Jesus 'Went to Hell': The Christian History Churches Would Rather Not Acknowledge

Source: Alternet

This relative silence reflects a discomfort with some of the frankly weird aspects of Christianity.

By Ed Simon / Religion Dispatches

“It was Saturday that Jesus Christ went to Hell.”

This is one phrase that Christians, whether mainline or evangelical, Catholic or Protestant, will likely not hear from the pulpit this week. And yet the story of Christ’s descent to the underworld has deep roots in tradition.

The fourth century Apostle’s Creed tells us that following his crucifixion, but before his resurrection, Jesus “descended to the dead.” The Athanasian Creed of at least a century later is more explicit, Christ “descended into hell.”

Depending on context and translation Jesus either journeyed to Sheol, Hades, or Hell. But allowing for differences in language Christianity held—and technically still holds as a central tenet—the view that Jesus spent the gap between his death and resurrection “harrowing” Hell, that is journeying to the underworld to liberate the imprisoned souls of the Hebrew patriarchs who had been imprisoned there since their deaths.
Contemporary congregations will often translate “hell” into a more palatable “death” or “the grave.” There is something unseemly in the idea of Jesus among the murders, rapists, fornicators and heretics of Hell. And yet it was central to Christological accounts of salvation for two millennia that God Himself be present in the lowest rung of creation to justify redemption for all mankind.
Holy Saturday was a day in which God was not in His heaven, but rather in his Hell.
It was a theme fervently embraced in the medieval world. Christ’s “harrowing” (a word that comes to us from Middle English) seems to have been prefigured in classical sources: Ulysses visits Hades; Orpheus, the father of poetry, barely made his escape from the underworld. Perhaps it’s these pagan associations that make the idea so unpopular today. In the Inferno Virgil tells Dante of the “mighty one” who spirits the Hebrew patriarchs off to heaven (as he is in hell the Latin poet is unable to actually speak Christ’s name). The Middle English poem of Sir Orfeoconflated Orpheus and Christ in their harrowing, and one can easily see the war-like Anglo-Saxons being attracted to the militarism of a conquering Jesus crashing through the gates of hell as if through a medieval city.

As far as credal confessions of Christianity go, the harrowing of Hell may be the least remarked upon in the contemporary world. Some Protestants, citing a lack of scriptural backup, have abandoned it; others have softened the edges around the word “hell.”

I’d argue that this relative silence reflects a discomfort with some of the frankly weird aspects of Christianity. As a faith Christianity has always been defined by its paradoxes: God can become a man, God can die, God can be one and three at the same time, the King of Heaven can spend a day in Hell. If anything the heresies of the patristic era—Arianism, Monophysitism, Nestorianism and so on—are attempts to make Christianity more rational. It’s a fascinating aspect of Christianity that often the heretics are the more sober and rational ones while orthodoxy embraces enigma. Broadly speaking, the Eastern Orthodoxy has been more comfortable with paradox and the irrational, but in the Latin West Catholics and their Protestant inheritors have attempted to tame the scandal of Christianity with the rational equations of systematic theology.

In this way the positivist and the fundamentalist are strangely unified in their opposition to Tertullian’s infamous aphorism: credo quia absurdum (“I believe it because it is absurd”). The fundamentalist with his embarrassment over paradox denies the weirdness of his faith. The positivist can do no such thing and like Mr. Jefferson takes his razor to the Bible to excise the strangeness.

But central to the Christian vision is a profound and undeniable weirdness, and one of its strangest accounts is passed over in many a Holy Week homily. The passion story is filled with puzzles and uncertainty, from the harrowing to Christ’s cry of “My God, why have you forsaken me?” when, as GK Chesterton noted, God Himself seemed to be an atheist.* It’s these moments that constitute what the Slavoj Zizek names “the perverse core of Christianity,” the anti-Gospel as Gospel—a tradition that is too often silent during Holy Week.

* “…let the atheists themselves choose a god. They will find only one divinity who ever uttered their isolation; only one religion in which God seemed for an instant to be an atheist.”

Reference

Additional reading

25% of Christians do not believe in resurrection and Queen’s former chaplain calls them non-Christians

5 replies

  1. Ahmadiyya Muslims believe that the Jesus (peace be upon him) was put on the cross but he didn’t die of his injuries rather God saved him from this accursed death on the cross and he migrated towards the East in search of the lost sheep of Israel. For more information http://www.alislam.org

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    DEATH OF JESUS ACCORDING TO QURAN; ISLAM AHMADIYYA

    JesusPassedAway

  2. The Inspired Sermon.
    “Of the disciple Peter”
    Act of the Apostle 2:14-30.

    Peter,lifted up his voice,and said unto them Ye men of Judea,and all ye that dwell
    at Jerusalem,be this known unto you,and harken unto my words:

    Ye men of Israel(Jacob),hear these words;Jesus of Nazareth,a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs,which God did by him in the mids of you,as ye yourselves know.

    “Men and brethren,let me freely speak unto you of the Patriach David,that he is both dead and buried and his sepulcher is with us unto this day.
    Therefore being a Prophet,and knowing that God had sworn with an Oath to him(David)of the fruit of his (David’)loins,according to the flesh,he would rise up Christ to sit on his(David’)Throne.”

    Jesus’ Testimony.
    “I Jesus have sent mine Angels to testify unto you these things in the Chruches.
    I am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.”
    Revelation 22:16.

    The Great Confession.
    “When Jesus came into the coast of Caesarea Philippi,he ask his disciples,saying Whom do men say that the I the son of man am?
    And they said,some say that thou art John the Baptist; some,El-i-as (god);and others,Jeremias, or one of the Prophets.
    He saith unto them,”But whom say ye that I am?”

    1.And Simon Peter answered and said,”Thou art the Christ (anointed son),the son of the living god.’ Matthew 16:16.

    2.’Peter answered and said,’Thou art the Christ (anointed son).’
    Mark 8:29.

    3.’Peter answering said,’The Christ (anointed son) of god (a man called god).’
    Luke 9:20.

    “And Jesus answered and said unto him,’bless art thou,’ Simon Barjona;for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee,but my father which is in heaven.”

    Who was Jesus?

    Peter:
    1.Thou art The Christ (the anointed son).
    2.The Christ of god (a man called god).
    3.The Christ,the son of the living god
    (the son unto whom the word of God came).

    Historical events leading up to Christ’s birth.

    God’s choice of Mary as the bride:
    “Jochim and Anne were childless and prayed for an offspring.God intervened and Anne give birth to Mary.Covenanting for a ‘son of Mary’,Anne offered Mary to God and God,agreeing,accepted Mary.Mary was thus given over by Anne and taken into the ownership of God.”
    God saw in Mary His choicest among mankind for mother role in His plan to rise up Christ and He enlisted her forthwith on board.
    At age three Mary’s parents surrendered her into the custody of the Holy Temple and at the age thirteen God entrusted her into the guardianship of Zachariah.
    God’s choice of John the Baptist as groom.
    Zachariah and Elizabeth were likewise childless,gone past child-bearing.
    Zachariah,in his prayer,petitioned,”My Lord,give me a son from Thyself who will inherit me and inherit the posterity of Jacob.”
    God gave them a son and name him John.Heir of the posterity of Jacob,John was ipso facto
    heir of the genetic seed of David,the seed by which God Sworn an oath He would rise up Christ.
    Also,John was sent from God,a pure son which God bestowed on Zachariah and Elizabeth,whom Zachariah’s prayer,begged for!
    The Bible affirming “there was a man sent from God whose name was John.” (John 1:6)
    David’s Crown Prince John as ‘pure in spirit from God’ was hand-crafted,custom-built,wax strong in spirit for the role of bridegroom in God’s plan to rise up Christ.
    “The Lion of Judah dwelling in the wilderness of Judea.”
    Mary & John’s relationship to God.
    “Mary was God’s responsibility base on a covenant between Anne and God.”
    She was a belonging in His custody.John was God’s representive,a man sent from Him as El-i-as in answer to Zachariah’s prayer.
    Mary was a human daughter of her mother Anne and her father Jochim.
    John was a human son of his parents Zachariah and Elizabeth.’
    Enlisters in God’s plan were all Earthly.
    1.”Mary was a Levite of Aaron’s descents.”
    2.”John was a Jew of David’s descent.”

    Mary’s was God’s choice as bride and John was God’s choice as groom in His Plan to rise up Christ.
    Check the cast,three pairs(3 male,3 female),all six were mankind.
    No one was Divine.

    Mary & John’s role in God’s purpose:
    In the excution of his plan riseing up Christ-His masterpiece of human creation God has access
    to the best in mankind from among who he choose.
    And indeed from our human race he handpicked the best.
    Give Him praise!Mary and John was His choicest.Were they from heaven?No!Mary was a Native of Nazareth,Galilee and John the Baptist was a Native of Ain karim in Judea.
    But,be it known,God was their benefactor.They were bequeathed to Him.
    What were their’s was also His.
    If there union produce a son,is not their son is God’s son as well?
    If there union produce Christ,is not God’s Christ as well?
    So be it;so let it be written.
    Peter’s inspired Sermon interprets Peter’s greatest confession.
    “God’s Oath,by Peter’s testimony,decreed that He would rise up Christ.”
    1.”from the Seed in the Loins of David.”
    John was he in whose Loins David’s Seed indwelled and Jesus is “son of Mary.”
    How can Jesus be the Christ of God if he is not the son of John?

    2.”according to the Flesh.”
    How could Jesus,son of Mary,be the Christ of God,if Mary’s cell(egg)was not mated by the male cell(sperm)of John?

    3.”to sit on David’s throne.’
    Is Christ by Mary’s only? NO! How can Christ sit on David’s throne if Christ is not John’s son-
    David’s Crown Prince,the Lion of Judah?

    Peter’s Great Confession.
    “But whom say ye that I,the son of man,am?”
    Thou, Jesus,art the Christ.
    Thou,the Son of Man(John),art the Christ of God (one approved by God).
    Thou, the Son of Man(John), art the Christ Son of the Living god.
    Jesus words.
    “Whom do men say that I the son of man AM?”
    They answered:
    “John the baptist;But some say Elias,and others,one of the Prophets.”
    Mark 8:28.
    Jesus:”But whom say ye that I am?”
    Simon Peter answered and said:
    “Thou art the Christ;the Christ of god;
    The Christ,the son of the living god.”

    Christ’s Confirmation of Peter’s Confession:

    “And Jesus answered and said unto him,bless art thou,Simon Barjona;for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee,but my father which is in heaven.”
    And I say also unto thee,that thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church;
    And the gate of hell shall not prevail against it.
    And I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of heaven;and whatsoever thou shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;And whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
    Then charged he his disciple that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

    The keys of Heaven.
    Thou Jesus son of John the Baptist and Mary art the Christ of god.
    Thou,Son of Man,art the Christ whom God Sworn on Oath He would rise up Christ
    from the seed of David,according to the flesh,to sit on his throne.

  3. Yes sir I agree with your comment fully, Jesus was a Prophet of God and the True Prophets do not go to Hell,simple.

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