Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Harrowing of Hell

I haven’t forgotten that I have a “part 2” to write in the post birthed from reading the article “What Jesus Did Do” but….running late this a.m. and I have the following post all set to go…living in the queue at blogger. 

I found a post “stub” (as wikipedia refers to incomplete articles on their site) that has been gathering dust for quite a while in my Evernote files. I found it today while poking around in my “database.” With all the talk about Rob Bell recently and the “is he or isn’t he?” debate…I thought it might be a good time to dust the cobwebs off of this and actually post it. 

During the time consuming and tedious process of "migrating" my blogs out of the new Bloglines, (“new” meaning not nearly as good as the old bloglines and now, a really crappy RSS reader) and saving them all in Google Reader… I came across many blogs I’ve earmarked over the past few years. One of these was

λογοι  Words on existence 

Not sure of the pronunciation of the title…but an interesting blog. And an interesting quote from an interesting post about universalism from that blog….

I’m not a universalist, but I hope God is.

This is a sentiment I have heard and been tantalized by since I was old enough to understand what grace is.

I had a youth leader growing up who once described his hope for Christian Universalism by saying, “Maybe when we get to heaven, God looks to hell, looks back at everyone around him, and says with a huge smile on his face, ‘Let’s go get ‘em!’”

Sort of what scripture declares Jesus already did when he descended into hell to preach the Gospel to the souls in prison?  (1Peter 3:19–20 and 1Peter 4:6) He does hold the keys after all…the keys to death and hell. 


The Harrowing of Hell


According to Wikipedia, Jesus’ descent into hell is often referred to as the “harrowing of hell.”  Different faith traditions view it differently. (Surprise!!) It is included in two creeds…The Athanasian Creed and the Apostles Creed.  Some denominations omit or alter the “descended into hell” clause.  The Methodists for instances, render it:

was crucified, dead, and buried. 

Catholics -

was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended to the dead

But the Orthodox celebrate it.  For them it dwarfs the significance of the empty tomb.  Easter is celebrated by the icons that depict Jesus’ descent into hell. From Wiki:

The icon shows Jesus, vested in white and gold to symbolize his divine majesty, standing on the brazen gates of Hades (also called the "Doors of Death"), which are broken and have fallen in the form of a cross, illustrating the belief that by his death on the cross, Jesus trampled down death. He is holding Adam and Eve and pulling them up out of Hades. Traditionally, he is not shown holding them by the hands, but by their wrists, to illustrate the theological teaching that mankind could not pull himself out of his ancestral sin, but that it could come about only by the work (energia) of God. Jesus is surrounded by various righteous figures from the Old Testament (Abraham, David, etc.); the bottom of the icon depicts Hades as a chasm of darkness, often with various pieces of broken locks and chains strewn about. Quite frequently, one or two figures are shown in the darkness, bound in chains, who are generally identified as personifications of Death and/or the Devil.


The Orthodox view is intriguing, reflecting the Christus Victor view of the atonement…






















              The gates of hell will not prevail (Matthew 16:18)


Mae said...

Thanks for this, Cindi. Seems to me those Orthodox are a lot closer to much of what I'm seeing lately than the Evangelical culture I was indoctrinated into! I firmly believe the gates of hell won't prevail - mainly because nothing can ever separate us from the Love of God!

Logan said...

Check this out Cindi:

I found it extremely inspiring...

Cindi said...

I remember when I was a kid, my grandparents (strict Free Methodists) befriended a woman who was Greek Orthodox. It all seemed very mystical and mysterious to me.

Cindi said...

Thanks Logan...finally made it there to read the short writing you mentioned.

Quoting from the article...
Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.


I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead
Cindi says...
Doesn't he say the same thing to all of he speaks to the "seed of God" within us? Wake up!!! Wake up!!!
article again....

Rise, let us leave this place, for your are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

Yes, inspiring...even if somewhat difficult to wrap my egoic mind around..the one person thing.

Blessings to you Logan.