PURGATORY-Do you know what Purgatory is? Well, I suspect that if you, as I, were raised a Roman Catholic or one of it’s near mimickers, you would have a pretty clear understanding of Purgatory. You would know that it is a place, maybe near Hell, where the stain of one’s sins is burned away from your soul so you may eventually enter heaven. Apparently, that concept has been part of Christian philosophy and belief from its earliest days. In fact is seems to have been inherited from Jewish fundamental belief as stated in 2 Maccabees: ‘It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead’. That was in a period of time just before Jesus appearance and the Jewish theology had evolved to a point of believing that people would rise again into a new paradise. However those whom God had smitten to death because they returned to idolatry had to be forgiven before they could rise again. So, true to form, (the Jews never gave up ‘bargaining with God’), they prayed for god to forgive them so they could rise again.
The early Christians apparently extrapolated that Jewish philosophy to fit into their own ‘scheme of things’—and I use the term ‘scheme of things’ advisedly. You see, they didn’t know who God was—they had/have been bargaining with a phantom. Neither did they know nor recognize who Jesus was/is. They professed him to be ‘the Son of God, The Lamb of God, The Word Made Flesh, One With The Father and many more titles. But then they turn right around and deny his divinity. I can see you now exclaiming ‘what did you just say?’ I said they directly contradict themselves—they admit that Jesus is one with the Father and that he died for our sins, but guess what; not even God dying for our sins is sufficient; not even God can forgive all; we must ‘burn’ before we are completely cleansed.
What I see in all of this rationalizing is the continued attempt (and I might add a successful attempt) to meld Judaism with Jesus—that is the Church which eventuated. But what did Jesus say? I recall him saying ‘I’ll give you two commandments. You shall love your God with your all and you shall love your neighbor as yourself’ (paraphrased). In fact, he seemed to despise rituals and religion. He said the love of God is personal and not based on hierarchies and buildings. He attempted to tell his biased comrades that God was in everything and that everything was/is in God—seemingly, they didn’t comprehend (we’ll never really know for sure whether or not they did, so distorted and corrupted is the written word we have).
What we do know is that the Jews and the formulated Christians who followed would have ‘no part’ of the idea that God was in everything—God was ‘up there’ and his creation was ‘down here’. On top of that he ‘lorded over’ it with an iron fist—he demanded retribution and justice—he really wasn’t very loving. Yet on the other hand we have the schizophrenic presentation of God, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that we might live’ (paraphrased). There was no unified understanding of or about Jesus. They could not (maybe did not want to) understand what Jesus kept telling—God is in everything and is everywhere—‘split a piece of wood and I am there; lift a rock and you’ll find me there’. He made one final desperate attempt at his last supper when he told them the the bread and wine they were eating and drinking was his body and blood (God is in all). He told them to remember him (that) each time they ate.
The Jewish Christians who finally formulated the Church could not possibly let go of the idea of a punitive God who demanded retribution and sacrifice—seems like they saw Jesus as a ‘snotty nosed kid’ whose britches just weren’t big enough to ‘fill the bill’ for us—that task was up to them. And so it has been for over sixteen hundred years—everyone but the absolute most pious must burn in purgatory for a variable time. However, the ‘administrators of God’s justice’ concocted the idea of indulgences—how clever. They assigned a specific period of sentence reduction to certain prayers. Some even went so far as to sell indulgences. That was a real neat idea. It served two purposes—the ‘rich’ gobbled them up like a pig eating slop, and that filled the depleted church coffers—you remember ‘it’s harder for a rich man to get to heaven than for a camel to go through a needle’s eye’.
Now lets get to the nitty-gritty. The Jews and early Christians were ignorant but they weren’t stupid They knew no science but they knew how to fleece and control each other—in fact they were experts—they could bargain with God down to the last penny. I recall Jesus ‘calling them out’ for it—they killed him. Maybe that’s the reason Jesus has never gotten his ‘just due’ from religion. They didn’t know much—the earth was flat, and teetered on five crooked, wobbly legs (it was always in danger of falling into the netherworld below—everyone knew that). The sun, moon and stars controlled pretty much everything—so they thought. The religion they finally formulated (an extension of Judaism) put them in absolute control enforced by the Roman army.
Today, our ignorance ‘shines brightly’ because we now know enough factual material that we understand our monumental deficiency. However , we have been able to observe God’s perfection in ‘real time’ so to speak. In fact based on those obser4vations, I have been bold enough to actually define God’s essence. God is a Perfect Rational Being. That prefect rationality is seen everywhere in the field of Quantum Mechanics (particle physics)
You may ask what’s that got to do with anything, and I’d say everything. Just consider these points: 1-God is Perfect—his Perfect Love precludes any possibility of Hell—Jesus’ death was God’s method of exhibiting that Perfect Love. 2-God exists in eternity—a state of being without possibility of change (time). Time, of course, is a measure of change. God, being perfect, cannot possibly change. Therefore all of our begging and pleading for God to do so and so is senseless. God can be neither pleased nor displeased—being so would require a change. 3-Purgatory is stated to be a place of burning away the stain of sin for a variable period of time depending on how much stain one’s soul has. Of course, that takes place after we die (in eternity). So the idea of purgatory defies and contradicts two basic concepts of eternity–both time and change.
Purgatory, then, must be considered as just another mythical concept concocted to satisfy a need—money, power, control.
Strange too, like Limbo, I haven’t heard a sermon about Purgatory in years.
Come to think of it, I cant recall indulgences being mentioned for maybe forty to fifty years—I wonder why—maybe its the broom at work.