Donnerstag, 26. November 2009

responding to AnglicanApologist72

Anglicanapologist71 (a youtuber and Anglican apologist) whom I had addressed in my essay on the Anglican position concerning Purgatory has made a respone.
First, I would like to thank him for taking the time to read and respond to my article.

Then I will address his response. Citations from his blog will be in red.

"First, the conception of purgatory in the 39 Articles is not simply the intermediate state between death and judgment where one experiences separation of body and soul (death), but further, the intermediate state between death and judgement where one is purified/purged from sins from the past life, so that this person may enter the kingdom of God. I, as an Anglican, affirm the first conception, which is not the "fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God" that the 39 Articles speak of, and I deny the latter conception, which is the conception of Purgatory repudiated by the 39 Articles."

Thus, what Anglicanapologist72 denies is the idea that "one is purified/purged from sins from the past life, so that this person may enter the kingdom of God".

He continues:

"Not really, Blackcappa. What it means is that at some point in Church history, the doctrine was vainly invented, whether after 1054 or maybe in the 6th century AD. As we will see, throughout this article, the Romish doctine of Purgatory evolved over time. Gregory the I is the first Church leader to affirm, as an article of faith, the Romish doctrine of Purgatory. No significant leader beforehand had fully believed and accepted it as truth. Blackcappa proceeds to try and show that prayer for the dead proves the doctrine of Purgatory, yet I fully disagree with his reasoning. Let's observe his citations."

"The Romish doctrine evolved over time": It would perhaps be helpful to note that we Catholics do believe in a development of doctrine: i.e.: we do not expect what is explicitly formulated in a dogma to be explicit before such formulation. A short example would be the dogma of the hypostatic union. I doubt Anglicanapologist72 would declare any dogma until the 7th century to be "vainly invented". Why? Because he claims to follow these first 7 Ecumenical Councils: even if one could challenge every single one of them - as had been done before they were formulated. As a matter of fact: many dogmas were formulated in response to arising heresies. Praying for the dead and the belief that such prayers do help them is a Christian belief eversince.

AnglicanApologist72 then continues to analyze the citations I have provided. Instead of responding to each of his analyses, I would like to check whether his anti-Catholic interpretation does work:

"The doctrine of Purgatory is not only unbiblical, but it is repugnant to the word of God because God's words are not to be added to. Of course, I don't think the doctrine of Purgatory is heresy, but adding to God's words is most certainly repugnant and should not be done. Since Blackcappa has put forth his case for Purgatory and against the 39 Articles on the matter, I shall now put forth my case against purgatory itself and not only against his arguments. The earliest and apostolic belief was that death itself finished off the purging of sin, which hence, occurs in this life and at death. The intermediate state was not believed to be a state of purging (of course until the time of Augustine - Gregory), but rather, a state of looking to the joys of the resurrection for the righteous, and a state of torture for the wicked. How else can you explain these statements made by the Fathers?"

Justin Martyr: The souls of the godly remain in a better place, the unjust and wicked in a worse, awaiting the day of judgment (Dial. p. 223 ; Conf. Quaest. et Respons. ad Orthodox. Justino Imputat. qu. 5).

Irenaeus: Each sort of Men receive, even before the judgment, their due place of abode (Lib. II 63).

Tertullian: (Paradise is described) as a place of divine pleasantness, destined to receive the spirits of the just (Apol. c. 47).

Cyprian: Do not think death the same thing to the just and the unjust. The just are called to a refereshing, the unjust are taken away into torment; speedily safety is given to the faithful, to the unfaithful, punishment (Cyp. De Mortalitate, p. 161, Oxon 1682).

Let me address the following Fathers then.

The first quote from St. Justin Martyr cannot be used against the dogma of Purgatory as Purgatory is indeed a better place than the abode of the unjust (hell). Those in Purgatory are destined to heaven.

On Tertullian:

"And if we speak of Paradise, the place of heavenly bliss appointed to receive the spirits of the saints, severed from the knowledge of this world by that fiery zone as by a sort of enclosure, the Elysian plains have taken possession of their faith. "

How does this contradict or even refute the dogma of Purgatory? We affirm that heaven indeed is the destination of the spirits of the saints.

Tertullian also made the following statements:

That allegory of the Lord [Matt. 5:25-26] . . . is extremely clear and simple in its meaning . . . [beware lest as] a transgressor of your agreement, before God the judge . . . and lest this judge deliver you over to the angel who is to execute the sentence, and he commit you to the prison of hell, out of which there will be no dismissal until the smallest even of your delinquencies be paid off in the period before the resurrection. What can be a more fitting sense than this? What a truer interpretation? (The Soul 35 [A.D. 210]).

"This place, the Bosom of Abraham, though not in Heaven, and yet above hell, offers the souls of the righteous an interim refreshment until the end of all things brings about the general resurrection and the final reward." (Tertullian, Against Marcion, 4:34, before 220 A.D.)

"Indeed she [a widow] prays for his [her husband's] soul and asks that he may, while waiting, find rest; and that he may share in the first resurrection [Heaven]. And each year, on the anniversity of his death, she offers the Sacrifice [i.e., has a Mass said for him]." (Tertullian, On Monagomy, 212 A.D.)

AnglicanApologist72 criticized the latter citation since "we see nothing of a state where sins are purified by inflicted suffering after death and before judgment in this citation. All we see is prayer for a dead person's comfort, which gives no support of Purgatory."

How can we then harmonize the above citations with the following statement?:

"The intermediate state was not believed to be a state of purging (of course until the time of Augustine - Gregory), but rather, a state of looking to the joys of the resurrection for the righteous, and a state of torture for the wicked."

Why would one pray for the just? And it is not taught that we ought to pray for the damned: prayer would be useless for those in heaven: there is no need to console them. Prayer is useless for the damned:

The 1st Century Eastern Bishop, St. Dionysius the Aeropagite Martyr of Athens said:

"For the Hierarch, the expounder of the supremely Divine Justice, would never seek things, which were not most pleasing to the Almighty God, and divinely promised to be given by Him [Ap. C. viii. 43]. Wherefore, he does not offer these prayers over the unholy fallen asleep, not only because in this he would deviate from his office of expounder, and would presumptuously arrogate, on his own authority, a function of the Hierarchy, without being moved by the Supreme Legislator, but because he would both fail to obtain his abominable prayer, and he, not unnaturally, would hear from the just Oracle, "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss" [Jam 4:3]." [Ecclesiatical Hierarchy 7:3:7]

Now to quote from St. Cyprian: De Mortalitate is a treatise on the hopes for salvation of a Christian. That we need not fall into despair since we expect life everlasting. It thus contrasts the destiny of the unjust who preish unto eternal damnation with the destiny of the just which is life everlasting.

It should be noted that St. Cyprian himself taught also in a more distinguished fashion:

"It is one thing to stand for pardon, another thing to attain to glory; it is one thing, when cast into prison, not to go out thence until one has paid the uttermost farthing; another thing at once to receive the wages of faith and courage. It is one thing, tortured by long suffering for sins, to be cleansed and long purged by fire; another to have purged all sins by suffering. It is one thing, in fine, to be in suspense till the sentence of God at the Day of Judgment; another to be at once crowned by the Lord (Letters 51[55]:20 [A.D. 253])."

He is not speaking about the just and the unjust here: he obviously speaks of two types who will both attain the crown of eternal life. However, one receives the promised glory right away, while the other has to be "cleansed and long purged by fire". What is the just to be cleansed and purged from if he there is nothing unclean within him?

And there stands the claim:

"The intermediate state was not believed to be a state of purging (of course until the time of Augustine - Gregory), but rather, a state of looking to the joys of the resurrection for the righteous, and a state of torture for the wicked."

The intermediate state is not believed to be for everyone. Thus, we will find statements concerning the contrast between the Just and the Unjust, and we will find statements describing those who are Christians but still undergo the process of purification.

It is interesting that he first claims that Purgatory is an invention, but then admits that it was around as early as the 4th century. So he admits that one can indeed find this teaching in the early Church, yet rejects it. Were then the Councils after the 4th century all false since they formulated something that was not yet "set in stone" before?

To give more evidence:

St. Epiphanius of Salamis says in 375 [Panarion 75:8], "Useful too is the prayer fashioned on their [the dead's] behalf... it is useful, because in this world we often stumble either voluntarily or involuntarily."

So the reasoning behind the prayer for the dead is found in the transgressions the dead committed before their departure. Are we then to assume that such these transgressions have thus no effect whatsoever on the souls of Christians?

Then we have St. Gregory of Nyssa who says before 394 [Sermon on the Dead], "When he has quitted his body and the difference between virtue and vice is known he cannot approach God till the purging fire shall have cleansed the stains with which his soul was infested. That same fire in others will cancel the corruption of matter, and the propensity to evil."

"till the purging fire have cleansed the stains"

Is this not clear enough?

Now I ask AnglicanApologist72: How can he harmonize these citations with the ones I provide and the fact that both Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox do believe in the efficacy of prayers for the dead?

Let us examine AnglicanApologist72's criticism of my the quotes I have provided:

To the first citation he says:

First of all, the Acts of Paul is not an authority whatsoever, but rather, a later, apocryphal text. Yet, the citation above proves nothing of purgatory from the prayer given by Falconilla, because it says nothing of a state where one is purified from the sins of the past life, only that her mother be received by God and made just. No where is the Romish conception of Purgatory found here. Let's take a look at the next citation."

My intention was to show that it was Christian practice and not a later invention. Now indeed it does not speak of a "state of purification from the sins of the past life", but it speaks of a "transfer to the place of the just". We know that the damned cannot go to heaven. And according to the explanations of AnglicanApologist72: the just go to their respectice place and the damned to theirs. Where then is Falconilla?

On to the second criticism:

"Again, we see nothing of a state where sins are purified by inflicted suffering after death and before judgment in this citation. All we see is prayer for a dead person's comfort, which gives no support of Purgatory. Let's observe his next citation."

The same situation. But we see this:
"I made my prayer for my brother day and night, groaning and weeping that he might be granted to me.Then, on the day on which we remained in fetters, this was shown to me. I saw that that place which I had formerly observed to be in gloom was now bright; and Dinocrates, with a clean body well clad, was finding refreshment. And where there had been a wound, I saw a scar; and that pool which I had before seen, I saw now with its margin lowered even to the boy's navel. And one drew water from the pool incessantly, and upon its brink was a goblet filled with water; and Dinocrates drew near and began to drink from it, and the goblet did not fail. And when he was satisfied, he went away from the water to play joyously, after the manner of children, and I awoke. Then I understood that he was translated from the place of punishment."

So we have here a story about a boy who first is seen to be suffering, then prayers are offered for him and the conclusion is that he "was translated from the place of punishment".

What state or place is this? If he were "
looking to the joys of the resurrection for the righteous", why did he suffer? If he were already in the abode of the unjust, how could he be moved away from it?

How can AnglicanApologist72 harmonize these texts with his claims?

to continue:

"And what suggests that the purification of the believer's sins after baptism are in the intermediate state, necessarily? Nothing. The purification Clement speaks of, is death itself- the most dreaded of our torments; and after death, one is passed into a state of less suffering, not more suffering. This is what Clement is saying. Consider Blackcappa's next citation."

I can follow the idea of death being the "non plus ultra" in terms of "torment": however, I find it hard ot imagine this taking place the moment we die:
"He is tortured then still more— not yet or not quite attaining what he sees others to have acquired. Besides, he is also ashamed of his transgressions."

On Tertullians treatise on Monogamy, AnglicanApologist72 says:

Again, like with the first two citations, we see nothing of a state where sins are purified by inflicted suffering after death and before judgment in this citation. All we see is prayer for a dead person's comfort, which gives no support of Purgatory."

See his exposition on the Soul as quoted above. And then we must again ask ourself what to pray for when there is only but joy for the just after death?

Indeed,she prays for his soul,and requests refreshment for him meanwhile"

Refreshment from "a state of looking to the joys of the resurrection for the righteous"? This sounds a bit odd.

He proceeds to say:

"We know that God knows the future and who will be in the kingdom of God and who won't be. We don't know the future. And that is why Cyril so strongly encourages prayer for the saints. In a way, they help the saints' salvation, only in the same way that if you prayed for a friend of your's who is ill to get better, you would have helped him get better. Therefore, prayer for the saints is not how Roman Catholics have made it out to be, that is, a meritorious system. It is rather, an acknowledgment that we don't know everything and God does. In sum, the prayers for the dead in the early church do not show the Roman conception of Purgatory to be correct."

The analogy to the sick friend is quite interesting: because when we pray for someone who is sick, we assume that sickness is evil and ask God for His help to alleviate this evil. What is the "evil" that a saint must be freed from when he is already experiencing the rewards to come?
It does not make sense.

Instead the correct intrepretation of the passage is that we pray for the departed so that in case they are still stained by the effects of sin, they may be granted mercy by God. Thus St. Cyril of Jerusalem gives the following analogy:

"For I know that many say, what is a soul profited, which departs from this world either with sins, or without sins, if it be commemorated in the prayer? For if a king were to banish certain who had given him offence, and then those who belong to them should weave a crown and offer it to him on behalf of those under punishment, would he not grant a remission of their penalties? In the same way we, when we offer to Him our supplications for those who have fallen asleep, though they be sinners, weave no crown, but offer up Christ sacrificed for our sins, propitiating our merciful God for them as well as for ourselves."

It's crystal clear.

"What Blackcappa forgot to mention was that while Origen believed in this state of purification one must undergo before entering into the Kingdom of God, he did NOT believe this purification occurred in the intermediate state between death and judgment. Origen, as Bishop Edward Harold Browne notes, believed all must undergo the fires of purging at the day of judgment, not in the intermediate state between death and judgment. Blackcappa proceeds to cite Augustine of Hippo."

With respect to 1 Corinthians 3:11-15:

While this passage presents considerable difficulty, it is regarded by many of the Fathers and theologians as evidence for the existence of an intermediate state in which the dross of lighter transgressions will be burnt away, and the soul thus purified will be saved. This, according to Bellarmine (De Purg., I, 5), is the interpretation commonly given by the Fathers and theologians; and he cites to this effect:

See also St. Thomas, "Contra Gentes,", IV, 91. For a discussion of the exegetical problem, see Atzberger, "Die christliche Eschatologie", p. 275.


"Augustine is probably Blackcapp's closest companion in this fight for the validity of Purgatory. But unfortunately for Blackcappa, Augustine is not dogmatic about this doctrine of Purgatory at all. He says elsewhere, concerning the notion that there is a purging fire after death of sins committed in the first life, that "[He] will not argue against it, for perhaps it is true (De. Civit. Dei, xxi. 26, Tom. vii. p.649)". He also says at least, that "it is not incredible (Enchiridion ad. Laurent. Cap. 69, Tom. vi. p. 222)". Augustine thinks Purgatory is probable, nothing more. "He does not affirm it as an article of faith" as Bishop Browne words it. It is a probable conjecture in the eyes of Augustine, yet contains some speculation. This is why Augustine cannot be used to strictly support the Purgatorial belief as a dogma in the early church. Blackcappa comes to the era in history, around 200 years after Augustine, where Purgatory is transformed into a dogma and enforced by the Church of the West. He quotes Caesar of Arles, who is rather vague, but gives a good hint of it..."

Let us turn to another text from St. Augustine wherein he says in 413 [Faith and Works 1:1 in PL 40:197-198],
"If the baptized person fulfills the obligations demanded of a Christian, he does well. If he does not--provided he keeps the faith, without which he would perish forever--no matter in what sin or impurity remains, he will be saved, as it were, by fire; as one who has built on the foundation, which is Christ, not gold, silver, and precious stones, but wood, hay straw, that is, not just and chasted works but wicked and unchaste works."

Does this sound like mere speculation?

"He quotes Caesar of Arles, who is rather vague, but gives a good hint of it..."

"If we neither give thanks to God in tribulations nor redeem our own sins by good works,we shall have to remain in that purgatorian fire as long as it takes for those above-mentioned lesser sins to be consumed like wood and straw and hay." Ceasar of Arles,Sermon 179(104):2(A.D. 542),in JUR,III:283

What is vague about this?

...and Blackcappa quotes the first to actually state the Romish doctrine of Purgatory as a dogmatic doctrine of the Church. "Each one will be presented to the Judge exactly as he was when he departed this life. Yet, there must be a cleansing fire before judgement,because of some minor faults that may remain to be purged away. Does not Christ,the Truth, say that if anyone blasphemes against the Holy Spirit he shall not be forgiven 'either in this world or in the world to come'(Mt. 12:32)? From this statement we learn that some sins can be forgiven in this world and some in the world to come. For, if forgiveness is refused for a particular sin, we conclude logically that it is granted for others. This must apply, as I said, to slight transgressions." Gregory the Great[regn. A.D. 590-604],Dialogues,4:39(A.D. 594),in FC,39:248

Is AnglicanApologist72 then saying that the doctrine of Purgatory has been declared a dogma in a.D. 594? This is before the Great Schism! So why does he reject it?

And to his interpretation:

"I shall comment on Gregory's interpretation of Matthew 12:32 to support a purging of sin after death and judgment. Blasphemy/rejection of the Holy Spirit not being forgiven "either in this world or the world to come" is a reference to the infinite amount of time the sin will not be forgiven. That does not mean some sins will be forgiven in the world to come, but that some sins are not to be unforgiven for eternity. Let us not abuse logic here."

So you simply declare Pope St. Gregory the Great as "being mistaken" and of "abusing logic"?

Nor in the world to come... From these words St. Augustine (De Civ. Dei, lib. 21, c. 13) and St. Gregory (Dialog., 4, c. 39) gather, that some sins may be remitted in the world to come; and, consequently, that there is a purgatory or a middle place.

I am not arrogant enough to declare these Saints to be wrong due to the novel teachings of the Anglican community.

"Now, Blackcappa spends a great amount of time later in his article defending the invocation of the saints. As I noted previously, the "invocation of the saints" repudiated in the 39 Articles, is not simply giving honor and adoration to the saints, as in acknowledging their good works and their nature of devotion to God, but further, a form of worship to the saints as if they are our protectors, our saviors, our strength, etc. I think Blackcappa, the 39 Articles, and I agree on this, that the saints are by all means not to be worshiped, but of course, it is permitted that they be honored in a suitable way. Near the end of his article, Blackcappa writes this."

We do not worship Saints, nor Angels, nor any other being aside from God alone.

An example of Invocation is this:

St. Gregory Nazianzen
says in 379 [Orations 24:11 in PG 35:1181A], "Recalling these and other circumstances and imploring the Virgin Mary to bring her [the Virgin Justina] assistance, since she, too, was a virgin and had been in danger, she entrusted herself to the remedy of fasting and sleeping on the ground."

The doctrine of Purgatory is not only unbiblical, but it is repugnant to the word of God because God's words are not to be added to. Of course, I don't think the doctrine of Purgatory is heresy, but adding to God's words is most certainly repugnant and should not be done."

It has already been established that the dogma has Scriptural basis and thus not repugnant to the Word of God.

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