In Orthodoxy, the point of hell is not for God to get back at you. Hell is the unpreparedness to receive God's glory--hence, God is perceived as a burning fire. This is stated in certain Eucharistic prayers, as well as the Fathers, notably St. Mark of Ephesus. The idea that God will burn away all our bad works, but then save what is left of the person, is to be found in 1 Cor. 3:15, and it refers to hell after the last judgment, not to the intermediate state. So Orthodx hell is similar to RC purgatory.On the one hand, Orthodox hell is similar to RC purgatory, but on the other hand, the idea of purgatory is incompatible with Orthodoxy?
Interestingly, St. John Chrysostom interprets 1 Cor. 3:15 as meaning that the person will say in the fire after his works have been destroyed (in Greek, sothenai can mean both "saved" and "preserved"), i.e. he is "preserved in the fire." So either way, it refers to hell. The idea of purgatory is incompatible with Orthodoxy. We are cleansed of our sins through repentence and grace, NOT through being sufficiently punished. Legalism has no place in Orthodoxy, because it has no place in reality.
I guess that I am missing something here. Sorry.
What I am saying is, there seems to be a similarity between purgatory and Orthodox hell, but the RC idea that forgiveness comes through sufficient punishment is totally incompatible with Orthodoxy. Hell is not God's capital punishment, hell is separation from God. The RC Catechism says so, so we agree on that.
The similarity between purgatory and Orthodox hell is the concept of the burning away of sin. The difference is that purgatory implies that suffering is how one is forgiven, whereas in Orthodoxy, the burning away of sin is the punishment itself. I hope this makes my point clearer, and if I am misrepresenting purgatory, which is certainly possible, please explain.
There is so little about Purgatory that is actually defined dogma.
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
III. THE FINAL PURIFICATION, OR PURGATORY
1030 All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.
1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.604 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:605
As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.606
1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin."607 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.608 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:
Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.609