A recent question arose in a religious discussion, and it concerned the existence of Purgatory. While the only major Christian denomination which has an official doctrine of a place called Purgatory, most Eastern Rites acknowledge a place of “purification”; normally denoted by fire, either spiritual or physical. For the most part, the question among Protestants is mute, except within those denominations which hold the rope between Protestantism and Catholicism.
The question was raised when a Protestant who had began to read the Early Church Fathers, etc, questioned the theology of these Fathers due to the majority of the ones he had read mentioned a place of purification, prayer for the dead, trial and purification by fire, etc. To him, it proved that the theology of the Early Church was not as pure as it is today, and gave him further credence in his mind of the teachings of Luther, Calvin, etc. Also, he noted the prominence of praying for, and saying Mass for the dead. Of course, in his Protestant frame of mind – Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, as well as the belief that once you die you go straight Heaven, etc, that this was a pointless ritual and act, in fact, a waste of time, and even heretical – though he did not go as far as to call the Early Church Fathers heretical, he claimed that these teachings and beliefs is what lead the Roman Church, and even the East, to heresy, and away from salvation.
I am interested in responses, I thought it was an interesting question.