“As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” Thus proclaimed a Dominican monk named, Tetzel, on the power of indulgence to redeem souls from purgatory. Indulgence and purgatory are dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church that are interrelated. Through indulgence, souls suffering in purgatory can be redeemed.

Purgatory is from Latin word “purgare” meaning “to cleanse.” Encyclopedia International, vol. 15, p. 105 has this to say: “Purgatory is a middle state or condition between heaven and hell, in which the souls of those who die in the state of grace but are not completely free from venial sins or temporal punishment due to sin are purified. This state lasts only until the final judgment. St. Augustin remarked in his “City of God” that there are many who has not so lived as to merit hell-fire, yet were not so virtuous as to obtain immediate entrance into Heaven. In the justice and mercy of God they are subjected to further purgation to pay for the last penny.”

“While purgatory itself will cease at the general judgment, each soul remains there until his own debt of punishment is paid. Moreover, the faithful still living can help the souls to do this by offering for the satisfactory value of their good deeds, e.g. holy mass and indulgence. This value God applies to the suffering of souls in the purgatory in proportionate payment of their temporal punishment” (Colliers Encyclopedia, vol. 16, p. 472).

“It was Pope Gregory I (590-604) who was generally regarded as the first pope who first taught the dogma of purgatory. He elevated it from a form of opinion to a dogma. He believed that souls in purgatory could be freed by the sacrifice of the mass.” (Great Leaders of the Christian Church, by Woodbridge).

“Indulgence could also be obtained through payment in cash. The Roman Catholic Church had worked out a precise list indicating how many years in purgatory could be cancelled for an act of contrition accompanied by a given payment. The list as was scaled according to ability to pay: Forgiveness costs the rich more than it did the poor.” (Readers’ Digest: Martin Luther).

Where did this damnable doctrine originate? What is its scriptural basis? Surprisingly, it is based on two scripture passages wrongly interpreted. It was interpreted in violation of three universally accepted laws of hermeneutics, that is 1) interpret a text according to its context. 2) interpret a text according to the commonly accepted Christian interpretation. Note that purgatory was promulgated as a dogma by Pope Gregory I (590-604). It means that for almost 600 years before that, the church had no such belief. 3) interpret a text in accordance with the whole Biblical truth. That there is salvation after death through offering of mass and indulgence is diametrically opposed to the Biblical teaching of salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8).

So what are the Scriptures that have been erroneously interpreted to accommodate the dogma of the pope? These are Matthew 5:25-26 and 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 and a verse from an Apocryphal (meaning “uninspired”) book of Maccabees 12:43-45.

Matthew 5:25-26, “Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou are in the way with him, least at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer and thou be cast in prison. Very I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence ‘till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.” The Catholics interpreted this to mean that the soul in purgatory will continue to suffer until the debt of punishment has been fully paid by indulgence. But this deduction is farfetched since the Lord is not talking of a common practice in their personal system of imprisonment or servitude as payment for an offense or monetary indebtedness.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:13-15, that “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built there upon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.” Paul is not speaking here of the soul being cleansed by fire in purgatory, rather the Christian’s work revealed and tried as proved by fire. Notice how many times the word ‘work’ is mentioned over and over – 4 times. Paul is speaking in this chapter about Christians and their service. To infer that Paul is talking about purgatory is a thousand times from Pauline teaching of the Christians hope in time of death. To him, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Never to suffer in purgatory (2 Cor. 5:8).

Another Scriptural passage used as a basis for their doctrine is Matthew 12:32, “And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him, but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” They argue that since the sin is unforgivable neither in this world nor in the world to come, certainly there must be some place where it may be forgiven – thus they created purgatory. Of course we know that Christ in this verse is emphasizing the severity of sin of blaspheming against the Holy Ghost.

The doctrine of purgatory is classified by the Roman Catholic Church as a DOGMA. This is defined as a doctrine that is not taught in the Bible but nevertheless is taught by the Church. By the power of the doctrine of the infallibility of the pope when he speaks in matter of doctrine: the Catholic Church concludes that therefore there is purgatory – it’s not taught in the Bible notwithstanding!

How many sincere souls had been damned by this belief? Only God knows. But how much income has this brought to the coffers of Rome? Only God knows. How many millions of paid masses are said every day the world over? Only God knows. How many souls have been saved from purgatory? Not one we know.

It’s time to come out of this damnable system before it’s too late. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved and thine house.


by Bishop Art Ferriol

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