ARE DELIVERED TO PARADISE , following our Lord's statement,"This night you will be with me in Paradise." After study of the fathers, I understand Paradise to be a place of repose, a garden for rest and comfort, where we are left alone with our regrets and fears and to consider our future hopes.
    This is what I believe in and teach , mind you it has its hazards, at a funeral after giving a small sermon based on these lines, I was sandbagged by an irate chap, who threatened to report me to the ,'Holy Father,.
     
  17. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The only statements of the Church Fathers in favour of actively talking to the dead (that they may intercede for the living and the dead) can be found in Augustine and Chrysostom:

    John "Chrysostom", Bishop of Constantinople (died 407)

    "He that wears the purple, laying aside his pomp, stands begging of the saints to be his patrons with God; and he that wears the diadem begs the Tent-maker and the Fisherman as patrons, even though they be dead." (Homily 26 on II Corinthians)

    Augustine, bishop of Hippo (430)

    "At the Lord's table we do not commemorate martyrs in the same way that we do others who rest in peace so as to pray for them, but rather that they may pray for us that we may follow in their footsteps." (Tract 84 on the Gospel of John)

    Not too much in the Fathers about praying for the dead.
     
  18. highchurchman

    highchurchman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I don't mind praying for the dead and Our Lord tells us, "Ask and ye shall receive". So, if I ask for my friends and relatives? If I'm in error, in the scheme of things it doesn't seem to be too harmful.
     
  19. Scottish Knight

    Scottish Knight Well-Known Member

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    I am tending to agree with this. A good friend prays for some of her dead relatives, and it's not known whether they became Christians or not, she gets a lot of comfort praying to God for them and I would never try to convince her not to do it. She's handing over her concerns to God and entrusting them to God's Grace, I don't see anything wrong with this. Theologically I know the arguments why we shouldn't etc but there's a pastoral side too. In the end I see the traditional protestant view more pastorally comforting though. I too had a non christian relative die, but I can't say she is wasn't saved because I don't know what work of Grace God might have worked in her heart in her last moments. I can hand her over to God knowing He is just and merciful and good so I'm not worried she may be in an intermediate state that could be changed, there's nothing more I can do but trust God
     
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  20. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

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    I am with HighChurchMan on this one. I also believe asking our departed ones to pray for us is not different from me asking HighChurchMan or Anna to pray for me.
     
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