Purgatory and Theories of a “Second Chance”

Jerry L. Walls

in Purgatory

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199732296
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918492 | DOI:
Purgatory and Theories of a “Second Chance”

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The doctrine of purgatory from its earliest days has served the purpose of providing theological grounds for extending the hope of salvation to a wider range of persons. In its traditional form, however, it has not been understood as a second chance for salvation after death, but rather, only as chance for postmortem transformation and purging for persons who die in grace. Nevertheless, it is often popularly understood as a second chance to obtain salvation. This chapter explores the connections between the traditional doctrine of purgatory and theories of postmortem salvation. It cites several theologians who have construed purgatory in those terms, and argues that the traditional view should be modified to allow for postmortem conversion.

Keywords: hope; second chance; Dante; Trajan; death bed repentance; postmortem conversion; infant salvation; optimal grace

Chapter.  16368 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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