14 October 2009

Descended into hell? (Pt 10): J.I. Packer on the Apostles' Creed

My last post on this topic, was way back in November. Much has happened since then to turn my life all around, but I recently was provoked to post another quick post on the topic, as I have recently purchased a new book that touched on the subject. If you are new to this whole line of discussion, jump back to the previous part (menu at bottom).

In brief summary, I started writing this series because I find that many modern churches explain away the "descended into hell" clause of the Apostle's Creed, saying ti was simply a way of saying he suffered greatly on the cross. Not only is that false when viewed from the understanding that the early church (who formed the creed) believed, but it does great harm to the aspect of salvation that it pertains to.

J.I. Packer's 2008 book Affirming the Apostles' Creed is yet another modern Reformed author that thankfully does not follow the typical line of thinking mentioned above.

He starts as we did, by differentiating between Hades, and Gehenna (what we typically think of when saying "hell." Though Packer doesn't say he "physically" descended anywhere...didn't actually go down, to imply the "place" was down, but seems to feel it meant Jesus really actually died, and that Hades, "the place of the disembodied, is lower in worth and dignity than life on earth..." (pg 87).

He says when Jesus entered Hades, his presence made Hades into "Paradise" to fulfill what he told the penitent thief in Luke 23. This kind of goes against what we have read about the historical Hebrew understanding of the separate section of the Hadean realm, but doesn't take him way off track like some moderns get. He goes on to say that while Jesus' was in Hades for three days, it was for the purpose and benefit of the faithfully who had departed prior to his atonement. He says that 1 Pet. 3:19 shows that Jesus proclaimed his kingdom news to "the imprisoned "spirits" who had rebelled in antediluvian times" and even goes so far as to say that it would presumably include "the fallen angels of 2 Pet. 2:4ff, who are also "the sons of God" of Genesis 6:1-4" which is another great admission, considering the who modern "sons of God" debate (see my series of posts on that HERE).

So, I share this just because it excites me to find other within the Reformed denominations who espouse the historic view on these issues, rather than explain them away and do great harm to areas of understanding in the salvation scheme of Christ.

I also just last week obtained an old copy of an 1890 book by Frederic Huidekoper which is actually two separate books in one, with the one of interest being entitled "The Belief of the First Three Centuries Concerning Christ's Mission to the Underworld." If it adds any additional worthy tidbits to this topic, I will be sure to share them.

View the other parts of the topic

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10