Protestant Purgatory?

Discussion in 'Revelation & Eschatology' started by monoergon, Feb 21, 2015.

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  1. monoergon

    monoergon Puritan Board Freshman

    Objective of this thread: refute the interpretation of those that utilize various verses to support protestant purgatory, also known as dispensational punishment or millennial/kingdom exclusion.

    Description:

    Based on the teaching of men such as Robert Govett, G.H. Lang and others, Watchman Nee and Witness Lee developed a theology that affirms, among other things, the following (source):

    Then, they finally arrive at:

    Dispensational punishment / millennial or kingdom exclusion / protestant purgatory

    They believe that within God's elect, some are overcomers/victorious over their sins and others are carnal. Therefore, carnal Christians will be cast into the outer darkness (Mt 8:12) for a literal 1,000 years after the Great Tribulation. Here are the purgatorial verses they use (source):

    Mt 18:9 And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

    Mark 9:43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.

    Mt 18:34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

    Mt 18:9 And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

    Mark 9:43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.

    Mt 18:34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

    Mt 8:12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    Mt 22:13 Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

    Mt 25:30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    Mt 13:42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    Luke 13:28 There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.

    Mt 24:51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    Luke 12:46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.


    Necessity of refutation: Making a long story short, I came to believe in the doctrines of grace a little over one year ago. Then I began studying reformed literature. Before I leave my non-denominational church, which is teaching everything above (including Partial Rapture), I am going to write a refutation to Millennial Exclusion/Protestant Purgatory and I am going to hand it to my pastor with hopes that the Lord will open his understanding of scriptures and free him from these false doctrines. Then I am moving to a Presbyterian church.

    Refutation:
    There are too many variables, in the verses above, that require a good amount of theological knowledge in order to be exegeted with aims to refute their equivocated interpretation.
    1. Does anyone know any articles or books that refute the purgatorial or punishment interpretation of the verses cited above?
    2. Can anyone give me some guidance on refuting these teachings?
     
  2. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Brother Nathan,
    This reply is in answer to your PM request to give some help here.

    My approach, if I were in your shoes, might be much simpler than you propose. I would respectfully say to one who asked, "This view is, to my mind, indistinguishable, in its fundamental premise, from the Roman Catholic belief in Purgatory. I cannot believe this doctrine, because Purgatory is a long refuted error, and this view partakes of the same error. It is a serious error, and I cannot support it, and others like it." You might offer him a tract (not a Chick-Tract, please) that exposes the falsehood of Roman Purgatory.

    As you point out, this view (that you have explained above) repurposes certain verses to this peculiar end. I could point out that many of the verses cited come from parables: which are not passages intended to teach many and varied truths drawn from details of a pointed and culturally conditioned illustration.

    But I'm guessing that there is a whole "system" of interpretation in which the Scripture-twisting makes sense to those promoting the view. For this reason, I do not think that detailed counter-exegesis of the verses will supply a better solution than simply pointing out the comparative similarity of the actual views of this sect and the Romanist. There are clear passages that teach one final, second-coming of Christ, at the end of time, and the accompanying general resurrection.

    Heb.9:27 "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." The notion that there could be additional substantive labors between those two clauses to shoehorn proposals alleged out of other passages needlessly complicates one of the clearest passages in the Bible on the subject. Other tactics characterize the dispensationally driven hermeneutic, including parsing which parts of Scripture have to do with different sorts of people, living in different times. All this is a diversion from the simple truth that Christ is the master key to understanding the whole Bible. The Bible is not a puzzle to be solved.

    Impressive exegetical arguments will not change your pastor's mind. But a simple statement that you cannot accept a Purgatory-doctrine, or other views that turn the plain meaning of Scripture into a complex road-map of sorts--as presently taught in the church you are in--force you to leave: perhaps God would be pleased to use that to crack the wall of confusion in the pastor's mind.

    But I see a more important issue nearer to your heart. You want to leave a "teaching" on your way out the door; but by your own admission you are not apt to teach this subject. What you might leave with your former brothers by way of refutation is not likely to impress them; but it does say, "I'm smarter than you; that's why I'm leaving." In fact, the knowledge you have is Grace, for "what do you have that you did not receive?"

    Brother Nathan, you are a sheep, even a lamb of Christ's flock. He has gone out into the wilds and found you, and now he is standing ahead of you and beckoning you to come toward him, to come toward where you will be safe in his fold, and properly cared for, fed, taught the good and right way. At least, be more carefully taught than in your last home.

    I don't think your best move is to drop a paper on your recent pastor, and piously pray that God "use it" to bring him light. The simple conviction of what you are already sure of will be (I daresay) a far stronger and humbler message, should you be summoned to give a reason for the hope that is in you. In our faith, the true Christian faith, Grace rather than Law is the strength. Watchman Nee and others like him try making Law the strength it can never be.

    That's my :2cents: even if it isn't as much of what you were asking for. But I hope and pray it is helpful for you as you make a transition to a better church-home.
     
  3. monoergon

    monoergon Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you so much Rev. Bruce for the brotherly advice. I did not think about the consequence of leaving my church congregation by way of refuting its equivocations. I also agree and will follow your advice; I could simply mention that I don't agree with "dispensational punishment" (protestant purgatory) and then humbly leave.
     
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