Blog 113: 3.5.9 - 3.5.10
Yet more on purgatory; Calvin really does not like this absurd doctrine and takes up a passage, the interpretation of which has bothered folk in our time in an entirely different manner. What did Paul mean by saying that some will be saved "but only as through fire" (1 Cor.3: 15)? Those who minimize sanctification as evidence of true conversion in our time have employed this text to suggest that we can take Jesus as Savior and be saved without submitting to the demands of his Lordship. Medieval Catholicism viewed it as evidence of purgatory.
In embattled spirit, Calvin asks if his opponents think that Paul had to endure purgatory? And if so, what assurance do we have that they have made it through to the beatific vision? And if not, how come their merits accrue to the deficiencies of the rest? Calvin's exegesis of the passage is masterful.
As for prayers for the dead (in purgatory) Calvin argues that neither Scripture nor the early church advocate any such thing. Whence, therefore, its origin? And here Calvin touches on a raw-nerve: it is yet again an example of man's irrepressible default of a works-righteousness mentality for it provides yet another example of how salvation may be attributable to human merit. In the end, every false religion is a variation on self-justification.