Friday, June 01, 2012

Jesus descended into Hell? I don't think so. This is the one line of this Creed I disagree with. What say thee?

Early mosaic of Ambrose that might be an actual portrait. 374 AD
I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.


Craver Vii said...

I like to confess the Apostles' Creed, and I believe it all, but there are different interpretations of what that "descended into hell" phrase means. The Descensus clause is probably the most controversial phrase (for Christians) in the Apostles' Creed.

Spurgeon says that "The reference to the descent into Hades (or Hell, or Sheol) is here to make it clear that the death of Jesus was not just a swoon or a coma, but death in every sense of the word." In one study of the creed, I was taught that this clause was inserted in order to combat a false teaching that suggested that the crucifixion was more of a vision than a physical reality. So, the church fathers reacted by saying that this was no hocus pocus, but an honest, practical truth. And so, the Descensus clause was simply a reiteration that Jesus' body really, physically died.

Others have said that the hell Jesus experienced was on the cross, when Christ atoned for our sins. That sounds somewhat plausible, but I give more credence to the former explanation.

The phrase is awkward, but remember that it wasn't originally written in 21st century American English. I believe the best interpretation is to say that the church fathers wanted to make sure we know that Jesus' death was real and complete. He wasn't "mostly dead." And he didn't just appear to be dead. But the idea that he or his disembodied spirit visited the place where unregenerate souls wait for judgment and everlasting wrath... no way. One of the verses that clinches it for me is when Jesus told the thief on the cross, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Lk. 23:43) How could Jesus confuse Paradise and Gahenna? He wouldn't do that. Neither would I.

Finally, I do not believe it is accurate to say that Jesus' preaching to the "spirits in prison" (1 Pet. 3:19) means that they were in the place of eternal wrath.

donsands said...

Thanks Crav. You is got a lot, a lot, of wisdom bro,

I truly appreciate it.

have a great weekend, and especially Lord's Day, in the Lord's house, with the Lord's people!