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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

To hell and back

I saw an interesting post at the Jesuit blog Whosoever Desires - Ratzinger on Christ’s Descent into Hell. It recalls a past debate at First Things about Hans Urs von Balthasar's Holy Saturday theology (Balthasar, Hell, and Heresy: An Exchange ... More on Balthasar, Hell, and Heresy ... Responses to Balthasar, Hell, and Heresy). I do remember that discussion, and there was another article on the subject they failed to mention, perhaps because it's by a different person - Was Balthasar a Heretic?.

The discussion was about whether Jesus descended into hell suffering and abandoned by God (Balthasar), or instead triumphant, harrowing hell .... the "heretical" stuff comes in maybe because Luther and Calvin took a similar pov as Balthasar. The Whosoever Desires post gives two different opinions on the subject, both by B16.

I want to mention another article, one I posted bits of before - The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail by Baylor University Professor of Theology and Literature, Ralph Wood. I can no longer find it published online, so I'm quoting my old post here .....

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No serious consideration of hell should omit one of the church's most ancient claims in the Apostles Creed—that Christ was not only "crucified, dead, and buried," but also that he "descended into hell" ... The single slender thread of "evidence" is found in 1 Peter 3:19-20 and 4:6, where we learn that the crucified Christ "went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the day of Noah," so that "the gospel was preached even to the dead" .....

Hell is not a temporal but an eternal realm, the horrible spiritual state of God's utter absence. Since Christ plunges into hell and preaches to the spirits of the dead, winnowing some of them from hell, it follows that others who have never been given the Good News can still be released from the post-earthly prison of death and damnation. For Christ's victory is not confined to this present life alone. He is also the Judge and Lord over hell. Thus does the doctrine of the Harrowing of Hell enable us to affirm, with Paul in Romans 8:38-39, that absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus—neither death nor demonic powers nor even the abyss of hell.

No one has stated this Pauline hope more clearly than the great Roman Catholic theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar. Exactly in his descent into hell, writes von Balthasar, Christ "disturbs the absolute loneliness striven for by the sinner: the sinner, who wants to be 'damned' apart from God, finds God again in his loneliness, but God in the absolute weakness of love … enters into solidarity with those damning themselves."

A radically different interpretation of Christ's descent into hell has been offered recently by the Presbyterian theologian Alan E. Lewis in a remarkable book, Between Cross and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy Saturday. He maintains that, if we take seriously the doctrine that Christ assumed our full humanity, then we must retrieve Luther and Calvin's insistence that Christ endured the unfathomable suffering that comes from total abandonment by God in death. Lewis rightly fears that we cheapen Easter if we do not attend to the hellish Sabbath in which God himself lay in the godforsakenness of the grave .....

Whether we read Christ's descent into hell as a triumph or a defeat, it remains a crucial concern for all Christians. With his usual crispness and clarity, G. K. Chesterton sums up the enormous significance of the doctrine: "Christ descended into hell; Satan fell into it. One wanted to go up and went down; the other wanted to go down and went up. A god can be humble, a devil can only be humbled."

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A related topic is the opinion Hans Urs von Balthasar had that there may actually be no one in hell (Dare We Hope "That All Men Be Saved"?: With a Short Discourse on Hell). There were a series of articles on him and this idea .....

I think the first one was at First Things by Avery Dulles - The Population of Hell which defended Balthasar.

There was Fr. Regis Scanlon's article, originally in the New Oxford Review, blasting Balthasar's view on hell - The Inflated Reputation of Hans Urs von Balthasar

Richard John Neuhaus' article in First Things, defending Balthasar against Scanlon - Will All Be Saved?

Dale Vree's article in the New Oxford Review, answering Neuhaus - If Everyone is Saved ...

There's more of the guys above :-) but perhaps the next one to read would be found in the New Oxford Review by Janet Holl Madigan - In Defense of Richard John Neuhaus

And let's not forget David Watt's article, originally in the New Oxford Review, against Balthasar's view - Is Hell Closed Up & Boarded Over?


6 Comments:

Blogger victor said...

The way I "SEE" "IT" good and bad is all a form of God but having said that, "God is only "Love".

I recall when I was a teen and I asked my mom, god bless her soul, if I could sleep out at a friends house in their backyard in their tent which was just a few blocks away. To make a long story short, she said no but I later that night went anyway!

To make another long story short, I met hell later that night when early in the morning to my embarressment she came and got me. The guys still tease me about "IT".

There's a LOT more I would like to say but I must take a few of our grandchildren to the movies right now.

Peace

1:35 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Victor. Have a good time at the movies :)

2:20 PM  
Blogger victor said...

I never thought that I would be so glad to get out of a movie and let's just say that "IT" was "Cloudy with a chance of meatballs" in there.:)

The things grandparents do for their children!

Peace

4:47 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

I saw the trailer for that one - it looks fun :)

4:54 PM  
Blogger victor said...

I won't spoil "IT" for you and all the way during the movie, I just kept thinking of the things they can do with "Cartoons" nowadays!

I hear ya! If only God could work that way? :)

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ours is an envionment where evil is perceived to be rewarded while good is punished. As with everything the Gods have a reason for creating this perception::::
People who fall on the good side of the good/evil scale have more favor, and when they do something wrong the Gods punish them BECAUSE THEY WANT THEM TO LEARN. The Gods want them to receive this feedback in hope they make corrections and begin to behave appropriately. The Gods DON'T like evil and refuse to grant this feedback.
EVERYBODY pays for what they do wrong, only evil people must wait until their next life before they will experience the wrath of the Gods, manifested in their reincarnation as a lower form of life into environments with increased/enhanced temptations.
Sadly, this allows the Gods to position this perception of evil rewarded as temptation, one which they use as an EXTREMELY effective corruptor.

Both Africa and the Medittereanean are regions which have sexual issues. This is a sign of morbid disfavor once you understand that females are the God's favored gender. Muhammad's (Mohammed's) polygamy halfway through his life as a prophet was preditory. Now a huge percentage of Muslims believes in male superiority and that the abuse of women is God's will. Female genital mutilation is still practiced in Africa. Black misogyny is the most eggregious example in the recent past.
Black member size is temptation to a predisposed population.
The patriarchal cancer spread throughout Europe because of Christianity, of which the majority of policy makers were Italian men. Expect the largest landowner in Europe and the continent's original superpower also played a major role in African slavery.

Militancy in Africa is consistant with the Iraqi example, as was slavery and the KKK here in America:::Fear enforces proper behavior. Without it we see what happens as a result of gross/morbid disfavor:::::AIDS, crack babies, dead young men in gangland retaliation killings. This is the purpose behind many black's historical tendancy towards resistance.
The same principle was true in Europe and throughout the world for centuries:::People whom lived under iron fists were conditioned to think the right way. As a result they experienced higher numbers of children accend into heaven because they were taught to think and behave appropriately, which they passed on to their children. Our preditory envionment of "freedom" was the primary purpose the Gods had when implimenting this strategy that is the United States, one which they used to spred the cancer of democracy and westernization throughout the world. And the Gods use this tool that is America to prey on the disfavored both at home and abroad:::Much like the ghetto, America in general experiences a heightened level of temptation due to the people's disfavor.

Even the Old Testiment is not to be taken literally, but the Gods do offer clues throughout to help the disfavored:::The apple is a tool of temptation used to corrupt Adam and Eve and cast them out of the Garden of Eden.
There is another lesson to be learned from this passage, and it is quite similar to the vailing issue and the discourse over women's attire which ultimately died in the 70s:::Women are responsible for and control the fate of mankind.

Think about what I say. Consider what I teach. Society is going to become disturbingly ugly as we approach the Apocalypse due to spiralling, runaway disfavor.
I do not know when this will occurr, but it is the God's way to grant some time before they end on Planet Earth.
Make the decision to always be good and never look back. Until you do this technology will employ tactics to test your resolve:::Ridicule, beligerance, doubt and refusal to abandon what people perceive to be their "investment".
Pray daily. Think appropriately. Too many are confident, unaware of the God's awesome powers or their status as antients. Others may fall prey to their positioning.
Be humbled, God-fearing and beware of the God's temptations, for everyone is tested to evaluate their worthiness.
Search rest

12:51 PM  

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