This post is a solicitation for help. One of Forsyth’s more interesting and contentious notions is what fundamentally amounts to a Protestant reappraisal of purgatory. He suggests that ‘We threw away too much when we threw purgatory clean out of doors. We threw out the baby with the dirty water of its bath’, and he remains convinced that ‘there are more conversions on the other side than on this’.
In the coming months, I plan to do some thinking about this conviction of Forsyth’s , and about purgatory and its Protestant versions more generally.
I am aware of, but have not yet read, Hendrikus Berkhof’s, Well-Founded Hope (I’m keen to hear from anyone who has read this), and Jürgen Moltmann’s discussion in The Coming of God: Christian Eschatology. I am also conversant with the fine study by Geoffrey Rowell, Hell and the Victorians, and some of the support for at least a modified version of the doctrine by George McDonald, Donald Bloesch, Gabriel Fackre, Stephen Davis, and a spattering of odd references here and there.
But what else (books/articles) should I be reading?
‘On the next day, as had now become necessary, Judas and his men went to take up the bodies of the fallen and to bring them back to lie with their kindred in the sepulchres of their ancestors. Then under the tunic of each one of the dead they found sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. And it became clear to all that this was the reason these men had fallen. So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous judge, who reveals the things that are hidden; and they turned to supplication, praying that the sin that had been committed might be wholly blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened as the result of the sin of those who had fallen. He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, so that they might be delivered from their sin’. (2 Maccabees 12:39-45)