The Cross

The Thief on the Cross & Purging Purgatory

An Angel Frees the Souls of Purgatory. Ludovico Carracci, c. 1610

By Eric Davis. Reposted, with permission, from The Cripplegate.

For the most part, the problem which moved Martin Luther to post his 95 Theses on October 31, 1517 had to do with indulgences. Much could be said about that issue. But the doctrine of indulgences is inextricably linked to the doctrine of purgatory. The word “purgatory” comes from the Latin word, “purgare,” which has the idea of “make clean,” “purify,” or “purge.” The doctrine refers to the purging of remaining guilt and unrighteousness after death.

Purgatory is not hell, but the place of conditioning and preparation for heaven. It is unsure exactly what purgatory is like or how much time people spend there. It could be thousands upon thousands of years, perhaps.

We could go many places in Scripture to address the Roman Catholic teaching on purgatory. But one of my favorites is the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43).

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At-One-Ment by Propitiation

(About this series)

CHAPTER II — AT-ONE-MENT BY PROPITIATION

BY DYSON HAGUE, VICAR OF THE CHURCH OF THE EPIPHANY, TORONTO, CANADA; PROFESSOR OF LITURGICS, WYCLIFFE COLLEGE, TORONTO; CANON OF ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL, LONDON, ONT., 1908-1912

The importance of the subject is obvious. The Atonement is Christianity in epitome. It is the heart of Christianity as a system; it is the distinguishing mark of the Christian religion. For Christianity is more than a revelation; it is more than an ethic. Christianity is uniquely a religion of redemption. At the outset we take the ground that no one can clearly apprehend this great theme who is not prepared to take Scripture as it stands, and to treat it as the final and authoritative source of Christian knowledge, and the test of every theological theory. Any statement of the atonement, to satisfy completely the truly intelligent Christian, must not antagonize any of the Biblical viewpoints. And further; to approach fairly the subject, one must receive with a certain degree of reservation the somewhat exaggerated representations of what some modern writers conceive to be the views of orthodoxy. We cannot deduce Scriptural views of the atonement from non-Biblical conceptions of the Person of Christ; and the ideas that Christ died because God was insulted and must punish somebody, or that the atonement was the propitiation of an angry Monarch-God who let off the rogue while He tortured the innocent, and such like travesties of the truth, are simply the misrepresentations of that revamped Socinianism, which is so widely leavening the theology of many of the outstanding thought-leaders of today in German, British, and American theology.

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Three Days that Changed Everything

A man named Jesus hung on a cross. Prior to that point, this man had endured the rejection of his people, arrest on false pretenses, an illegal trial in which he was falsely accused, beaten and abused, and ultimately condemned to die because of the spiritual arrogance of his accusers.

To the eyes of many, this man was a good teacher, perhaps even a prophet; certainly a healer, and a remarkable leader. But he claimed to be something more—much more. And then this—he hung on a cross to die among the lowest of criminals.

His followers abandoned him for fear of their lives. In the end it appeared he died in complete failure. There was no kingdom, no deliverance. To many it appeared he died humiliated, broken, and completely alone. He even cried out to the God he called his father: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me!?” This Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. But to him belonged the fate of crucifixion.

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