It is a Catholic invention of a sort of holding area before arriving at one's final destination in the afterlife of heaven or hell. Catholics believe that purification with punishment for sins occurs in purgatory, and that the prayers of the living can affect the disposition of those in purgatory.
From my understanding of what Purgatory is, it is a Catholic belief (not a general Christian belief, as many Christians don't believe in it), where people go for a "time" before they get into heaven. It is a time, Catholics think, where you can still pray for your departed loved ones.
I have read the Bible a lot of my life, and with all due respect, I just don't find the teachings of Purgatory in there, or praying for the dead. I am maybe just a bit more simple in my beliefs.
There is a much more detailed answer than that, but not being schooled in Catholicism really, I don't know it well. I would be interested to see more about the belief myself. Great question!
Purgatory is a Roman Catholic mythical place. I does not exist.
Over the years, since Jesus ascended back to heaven, there are those who have died, that never learned about God or about Jesus. These souls await in a place some call hell. This hell is not the Lake of Fire where unbelievers and satan will end up it is merely a waiting place where they must wait until Jesus returns to get them.
Many of the other answers here describe purgatory accurately as, historically, a Catholic idea of a place where one who can be made worthy of salvation is made pure and worthy of heaven.
Let's take a wider look at the notion. "Purgatory" is related to "purge." We all know that none of us lives a perfect life, and some live better lives than others. So how can there be a simple "some go to heaven, and others go to hell"? This is a very troubling idea.
Those who believe in reincarnation can answer this in terms of more lifetimes ahead, where we learn more and more, and become purer and purer.
But mainstream Christianity, early on, rejected the idea of reincarnation. Yet "heaven or hell at the end of one life" is a very uncomfortable idea. Purgatory was developed as a solution.
I suggest that, instead of thinking about where we go after the body dies, we live now, breath by breath, moment by moment, as purely and lovingly as we can. Love all life, and let what happens, happen!
I've read all your answers. While each is interesting, some are better than others. But none gets to the heart of the question. The notion of purgatory stems from a distortion of the central message of the Christian faith. That message salvation is found only through faith in the sinless Son of God, Jesus Christ. When one believes there is spiritual transaction that takes place: all the sinner's guilt placed on Christ and all of Christ's righteousness is credited to the believing sinner. Theologians call his the atonement. One of many Scriptures that shows this to be true is II Corinthians 5:21.
So there is no more purging to be done, not more condemnation to be born, no more payment to be made. Human pride constantly thinks up ways to replace the sinless excellence of our Savior.
In Roman Catholic and, in part, Orthodox Eastern doctrine, purgatory is the place or state of the repentant soul after death. In Heaven the soul is fixed forever in bliss; in Hell, forever in suffering.
In purgatory the soul, eventually destined for Heaven, is progressively purged of unrepented minor sins or of major sins that have been forgiven but not wholly punished. It is believed that, as in Hell, the soul undergoes physical pain, probably of fire, and the spiritual pain of longing for God. The punishment is temporary, however, and, it is believed, may be lessened by the prayers of the living or by indulgences earned in life by performing certain tasks.
Purgatory is a place where Roman Catholics Believe the spirits of dead people are sent to suffer for all their Sins before they go to Heaven.
From what I've heard, purgatory is a place that exists between Heaven and Hell, sort of a middle realm if you will. However, I don't believe in its existence, the Bible clearly states that there is Heaven and Hell with no black/white area between. This "purgatory" is a belief that was created by the Catholics saying that you have a second chance to decide where you end up basically. In all actuality, you have one lifetime to choose where you end up, which is done quite simply. One, do nothing, which will ultimately lead to eternity in Hell. Two, accept that you're a sinner and Jesus Christ is offering forgiveness/eternal life, ask for forgiveness and accept his sacrifice and be assured salvation in Heaven.. Easy right? No black and white..
its another example of catholics putting mans tradition and doctrine before gods.
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