Heaven and hell are real places for most Americans. The Scripture teaches that nothing unclean will enter the presence of God in heaven (Rev. 21:27). Because of that, many believe in a spiritual realm where souls go when they have not been condemned to hell, yet are still not cleansed of sin enough to enter heaven. The Catholic church calls it ‘The Purgatory.’
The Roman Catholic doctrine defines purgatory as a place of “purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven,” which is experienced by those “who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified”
For believers, Heaven is living in the presence of God for eternity, while hell is a place of unending torment, removed from the goodness of God. Theologians today talk about the suffering of souls in hell as enduring endless sorrow with no possibility of a reprieve.
It’s impossible to know exactly what’s inside purgatory and what souls go through as they pass along, but according to Fr. Dwight Longenecker, a Catholic priest, “the hardships endured by the faithful as they climb their way through purgatory toward heaven, it is actually a joyful place. “The pains in hell are punitive, but purgatory is purgative.”
“When we pray for the ‘repose of the souls’ of our departed loved ones, it sounds like a passive activity. It sounds like we are merely putting them to bed and praying for them to rest in peace. However, our prayers for the departed should be understood in a more active way. They are not sleeping. If they are in purgatory, they are still on their journeys,” Longenecker wrote.
While Catholic teachings are anchored in the believe that human beings can truly be holy enough to enter heaven directly after death, it also suggest that most souls need to be further refined, spiritually speaking, before joining God for eternity. However, Evangelical Christians generally reject the idea of a ‘purgatory” as unbiblical.
What do you believe?