A friend recently asked me about purgatory and helped me organize my thoughts regarding it. Purgatory has always been those topics I skirted around because of sensitivities that revolve around a dogma which I do not want to run over with my karma. :-D
A time comes, however, when one has to give a definitive answer.
Purgatory is an offshoot of classical Roman Catholic ideas which assume we need to be fully sanctified (i.e., free of sin) before being justified (i.e., declared not guilty in the ultimate supreme court of the universe). The question that arises out of that assumed divine workflow is what happens to those who died not fully cleansed of their sins. So a need for an “in-between” place is required to complete that “cleansing” process before someone is finally allowed into heaven. The biblical data has pointed to a reverse workflow which begins with justification: we are declared right before God when we come to Jesus in faith and then sanctification follows. That presupposition, which many protestants adhere to, does not require purgatory or an “in-between” place since the only prerequisite to entry into God’s presence (justification) has already taken place.
So then let the debates begin.
My take on purgatory, however, can put everyone in a loop…
1. It is real
2. It is NOW
3. It is a safe place
Sanctification is an integral part in our journey of faith and has been downplayed for a while among in the Reformed faith as an overreaction to the Roman Catholic preoccupation with it (which eventually devolved into a grand extortion scam fleshed out in the Indulgences which both Martin Luther and Jose Rizal were critical of). Nevertheless, the process of sanctification is not to be left out in the classical salvation scheme of things (…justification-sanctification-glorification…). It is to say then, that if you are being sanctified (i.e., cleansed and purged of your sins) then you are in purgatory—NOW.
To be in God's hand for him to cleanse you of sin is the safest place to be; which is to say as well that if the Roman Catholics are right about purgatory as an in-between place on the way to heaven, then it is as good as heaven! After all, what's so fearful about being in God's bathroom (okay, how about the shower before you are allowed into the swimming pool?)?!!
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son" (Hebrews 12:5b-6 NIV).