Ratzinger on Christ’s Descent into Hell

 Christ's Descent into Hell by Maulleigh.

Many WD readers will recall the theological skirmish which once, twice, and thrice erupted on the pages of First Things two and a half years ago.  The warring parties were Alyssa Lyra Pitstick and Fr. Edward T. Oakes, S.J.  The point in question was Hans Urs von Balthasar’s controversial Holy Saturday theology, wherein he argues that Christ’s descent into hell was a passive, i.e., suffering, descent.  The traditional Holy Saturday motif is of the triumphant Christ descending in glory.  Pitstick argued that it is “undeniable that [Balthasar’s] theology of Christ’s descent entails a de facto, and sometimes even conscious, rejection of Catholic tradition.”  Oakes defended Balthasar’s orthodoxy, proposing that Pitstick’s “real service has been to argue against Balthasar so disagreeably that she will end up midwifing his theology into the mainstream of Church thinking.”

As this debate spilled over into the Catholic blogosphere, more than enough words were spent discussing Balthasar’s theology of Christ’s descent.  I will not add any more.  Instead, I would like to consider another prominent contemporary theologian’s take on Christ’s descent into hell.  That theologian would be Joseph Ratzinger.

Two of Ratzinger’s early works seem to support the Balthasarian position of a suffering descent.  In Introduction to Christianity, the key which Ratzinger employs to unlock the mystery of the creedal statement “He descended into hell” is Jesus’ death-cry of abandonment on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Ratzinger goes so far as to say that “Jesus’ cry on the cross” contains “the heart of what Jesus’ descent into hell . . . really means” (298).

While this aligning of Christ’s descent into hell with the death-cry from the Cross seems to suggest that Christ suffered in hell, nowhere in Introduction to Christianity does Ratzinger explicitly say that Christ suffered in hell.  In the book Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life, however, he does.  There the future pope uses a Buddhist image and speaks of Christ as the “true Boddhisattva” who unlike the other Boddhisattvas not only waits to enter heaven as long as one person is in hell, but goes further as “Christ descends into Hell and suffers it in all its emptiness” (216).

However, to those who now want to run off and exclaim that the Pope endorses Balthasar’s Holy Saturday theology, we must say, hold on one second.  Ratzinger also has spoken on Christ’s descent into hell since becoming pope.  These comments suggest a different position.  In his 2007 Easter Vigil homily, the Pope preached:

Let us return once more to the night of Holy Saturday. In the Creed we say about Christ’s journey that he “descended into hell.” What happened then? Since we have no knowledge of the world of death, we can only imagine his triumph over death with the help of images which remain very inadequate. Yet, inadequate as they are, they can help us to understand something of the mystery. The liturgy applies to Jesus’ descent into the night of death the words of Psalm 23[24]: “Lift up your heads, O gates; be lifted up, O ancient doors!” The gates of death are closed, no one can return from there. There is no key for those iron doors. But Christ has the key. His Cross opens wide the gates of death, the stern doors. They are barred no longer. His Cross, his radical love, is the key that opens them. The love of the One who, though God, became man in order to die – this love has the power to open those doors. This love is stronger than death. The Easter icons of the Oriental Church show how Christ enters the world of the dead. He is clothed with light, for God is light. “The night is bright as the day, the darkness is as light” (cf. Ps 138[139]12).

Here we see Pope asking the same question he did forty years earlier as a young theology professor – how to interpret Christ’s descent into hell – and sketching a markedly different answer.  Gone is the association of the descent with the death-cry.  Now it is interpreted through the images of glory and light.  Here the Pope seems to endorse the traditional motif rather than the Balthasarian position.

So what conclusions might we draw?  It is difficult to say.  One possibility is that Ratzinger’s position has changed over the decades.  Or as a second option we might try to make an argument showing that Ratzinger’s position regarding Christ’s descent as exhibited in Introduction to Christianity and Eschatology is not in contradiction with the 2007 Easter Vigil homily – in other words, that the positions can be reconciled.  A third option is that Pope Benedict knows and lives within the demands of his office:  Whereas it is fitting for a theologian to explore innovative interpretations of dogma, it is hardly appropriate for a pope to do so.  While Ratzinger as a private theologian may have some sympathy for the Balthasarian position, he knows that it would not be right, at this moment, to endorse such a position as pope.

While I tend toward a combination of the second and third options, I cannot pretend to know with much certainty what Pope Benedict thinks about Christ’s descent into hell.  I do know, however, that were I ever given the chance to ask a few theological questions of the Holy Father, that of Christ’s descent would be among the first on my list.

© Vincent L. Strand and Whosoever Desires, 2009.

32 Responses to Ratzinger on Christ’s Descent into Hell

  1. c matt says:

    That would be a fascinating discussion. I don’t know how I missed the blog wars over this – I don’t recall seeing much mention (perhaps I don’t visit the right blogs). From a completely amateur pov, I would side with Pitstick. I may be mistaken, but I thought the abandonment cry does not come right at His death, and is a reference to a psalm which, at the end, implies that the abandonment is only from the pov of the psalmist. Also, don’t other accounts of the passion have Jesus stating “into your hands I commend my spirit” or “it is done”, at the time He dies. Death itself being the separation of body and soul. If His death is what conquers, it would seem once He has already suffered and died, what further suffering on His part would be needed? And what would be needed, if anything, St. Paul implies is provided by joining our sufferings to Christ’s.

    Still, it would be an interesting poetic touch for Christ to undertake not only earthly suffering man experiences, but also the human soul’s suffering after death.

    • Vincent L. Strand, SJ says:

      Dear c matt,

      Thank you for your comment. If you do a quick search for “Pitstick and Oakes” you can find some of the commentary you may have missed.

      You say that Jesus’ “death is what conquers.” While in one sense that is true, perhaps we might do better to say that Christ conquers through his Paschal Mystery, that is, Good Friday through Easter Sunday. Seen in that light, then the descent into hell – the theology of Holy Saturday – has important consequences for our soteriology. As for what these consequences are, I point you to Balthasar’s _Mysterium Paschale_, ch. 4 “Going to the Dead: Holy Saturday” (p. 148-181). There you might find more thorough answers to your questions and a convergence of the “poetic touch” with substantive theology.

  2. Christina says:

    Very Interesting. I am often intrigued by the theological arguments we can come across in our everyday lives. Yet, one thing stands clear to me as I was reading your message, the INFINITE LOVE of GOD. More an more I come to see how deep is God’s love for us, and many times it is by coming to understand how much He suffered for us.

    Thanks for the post.
    God Bless. 😉

  3. Giovanni says:

    Or it could be that as Pope he is something that he was not as a Bishop or a Cardinal and that is, of course, Christ’s Vicar.

    It could be that as a theologian, a Bishop or a Cardinal he could err but as the successor to St. Peter he is free from all error regarding the Faith.

    I just want to open that possibility lest one has forgotten what the Pope actually is.

  4. Gabriel Austin says:

    Who is “Ratzinger”? Is he related to the Holy Father, Benedict XVI?

    • Vincent L. Strand, SJ says:

      Mr. Austin,

      Joseph Ratzinger is a Bavarian theologian, bishop, and cardinal who was elected Pope on April 19, 2005. At that time, he took the name Pope Benedict XVI.

      You’ll notice that in my posting, I refer to him as “Ratzinger” when referring to his works published before his election as Pope, since he was not Pope Benedict XVI at the time he wrote those pieces. This is common practice. Moreover, according to prevailing academic custom, I omit the titles “Father” or “Cardinal” when referring to his work as a theologian.

      I hope that clarifies.

  5. I’m glad you bring these sources together in your excellent posting. Always a treat to hear your thoughts, Vincent.

    Here is my view of the matter. One of the reasons we can account for Ratzinger’s position in his book Eschatology was his relationship with Balthasar at the time. Ratzinger was well aware of Balthasar’s theological views, especially on Holy Saturday, and Ratzinger explored them in this work. As time has past since Ratzinger’s working with Balthasar and as prominent Catholic theologians have expressed reservations about Balthasar’s theology of Holy Saturday, I think that Ratzinger (you can see something of his hand here in the Catechism on this question) and now Pope Benedict is articulating the majority opinion on the theology of the Holy Saturday, which is all fine and good. It does not mean that Balthasar’s theology of Holy Saturday should not have a place within the tradition. On the contrary, Benedict’s words on Balthasar at a few different times have praised his work and legacy. I think that those who are exploring the theology of Holy Saturday and Balthasar’s interpretation of it (influenced decisively here by the awesome Catholic mystic Adrienne von Speyr) should continue their work in order to show its symphonic harmony with the tradition.

    Benedict would no doubt enjoy discussing this question with you, Vincent. Best wishes to you.

    • Vincent L. Strand, SJ says:

      Dr. Sutton,

      Thanks for your thoughts. I agree. The difficult task, of course, is to show that “symphonic harmony” with the tradition regarding something that many are calling a departure from the tradition.

      You’ll see more of my thoughts below in my response to Mr. Priest.

  6. Ratzinger also speaks of “Jesus’ descent ‘into hell'” in his JESUS OF NAZARETH (2007).

    Ratzinger speaks of Jesus being led into the desert as a “descent into the perils besetting mankind, for there is no other way to lift up fallen humanity. Jesus has to enter into the drama of human existence, for that belongs to the core of his mission; he has to penetrate it completely, down to its uttermost depths, in order to find the ‘lost sheep,’ to bear it on his shoulders, and to bring it home.”

    This sounds rather Balthasarian!

    Ratzinger continues:
    “The Apostles’ Creed speaks of Jesus’ descent ‘into hell.’ This descent not only took place in and after his death, but accompanies him along his entire journey. He must recapitulate the whole of history from its beginnings–from Adam on; he must go through, suffer through, the whole of it, in order to transform it.”

    The way that he speaks of Jesus penetrating “the perils besetting mankind” and how this “descent not only takes place after his death” clearly points to continuity in Ratzinger’s thought from his INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIANITY and ESCHATOLOGY.

    Perhaps we’ll have to wait for the 2nd volume of JESUS OF NAZARETH before we see how Ratzinger the theologian might differ from Pope Benedict in this regard, but the theologian seems to be in continuity with himself.

    • Vincent L. Strand, SJ says:

      Mr. Priest,

      Thank you for reminding us of that passage in _Jesus of Nazareth_. (It’s page 26 if anyone is wondering.)

      I think what we see with Ratzinger throughout these excerpts is a tendency to interpret the creedal statement on descent as not only referring explicitly to the descent into hell, but also as saying something broader about Christ’s entire kenotic movement. Thus, even in the Incarnation, we can speak of Christ sharing in man’s “hell” if we understand “hell” here in a capacious sense of man’s suffering which is part of the human experience. I think this is an implicit, operative principle in Ratzinger’s discussions in _Jesus of Nazareth_, _Eschatology_, and _Intro. to Christianity_ which emerges when one reads these excerpts in the full contexts in which they appear.

      Moreover, Pope Benedict seems to make this same move in the encyclical _Spe Salvi_ in paragraph 37 when he quotes from a letter from the Vietnamese martyr Paul Le-Bao-Tinh and describes it as a “letter from Hell.” The Pope says that this letter “also reveals the truth of the Psalm text: ‘If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I sink to the nether world, you are present there … If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall hide me, and night shall be my light’ —for you darkness itself is not dark, and night shines as the day; darkness and light are the same’ (Ps 139 [138]:8-12; cf. also Ps 23 [22]:4). Christ descended into “Hell” and is therefore close to those cast into it, transforming their darkness into light.”

      There we have an explicit reference of the descent into hell in a high-level magisterial document, but I am not sure it does much to settle the question one way or the other regarding the active or passive descent.

      In light of Ratzinger/Benedict’s tendency to interpret “hell” in this broader sense of suffering, I am not sure where we are left concerning the descent into hell qua descent into hell proper. There almost seems to be an avoidance of the issue of the descent into hell proper by speaking about descent in this broader sense of sharing in the suffering condition of man.

      • Mr. Strand,

        Thanks for including the piece from Spe Salvi. I had forgotten about that one.

        Though, in _Jesus of Nazareth_ I think he’s paralleling Jesus’ descent into the water with his descent into human suffering and misery in such a way that the comparison with his descent into hell we have a parallel construction of a passive descent.

        Regardless, it doesn’t settle the question of Benedict teaching this passive descent as pope.

        Great exchange, Vince!

  7. Victor says:

    Very interesting post!

    I’m willing to bet and/or guess that there’s not one human of normal age who has not thought about hell at least one time in life.

    I’m sure that some might even believe that there is no hell cause hell is what we create ourselves and to that I would say, there ain’t no fires here on earth either in reality.

    I know that in this post we’re talking about Jesus having descended to hell but folks, I wouldn’t really lose any sleep over “IT” cause even if one of our spiritual cell made “IT” to hell and came back to warn U>S, not too many humans would really believe “IT” cause “IT” is written.


    Of course these are my personal opinions and I really could say a LOT more but then I’m not sure who would be interested and besides a lot of my post are just never accepted for whatever reasons.

    I hear ya! Poor sinner vic!:(

    God Bless,


  8. Tony says:

    Given your excellent piece, several things could be pointed out. First, Pitstick’s account of the “Tradition” is not by any means incontrovertible; there are those who think she is one-sided in her dealing with the sources. Her accusatory stance therefore, treating Balthasar as if he had succumbed to heresy, goes beyond the evidence and seems to indicate a prejudice that has no place in responsible theological writing. Second, Balthasar’s account of the theology of Holy Saturday, beyond talk of suffering, deals with death and the silence of death. It speaks of the dead Christ’s solidarity with all the dead in their deadness. Death loses its sting; it is conquered from within. Note that at a particular juncture, Balthasar uses Edith Stein to buttress his position here: death is outwitted by love… Third, with regard to Ratzinger’s/Benedict XVI’s thoughts on Holy Saturday, I think your second option is probably the closest to the truth. The Balthasarian account is heavily invested by the Johannine paradox: the death is already the exaltation… Here our authors are confronted by the inadequacy of our human language to encapsulate the mystery. The one reality of suffering, death, and resurrection, of the paschal mystery, requires narrative and theological stretching out; otherwise, the richness and depth of its meaning would be lost. Balthasar’s theology cannot be treated like any standard manual of theology; metaphor and symbol are concept and idea. Peace!

    • Vincent L. Strand, SJ says:

      Dear Tony,

      Thank you for your fine comments and my apologies for a slow response. Your pointing to the Balthasarian notion of the silence of death and of the solidarity that emerges among Christ with the dead through his actually being dead are themes echoed in Ratzinger/Benedict, especially in _Intro to Christianity_ and Spe Salvi. I hope to say more on that in a future post. . . . I also like your comment about “narrative and theological stretching out”: you are precisely right. We must keep in mind the mystery about which we are speaking.

  9. crystal says:

    I remember that discussion at First Things. There were also some articles going back and forth about Hans Urs von Balthasar’s idea that maybe no one is actually in hell. There was The Population of Hell by Avery Cardinal Dulles. Fr. Regis Scanlon’s article in the New Oxford Review, against Balthasar’s view – The Inflated Reputation of Hans Urs von Balthasar – then Richard John Neuhaus’ article in First Things, defending Balthasar against Scanlon – Will All Be Saved? – and a couple after that defending Neuhaus.

    • Vincent L. Strand, SJ says:

      Dear Crystal,

      Thank you for your comment. That piece by Cardinal Dulles is especially fine. You might also see Pope John Paul II’s discussion on hell in _Crossing the Threshold of Hope_, p. 183-187.

      The position you mention in Balthasar – which, more precisely, is that we are to hope that all people might be saved – is a different but related issue. Considering that the theologian in question in my post is Ratzinger, perhaps it is worth noting that in the response Balthasar offered to the critiques of this position which he articulated in his work _Dare We Hope “That All Men be Saved?”_, he claims Ratzinger among those theologians in his company regarding the issue of hoping for universal salvation (p. 168-169).

      • Jolly says:

        Dear Rev. Vincent
        I am Jolly Philip, a Catholic priest from India. I am very much interested in reading the works of Ratzinger especially after reading his two masterful works “Introducion to Christianity” and “Eschatology” (his best work till date). I was indeed awestruck by his beautiful reflections on Christ’s descent into Hell (Hades/Sheol) in “Introduction …”: “there is life in the midst of death, because love dwells in it.” (p. 301).
        I would like to ask two questions:
        1) Hasn’t Ratzinger’s position as a personal theologian changed over years?
        2)Which of his stands in “Introdution …” were later rectified by him?

  10. Joe says:

    Thank you, Fr. Vincent for the thought provoking post. Some other points of reference pertaining to this topic are the “The Last Act” (volume 5 of Balthasar’s Theo-Drama), Speyr’s “Kreuz und Holle”, and the last 2 volumes of Balthasar’s “Theo-Logic”. I suspect that Ratzinger/Benedict and Balthasar are more in agreement than one might suppose. Also, what might be missed in this conversation is the relationship between Christ and evil in the salvific action. Thanks again!

  11. Gabriel Austin says:

    Vincent L. Strand, SJ September 22, 2009 at 5:47 pm | Reply
    “Mr. Austin,
    “Joseph Ratzinger is a Bavarian theologian, bishop, and cardinal who was elected Pope on April 19, 2005. At that time, he took the name Pope Benedict XVI.
    “You’ll notice that in my posting, I refer to him as “Ratzinger” when referring to his works published before his election as Pope, since he was not Pope Benedict XVI at the time he wrote those pieces. This is common practice. Moreover, according to prevailing academic custom, I omit the titles “Father” or “Cardinal” when referring to his work as a theologian.
    “I hope that clarifies”.

    You being, as I suppose, a priest, I can accept the note of condescension in your reply. Looking at your photograph I also suppose that I am older than you and am quite well informed about the Holy Father’s background.

    I am surprised that a Jesuit [well, perhaps I am no longer surprised] would miss the note of irony in my question. What the secular academy does is of little interest. It does certainly not wish to be courteous to the Holy Father; rather the contrary, I think. But it is certainly ferociously attached to its own titles.

    I was hoping that a website such as this might begin what will certainly be a long climb for the Society of Jesus to regain the esteem which it has so casually tossed aside. Referring to the Holy Father by a title usual in Catholic circles is a good beginning.

    • Tesvich, SJ says:

      Mr. Austin,

      Note well that the Holy Father himself published his book “Jesus of Nazareth” under the name Joseph Ratzinger specifically so that people would know “that this book is in no way an exercise of the magisterium” (p. xxiii). If the Holy Father can make the distinction between his official teachings as pope and his work as a theologian it is not rude for others to do so.

    • c matt says:

      I don’t know where you noted any condescension or disrespect. The exlpanation of the use of the Holy Father’s baptismal name seemed pretty clear and reasonable to me.

  12. Fred says:

    Rodney Howsare makes a great point with regard to the controversy: “It is interesting to note, for instance, that Alyssa Pitstick’s book makes almost no reference to models of the Trinity except the psychological one preferred by Thomas and Augustine.”

    Excerpt from Balthasar: A Guide for the Perplexed, a new book that I highly recommend.

  13. Gabriel,

    Vince is not a priest. Nor is that condescension you think you hear. Vince does not have a condescending bone in his body. He is just trying to answer your very intentionally leading question. If are less opaque, he can be clearer in his responses as well. Thanks,

    Nathan O’Halloran, SJ

  14. bill bannon says:


    You wrote: “but as the successor to St. Peter he is free from all error regarding the Faith.”

    Just so you don’t hold an error for years to come. You may mean the above in reference to de fide settled issues or you may not. As a precaution, I give you below Ludwig Ott from the Intro to his book on the Fundamentals of the Catholic Faith and just before section 9 of that intro…i.e…Popes can err when they are not accessing the charism of infallibility:

    “With regard to the doctrinal teaching of the Church it must be well noted that not all the assertions of the Teaching Authority of the Church on questions of Faith and morals are infallible and consequently irrevocable. Only those are infallible which emanate from General Councils representing the whole episcopate, and the Papal Decisions Ex Cathedra (cf. D 1839). The ordinary and usual form of the Papal teaching activity is not infallible. Further, the decisions of the Roman Congregations (Holy Office, Bible Commission) are not infallible. Nevertheless normally they are to be accepted with an inner assent which is based on the high supernatural authority of the Holy See (assensus internus supernaturalis, assensus religiosus).”

    There is even a few holes in that statement but your pastor can go over it with you…e.g. John Paul II spoke infallibly against abortion in Evangelium Vitae (Welch,Lawrence J./Theological Studies/2003(64)) by first polling the world’s bishops on abortion and then using a short form of the ex cathedra wording but he did not use ex cathedra per se but a mode which centuries ago could only have happened within a Council.

  15. Gabriel Austin says:

    Tesvich, SJ Says September 23, 2009 at 6:34 pm | Reply
    “Mr. Austin,
    Note well that the Holy Father himself published his book “Jesus of Nazareth” under the name Joseph Ratzinger specifically so that people would know “that this book is in no way an exercise of the magisterium” (p. xxiii). If the Holy Father can make the distinction between his official teachings as pope and his work as a theologian it is not rude for others to do so”.

    At which point he should be referred to as Cardinal Ratzinger. I can hardly think it so difficult to refer to him by his correct titles. I do not think myself old-fashioned, but that kind of courtesy was common in my youth. I note that our three THE Weekly of American Catholics also tend to refer to our bishops by their surnames. That is intended as a mark of disrespect I cannot say; it is certainly disrespectful.

    As to Mr. [Brother?] Strand not being a priest, I cannot say. Again in my youth the SJ stood for a priest.

    It is not impossible to have unwittingly a condescending tone. It is a common failing of academics. Does not St. Ignatius remark on the necessity of accepting a well-intentioned reproof, however mild?

    • c matt says:

      My understanding from the Jesuit high school I attended was that a novice (correct term?) was still addressed as Mr. _____, SJ, and not Fr. ___, SJ until full orders were bestowed. So there were some “SJ”s who were not priests (yet). I can’t recall if the Society of Jesus also has brothers, although there was a Brother at our school (whom we addressed as “Brother _____. I can’t recall if he had “SJ” at the end).

  16. mary says:

    As to Mr. [Brother?] Strand not being a priest, I cannot say. Again in my youth the SJ stood for a priest.

    SJ stands for “belonging to Societas Jesu”.After his first vows (and long before his ordination as priest) a man already belong to the Societas Jesu.

  17. Grant says:

    Vince, SJ,

    Great post! I had never really reflected much on this act of Christ, but will definitely meditate on it after reading your and the Pope’s comments.

  18. Johannes says:

    Even though this thread is quite old, I learned about this issue today (in First Things and here) and I’d like to record a few observations:

    1. This statement by Pitstick is spot on:

    “If Oakes is right, Christ’s death on the cross was insufficient for redemption. All doctrine linked to the cross as the locus of redemption is then also nonsense. Why then does St. Paul glory in Christ crucified, rather than Christ in hell?”

    and its correctness can be further strengthened by relating it to Jesus’ second to last word in the Cross: “It is finished.” (Jn 19:30).

    If things were as Balthasar and his followers posit, and Jesus was facing the prospects of suffering in hell for almost two days, he should instead have said “And to think that the pain just begins…”

    2. If Balthasar’s theology of Holy Saturday has been “influenced decisively by the awesome Catholic mystic Adrienne von Speyr”, as Dr. Matthew Sutton states above, then it is fitting that we should also take into account, as “counterbalance”, the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich. Obviously they are not official doctrine of the Church, but on the other hand certainly no less deserving of attention than those of von Speyr’s, at the very least. And they are in line with Pitstick’s position, stressing that Jesus entered in triumph and to bring joy to each of the Limbo’s compartments – a dark spot for Adam and Eve, a purgatory for pre-Abrahamic patriarchs, the real Limbo or Abraham’s bosom (to which the good thief was being carried by angels), and a purgatory for good pagans. He also in triumph made a brief foray into hell proper, not to suffer or bring joy but to compel its dwellers to adore Him, and then He liberated the souls from Limbo and some from purgatory and led them into Heaven.

    3. Finally, on Jeremy Priest’s first quote above from “Jesus of Nazareth” that “Jesus has to enter into the drama of human existence”.

    The “drama of human existence” takes place only while man is on earth. After death, there are no “perils besetting mankind”.

  19. Johannes says:

    One more point for the record.

    4. The only straight way to interpret Jesus’ statement to the good thief “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23:43) is as excluding any state of suffering between Jesus’ death and resurrection, though in itself not necessarily referring to the beatific vision but possibly only to Abraham’s bosom (Lk 16:19-31).

  20. As Allister Begg says with respect to the Bible and the various debates in scripture, “the main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things.” Having debates that lead to non-respectful commentary simply helps the world justify the hypocrisy amongst Christians – which does not help those unsaved become saved. In 1 Peter when the word “prison” is used … whether He descended into hell OR to a lower part OR ??? – the bottom line PLAIN truth is that He Died and Rose again for each of us; each of you. And, isn’t it true that NO ONE will know exactly what He meant by the word “prison” until we are no longer living. I personally believe if we followed Allister’s advice and kept the main things plain – the world would see more unity and be able to say – I want to know this Jesus they are speaking about! Just food for thought from a simple Christian.
    God Bless ….

  21. freder1ck says:

    This recent article was interesting:

    Also, it was interesting to scan this discussion without any reference to the dark night of the soul, which is essential to Balthasar’s meditation. When saints suffer the dark night are they sharing in the suffering of Christ?

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