Devin Rose is a Catholic Apologist and Author from Austin, TX. His website is
Devin’s book “The Protestant Dilemma” is a best seller and must read for anyone who takes their faith seriously.

Here is the question posed to Devin Rose and his response:

I got a great response to my request for questions and plan to answer them over the next few months. Here is the first one:

“One question I have is in regard to purgatory. If the ultimate Truth that lies within the Christian faith is that Christ took our place and took our punishment that we deserve through the Cross and by that grace we are saved, how does purgatory fit in to all of that?

Doesn’t it in some way “de-value” the Cross? That there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation. I do understand that in my own studies w/ purgatory, the Bible speaks of “nothing unclean shall enter heaven” and so when we die most likely we are still attached to certain sins and thus can’t enter heaven & will be purified of these things in purgatory before entering Heaven.

But then does that mean our entire life we are striving to reach a point where if we do die we are completely holy & pure?”

Great question. You have the start of a good answer at the end of your email.

The first thing you say, in regard to the Atonement, is close to the “penal substitution” model that Protestants embrace. Catholics can accept this model to a degree, but it is not the full story, and Protestants take this idea too far. The Catholic Church teaches that Christ made an act of love to the Father that super abundantly atoned for all our sins. 

For Protestants, they say that, because of penal substitution, we have been declared to be pure and holy, even though we are not really pure and holy. Allegedly God when looking at us doesn’t see us in our filthiness but instead sees Christ and so declares in a legal way that we are not guilty.

Catholics believe that God actually makes us holy, by the Holy Spirit working in us, infused righteousness and not only imputed righteousness.

The Bible does say that only the pure in heart will see God. So either we are purified here on earth through our life of faith, hope, love, including sufferings united to Christ’s suffering, or we will be purified in Purgatory. Our choice to make.

But we will be purified one way or another. God does not wave a magic sanctification wand over us when we die. Either we cooperated with Him during our earthly lives to become sanctified, or we will complete the process in Purgatory.

Here’s a great article by my friends at Called to Communion that explains the Catholic vs. Protestant conceptions of the Atonement.

God bless,