Doesn't the blood of Jesus cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness?
Absolutely. It is entirely correct to say that Christ accomplished all of our salvation for us on the cross. But that does not settle the question of how this redemption is applied to us. Scripture reveals that it is applied to us over the course of time through, among other things, the process of sanctification through which the Christian is made holy. Sanctification is an ongoing process. Sanctification involves suffering (Rom. 5:3–5), and purgatory is the final stage of sanctification that some of us need to undergo before we enter heaven. Purgatory is the final phase of Christ’s applying to us the purifying redemption that he accomplished for us by his death on the cross.
I understand your position (or at least I'm arrogant enough to think I do), but....
You didn't quite answer my question. You say that Christ's blood accomplished salvation. While I agree, that wasn't what I asked. I asked if it cleanses us from ALL unrighteousness.
You see...if the purpose for purgatory is to cleanse us in preparation for heaven...
And if the blood of Jesus really cleanses us, rather than just covers us...
Well then...Purgatory is a bit superfluous, dontcha think?
I believe that I have answered this question. Purgatory is simply the place where already saved souls are cleansed of the temporal effects of sin before they are allowed to see the holy face of Almighty God. Revelation 21:27 tells us that "...nothing unclean will enter [Heaven]."
That there are temporal effects of sin is obvious when one considers that even those who have been baptized, who have a deep and intimate relationshp with Jesus, who are the "elect" or "the saved/being saved," or what have you, are subject to pain, work, death and sickness.
The best way to understand the idea of already being forgiven but still having to be cleansed of the temporal effects of sin is by analogy: imagine you are the parent of a 7-year old child who steals a candy bar from the local grocery. The child is repentant, in tears, sobbing his apologies. You, being the good parent (as God, our Father is!) forgive that child and love him and show him your mercy. But being a good parent means that you are also just and will expect that child to pay back the store. Purgatory is God's way of forgiving us, loving us, showing us His mercy and justice -- and making us "pay back the store." Can you imagine what would happen to the child of a parent who never expected that child to "pay back the store" (especially when that same parent believed also that there was nothing that child could do to become "disinherited," as in the "once saved, always saved" doctrine)? As always, the best way to understand Catholic doctrine is to think of God as the wisest, most loving, most merciful, and most just Father that we can possibly envision.
Purgatory is His way of ensuring that Revelation 21:27 is true and that nothing unclean will see Heaven. It is only through Christ's sacrifice that we are shown this mercy! It is Christ and Christ alone Who allows us access to the Father.
It amazes me that such a topic would cause a major debate. Even if one looks at the Catechism of the Catholic Church, only three paragraphs are devoted to it.http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P2N.HTM
I think that some Protestants have given it something of a mystique that simply isn't there. The Church teaches that purgatory is the final purification, but not that it occurs in any special region in the afterlife. Just as we do not know how time works in the afterlife -- meaning that purgatory may take no time -- we also do not know how space works in the afterlife, especially for unembodied souls -- meaning purgatory may not take place in any special location.
Purgatory is not a middle state between heaven and hell. This perhaps encourages the Protestant to think of it as not only a distinct region of the afterlife (something the Church does not teach) but, even worse, that purgatory is a middle destiny between heaven and hell. This it totally false, and it should be emphasized quite strenuously that everyone who goes to purgatory goes to heaven. In fact, the reason one goes to purgatory is so that one can be fitted for life in heaven. Purgatory thus constitutes the cloakroom of heaven, the place you go to get spiffed up before being ushered into the Throne Room.
As I look at the various threads pertaining to Catholic issues, it is becoming clear to me what I think may be the problem. I think that Protestants often feel (as I know because I was one) that Catholics place as much emphasis on given doctrines as Protestant anti-Catholic literature does. Thus, for example, when a Protestant thinks about a Catholic, he will more often think of him as someone which believes in purgatory rather than someone which believes in the Trinity, and he can mistakenly slip into thinking that purgatory is a more important doctrine to a Catholic than the Trinity.
Thus, because Protestant anti-Catholic polemics focus on areas of (real or perceived) disagreement with Catholics, these areas assume a greater prominence in the Protestant's mind and buys into a distorted view of how important given doctrines are to Catholics. Thus Protestants often imagine Catholicism is a religion of nothing but saints and statues and beads and works and penances and purgatory and suffering and a whole host of minor issues.
In doing this, they are straining at gnats but swallowing camels, missing "the weightier matters" of the Catholic faith and realizing what is more important to Catholics than not. Catholicism is in actuality a religion of God and Christ and the Trinity and redemption and forgiveness and faith and grace and joy, as illustrated by the fact that if you go to Mass and simply listen to the Church's official prayers, you hear a lot more about God and Christ and grace and joy than you do about saints and statues and beads and purgatory.
If anyone thinks differently, then there isn't much I can do and these discussions prove pointless.