From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles
At this point, the papists quote Augustine and some of the Fathers who are said to have written about purgatory. They think that we do not understand for what purpose and to what end they wrote as they did. St. Augustine does not write that there is a purgatory, nor does he cite Scripture that would have him believe there is, but leaves it in doubt whether there is one, and mentions that his mother asked to be remembered at the altar or Sacrament. Now, all this is nothing but the devotion of certain individuals. It does not establish an article of faith, which is the prerogative of God alone.
Pulling It Together: What is written? One must look to the Scripture, then to the Church Fathers, and only listen the Fathers when they have heard the Word. We might be satisfied with the notion of a purgatory if two matters could be settled. First, if the idea of a purgatory were established in Scripture, we could be persuaded to investigate this fictitious place further. For example, the word “trinity,” is not found anywhere in Scripture, yet the Trinity is found throughout (eg: Matt 28:19). We are not looking for the word “purgatory;” just show where this place is taught in Scripture. Second, if it were written about in Scripture, we could be enticed to consider further if faith were not countermanded by such a place. Works are required for release from purgatory. Mere faith in Christ would keep one out, if it existed.
Prayer: O Lord, give me faith from your Spirit working through your Word alone. Amen.
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