14 November 2013

We must correct the Apostles' Creed!

Evangelical theologians call for the Apostles' Creed to be amended to exclude the sentence, "He descended into Hell." 

This is the sort of non-sense that passes for scholarship when you have no Tradition and no magisterial authority to enforce said Tradition. 

One good response to this ridiculous argument:

There are potentially a number of errors here. One is that Christ Himself did not have a human soul. Many Protestants, without knowing it, do not believe that Christ has a human soul. They instead believe that Christ has a human body but that His deity serves as the animating principle of His body. Hence, when Christ died, His deity was naturally in Heaven. The conclusion is that He would have skipped Hell entirely.

On the other end of the spectrum is the heretical doctrine of Calvin that states that Christ literally descended into the Gehenna of the damned in order to receive the full punishment of sin. This is contrary to Scripture, contrary to the Fathers, and contrary to orthodox Christology.
As I am constantly reminding the seminarians at NDS: get the Incarnation wrong and everything that comes after it is wrong.

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  1. Anil Wang7:28 AM

    This is one of the dangers of the Bible Alone theory. There is a whole lot of the Nicene and to a lesser extent, the Apostle's creed that is either not in the Bible or not ambiguous in the Bible. Arius, Nestorius, Sebelius, and other Trinitarian heretics were all able to use the Bible to support their heresies. Many Bible Alone Christians today recognize this confusion and come up with another heresy, that the Trinity doesn't matter since if it did, God would have made it clearer in the Bible. If you get the Church wrong, you'll get the Bible wrong, and if you get the Bible wrong, you'll get the Incarnation wrong, and if you get the Incarnation wrong, you completely misunderstand human anthropology and what separates us from God and each other, the nature of salvation, and likely salvation itself.

  2. I've also read and heard, "He descended to the dead." http://vox-nova.com/2012/02/03/descended-to-the-dead-or-descended-into-hell/

  3. Why would an Evangelical, sola scriptura and all, even have occasion to recite the Apostles Creed? After all, it came from the decadent period after the last Apostle died and the Church fell into ruin until saved by Northern Europeans 1500 years later...I certainly have some quibbles with Catholicism, but the sola scriptura thing seems completely screwy to me.

    I have been a student of ancient and contemporary Gnosticism. Based simply on the ancient texts by "Gnostics" it is very hard to get a scholarly consensus about the movement. Why? There is no continuing community of interpreters to show you how to read this pile of words. Imagine if the only Christian texts surviving were the Gospels of Mark and John, the epistles to Thessalonians, to Hebrews, and of James, and the Apocalypse. Absent a community, try and make a coherent religion out of that!

    And of course, every consciously sola scriptura type has his own implicit magisterium to guide him. Or Protestant Magisterial bodies like the charming Synod of Dordrecht. Or my favorite, Monsieur Calvin.

  4. fr. Dismas, OP11:00 AM

    When they become part of the Church Catholic, they can present their petition at the next Oecumenical Council. ;)

  5. While I am wary of drinking theology from a fire hydrant like the Washington Post, I do not "get" your refutation. My admittedly ancient recollection of Aquinas is of a discription of a four-level arrangement, with Chist only descending to the first such level. My admittedly foggy understanding of the E. Orthodox doctrine/ as expressed in its liturgy (is there any clear understanding of the irenic aphodictic?) is that "Christ trampled Death by death and on those in tombs bestowed life."

    While I see you disapprove of this new thang, it is not clear to me what is correct.

  6. Lou, from the CCC:

    632 The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was "raised from the dead" presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection.478 This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ's descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.479

    633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, "hell" - Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek - because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God.480 Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into "Abraham's bosom":481 "It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham's bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell."482 Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.483

    634 "The gospel was preached even to the dead."484 The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfillment. This is the last phase of Jesus' messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ's redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption.

    635 Christ went down into the depths of death so that "the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live."485 Jesus, "the Author of life", by dying destroyed "him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage."486 Henceforth the risen Christ holds "the keys of Death and Hades", so that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth."487

    Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. . . He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him - He who is both their God and the son of Eve. . . "I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. . . I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead."488