Friday, June 12, 2009


Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 3 of 4 - How We Receive the Grace of Christ

Chapter 5, Sections 6-10 – Additions to penance: Purgatory

I wouldn't mention this trifling topic were it not for the serious damage it does to souls. "When expiation of sins is sought elsewhere than in the blood of Christ, when satisfaction is transferred elsewhere, silence is very dangerous." Purgatory "nullifies the cross."

They claim Matt 12:32, which hints - they say - that some sins will be forgiven in the next life. But this refers to the guilt of sin, not their punishment. It only emphasizes the unforgivable sin will never be forgiven. They claim Matt 5:25-26, but it need not be a direct allegory for purgatory, but just describing the earthly consequences of disagreeably demanding the letter of the law. They claim Phil 2:10 - that those under the earth must mean in purgatory, since the wicked and devils in hell won't bow the knee. But this bowing is of subjection and dominion, not only of reverent worship. Rev 5:13 relates to all creation (Ps 19:1), not souls in purgatory. They claim 2 Maccabees 12:43, but it is not Scripture, and the writer himself asks pardon if he said anything wrong (15:39). The Spirit doesn't speak this way.

They claim 1 Cor 3:12-13, 15: "if any man's work is burned up... he will be saved, but only as through fire." They say this fire is purgatory, but many ancient writers considered it earthly trials. Scripture says every man's work goes through the fire, but they don't say everyone goes through purgatory. The fire is the Spirit. The unstable foundation refers to impure doctrines - like purgatory!

They appeal to the custom of praying for the dead, but this is not Scriptural, either. They only did it out of a natural human desire. The fathers, even Augustine, erred here; though they weren't zealous for it, either but only catered to custom and natural desire. Our prayers are subject to God's Word - we ought to ask only what he tells us to ask.

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