I've been reading An Ancient Christian Sermon commonly known as Second Clement. If you've read First Clement, it reads differently in content, tone, and style. It seems apparent this sermon was not written by the same author. The date of its writing? Hard to say, but scholars speculate anywhere from 98-170 AD.
Here was an interesting snippet:
"And the Scripture also says in Ezekiel, 'Even if Noah and Job and Daniel should rise up, they will not save their children' in the captivity. Now if even such righteous men as these are not able, by means of their own righteous deeds, to save their children, what assurance do we have of entering the kingdom of God if we fail to keep our baptism pure and undefiled? Or who will be our advocate, if we are not found to have holy and righteous works?"
Source: Michael W. Holmes, ed. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations (Michigan: Baker Books, 1999), p.113
Well, I can just imagine a Roman Catholic reading this, and pointing out it is an example from the early church on baptismal regeneration. On the other hand, the quote asks a question "who will be our advocate?" Some may be tempted to think this is simply a rhetorical question, with the answer being: Christ. But as I work through the text, I don't think it is. This writer seems to be implying that Christians who sin do not have an advocate! Try harder! ...or else!
But this quote was even more interesting... so much for purgatory:
"So then while we are yet on earth, let us repent. For we are clay in the Craftsman's hand. For example: if while a potter is making a vessel, it becomes misshapen or breaks in his hands, he simply reshapes it; but if he has already put it into the kiln, he is no longer able to repair it. So it is with us: as long as we are in this world, let us repent with our whole heart of the evil things which we have done in the flesh, in order that we may be saved by the Lord while we still have time for repentance. For after we have departed from the world, we are no longer able there either to confess or to repent anymore."
Source: Michael W. Holmes, ed. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations (Michigan: Baker Books, 1999), p.115.
This is said to be the oldest extra-Biblical sermon in existence. Besides these examples, there are plenty of other things that could be pointed out about the text. I presented these examples for a few reasons:
1. An early church document needs to be allowed to say what it is saying, however muddled or clear it may be.
2. Simply because a writer is ancient, doesn't mean his theology is more Biblical than someone writing in 2007. In many ways, we are closer to the original writings of the Bible than whoever wrote Second Clement. We have a complete Bible. We have the Bible in its original languages. We may think that this writer has an advantage because he is chronologically closer to the time of the New Testament writing, but as you read such documents like this, it is apparent that this is fallacious reasoning.