Purifying Fire or Judgement?

Comment: According to the Catholic explanation we are purified through fire and not through Christ.

Response: No, you are misunderstanding. All purification is “through Christ” in a universal or global theological sense. But He uses various methods to purify or discipline us. We are not making this up. The idea of fire as a purifier comes directly from Sacred Scripture.

Below are scriptures supporting the idea of fire as a purifier and the commenter’s interpretation to the contrary.

Matthew 3:11 “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Baptism and fire are cleansing)

Commenter‘s Interpretation: Matthew 3:11 baptism of fire is Jesus’ judgment on the unjust cast into the lake of fire

Matthew 3:12“His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Commenter‘s Interpretation: Matthew 3:12 also refers to judgment of fire

Mark 9:49 “For everyone will be salted with fire.

Commenter’s Interpretation: Mark 9:49 once again God’s eternal judgment

1 Corinthians 3:13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.

1 Corinthians 3:15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Commenter’s Interpretation: 1 Cor. 3:11, 15 refers to the testing of the genuiness of our faith on earth as to whether it is true or just mirage (see 1 Peter 1:7 below)

Response: That is your interpretation but the problem with it is that faith is not what is being talked about in the context of these verses. What is tested is: works.
I Cor. 3:13 specifically says,”his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.

I Corinthians 3:3- 14 Are you not acting like mere men? 4For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?

5What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

10By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

1 Peter 1:7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

Jude 1:22-24 Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

Commenter’s Interpretation:Jude 1:22-24 refers to how we are to witness to others. Whether it be with mercy or with drastic measures.

Response: I agree with your interpretation here but in addition to that, we see it as aiding those in Purgatory with our prayers.

Commenter’s Interpretation:None of the above verses you listed refer to a purification by fire, on the contrary they refer to a judgment by fire.

Response: But you see, that is your interpretation. We interpret it differently. So, both of our interpretations support our theology. The difference is that our interpretation has a much more ancient pedigree than yours. I want to follow Jesus and His apostles and what they taught. And for me the best way to do that is to find out what the very first Christians believed and how they might have interpreted these verses.


4 Responses to Purifying Fire or Judgement?

  1. Wesley says:

    First, I am not a Catholic, rater a reformed charismatic evangelical. However, I come here because I am studying this very thing now.
    Luke 3:16 “John answered, and said to them all, Indeed I baptize you with water, but one stronger than I, cometh, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose: he will baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.”
    Now, is there found a single time in the Holy Scripture that a baptism in unbenificial to the recipient? Not that I have found.
    In the natural, water can cleanse, but fire can purify! Water takes away what is unclean on the outside and fire can take away that which is in the inner depths, as in purifying a metal. I see this very thing being revealed in James 4:8 “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purge your hearts, ye double minded.” Representing external behavior and inner thoughts, motives, and desires of the heart, respectively.
    Reference Luke 24:32 “And they said between themselves, Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and when he opened to us the Scriptures?” I see this passage shows the very action of baptism of fire taking place in Cleopas and his comrade. Jesus is not condemning these two as unjust and casting them into a lake of fire. Rather he is burning away the unpure in their hearts while in there presence, opening the Scriptures to them, giving them understanding unto all that is Holy!

  2. ola says:

    what can make a man work to burn when tested with fire

  3. Anonymous says:

    Whatever we sow we reap… especially during the time we accepted the “challenge” of doing what it takes to be able to cross-over to “God’s side”. When the “Narrow Road” is revealed to us, we will be humiliated, persecuted, mocked, criticized, tempted, flattered… but it gives us a chance to forgive, and react graciously so that all our sins will also be forgiven. This is the process that purifies us until all those trials and temptations will not affect us anymore. This is the moment that is said to be like passing through the spiritual birth canal, where we come out as a new creature, new-born baby… purged.

  4. Anonymous says:

    “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

    Means our sins will be purged so thoroughly that we ourselves cannot remember that we have committed them.

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