The Catholic Doctrine of the Second Chance

Purgatory is a Roman Catholic doctrine It is the final purification of all who die in God’s grace [Catholicism] but are still imperfectly purified. The doctrine is based the theory that people who die in the church but are not ‘perfected’ remain in a needful state of further purification until they have been totally purified and thence qualified to enter the holy presence of god. This work is done in Purgatory.  They say it is not so much a physical place as a state of being.

The length of time in purgatory depends on the amount of un-cleansed sin in the person at the time of death. All must go through this phase of pre-heaven, afterlife. The time one spends there is determined by the acts of the living.

The Catholic Church teaches that the fate of those in purgatory can be affected by the actions of the living, family, and friend of the dead. Its teaching is based also on the practice of prayer for the dead mentioned as far back as 2 Maccabees 12:42–46, considered by Catholics to be part of Sacred Scripture. [But not by the rest of Christianity]

To give the living access to the speed of this post death cleansing, there is the practice of indulgences. An indulgence is a remission before God, through the mediation of the Church, of the temporal punishment due to sins. Indulgences may be obtained for oneself, or on behalf of the dead. I guess one might be able to prepay purgatory.

Indulgences are taught to have the power of decreasing the “duration” of time the dead spend in purgatory. In the past, this has been a very scandalous practice, the indulgences and masses for the dead being paid for by the families of the deceased, often at very heavy cost to them.

Martin Luther’s rebellion and his 95 Theses came about by his distaste for the rampant selling of indulgences. Many of his 95 points were regarding this unbiblical, greedy practice. Read them at

What does the bible say about this? Well, nothing, really. They are part of the “traditions of men, not of God.

However, the Bible explodes in the glorious promises of salvation by grace – not works like indulgences and a cleansing period after death. It talks about being alive and being dead in Christ and being with him in heaven.  He went there to prepare mansions for his beloved church. He went there to greet us on death. The list goes on.

Now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 6:22-23 NKJV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Cor 5:17-19 NKJV

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; Ps 23:4-5 NKJV

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life, which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” Gal 2:20-21 NKJV

21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Phil 1:21-24 NKJV

3 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Col 3:1-4 NKJV 

And remember Paul said that to be out of body [die] is to be with Christ.