I began this post earlier but it turned into a different one. So now I get to try again.
Romans 14:17 – For the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
The kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink. I made a note in my Bible – “Things that satisfy the flesh – of what value are they in the kingdom of God?” I was actually thinking more internally while this passage is really dealing with the community of believers. Why do we become consumed with minor differences of interpretation and battle over them? Very good question.
It seems that we have trouble distinguishing between primary matters of theology and secondary or tertiary matters. Or maybe we disagree on what is a primary matter of theology. I believe this was the case in a recent email discussion I had about purgatory. I see this as a primary point of theology because my understanding of purgatory is that it eliminates the need for the saving grace of Jesus. Maybe my understanding is wrong on the matter.
1030 – All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.
1031 – The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:
As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.
–The Catholic Catechism
I am sure even my understanding of this will be flawed but it does indeed make me think, which my Catholic friend will be happy to know (sometimes she thinks that I do not “hear” her words but my mind is always processing). In this part of the Catechism talking about purgatory, I do not fully understand the “still imperfectly purified” statement. Did Jesus die for all of the sins of the elect? If He did then even the sins we have not yet committed are forgiven. And this brings me to the logical conclusion that Jesus sees me as perfectly purified.
Now what are alternative methods for seeing this question and statement on purgatory?
But I must also ask an entirely different question based upon 1031. What are the purifying fires that scripture talks about? I will select this verse from Zechariah because this was one I used in the past. But just as a reference, the Catholic doctrine uses verses such as 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, 1 Peter 1:7, and Matthew 18:34-35 among others to define their view of purgatory.
Then I will bring the remaining third into the fire;
I will refine them like silver is refined
and will test them like gold is tested.
They will call on my name and I will answer;
I will say, ‘These are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’
I have not had enough time to delve into all the scripture references and review them contextually. It is just an open question in my mind that I will continue to research and study (in my spare time).
Since the kingdom of God does consist of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, I submit this olive branch of peace to my friend.