You can’t keep a good man down

2 04 2009


Some historical notes on the Catholic view of the afterlife

Recently, a challenge has been put to me to expound the Catholic position on such things as the Immaculate Conception, purgatory, the cult of the saints, etc., in the face of other people’s approaches to the same questions. I am not a theologian, nor do I strive to do theology on this blog. However, it seems to me, just from a historical standpoint, that to ask a question such as “how did the doctrine of purgatory develop?” is a bit strange. Did purgatory emerge all of a sudden in the fifth century, built by God at the behest of theologians and churchmen so that Catholic soteriology would make more sense? Did people have absolutely no concept of life after death in the Church, or did they believe that their prayers for the dead were nothing other than a hollow tradition to be preserved to maintain external form?
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