Sanctification, satisfaction, and the purpose of purgatory neal Judisch



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1 See Justin D. Barnard, “Purgatory and the Dilemma of Sanctification,” Faith and Philosophy 24 (2007), 311-330, David Vander Laan, “The Sanctification Argument for Purgatory,” Faith and Philosophy 24 (2007), 331-339, Jerry Walls, Heaven: The Logic of Eternal Joy (New York: Oxford UP, 2002) and Hell: The Logic of Damnation (Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame Press, 1992), David Brown, “No Heaven Without Purgatory,” Religious Studies 21 (1985), 447-56, and John Hick, Death and Eternal Life (New York: Harper & Row, 1976). C.S. Lewis’ discussion of purgatory, in his Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (Harcourt Brace & Co, 1964), 106-111, is also frequently cited in this connection.

2 Barnard, “Purgatory and the Dilemma of Sanctification,” 326.

3 Ibid., 326, my emphasis.

4 Barnard, “Purgatory and the Dilemma of Sanctification,” 326-327.

5 Barnard, “Purgatory and the Dilemma of Sanctification,” 325.

6 Barnard, “Purgatory and the Dilemma of Sanctification,” 329, n. 7.

7 This is the argument advanced by David Brown in “No Heaven Without Purgatory.”

8 Justin Barnard formulates this argument in “Purgatory and the Dilemma of Sanctification.”

9 Thus according to Michael Stoeber, unless we are prepared to endorse the twin theses of karma and retributive rebirth as set forth in the Hindu tradition (which Stoeber himself considers to be the wisest course) then we must instead appeal to a purgatorial realm, understood as a state in which the unfinished growth and maturation of the individual may be remedied. Such a state, he argues, is “a necessary supposition of teleological theodicy” when we reflect on the suffering and death of innocent children in particular, for if “the tortured child is removed from the teleological scheme without the chance to realise the telos that justifies moral and natural evils of the world, then that theodicy fails. To suggest that the child simply passes away is to deny divine goodness. To suppose that the child is granted eternal life is to render divine providence arbitrary or elitist. And, in any case, both proposals imply that evil cannot be fully explained in terms of the teleology,” Evil and the Mystic’s God: Towards a Mystical Theodicy (University of Toronto Press, 1992), 169. See also John Hick, Evil and the God of Love (Harper, 1978).

10 Actually, two more. I have borrowed ‘Sanctification Model’ and ‘Satisfaction Model’ from him as well.

11 Here I understand ‘saving faith’ to be whatever sort of faith it is that distinguishes the elect from those devils who “believe and tremble” (Jas 2.19). I take it that such faith is identical to the ‘faith working through love’ (fides quae per dilectionem operatur) of which St Augustine spoke in his On Grace and Free Will 18-20, but nothing in my argument hangs on this particular formulation of it.

12 See St Augustine, City of God XXII.30. For a very enjoyable overview of the medieval discussion concerning the freedom and impeccability of the saints, see Simon Francis Gaine, Will There Be Free Will in Heaven? Freedom, Impeccability and Beautitude (T&T Clark: Continuum, 2003).

13 Barnard, “Purgatory and the Dilemma of Sanctification,” 325.

14 Ecumenical Council of Florence, Session 6.

15 Stoeber, Evil and the Mystic’s God, 167.

16 Barnard, “Purgatory and the Dilemma of Sanctification,” 326.

17 With respect to the proper interpretation of the Catholic dogma it is worth bearing in mind, as Linda Zagzebski (“Purgatory,” in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy [New York: Routledge, 1998], 838) has noted, that when the official teaching on purgatory was first hammered out at the Councils of Lyons (1274) and Florence (1439) it was done “with the intent of reconciling the Greek Christians,” who objected to much of what the legal and penal language in which the dogma is formulated tends prima facie to suggest. Given that the Eastern Orthodox mode of theological expression is much more ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ than ‘legal’ or ‘juridical’ – e.g., salvation understood in terms of deification as opposed to justification, purgatory seen as a process of growth and maturation as opposed to satisfaction and punishment, etc. – it seems reasonable to believe that the Catholic participants would not lightly have aggravated Greek sensibilities with respect to the content of the doctrine of purgatory being propounded.

18 Catechism of the Catholic Church §1472, emphasis in original; cf. §§1849-1850.

19 St Anselm, Cur Deus Homo I.11-15, 19-25. Cf. St Thomas, Summa Theologica, III, q. 48 art. 2, 4; q. 49 art. 3; q. 68 art. 5 and see also §§601-615 of the Catechism.

20 Catechism §1473.

21 Ibid.

22 Catechism §1472, emphasis in original.

23 Ibid.

24 Catechism §1459.

25 Catechism §1865.

26 Catechism §1459. Compare also St Thomas’s endorsement and explanation of the definition of satisfaction according to which “satisfaction is to uproot the causes of sins, and to give no opening to the suggestions thereof” in the Summa Theologica, Supp. III, q. 12 art. 3 (Fathers of the English Dominican Province): “By ‘causes’ we must understand the proximate causes of actual sin, which are twofold: viz. the lust of sin through the habit or act of a sin that has been given up, and those things which are called the remnants of past sin; and external occasions of sin, such as place, bad company and so forth. Such causes are removed by satisfaction in this life, albeit the ‘fomes’ [i.e. the ‘fuel’ of concupiscence, the effect of original sin], which is the remote cause of actual sin, is not entirely removed by satisfaction in this life though it is weakened.”

27 Catechism §1473. Also instructive in this connection is St Augustine’s distinction between the ‘remedial’ punishments of this life and of purgatory, suffered by those who haven’t completely subdued their carnal desires prior to the final judgment, and the non-‘purgatorial’ or eternal punishments of the wicked following the final judgment in hell; see City of God XXI.13, 15-16.

28 Catechism §1426, §1474.

29 Pope Benedict XVI, Encyclical Spe Salvi §§45-47.

30 Barnard, “Purgatory and the Dilemma of Sanctification,” 323.

31 See St Bonaventure’s remarks in St Roger Bellarmine, De Purgatorio IV, dist. 20, p. 1, a. 1, q. iv, as cited in the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on “Purgatory,” http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12575a.htm. The thought that purgatorial afflictions include uncertainty as to the final deliverance of the soul is represented, for example, in St John of the Cross: “This is the reason why those who lie in purgatory suffer great misgivings as to whether they will ever go forth from it and whether their pains will ever be over. For, although they have the habit of the three theological virtues – faith, hope and charity – the present realization which they have of their afflictions and of their deprivation of God allows them not to enjoy the present blessing and consolation of these virtues. For although they are able to realize that they have a great love for God … they cannot think that God loves them or that they are worthy that He should do so; rather, as they see that they are deprived of Him … they think that there is that in themselves which provides a very good reason why they should with perfect justice be abhorred and cast out by God forever. And thus, although the soul in this purgation is conscious that it has a great love for God … yet this is no relief to it, but rather brings it greater affliction … [when] it sees itself to be so wretched that it cannot believe that God loves it … [and] is grieved to see in itself reasons for deserving to be cast out by Him for Whom it has such great love and desire,” Dark Night of the Soul II.7, trans. E. Allison Peers (New York: Image Doubleday, 1990), 113-114.

32 I note that the truth of this claim may depend upon the acceptance of Molinism. Thanks to Tom Flint for calling this to my attention.

33 And, for that matter, there’s no reason to think departed souls couldn’t return the favor. So St Augustine, City of God XX.9. I realize of course that the efficacy of petitionary prayer, (this understanding of) the communion of the saints, and the existence of purgatory are all controversial assumptions. I myself am prepared to accept them, but all I ask of my readers is to allow them for the sake of discussion.

34 Pope John Paul II, General Audience, Wednesday, 29 September 1999, §§2-3.

35 Pope John Paul II, General Audience, Wednesday, 4 August 1999, §6.

36 Pope John Paul II, General Audience, Wednesday, 29 September 1999, §4.

37 To say nothing of the competence; why “the flame of Everlasting Love/doth burn ere it transform,” as Newman puts it, seems to me a question better left to the mystics.

38 St Catherine of Genoa, Treatise on Purgatory III.5, in The Christian Theology Reader, ed. Alister McGrath (Blackwell: Oxford, 1995), 360.

39 Thanks to Tom Flint and two anonymous referees for their helpful remarks on a pervious draft of this paper.




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