The Evangelical Universalist Forum

The Biblical Basis For Purgatory And An Infinitely Heinous Punishment

“The Biblical Basis for Purgatory” is the best exegetical case for purgatory I’ve read. Not only does it exegete the many texts from the Bible but gives early church fathers who read the Bible the same way and the early saints and mystics who have experienced not only hell but purgatory. I would just depart a bit from the traditional view of purgatory and go along with Jerry Walls in that I believe that purgatory isn’t for Christians only. It’s for all those who haven’t committed the eternal sin. All blasphemies and all manner of sin will be forgiven in the past age and this age except for the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. This was a unique sin that could only be committed at the time of Jesus. Those who committed the sin crucified Jesus thereby committing the worst evil. God returned in 70 AD. to punish with torment forever and ever those who committed the eternal sin. Satan, his angels, and those that crucified Jesus.

Seeing that they committed the eternal sin then I also believe in an infinitely heinous punishment

St. Teresa of Avila: “On fire, and torn to pieces”

The great 16th century mystic and Doctor of the Church claims to have had this experience of hell:

“The entrance seemed to be by a long narrow pass, like a furnace, very low, dark, and close. The ground seemed to be saturated with water, mere mud, exceedingly foul, sending forth pestilential odors, and covered with loathsome vermin. At the end was a hollow place in the wall, like a closet, and in that I saw myself confined. […]

“I felt a fire in my soul. […] My bodily sufferings were unendurable. I have undergone most painful sufferings in this life… yet all these were as nothing in comparison with what I felt then, especially when I saw that there would be no intermission, nor any end to them. […]

“I did not see who it was that tormented me, but I felt myself on fire, and torn to pieces, as it seemed to me; and, I repeat it, this inward fire and despair are the greatest torments of all. […]

“I could neither sit nor lie down: there was no room. I was placed as it were in a hole in the wall; and those walls, terrible to look on of themselves, hemmed me in on every side. I could not breathe. There was no light, but all was thick darkness. […]

“I was so terrified by that vision – and that terror is on me even now while I am writing – that though it took place nearly six years ago, the natural warmth of my body is chilled by fear even now when I think of it. […]

“It was that vision that filled me with the very great distress…

This is discussed on the forum here:

Topic: Did the Church Fathers support the doctrine of purgatory?


I’m convinced the Bible teaches it. The lake of fire and the earthly Gehenna are two different contexts in the Bible. The Lake of fire is cast in an eternal context with the eternal new Jerusalem. Morover, St.Teresa of Avila was a very holy saint who had a vision of both hell and purgatory. I also see God’s character as being infinitely holy.

It is a proper and excellent thing for infinite glory to shine forth; and for the same reason, it is proper that the shining forth of God’s glory should be complete; that is, that all parts of his glory should shine forth, that every beauty should be proportionably effulgent, that the beholder may have a proper notion of God. It is not proper that one glory should be exceedingly manifested, and another not at all…

Thus it is necessary, that God’s awful majesty, His authority and dreadful greatness, justice, and holiness, should be manifested. But this could not be, unless sin and punishment had been decreed; so that the shining forth of God’s glory would be very imperfect, both because these parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the others do, and also the glory of His goodness, love, and holiness would be faint without them; nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all.

If it were not right that God should decree and permit and punish sin, there could be no manifestation of God’s holiness in hatred of sin, or in showing any preference, in His providence, of Godliness before it. There would be no manifestation of God’s grace or true goodness, if there was no sin to be pardoned, no misery to be saved from. How much happiness so ever He bestowed, His goodness would not be so much prized and admired…

So, evil is necessary, in order to the highest happiness of the creature, and the completeness of that communication of God, for which He made the world; because the creature’s happiness consists in the knowledge of God, and the sense of His love. And if the knowledge of Him be imperfect, the happiness of the creature must be proportionably imperfect. - Jonathan Edwards

The happiness here isn’t cruel and sadistic. As Edwards and Aquinas have stated: It’s not the suffering of those in hell in and of itself that the saints delight in but the glories of God’s love and justice. Aquinas and Edwards never taught a sadistic delight in the sufferings of those in hell. The saints delight in the suffering of those in hell only in the sense that the glory of God will appear in it. That being said the Bible teaches that all blasphemies and all manner of sin will be forgiven except the blasphemies of the Holy Spirit. Only those at the time of Jesus could have committed the eternal sin

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit has to do with accusing Jesus Christ of being demon-possessed instead of Spirit-filled. This particular type of blasphemy cannot be duplicated today. The Pharisees were in a unique moment in history: they had the Law and the Prophets, they had the Holy Spirit stirring their hearts, they had the Son of God Himself standing right in front of them, and they saw with their own eyes the miracles He did. Never before in the history of the world (and never since) had so much divine light been granted to men; if anyone should have recognized Jesus for who He was, it was the Pharisees. Yet they chose defiance. They purposely attributed the work of the Spirit to the devil, even though they knew the truth and had the proof. Jesus declared their willful blindness to be unpardonable. Their blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was their final rejection of God’s grace. They had set their course, and God was going to let them sail into perdition unhindered.

Those that committed the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit crucified the eternal God-Man. He was innocent. No greater evil has ever been committed. Seeing who Christ is, His rejection and crucifixion is a sin that is infinitely heinous and plausibly deserves infinite punishment.

You stated that those who crucified Jesus blasphemed “committing the worst sin” and thus will get the infinite punishment about which qaz inquired. Does this means that Jesus’ beseeching the Father to forgive them and recognize that they are ignorant was not an effective prayer by the Savior?



It was the Jews who blasphemed and crucified Jesus. When Jesus said “they know not what they do” he was speaking of the Romans. Jesus returned in 70 A.D. to Judge Israel. Hence, the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D.

In Acts 2 Peter delivers a sermon on the day of Pentecost, addressing the people of Israel. And Peter says to them, “Men of Israel…Hear these words…this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (vv. 22-23). In other words, Peter is telling the Jews that they were responsible for the crucifixion and death of Jesus.

Indeed, it was the Jews who put Jesus to death. As Paul confirms in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15, “For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets.”


The Jews committed blasphemy against the Spirit. They hated Christ and knew who he was. They crucified Him. Seeing who Christ is rejecting Him is a crime infinitely heinous and plausibly deserves infinite punishment.

“Every crime or fault deserves a greater or less punishment, in proportion as the crime itself is greater or less. If any fault deserves punishment, then so much the greater the fault, so much the greater is the punishment deserved. …so that if there be any such thing as a fault infinitely heinous, it will follow that it is just to inflict a punishment for it that is infinitely dreadful.

A crime is more or less heinous, according as we are under greater or less obligations to the contrary. This is self-evident; because it is herein that the criminalness or faultiness of any thing consists, that it is contrary to what we are obliged or bound to, or what ought to be in us. So the faultiness of one being hating another, is in proportion to his obligation to love him. The crime of one being despising and casting contempt on another, is proportionably more or less heinous, as he was under greater or less obligations to honour him. The fault of disobeying another, is greater or less, as any one is under greater or less obligations to obey him. And therefore if there be any being that we are under infinite obligations to love, and honour, and obey, the contrary towards him must be infinitely faulty.

Our obligation to love, honour, and obey any being, is in proportion to his loveliness, honourableness, and authority; for that is the very meaning of the words. When we say any one is very lovely, it is the same as to say, that he is one very much to be loved. Or if we say such a one is more honourable than another, the meaning of the words is, that he is one that we are more obliged to honour. If we say any one has great authority over us, it is the same as to say, that he has great right to our subjection and obedience.

But God is a being infinitely lovely, because he hath infinite excellency and beauty. To have infinite excellency and beauty, is the same thing as to have infinite loveliness. He is a being of infinite greatness, majesty, and glory; and therefore he is infinitely honourable. He is infinitely exalted above the greatest potentates of the earth, and highest angels in heaven; and therefore he is infinitely more honourable than they. His authority over us is infinite; and the ground of his right to our obedience is infinitely strong; for he is infinitely worthy to be obeyed himself, and we have an absolute, universal, and infinite dependence upon him.

So that sin against God, being a violation of infinite obligations, must be a crime infinitely heinous, and so deserving of infinite punishment.- Nothing is more agreeable to the common sense of mankind, than that sins committed against any one, must be proportionably heinous to the dignity of the being offended and abused…” ~~ Jonathan Edwards

It’s used in law. Killing a blade of grass isn’t as bad as killing a cat and killing a cat isn’t as bad as killing a human. The worst evil ever committed was the killing of the Son of God. We see this because of who Christ is being infinite in value and worth.

During the first half of the twentieth century, under the influence of social scientists, retributive theories of justice were frowned upon in favor of consequentialist theories. Fortunately, there has been, over the last half-century or so, a renaissance of theories of retributive justice, accompanied by a fading of consequentialist theories, so that we need not be distracted by the need to justify a retributive theory of justice. ~~ William Lane Craig, The Atonement pp. 68-69

Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich: “No one could behold without trembling”

Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich lived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in the Holy Roman Empire. She was a mystic who claimed to have had visions of all sorts of spiritual things. Here is an excerpt of one of her visions of hell:

“The exterior of Hell was appalling and frightful; it was an immense, heavy-looking building, and the granite of which it was formed, although black, was of metallic brightness; and the dark and ponderous doors were secured with such terrible bolts that no one could behold them without trembling.

“Deep groans and cries of despair might be plainly distinguished even while the doors were tightly closed; but, O, who can describe the dreadful yells and shrieks which burst upon the ear when the bolts were unfastened and the doors flung open; and, O, who can depict the melancholy appearance of the inhabitants of this wretched place! […]

“[A]ll within it is, on the contrary, close, confused, and crowded; every object tends to fill the mind with sensations of pain and grief; the marks of the wrath and vengeance of God are visible everywhere; despair, like a vulture, gnaws every heart, and discord and misery reign around. […] In the city of Hell nothing is to be seen but dismal dungeons, dark caverns, frightful deserts, fetid swamps filled with every imaginable species of poisonous and disgusting reptile. […]

“[I]n Hell, perpetual scenes of wretched discord, and every species of sin and corruption, either under the most horrible forms imaginable, or represented by different kinds of dreadful torments. All in this dreary abode tends to fill the mind with horror; not a word of comfort is heard or a consoling idea admitted; the one tremendous thought, that the justice of an all-powerful God inflicts on the damned nothing but what they have fully deserved is the absorbing tremendous conviction which weighs down each heart.

“Vice appears in its own, grim disgusting colors, being stripped of the mask under which it is hidden in this world, and the infernal viper is seen devouring those who have cherished or fostered it here below. In a word, Hell is the temple of anguish and despair…”

She was a holy mystic with moral integrity. To say she was lying goes against conscience. She was also in good mental health.

Because I’ve researched it and looked into it. You might want to research it yourself. Research the mystics and saints and their experiences and visions of hell and purgatory. Especially look into St. Teresa of Avilla and her writings. Calling God’s children liars is something I’m not going to do.

Usually, somebody in authority has to investigate this. In the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox tradition, it is bishops appointed by the appropriate church. And psychiatrists and medical doctors from the church…who work in conjunction, with the appointed bishops.

Yes. She has passed the tests and investigation, of the Roman Catholic Church.

That’s what I meant Randy. I meant to look into the processes that they use to determine sainthood of the mystics and credibility.

Se has been investigated by experts. Moreover, it’s in agreement with what the church has always taught. And it agrees with Edwards argument that I gave above about how hatred of Christ is an infinite sin that plausibly deserves infinite punishment. I gave his argument and you responded to one of his statements about how it’s common sense that different types of being have different value. I showed how it is common sense. You still haven’t responded to the argument. Her vision is consistent with what Edwards taught. All the saints and mystics visions of hell are.

My impression is that you are quick to accuse many brothers on this Christian forum of holding views that are lies, and of much worse. But when qaz questions whether a mystic’s fantastical vision of the afterlife that goes far beyond Scripture is binding, you suggest he is doing something immoral. Everyone else’s visions have never been deemed authoritative in many Christian traditions.

And the children at Fatima also had a vision of hell that was rigorously investigated. They have recently been canonized into sainthood.

Near the town of Fátima, Portugal, a small, rural town about 90 miles north of Lisbon, a miracle appeared to three peasant children, Lucia dos Santos and her two cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto.

The first message received at Fatima was this horrifying vision of Hell:

The first part of the Secret was a horrifying vision of hell “where the souls of poor sinners go” and contained an urgent plea from Our Lady for acts of prayer and sacrifice to save souls.

In her Memoirs, Sister Lucy (Lucy Dos Santos) describes the vision of hell that Our Lady showed the children at Fátima:

“She opened Her hands once more, as She had done the two previous months. The rays [of light] appeared to penetrate the earth, and we saw, as it were, a vast sea of fire. Plunged in this fire, we saw the demons and the souls [of the damned]. The latter were like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, having human forms. They were floating about in that conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames which issued from within themselves, together with great clouds of smoke. Now they fell back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fright (it must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me). The demons were distinguished [from the souls of the damned] by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals. That vision only lasted for a moment, thanks to our good Heavenly Mother, Who at the first apparition had promised to take us to Heaven. Without that, I think that we would have died of terror and fear.”

Sorry Bob. I’m going along with the interpretation of the Bible of the holy saints. In speaking of a Sovereign God Talbott made this comment:

“I will not worship such a God, and if such a God can send me to hell for not so worshipping him, then to hell I will go”

That’s insane. And Cavinism isn’t the only theology that believes in predestination. Peter Kreeft (Ph.D) is a philosopher and Catholic Apologist. He has won many awards in philosophical reasoning and has an excellent article in the “Handbook of Catholic Apologetics” that I would TOTALY agree with:

Predestination and free will: Paradox

The difference between Protestants and Catholics on this issue is not that one believes in predestination while the other believes in free will…The difference is that Catholics believe in mystery and paradox and therefore embrace both halves of this paradox.

God is both one and three, both just and merciful, both transcendent and immanent. Christ is both human and divine. So is the church. So is the Bible. We are both good and evil. The world is both beautiful and fallen. We are immersed in paradoxes. So we are both predestined and free. Augustine and Aquinas, the two greatest Christian minds of all time, both strongly affirm both parts of this paradox. How they explain it is secondary. - Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli, Handbook of Catholic Apologetics, page 430.

Kreeft here isn’t speaking of double predestination but predestination of the elect. The non-elect freely reject God and are passed over by God as Aquinas calls them they are reprobated. They stay evil forever and are punished forever - according to this view. The issue is how we define “FREE WILL”. R.C. Sproul believes in “FREE WILL” just not libertarian free will.

G.K. Chesterton was a brilliant writer. Nobody exploits the power of paradox like Chesterton. I heartily recommend his book orthodoxy. Chesterton did all he did to keep from becoming a Calvinist, and instead made me a romantic one - a happy one. The poetic brightness of his book, along with C.S. Lewis awakened in me an exuberance about the strangeness of all things, which in the end made me able to embrace the imponderable paradoxes of God’s decisive control of all things and the total justice of his holding us accountable. One of the reasons Calvinism is stirring today is that it takes both truth and mystery seriously. Read Orthodoxy…This book will awaken such a sense wonder in you that you will not feel at home again until you enter the new world of the wide eyed children called the happy Reformed…How can I not give thanks for this jolly Catholic whose only cranky side seemed to be his clouded views of happy Calvinists! - John Piper, A Godward Heart, pp. 79-82

Research it qaz.

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Here’s what I shared on visions, on another forum thread here:

And let me add this P.S. Neither the Eastern Orthodox Church nor the Roman Catholic Church…would give credence to any Christian vision…that violates Sacred Tradition or Holy Scripture.

No. I see no difference, between the visions of Emmanuel Swedenborg and those of the zombie visionaries. What visions need, is experts in visions - to declare if they are real or not. And what they mean.

For the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches…

They are investigated by bishops…as well as medical doctors and psychiatrists of the church…who specialize in these things.

In the Native American world, it would be the tribal holy and medicine people.

Holy People are akin to the saints, of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. Medicine people specialize in spiritual and herbal healing. Holy People are akin to the
saints, of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. Medicine people specialize in spiritual and herbal healing.

Outside of these avenues, what are the qualifications…for those evaluating the visions and visionaries? And there are questions to ask. Normally, for the EO and RC churches - they put things into 3 categories:

  • They are from God
  • Demonic activity
  • Natural Causes

For the Native Americans, they consult the spirits on these matters. In the book, Christ and the Pipe…by a Roman Catholic author…he talks about spirits of heaven, hell, and the earth. So the Natives consult the spirits of the earth.

Each body (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Native American tribes)…have their own experts, to uncover the validity - of visions and visionaries.

Academics - for all their research ability…sometimes don’t know enough, to come in - out of the rain!


I believe they are from God because they agree with what the church has always taught and they agree with Edwards argument that hating Christ is an infinitely heinous sin that plausibly requires infinite justice. Aquinas made the same argument.

Like I told Randy

I believe they are from God because they agree with what the church has always taught and they agree with Edwards argument that hating Christ is an infinitely heinous sin that plausibly requires infinite justice. Aquinas made the same argument. It fits with what we know about reality.