Saturday, September 11, 2010

The History of Purgatory

I have wondered where the Roman Catholic church got the doctrine of purgatory from.  While I was reading The Story of Christianity, Vol. I, by Justo L. Gonzalez, I ran across this:

... Gregory* "the Great."  He was also a prolific writer whose works were very influential throughout the Middle Ages.  In these writings, he did not seek to be original or creative.  On the contrary, his greatest pride was not to say anything that had not been held by the great teachers of earlier centuries, particularly Saint Augustine.  To him, it sufficed to be a disciple of the great bishop of Hippo, a teacher of his teachings.  But in spite of such wishes, there was a chasm between Gregory and his admired Augustine.  Gregory lived in a time of obscurantism, superstition, and credulity, and to a degree he reflected his age.  By making Augustine an infallible teacher, he contradicted the spirit of that teacher, whose genius was, at least in part, in his inquiring spirit and venturesome mind.  What for Augustine was conjecture, in Gregory became certainty.  Thus, for instance, the theologian of Hippo had suggested the possibility that there was a place of purification for those who died in sin, where they would spend some time before going to heaven.  On the basis of these speculations of Augustine, Gregory affirmed the existence of such a place, and thus gave impetus to the development of the doctrine of purgatory. 

*He was the bishop of Rome at this time in about 540 A.D.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Living In God's Will

This question seems to plague good, well-meaning Christians.  The most we ever seem to grasp of this idea is a vague feeling that we are "where God wants us," whatever that means.

The good news is - is you are probably living in God's will right now.  So, what is God's will?  First, let's go with the basics.  1) If we are going to sum up God's law it's "love the Lord God will all of your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself." When we are saved we are then free to love God.  And we know if we run roughshod over the Ten Commandments, that's not doing God's will.   2) We know we are commissioned to share the gospel.

But what do we do?  We are saved to serve our neighbor.  This is our responsibility, dear brother and sister in Christ:  Look at I Thessalonians 4 (which my ESV heads up with 'A Life Pleasing to God') verse 11-12. 
...and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one...  If you are doing these things, you are living in God's will.  

It's easier than you thought, isn't it?

The above is living in God's will, I'd like to add one more verse about the work of God.  In John 6:28-29 when the people ask Jesus "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?"  Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."