Full Text for Church History 2- Volume 7 - The Origins of Purgatory (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED TEXT CHURCH HISTORY 02 May 27, 2005 07-CH2 ***** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communications Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. ***** >> PAUL: Professor Robinson, I have another question I'd like to ask. Luther also mentions purgatory in the 95 Theses. I know what Catholics believe about purgatory, but to me, it still seems like a strange doctrine. How did this belief arise, and how is it related to indulgences? >> DR. PAUL ROBINSON: That's a good question. And I guess my answer would be it's one of those kind of common sense things that people make up meaning this: the history of purgatory is really the history of people coming to grips with the fact that God is both just and merciful. The assumption is God in his justice has to punish sinners. But God is also merciful so he gives them the chance to do that. Purgatory is really a place in the afterlife where God gives people a second chance to do what needs to be done to get into heaven. Now, the idea, of course, is based on doing what needs to be done in order to get into heaven. And that is the problem that Luther will eventually have with this doctrine. But this was very commonly believed in the Middle Ages, and people constantly talked about purgatory. They feared purgatory. And had heard a lot of stories about people who went to purgatory, what it was like. If you think, for example, of Dante's �Divine Comedy,� it's in three parts. He has the inferno. He has purgatory. He has heaven. That's the way people thought of the afterlife in the Middle ages. Now, how is purgatory related to indulgences? Well, the indulgences take care of the penalties imposed in confession, as we already stated. People believed it was those penalties that they didn't do while on earth that they would have to do while in purgatory. So if during your life, you�re assigned a certain number of penalties in confession and you're not able to finish them all, you will be finishing them in purgatory. So the idea was if you bought an indulgence, you at least began to start over from that point in terms of your penalties and the time you have to spend in purgatory. So you begin to see how indulgences really touch on a lot of different aspects of what Christians believed in the late Middle Ages and how they got Luther to the very heart of the matter that had concerned him namely how is it that God saves people. Is it by a work, or is it by his divine grace?