Q: I have an Evangelical friend at work who claims that the Catholic belief in Purgatory is not scriptural. What should I say to him?
A: 2 Sam 12:13-18, “David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child that is born to you shall die.’ And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became sick…On the seventh day the child died.” Catholic Scriptural Principle #1 – there is punishment for sin even after one has received forgiveness.
Rev 21:27, “But nothing unclean shall enter it…” The New Jerusalem – Heaven. Catholic Scriptural Principle #2 – nothing unclean, nothing with the stain of sin, will enter Heaven.
Mt 5:48, “You, therefore, must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” That’s because of Principle #2 – nothing unclean will get into Heaven.
Heb 12:22-23, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living god, the heavenly Jerusalem…and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect…” The spirits of just men, made perfect. Catholic Scriptural Principle #3 – there is a way, a process, through which the spirits of the “just” are “made perfect.”
1 Cor 3:13-15, “…each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day [judgment day] will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” Where is this place that a man, after he dies, suffers loss, as through fire, but is still saved. Hell? No, once you’re in Hell, you don’t get out. Heaven? No, you don’t suffer loss in Heaven.
Mt 12:32, “And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” Implies forgiveness in the age to come. Where can you go to be forgiven in the age to come? Heaven? You don’t need forgiveness. Hell? There is no forgiveness. Catholic Scriptural Principle #4 – there is a place, or state of being, other than Heaven or Hell.
Now, let’s summarize these four scriptural principles: There is punishment for sin even after one has received forgiveness. We have to be perfect as the Father is perfect, because nothing unclean will enter Heaven. There is some way, or process, by which the spirits of the just are made perfect. There is a place besides Heaven or Hell where you can suffer loss, yet be saved, but only as through fire; and where you can be forgiven of sins from a previous age. It all adds up to one inevitable conclusion – the Catholic teaching on Purgatory is indeed scriptural.