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The Logical Case for Purgatory

35

March 16, 2013 by mattfradd


The Logical Case for Purgatory

The Logical Case for Purgatory

In this post I’d like to look at the logical case for purgatory. But before we do, let’s take a look at what purgatory is. The Catechism teaches:

All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven . . . The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.” (CCC 1030 – 1031).

Catholic Invention ?

Non-Catholic Christians “may be fond of saying the Catholic Church ‘invented’ the doctrine of purgatory to make money, but they have difficulty saying just when. Most professional anti-Catholics—the ones who make their living attacking “Romanism”—seem to place the blame on Pope Gregory the Great, who reigned from A.D. 590–604.

But that hardly accounts for the request of Monica, mother of Augustine, who asked her son, in the fourth century, to remember her soul in his Masses. This would make no sense if she thought her soul would not benefit from prayers, as would be the case if she were in hell or in the full glory of heaven.

Nor does ascribing the doctrine to Gregory explain the graffiti in the catacombs, where Christians during the persecutions of the first three centuries recorded prayers for the dead.

Indeed, some of the earliest Christian writings outside the New Testament, like the Acts of Paul and Thecla and the Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity (both written during the second century), refer to the Christian practice of praying for the dead. Such prayers would have been offered only if Christians believed in purgatory, even if they did not use that name for it. (See Catholic Answers’ Fathers Know Best tract The Existence of Purgatory for quotations from these and other early Christian sources.) [1]

The Argument for Purgatory

I would like to thank Jimmy Akin for introducing me to the logical argument for purgatory;  it can be formulated as follows:

Premise 1: There will be neither sin nor attachment to sin in Heaven.

Premise 2: We (at least most of us) are still sinning and are attached to sin at the end of this life.

Conclusion: Therefore there must be a period between death and heavenly glory in which the saved are cleansed of sin and their attachment to sin.

Because this is a deductive argument, if one wants to dispute the conclusion, he must take issue with one of the premises, since the conclusion follows from them necessarily.

So which is it?

Is it not true that the saved in heaven are perfectly sanctified? (“[N]othing unclean shall enter [Heaven]” – Rev 21:27).

Or is it not true that we are still sinning and attached to sin at the end of our earthly life? (If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” – 1 John 1:8).

You can’t get out of this argument by asserting, as I read one man say, that Christ covers us with his righteousness the moment we are justified and therefore sees us as he sees his Son, Jesus. Okay, well, are we to conclude from this that we really will be sinning in heaven while God pretends that we’re fully sanctified and clean? The answer, I think, is obviously not.

How Long Does Purgatory Take?

Because we don’t know how time works in the afterlife, different theologians have had different speculations as to how long purgatory may take or if it takes any time at all.  Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) seemed to side with the latter opinion. He wrote:

The transforming ‘moment’ of this encounter cannot be quantified by the measurements of earthly time.

It is, indeed, not eternal but a transition, and yet trying to qualify it as of ‘short’ or ‘long’ duration on the basis of temporal measurements derived from physics would be naive and unproductive.

The ‘temporal measure’ of this encounter lies in the unsoundable depths of existence, in a passing-over where we are burned ere we are transformed.

To measure such Existenzzeit, such an ‘existential time,’ in terms of the time of this world would be to ignore the specificity of the human spirit in its simultaneous relationship with, and differentation from, the world.

. . .

“[Purgatory] is the inwardly necessary process of transformation in which a person becomes capable of Christ, capable of God and thus capable of unity with the whole communion of saints. [Read More]

I’m aware that I haven’t presented a Biblical defense of the doctrine of purgatory; that wasn’t my intention. If you’re looking for one, click here. Or If you’re looking for a great and thorough (originally several CD’s) mp3 on the subject, click here.

35 thoughts on “The Logical Case for Purgatory

  1. […] All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed Go to the Source: Matt Fradd   […]

  2. – I don’t believe in purgatory, as I think it diminishes the cross. I still pray for those who have died. Your argument using those who ask for prayers for their souls, or prayers being written down for those who died, therefore does not hold water. I think it’s very normal to pray for those we love who have died. There is a story circulating Facebook where a little girl asks her mother to write a letter to God to take care of her cat, who has died. She describes the cat and asks her mom to put extra postage on the letter to make sure it gets to heaven. Some kind person at the post office wrote her back in an incredibly beautiful reply, pretending to be God. The point: that little girl’s prayers for her cat in no way indicates a belief in purgatory, but reflects all of us in our humanity, worried about those we care for who have passed on, pleading with God to “take good care of our cat” (or brother, or sister, or wife, or daughter, or…).

    – The wages of sin = death. Either we pay those wages, or Jesus does. His payment is good enough. The doctrine of purgatory says His payment is NOT good enough, and we must pay ourselves. His payment covers ALL sin, past, present and future. If we needed to pay for it ourselves, His death was in vain.

    When Jesus said, “It is finished!” He meant it.

    • mattfradd says:

      Thanks Donny,

      In my article I said that you need to take issue with one of my premises to deny the conclusion. In your last comment you didn’t do that. So which premise do you disagree with?

      Remember, the argument I offered is a deductive argument, what that means is, if the premises are true, the conclusion follows necessarily, whether you like it or not, it doesn’t matter.

      Pick a premise, any premise.

      • Simply declaring that ‘if these premises are true, the conclusion follows necessarily’ does not make that the case. I’m not sure what kind of logic they teach in Australia, my friend, but those premises can indeed be true, yet have an alternate answer that you have missed. That is the case here. We are indeed still sinning. There will indeed be no sin in heaven. There will be a “day of reckoning” so to speak. The payment for our sin will be due. If we have accepted Jesus’ payment for that sin, our debt is “charged to His account.”

        It really IS that simple. Some of these doctrines the Catholic Church holds to seem to indicate that the church has no fully understood the amazing, incredible, mind blowing event that took place on the cross. It was POWERFUL. What was done there needs no help from us.

      • mattfradd says:

        Donny, I’ve studied logic. for an argument to be sound there must be clear tearms (check), valid logic (check), and true premises . . . You appear to grant the premises and then deny the conclusion. You mention a “day of reckoning” and say that Jesus paid the price for all of our sins – Agreed! No one is disputing that.

        Again I ask you, which premise do you disagree with?

        If you accept them both, then the conclusion follows necessarily.

      • The conclusion is the part with which I disagree. If other valid conclusions were not available, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, nor would any of our Protestant/Catholic brethren.

      • mattfradd says:

        Another valid conclusion would be possible if this was an inductive argument; nevertheless, offer me one other logical conclusion from those two premises…

    • Mike McPherson says:

      I think Donny you would need to explain the moment in time that Jesus death on the cross washes away our sin. Is it when he died? Was it when we asked Jesus to be our personal Lord and Saviour? Or is it the moment after we die? Matt’s second premise says that we sin right up until death. So it must be the moment after we die Jesus blood covers our sins, that moment is what we Catholics would call purgatory. Purgatory doesn’t answer the question ” what happens to us when we die” as much as it answers the “How are we cleansed from our sins”. As a former Protestant, I would describe Purgatory as “the process of Jesus blood washing away our sins the moment after we die”.

  3. Mike McPherson says:

    I have a question Matt, in Matthew 13:24 the parable of the weeds among the wheat, a man plants wheat (God) and an enemy plants weeds among the wheat. I’ve always interpreted this as Christians being the wheat and other people being the weeds ad the final judgement being the harvest where the weeds are burned (Hell). That was my Protestant exegesis. But now I’m thinking the soil is our soul, the wheat is the goodness that God has planted in us and the weeds are sin. So the final Harvey would be Purgatory, the division of the goodness in us and the burning up of the evil in us. Is this a correct interpretation?

  4. Jesus tells us that because of Him we can have eternal life. Since people dying here on earth has never ceased to be a reality, none of us are foolish enough to think He meant anything other than eternal life after physical death. If purgatory is what gets us to that afterlife, there was no reason for Jesus to shed His blood for us. What He did washes away our sin. What is very obvious is that it’s not washing it away here on earth right now so that we’re able to physically walk around on earth impervious to sin. Instead, it washes our soul clean so that we can enter heaven. God really DOES see us the way He sees Jesus, because Jesus wraps us up in Himself through what He did on the cross. We enter heaven because of Jesus’ sacrifice, and there is no need for purgatory. We do not have any possible way to “pay” for our sins.

    Paul tells us this: “don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.”

    In caps for emphasis: ANYONE WHO HAS DIED HAS BEEN SET FREE FROM SIN, Matt. Why? Because JESUS accomplished this on the cross.

    Paul goes on to tell us this: For the WAGES of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    If I gave you a gift, and then asked you to pay for it, would that really be a gift? Of course not. Accept your gift, Matt. Stop believing there’s something you must do to earn it.

    • mattfradd says:

      That you would accuse me thinking salvation is something I must earn, is clear proof that you do not understand the doctrine of purgatory. May I gently invite you to download Tim Staples mp3 (the last link). I think that will help you tremendously.

  5. Mickey Bauchan says:

    Donny – I have a question…

    If someone has been born again and has accepted Christ as their savior – does that make it so that they don’t need to ask forgiveness of their sins the remainder of their life? Is it a one-and-done situation? A “Get Out Of Jail Free” card if you will? No. I don’t know anyone that believes that, regardless of their religion.

    I believe all Christians, Protestant & Catholic, believe in asking forgiveness of sin. Catholics go to reconciliation and Protestants just ask forgiveness on their own. I don’t want to steer the debate to that, however I am using it to get to a point.

    I have also heard Protestants speak of suicide as an “ultimate sin” – as they would not have the opportunity to ask forgiveness. Again, I don’t want to direct the discussion to whether or not that is correct, just using it to make a point. That same logic could be used to discuss someone that is a christian that sins and doesn’t ask forgiveness before they die. Suppose a christian falls and visits a prostitute and gets in a car crash on his way home? Would that man go to hell because he hasn’t asked forgiveness?

    My point is this…If a protestant dies and has this sin that they committed still sitting on their “ledger” so to speak – what of that. Doesn’t it make sense that there would be a purification to cleanse those sins?

    • We also apologize to our children or parents (etc) when we hurt them. Not apologizing doesn’t make them NOT our children or parents. We do so out of love.

      Article 12, 1030 of the Catechism says, “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” The next statement in 1031 assures that purgatory “…is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.” 1032 states, “The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead.”

      This sort of thing is what Protestants have a problem with… if the moment was always considered instantaneous, which is something Pope Benedict allowed for, there would be no time for “almsgiving, indulgences and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead.”

      There never HAS BEEN a reason for this. Jesus did all the “almsgiving” for us through His blood. It completely cleanses us of sin (scripture says so). This is done instantly. Pope Benedict’s allowance for purgatory to be instantaneous sounds very Protestant to me.

      • I was re-reading the excerpt above from the Catechism and couldn’t help thinking, of this part:

        “…are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.”

        That sounds kinda like, “You’re my son and I love you. It’s because I love you that I’m gonna spank you for being a bad, bad boy.

        🙂

  6. I see plenty of “Christians” and I tell yah, if they all went to heaven without any sort of “Cleansing” it would simply be another earth full of bickering, infighting, jealousy, and so on.

    Think about it, gather up all the “Christians” who have accepted Salvation from all the different denominations and sections of Christianity on earth, without any kind of behavioural modification, and put them in a single space together.

    Does that sound like Heaven?

    Hence purgatory makes a lot of sense, to enable people to make the final transition to being Christ like.

  7. Rachel says:

    The more I read these blogs the more I am convinced that the catholic Church is right! The way you word things on each topic makes so much sense. Especially in blogs like these where they are each a “Eureka!” moment in themselves. Not that I wasnt already convinced 😉 Great work Matt! Love ya!

  8. Matt,

    I got here after listening to your 5 part series on “The Porn Effect”. If ever I had any intention to view any of that junk again, this was the lynch pin holding that resolve in place. What a wonderful testimony that Donny Pauling has and I appreciate your sharing that.

    So, while I disagree with you on your case for purgatory, based on what the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:8, I am grateful to God that these sorts of theological discussions are secondary in nature. Christ died once for all of those who express faith in Him. That is the main thing. That we can agree on. As a minister I listen to regularly says, “The main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things”. Christ’s death and resurrection and whole purpose for coming and leaving us the Holy Spirit is a main thing. Purgatory, at least to me, is not (as far as it relating to the Gospel message).

    Greg

    • Rachel says:

      If you’re a minister, a man of Christian morals, then why do you think Matt’s series on the Porn Effect is “junk”? How is it “junk” to be anti pornography, something which attacks the dignity God gave to every human being and therefore Gods plan for us? And if you dont believe in purgatory, and Im assuming its because its not directly mentioned by this name in the Bible, why would you believe in that little quip: “The main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things”? Heres something that is in the Bible, Jesus praised God his Father for hiding such things ie. His truths and laws, from the learned and the wise and for revealing them to His little children. (Luke 10:21 and Matthew 11:25) God didnt stop revealing things to us after the final page of the Bible was written. The early Christians, who risked life and limb in order to carry on Christ’s tachings to the rest of the world, didnt even have a Bible to teach from because the Bible hadnt been compiled by then, not the Gospels and the New Testiment anyway. The Holy Spirit lead them and spoke to them jsut as he lead Saints Peter and Paul. God is always speaking to us and revealing things to us, and it isnt always “plain”, its often complicated and mysterious, but its ok to not just believe in things that are clear and plain because Christians have something called faith.

    • Rachel says:

      Ive just had a thought. I must apologise to you Greg if i totally misunderstud your words. Did you mean Matt’s series is junk or did you mean pornography is junk? If its the latter I apologise profusely from my heart for my defensive comment below. Its just because I love Matt very much for his work and how he helps people. Please forgive me.

  9. Free Wayne says:

    http://www.facebook.com/notes/the-way-of-holiness/we-can-live-above-sin/353554551411946

    Sir, when i was in college i have attended several meetings with a religious group (where a friend belongs to) preaching that “sectism” is a sin thus claiming they are not christian ‘sects’. They say sectism is the babylon being referred in a biblical verse ‘get out of her (or babylon – am not sure).

    The site above is just one article (with some of the verses) they usually use in their preaching that christians should live holy without sin. Comparing the biblical verses you use and they use seems to be both rational. With them “Christians should no longer sin,” and with you – the two premises (which denotes we continue to sin till we die— which leads to our conclusion of the need to purgatory.

    Please help enlighten me with how our Holy Church explain or teach these verses in the bible in relation to the teaching of purgatory. Thank you.

    **aside from the verses used in the article above, they often quote–>> Titus 2:11-12, Hebrews 12: 10-14.

  10. Chris Byrum says:

    Matt, I’m way late to this discussion as I only recently discovered your site, so I expect it is likely you won’t even see this comment, but here goes…

    The problem I have with your deductive reasoning argument is that one can make accurate observations, construct legitimate premises from those observations, and yet come to a false conclusion. Let me give you an example:
    Aristotle made observations about our physical world that
    A) Unlike when moving across the surface of the earth (say in a chariot maybe) when I am standing still I have no sensation of motion (e.g., no perpetual wind blowing)
    B) When I toss an object up into the air it comes straight down to me instead of landing next to me
    Conclusion – The earth is stationary and motionless

    Now none of use would take issue with Aristotle’s premises, but we know now that his conclusion was faulty. So my question to you is: isn’t it possible that someone can accept both of your premises and yet come to a perfectly reasonable alternative conclusion?

    Here is a reasonable alternative argument:
    Premise 1: There will be neither sin nor attachment to sin in Heaven.
    Premise 2: We (at least most of us) are still sinning and are attached to sin at the end of this life.
    Conclusion: Sin attachment dies along with the flesh and therefore no longer affects any man once he has died. The responsibility for sin remains, for which those who have died in Christ receive forgiveness through Christ, but the attachment to sin no longer remains.

    Do you agree that this is a weakness in your logical argument for purgatory? If not then why?

    By the way, I love the site and your open, engaging, loving and thoughtful approach to discussing the issues that affect the body of Christ. Keep up the good work.

    • Mike says:

      Personally I think you could be right about Matt being wrong but I do not believe your conclusion is sufficient because our attachment to sin is not physical and therefore has nothing to do with our flesh. Just because our body does doesnt mean our attachment to sin will die because our thoughts and ideas will not die and that is where our sin is found. As Jesus said if you look at a woman lustfully you have already committed adultery. That’s because the sin is in what we are thinking not what our physical bodies are doing. Our thoughts and souls need to be purified before we enter heaven because our souls are stained with sin.

      • Chris Byrum says:

        Hey Mike,
        The point of my post wasn’t so much to provide a definitively correct alternative conclusion, but more to point out the weakness of these kind of deductive reasoning arguments by providing a reasonable alternative. I’ve read numerous apologists holding a variety of viewpoints use similar logical constructs to “prove” their conclusion, and then stand back in the confidence that they have put forth an irrefutable argument.

        In this case, I think the conversation could spool out into a debate concerning the impact of sin on our spirits, the implications of our sin nature, the meaning of “the flesh” in Pauline vocabulary, and what it means if sin attachment really remains after death. A truly fascinating subject. The point is that the conclusion itself is where the discussion would occur. Those premises don’t lead inexorably to Matt’s (the Catholic) conclusion.

        I’m not closed off at all to the idea of purgatory or the need for purification after death, but neither am I convinced at this point. I have found the arguments for purgatory based on scripture and the writings of early church fathers much more convincing than the logical reasoning above. It is far less convincing than arguments for the real presence in the Eucharist though, which I find very compelling.

        That’s why I am beginning my own readings of the early church fathers. Catholicism leans so heavily on the tradition handed down from the early church fathers that I feel like I can’t judge it (and test it) accurately unless I read them for myself. It’s a big effort though.

      • mike says:

        And I totally agree Chris, I think that there can be feasible alternative reasoning and that the argument above is not irrefutable. Sounds like we are on the same page because I want to go back and read the church Fathers as well because of how many converts I have heard you have been convinced by the church Fathers that Catholicism is true. However I think that whatever the explanation of the “process” of sin being removed from us is what Catholics would call purgatory. Protestants say that the blood of Christ washes all our sins away, and I would agree and say yes it does, thats what purgatory is.

      • Chris Byrum says:

        That’s interesting Mike. I’ve never heard anyone express it that way before. I’m going to chew on that.

        As for reading the early church fathers, it’s a huge effort but I’m excited to undertake it. No matter what my conclusions are coming out of those readings I will be very thankful that my conversations with Catholics have spurred me to realize how many writings we have and to read them. It has made me feel kind of cut off from my roots as a Christian having spent my three years in Christ in a protestant church, a church I love dearly by the way, but in which I hear numerous quotes from modern Christian thinkers and virtually none from the earliest Christian thinkers.

        The reason I want to read the writings for myself is that I have already seen numerous instances on the internet of individuals misquoting church fathers or attributing much later statements/prayers to them. I figured it was better just to dig in and read their writings directly so that I can understand the validity of the claims of the Catholic church in context, and so that I can steep myself in the thoughts of those closest to the original apostles. I feel confident that it will be an enriching process.

  11. Mike says:

    Well that is a very fearless and noble endeavour. I actually used to be Protestant, Baptist actually and I became Catholic about 3 years ago. For me I was hungry for the truth wherever I could find it. I didn’t care what religion I ended up being, I just wanted to know the truth, to know who God was. I think a lot of the dispute between Catholics and Protestants is miscommunication. There’s a catholic philosopher I listen to named Peter Kreeft and he was talking about how the biggest stumbling block to eccuminism has already been understood to be a miscommunication. There’s a big group of churches who agreed that for years Protestants and Catholics have been teaching the same things on works vs. faith, which was what started the reformation.

    • Chris Byrum says:

      I certainly think that miscommunication is part of it, coupled with a significant serving of ignorance about the meanings of each others doctrinal positions. Frequently I see both Catholics and Protestants reacting to exaggerated and skewed versions of the others doctrine. That being said, I think there are real and significant differences there as well.

      As for me, I don’t identify as a Protestant, but I do attend a Protestant church. I had no real curiosity about Catholicism until a friend of mine in our church decided to become a Catholic, and before he finalized his decision basically presented his reasons and said “show me where I’m wrong”. Of course I couldn’t do any such thing since I didn’t know the first thing about Catholicism, so I began to research it for myself. I didn’t really want to prove him wrong, but I did want to understand why he felt Catholicism was so compelling and discuss the doctrine with him. What I quickly found out was that there was a LOT to learn!

      My friend has left our church for a nearby Catholic parish, but we continue to hang out and discuss and I have continued to look into Catholicism for myself. I’m a slow thinker though, and I mull over everything like a cow chewing cud. So far I have found some aspects of Catholic Mariology (in particular her role as mediatrix) and indulgences to be difficult to reconcile with scripture. I don’t have ignorant views of these positions. I have read a great deal from various Catholic apologists explaining the true meaning of these doctrines, and I understand that all of God’s truth is not stated explicitly in scripture. Yet I still feel like any implicit doctrine should be capable of being tested against scripture for consistency (i.e., it shouldn’t conflict with and should reinforce obvious explicit truths in scripture), and I have a hard time doing that with both Mary as mediatrix and indulgences.

      That being said, I have found enough that is compelling within Catholicism and that seems absent from Protestant theology that I am continuing to read, investigate, think, and pray. I frequently ask for the guidance of the Spirit to determine what is true, and am convinced that He honors those prayers.

      • Chris Byrum says:

        I should clarify that I think technically Mary as mediatrix is not official doctrine, but is a widely held view that is certainly acceptable to the church. Could be wrong there.

      • Mike says:

        Ya it’s funny I never had a problem with Mary as a mediator. It was explained to me that we can pray directly to Christ or we can ask Mary to pray for us because well, she is just a lot better at praying than I am! I think she can tell God what I need instead of me telling God what I think I need cause a lot of times I am wrong about what I need. I dunno, Mary was never a big deal, the big stumbling block for me was the Eucharist. The fact that Jesus was present seemed and still does seem, completely insane. Sometimes I can’t believe that I believe it! But I do and it was one of those things that I struggled with even as I was becoming Catholic but I felt like I just had to take it on faith because the Church was right about so many other things. I decided I was just going to trust in the church. Trusting in the church had a lot to do with the fact that the Catholic Church put together the Bible! So if I don’t trust the church how can I trust the Bible? And now I see the importance of tradition and the church fathers that I never realized as a protestant.

      • Chris Byrum says:

        Haha! That’s really funny because I am exactly the opposite! The Eucharist is really convincing for me and Mary as mediator is a major stumbling block. It’s not so much that I really object to the official doctrine regarding Mary. I could accept the immaculate conception and assumption if I reach the kind of tipping point you are referring to. I also don’t have a problem with the idea of praying with Mary, or asking her to pray for you the way you might ask someone else in life to pray for you. My problem comes with Mary as mediatrix and co-redemptrix. I know these are not official Catholic doctrines, but the Church seems cool with those ideas which bothers me a lot. For example, there was a back and forth in the comments section of one of Matt’s posts relating to a prayer to Mary that was clearly written by a person who viewed Mary as co-redemptrix and the person through whom the grace and blessings of Christ flow. It would be one thing if the Church said this is not OK and doesn’t reflect a right view of Mary, but it seems instead that the Church is at a minimum tolerant of the view and probably a lot more than tolerant. It just makes me profoundly uncomfortable.

        As to your other comment about sometimes having a hard time believing that you believe in the Eucharist, I can really relate to that sentiment. In fact I feel a lot of compassion for intellectual agnostics and atheists (used to be there) who can’t bring themselves to take Christianity in general seriously, because really it IS pretty wild! It’s just that once you really examine it you start to realize that there are a lot of really good reasons to believe it in spite of how wild it is, and once you reach that tipping point where what once seemed foolish is revealed as being the most startling truth of all time, well then taking the step forward in faith even when every t isn’t crossed makes a lot more sense then the opposite.

        By the way, I also find the argument of trusting our Bible but not trusting the teachings of the Catholic church to be an extremely persuasive argument IF what I read in the early church fathers is consistent with what I see in the church today (which is why I am reading them). A brother and friend of mine who is a pastor said recently “but you can’t place uninspired early church writers on the same level as scripture”. I responded and said “true, I agree, but if you can see from their writings that there was a consensus in the early church around these issues that is consistent with Catholic beliefs then I wonder how can the Church have gone so wrong for so long?”. Athanasius is one of his heros and with good reason, but why didn’t God raise up others like Athanasius to combat heretical views about the Eucharist and baptism and other sacraments if they were misleading His people? Add on to that, how can we trust the bible if the Church was already profoundly off track by that point? These are very important questions indeed.

        This is a really refreshing conversation Mike. Thanks so much!

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