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[quote:9shb5qfh]James… you can read my overview of Purgatory here: http://www.religiousforums.com/forum/sh … post151743

The CURRENT RCC teaching about Purgatory has nothing to do with the medival theology of suffering and punishment for sin.

Purgatory is best understood as a process by which we are purged of our residual selfishness so that we can really become one with God…. the only “suffering” we experience is the suffering assosiated with the surrender of self to God’s will.

The Council of Florence’s Decree for the Greeks (1439) struck a careful balance between the Western concept of satisfaction and expiation and the Eastern emphasis on purification.

Hope this helps.


Thanks. Then is this similar to our understanding that God’s love is a river of fire that is unavoidable and in which some are purified and become willingly one with God (the ‘state’ of Heaven) and some are ‘burnt’ because of their hatred for God and the inability to escape His love (Hell)? You see in this case I could see Purgatory as an over-rationalisation of the state of those who fit into neither extreme and who experience God after the particular judgement and before the Last Judgement, much as I see the ideas of Heaven and Hell as [i:9shb5qfh]places[/i:9shb5qfh] as an over-rationalisation.

If this is the case, then I see no need for a purgatory teaching at all but would agree that the disagreement is mainly one of terminology. If not, then I’d appreciate further clarification. In either case, I do tend to find over-rationalisations dangerous. From my point of view there is a tendency in the west to over-philosophize theology (by no means confined to the RCC) which seems to stem from the belief that we can grasp God with our created intellect but, as St Gregory of Nyssa said, [i:9shb5qfh]”Anyone who tries to describe the ineffable Light in language is truly a liar – not because he hates the truth, but because of the inadequacy of his language.”[/i:9shb5qfh] Human reason and human language simply cannot grasp the nature of that which is outside creation and philosophy can never describe the Uncreated. I look forward to your reply (it seems as though we are getting somewhere at last) and leave you with another quote that somes up my feelings on the reachableness (is that a word?) of God:

“He may well be loved, but not thought. By love can He be caught and held, but by thinking never.” – [i:9shb5qfh]The Cloud of Unknowing[/i:9shb5qfh]