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Purgatory vs the Spirit World (RunLiketheWind & Katzpur)

Discussion in 'One-on-One Debates' started by Katzpur, May 30, 2007.

  1. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    This thread is for RunLiketheWind and Katzpur to explore the similarities and differences between the Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory and the LDS doctrine of the Spirit World. We have agreed that this is a topic we'd like to discuss. It may turn into a debate; then again, it might not. Its purpose is primarily for us both to learn about each other's beliefs.

    I'll let you begin, RufwiththeWind. Tell me anything you'd like to about Purgatory and we'll see where our conversation takes us.
     
  2. Runlikethewind

    Runlikethewind Monk in Training

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    Thanks Katzpur this ought to be a good discussion. I will first try to define purgatory as best I can and then I shall explain my definition, then perhaps you can compare it to the concept of the spirit world or just define it on its own, whatever works.

    Purgatory is the process by which the temporal effects of sins, that have had their eternal effects wiped away, are purged from the sinner before entering into the fullness of heaven.

    This may not be the best definition so here is one I picked up off a good Catholic website

    Purgatory: a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God's grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.

    I was talking with my spiritual director today and he said an interesting thing. He said (and I paraphrase) “We have already achieved heaven by way of Jesus. We are not trying to get to heaven in this life, we are trying to avoid hell.” I think this is a very positive way to look at it, we are not trying to get to heaven as much as we are simply trying not to lose it. And I believe, I hope and pray, that most if not all peoples will be able to avoid hell. After one dies there is only two places to go, heaven or hell.. So those who have avoided hell must be going to heaven. Yet one must be perfect in order to enter fully into heaven (So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48). Purgatory then, is the stage of heaven which those who have been saved are ‘cleaned up’, if you will, before they enter fully into heaven.

    So the key point here, I think, is that we believe that sin has both a temporal and eternal consequence. The eternal consequence of any sin is eternal death, separation from God, basically hell. That means any little tiny sin has the eternal consequence of eternal damnation. Thankfully God became man in Jesus the Christ and in His incarnation, passion, death, and resurrection, He paid the eternal price for our sins. Now even the most egregious sin can have its eternal consequence wiped away by the blood of Christ, our sins have been paid for and hell can be avoided by everyone through God’s mercy and forgiveness by the work of Jesus. Sweet!

    This is not the end of it, However. Our sins still have a temporal consequence. So even after one’s sins have been forgiven one must make satisfaction or do penance to remove the temporal stain of sin. Now if you think about it for a second this seems to make sense. When we do sinful things it affects our lives and the lives of those around us, especially those habitual sins that one can easily fall into, like when a person becomes an alcoholic, for example. One can be forgiven for drinking too much but this does not mean that the road to sobriety will be any easy one. That person must go through all kinds of difficulty in avoiding alcohol, they have to reconcile with those peoples that they estranged through their habit, etc. So this idea of a temporal effect of sin makes allot of practical sense. Our behavior, even if it has been forgive by God, still effects our lives and who we are and how we deal with others. This is what purgatory is all about. If one dies in the grace of God then the eternal consequence of hell is avoided but there may still remain in a person the effects of all their sins. And, generally speaking most people fall into this category when they die, I believe. Purgatory wipes those effects away so that one can be made perfect and enter into heaven.

    So that looks like a good start to me.
     
  3. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    Here's what I can tell you about the Spirit World.

    When a person dies, his spirit leaves his body but does not die itself. It continues to exist as a cognizant entity apart from its physical tabernacle. It is immediately given what we might describe as preliminary judgment of sorts, and is sent to the Spirit World to await the resurrection of all mankind and the Last Judgement. While there are no physical boundaries to the Spirit World (herding spirits, I imagine, is much like herding cats ;) ), there is, nevertheless, a division into two states or conditions. Depending upon how a person lived his life (regardless of his religion -- or lack of religion -- during mortality), he will find himself either in "Paradise" or in "Prison."

    Paradise is a place of peace and rest. People often confuse it with Heaven, although they are not one and the same. Jesus told the repentant thief who hung next to Him on the cross that He would see him on that very day in Paradise, and yet three days later, on Easter morning, He told Mary not to touch Him since He had not yet ascended to His Father in Heaven. The wicked, on the other hand, will find themselves in the Spirit Prison. The Spirit Prison could accurately be described as hell, although it need not be a permanent hell. In 1 Peter, Jesus is said to have preached to the spirits in prison during the three days His body lay in the tomb. Judging from what the scriptures say, then, it appears as if He visited those in Paradise and those in Prison before being resurrected.

    The scriptures give no indication (or even the slightest hint, for that matter) that either Paradise or the Spirit Prison have since ceased to exist, and we don't believe they have. There have been so many people live and die without ever having had the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ that it would hardly be either loving or just for God to condemn them all to an eternity in Hell for something over which they had no control. We believe that the missionary work Christ commissioned His Apostles to carry out continues today in the Spirit World. Those who know of His gospel are testifying to those who don't. Many who lived wicked lives out of ignorance will repent and recognize that they need not be destined to an unending punishment. Other people may have lived good lives, doing the best they knew how in the circumstances into which they were born, even though they did not gain an understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ during their lifetimes. At any rate, the gospel will continue to be taught by those who believe to those who died not believing. As a person in the Spirit Prison comes to recognize the power of faith in Christ, he will be released from the Prison and allowed to experience Paradise. By the time of the Last Judgment, when each of us stands before God to be judged, all will have had the chance to hear and understand Christ's message and to either accept or reject the gift of forgivness He offers.

    The one important distinction I can see between the Spirit World and Purgatory is that, according to LDS doctrine, all who have ever lived will go to the Spirit World after they die, and all will remain there, either in Paradise or in Prison, until the resurrection, when they will be judged worthy of either Heaven or Hell (which will be their permanent home).

    I could go into more detail perhaps, but that will give you an idea of the doctrine.
     
  4. Runlikethewind

    Runlikethewind Monk in Training

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    I've been a bit busy lately so I haven't gotten around to making any big response to your post. However one thing that does strike is that from my understanding of the Catholic perspective on Judgment is that it is generally the same as yours. From what I understand Catholics believe in a personal judgment for each individual when we die and then later on a final judgment of all humanity.

    Another thing is that the Nicaean Creed states of Jesus that "He was crucified, died and was buried, He descended into hell and on the third day he rose again from the dead." This has always been understood along similar lines as you have stated. We see this as Jesus going into the place where Moses, Abraham, Adam and Eve, and the rest of all the OT peoples where waiting the coming of the messiah. This has a similar ring to what you have said of the spirit prison where there are those who have never heard the gospel or lived before it await Jesus, if I understand you correctly.

    But the key point behind purgatory is that it is more than just a waiting place but it is a place on cleansing, the way that I am understanding your comments is that both the spirit prison and the spirit paradise are more of a period of waiting and not a period of cleansing? Am I wrong?

    I'll really have to give a more detailed analysis of your comments because I see allot of similarities here, the idea that the work of the Apostles continuing in the spirit world sounds allot like the communion of saints and prayers for those in purgatory. Maybe the similarities are only skin deep though....
     
  5. Runlikethewind

    Runlikethewind Monk in Training

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    This is very similar to the Catholic position. When a person dies their spirit continues to exist and goes before God to undergo what we call a particular judgement.

    Judging from this I would say that the spirit prison and purgatory are comparable while the spirit paradise is comparable to heaven.

    Yup, that sounds allot like what purgatory would be. Maybe not a perfect comparison but the Church really doesn’t get into a whole lot of detail about the actual workings of Purgatory. But the idea that the Gospel will be preached to those who are their, that those who have died without knowing the gospel through no fault of their own, etc, all seems to line up with the purpose and understanding of purgatory in some sense.

    Yes I think that this is where we generally part ways. The eternal destination of a person, heaven or hell, is determined at the particular judgement and not at the final judgement in Catholic teaching. I would say that most people who die will find their way into what you would call the spirit world, that is heaven or the spirit paradise, directly or indirectly, that is to heaven or the spirit paradise through purgatory or the spirit prison. But there are some who will go on directly to hell at the particular judgement. I see a difference in that from what I gather not everyone who is in the spirit prison will make it to heaven or the resurrection whereas all those in purgatory will. But that is just because, from what I gather, no one will go to hell until the final judgement in LDS teaching.

    So I would then say that the spirit world is nearly identical to the Catholic understanding of heaven and that the spirit prison would be called purgatory and the spirit paradise would be called heaven. I would also say that we both believe in hell as well. We both believe in two judgement, one at death and a final judgement before the resurrection of the dead. Where we differ is specificall at what judgement is hell determined as an eternal destination. For the Catholic position that takes place at the first judgement and so all those in purgatory (prison) will eventually get to heaven (paradise) and the LDS position it takes place at the final judgement so those in prison (purgatory) could end up in hell.
     
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