Does Purgatory Exist? (part 3)

On November 27, 2011, in Doctrines, by july

Click for part 1 or part 2

It is interesting to know that rational thinking is often superseded by emotions.  One’s reluctance to accept a worldview is not always an intellectual problem as much as it is an emotional one.  The debate on Purgatory has not really been an issue for me until somebody from our Bible Study group decided to raise the question.  In most cases, people are in need of intellectual permission to believe… and this series has provided just that.

I hope that in coming up with this post, I am able to represent both sides objectively and sufficiently.  In researching this issue, I find all too often that one side has been so reliant on emotions, frequently lambasting the other without really providing intellectual grounds for believing their view.  This is wrong.  For one, emotions can only do so much.  It cannot, in any way, bend the truth to anyone’s favor.  Truth is not an emotional matter but rather an intellectual one.

It is evident in Christianity and all other systems of belief that those who agree on one will disagree on another.  Those who agree that Jesus is God may disagree on the means of worship.  Those who agree that Baptism is biblical may disagree on how it should be administered.  Unity in belief does not mean uniformity in practice.  Unity of basis does not mean uniformity in interpretation.

It is interesting to know that almost nothing can be proved with a hundred percent certainty.  One cannot prove with complete certainty for example, that we exist in the real world.  Why cannot we be a brain stimulated by a mad scientist to think and believe that we exist in the real world? Why cannot you, for example, be an illusionary person, reading this illusionary article, coated with illusionary meaning, manifested in an illusionary world, created by an illusionary God? Such is possible.  But the question doesn’t stop there.  The next question to ask is, “Is it plausible?”

Having said that, one way of knowing the truth of a matter is by checking out competing explanations and subscribing to the one that provides the best explanatory power.  For example, Christians believe that God exists yet atheists say otherwise.  The best solution to resolve this tension is not to ignore the atheist and retreat to fundamentalism at the expense of reason.  Rather it is to assess the evidence for and against the existence of God and see which of the two views best represent reality.  Similarly, in assessing the existence or non existence of Purgatory, one must always ask, “Which of the views is the most plausible? Which view has the best explanatory power?” It is through this that one arrives at an intellectually satisfactory worldview.  Through this… we will know the truth… and Jesus was right in saying that the truth shall set us free.

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