The purgatory gospel?

Anne Catherine Emmerich Claimed to See Purgatory


The following article from Aletia (an online Roman Catholic news and information website) claims that ‘Purgatory’ is part of the Gospel!:

The great good news of Purgatory

Far from a “cheap grace,” Purgatory is the sensible and just means of becoming fit for the mercy we receive.

When Jesus walked out of the Tomb, he opened the door to Purgatory. We don’t think about this when belting out “Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia,” at least I don’t, but we should. It’s Gospel, as my Evangelical friends say.

I tried to write a new verse for the hymn. I got as far as “Jesus Christ is risen today, Purgatory is here to stay,” and gave up.

Besides being Gospel, Purgatory attracts people to the Church, too. It supplies a need we all feel, at least when we’re at our best. The Protestant C. S. Lewis saw this at the very end of his life. In his last book, Letters to Malcolm, he says that “Our souls demand Purgatory.”

We want it. We feel the need of it. …

Not cheap grace

Purgatory’s not cheap-grace Christianity. We have our versions of that just as the Evangelicals do, with their get-out-of-jail-free conversions and wipe-the-slate-clean view of grace. The Evangelicals themselves accuse us of using the sacraments mechanically, and that can be fair hit. For that matter, we can think of Purgatory as the place we’ll pay the bill for the indulgences we enjoy now. …

The Purgatorian Gospel

I said that Purgatory was “Gospel” and that it attracts people to the Church. It’s one of the great distinctive Catholic doctrines. You want the Purgatorial cleaning Lewis wrote about, come to the Catholic Church.

Jesus spoke of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Notice the following from a Roman Catholic translation:

14 Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the gospel from God saying, 15 ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel.’

Purgatory, as the Church of Rome teaches it, was not part of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

One of the reasons that Aletia claims Purgatory is “one of the great distinctive Catholic doctrines” is precisely because what the Church of Rome teaches about Purgatory does not come from the Bible–and many aspects of this ‘doctrine’ have been unique to them.

Furthermore it should be noted, the Church of Rome still does offer indulgences related to Purgatory (see Vatican offering ‘indulgences’ to reduce time in ‘purgatory’ for following Pope Francis on Twitter, etc.). My wife and I were actually offered an indulgence for each of us if we attended Pope Francis’ Wednesday message in Vatican City a couple of years ago.

The ‘Purgatorian Gospel’ essentially seems to be that it is fine to sin and not truly repent as God will have you suffer enough in Purgatory to earn your salvation. Although promoters of it deny this, that is the end result of their doctrine and that is a false gospel. The ‘Purgatorian Gospel’ promotes iniquity as it does not result in proper repentance for sin in this life–which is something Christians must do (cf. Acts 2:38; Hebrews 12:14-17).

The Apostle Paul warned that “the mystery of lawlessness is already at work” in his time (2 Thessalonians 2:7), but that it would worsen (2 Thessalonians 2:6-12). The ‘Purgatorian Gospel’ is part of that ‘mystery of lawlessness’ (see also Mystery of Iniquity).

Before getting to some related history, you may wonder if God has a plan for those who are not called, chosen, and faithful (Revelation 17:14) in this age who are not incorrigibly wicked and have not committed the “unpardonable sin”?

Yes. But it is NOT purgatory.

Notice a passage that many do not understand today:

20 No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed. (Isaiah 65:20)

And did early professors of Christ realize this verse had to do with God’s plan of salvation?


While I have a free online book with many scriptures on this subject (see Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation), let’s start out with a second century interpretation of Isaiah by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox saint Irenaeus to show what seemed to be common knowledge in the days not too long after the death of the last of the original apostles:

Now, that the promises were not announced to the prophets and the fathers alone, but to the Churches united to these from the nations, whom also the Spirit terms “the islands” (both because they are established in the midst of turbulence, suffer the storm of blasphemies, exist as a harbour of safety to those in peril, and are the refuge of those who love the height [of heaven], and strive to avoid Bythus, that is, the depth of error), Jeremiah thus declares: “Hear the word of the LORD, ye nations, and declare it to the isles afar off; say ye, that the LORD will scatter Israel, He will gather him, and keep him, as one feeding his flock of sheep…

And yet again does he say the same thing: “Behold, I make Jerusalem a rejoicing, and my people [a joy]; for the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. Also there shall not be there any immature [one], nor an old man who does not fulfil his time: for the youth shall be of a hundred years; and the sinner shall die a hundred years old, yet shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them themselves; and shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them themselves, and shall drink wine. And they shall not build, and others inhabit; neither shall they prepare the vineyard, and others eat. For as the days of the tree of life shall be the days of the people in thee; for the works of their hands shall endure” (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book V, Chapter 34, Verses 2-3,4. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Others, such as Origen of Alexandria, also wrote that God had a plan to offer salvation to all.

Many Catholic and Protestant scholars hold that Origen was one of the greatest of the early theological writers (he lived from around 185-232 A.D.). While active, Pope Benedict XVI publicly praised Origen.

The noted Protestant historian K.S. Latourette wrote that Origen “was, indeed, one of the greatest Christian minds.” And while I cannot agree with that, it is of interest to note that Latourette observed:

Origen taught that ultimately all the spirits who have fallen away from God will be restored to full harmony with Him. This can come about only with their cooperation, for they have freedom to accept or reject the redemption wrought in Christ. Before full restoration they will suffer punishment, but that punishment is intended to be educative, to purge them from the imperfections brought by their sin. After the end of the present age and its world another age will come, so Origen believed, in which have been born again will continue to grow and the unrepentant will be given further opportunity for repentance (Latourette K.S. A History of Christianity, Volume 1, Beginnings to 1500. Harper Collins, San Francisco, 1975, p.151).

Origen was close, in that not all will repent, for there will also be those raised to “everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2, KJV), meaning that those who would not properly repent will not receive salvation–but we in the Continuing Church of God consider them to be a small minority. But Origen was correct that this will only come about by the cooperation of those currently unsaved.

Here are some quotes directly from Origen:

…the good Father has not entirely deserted those who have fallen away from Him (Origen. Commentary on the Gospel of John (Book I). Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 9. Edited by Allan Menzies, D.D. American Edition, 1896 and 1897. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

It is to be borne in mind, however, that certain beings who fell away from that one beginning of which we have spoken, have sunk to such a depth of unworthiness and wickedness as to be deemed altogether undeserving of that training and instruction by which the human race, while in the flesh, are trained and instructed with the assistance of the heavenly powers; and continue, on the contrary, in a state of enmity and opposition to those who are receiving this instruction and teaching. And hence it is that the whole of this mortal life is full of struggles and trials, caused by the opposition and enmity of those who fell from a better condition without at all looking back, and who are called the devil and his angels, and the other orders of evil, which the apostle classed among the opposing powers. But whether any of these orders who act under the government of the devil, and obey his wicked commands, will in a future world be converted to righteousness because of their possessing the faculty of freedom of will, or whether persistent and inveterate wickedness may be changed by the power of habit into nature, is a result which you yourself, reader, may approve of, if neither in these present worlds which are seen and temporal, nor in those which are unseen and are eternal, that portion is to differ wholly from the final unity and fitness of things (Origen. De Principiis, Book I, Chapter 6, verse 3).

…and thus, through the numerous and uncounted orders of progressive beings who are being reconciled to God from a state of enmity, the last enemy is finally reached, who is called death, so that he also may be destroyed, and no longer be an enemy. When, therefore, all rational souls shall have been restored to a condition of this kind, then the nature of this body of ours will undergo a change into the glory of a spiritual body. For as we see it not to be the case with rational natures, that some of them have lived in a condition of degradation owing to their sins, while others have been called to a state of happiness on account of their merits; but as we see those same souls who had formerly been sinful, assisted, after their conversion and reconciliation to God, to a state of happiness (Origen. De Principiis, Book III, Chapter 6, verse 6).

While we in the Continuing Church of God would not word it quite that way, these quotes do show that the idea that God has a plan that will give the unrepentant an opportunity for salvation after this present age is not a new concept.

Actually, the doctrine of purgatory developed among Latin Catholics after they began to condemn certain of Origen’s ideas in the sixth century. When that happened, teachings related to the offering of salvation to all (known as apocatastasis) were also somewhat condemned. However, this left a gap in Roman theology and the idea of purgatory then developed.

The Greek Catholics (now known as the Eastern Orthodox), however, never did accept the Latin idea of purgatory and still to this day have many who believe that God has some type of plan to offer salvation to those who did not intentionally reject salvation.

The Catholic Encyclopedia itself admits that early Christians did not teach its current concept of its purgatory doctrine:

Some stress too has been laid upon the objection that the ancient Christians had no clear conception of purgatory, and that they thought that the souls departed remained in uncertainty of salvation to the last day … There are several passages in the New Testament that point to a process of purification after death. Thus, Jesus Christ declares (Matthew 12:32): “And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come”… (Hanna, Purgatory. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

No, in the second century, it was believed that God’s plan would allow all to be offered salvation, either in this age or the age to come if they did not commit the “unpardonable sin” (Matthew 12:32; Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30; Acts 3:17-21; Ephesians 1:21; Hebrews 6:4-6; cf. Matthew 10:15; 11:22-24; Mark 6:11; Luke 10:12-14).). And the New Testament is very clear that:

“all flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:6).

In the thirteenth century, the famed Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas wrote the following:

Nothing is clearly stated in Scripture about the situation of Purgatory, nor is it possible to offer convincing arguments on this question…

Some say, however, that according to the common law the place of Purgatory is where man sins. This does not seem probable, since a man may be punished at the same time for sins committed in various places. And others say that according to the common law they are punished above us, because they are between us and God, as regards their state. But this is of no account, for they are not punished for being above us, but for that which is lowest in them, namely sin (Aquinas T. The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, Appendix II, Article 1. Second and Revised Edition, 1920. Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor. Theol. Imprimatur. Edus. Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius eneralis. Westmonasterii. APPROBATIO ORDINIS Nihil Obstat. F. Raphael Moss, O.P., S.T.L. and F. Leo Moore, O.P., S.T.L. Imprimatur. F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliæ).

The above shows that even into the Middle Ages, the idea of purgatory was unclear, even among the leaders of the Church of Rome.

Purgatory was essentially adopted after certain teachings associated with Origen were condemned in the 6th century:

From the moment, however, that anti-Origenism prevailed, the doctrine of the apokatastasis was definitely abandoned. St. Augustine protests more strongly than any other writer against an error so contrary to the doctrine of the necessity of grace…(Batiffel, Apocatastassis. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

History suggests that after apocatastasis was condemned in the mid-6th century, something that resembles modern concepts of purgatory were being pronounced by the Roman Bishop Pope Gregory I around 600 A.D.

Perhaps I should mention that although the Catholic saint Anne Emmerich claimed to see purgatory, she also claimed to have seen “limbo”, which pope Benedict XVI has indicated does not exist. Hence, a claim to see one place that does not exist should tell all that the same one claiming to see something else does not mean it exists either. There is no place that fits the modern Roman description of purgatory.

The Church of God originally taught apocatastasis, not purgatory, and still does so today. God is a God of love and does have a merciful plan of salvation–and it includes getting the gospel out in this age (Note: The “short work” that Paul speaks of in Romans 9:28 and the completion of Matthew 24:14 will likely include massive news coverage of what the most faithful flock is teaching. This, of course, does not mean that the most faithful should sit around and wait and not do their part–cf. John 9:4; Matthew 9:37-38–as the priority of proclaiming the gospel remains). Of course, people should respond once they learn the truth–those who reject the truth are risking committing the unpardonable sin.

Yet, God has always had a plan for the unsaved and those who did not truly ever understand His loving plan, it is revealed in scripture, and while there is an “age to come,” it is not the same as the relatively modern idea of purgatory.

Some items for further inquiry may include:

Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory? Is there a place called purgatory? Does God have a plan to help those who did not become saints in this life?
What is Limbo? Is There Such a Place as Limbo? What Happens to Babies When They Die? When did Limbo start being taught? What is the truth about dead babies? Here is a link to the video: Popes Change on Limbo and Purgatory?
What is the Gospel? True religion should be based upon the true gospel. What are some of the different gospels and where did they come from? Do you believe the true or a false gospel? Who is preaching the gospel? Here is a version in Korean ¼õÇLÇt·€ »4ÅÇÇx¬?
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church. Did the original “catholic church” have doctrines held by the Continuing Church of God? Did Church of God leaders uses the term “catholic church” to ever describe the church they were part of? Here are links to related sermons: Original Catholic Church of God? , Original Catholic Doctrine: Creed, Liturgy, Baptism, Passover, and What Type of Catholic was Polycarp of Smyrna?, and Tradition, Holy Days, Salvation, Dress, & Celibacy.
Mystery of Iniquity What is the mystery of iniquity? How did it start? How will it end? Two related sermons are also available: The Mystery of Iniquity and The Mystery of Lawlessness.
The MYSTERY of GOD’s PLAN: Why Did God Create Anything? Why did God make you? This free online book helps answers some of the biggest questions that human have, including the biblical meaning of life. Here is a link to three related sermons: Mysteries of God’s Plan, Mysteries of Truth, Sin, Rest, Suffering, and God’s Plan, and The Mystery of YOU.
Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation Will all get a fair chance at salvation? This free book is packed with scriptures showing that God does intend to offer salvation to all who ever lived–the elect in this age, and the rest in the age to come. Here is a link to a related sermon series: Universal Offer of Salvation 1: Apocatastasis, Universal Offer of Salvation 2: Jesus Desires All to be Saved, Mysteries of the Great White Throne Judgment (Universal Offer of Salvation part 3), Is God Fair, Will God Pardon the Ignorant?, Can God Save Your Relatives?, Babies, Limbo, Purgatory and God’s Plan, and ‘By the Mouth of All His Holy Prophets’.
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differs from Protestantism How the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background. As far as some changes affecting Protestantism, watch the video Charismatic Kenneth Copeland and Anglican Tony Palmer: Protestants Beware! [Português: Esperança do salvação: Como a igreja do deus difere da maioria de protestantes]. Several related sermon are also available: Protestant, Baptist, and CCOG History, The First Protestant, God’s Command, Grace, & Character, The New Testament, Martin Luther, and the Canon, Eucharist, Passover, and Easter, and How Does the Church of God Differ from Protestantism?
Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert W. Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work? Some say the Church should mainly feed the flock now as that is what Herbert W. Armstrong reportedly said. Is that what he said? Is that what the Bible says? What did Paul and Herbert W. Armstrong expect from evangelists?
What is the Unpardonable Sin? What is it? Can you repent of it? Do you know what it is and how to avoid it? Here is a link to a related sermon video The Unpardonable Sin and the Prodigal Son. Here is a link to a shorter video The ‘Unpardonable Sin’ and ‘Climate Change’?

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