Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
April 7th, 2015 by Joel Watts

Trent’s Catechism on the Descent into Hell

Descent into Hell, icon from the Ferapontov Mo...

Descent into Hell, icon from the Ferapontov Monastery Tempera on wood, 312x105x4, State Russian Museum, Sankt Petersburg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is of an interest to me lately. This is from the poorly understood Council of Trent:

QUESTION V

Nothing was taken from the Dignity of Christ by his Descent into Hell

But, although Christ descended into hell, his supreme power was nought diminished; nor was the splendour of his holiness denied by any blemish. Nay, this fact served rather to prove most clearly, that whatever had been proclaimed touching his holiness was true; and that, as he had previously declared by so many miracles, he was truly the Son of God. This we shall easily understand, if we compare the causes why Christ, and why other men, have descended into those places. They all descended as captives; but He, free and victorious amongst the dead, descended to subdue those demons by whom, in consequence of sin, they were held in captivity. All others who descended, some did endure the most acute torments, others, though exempt from other pain, yet deprived of the sight of God, were tortured with suspense by the hope deferred of the blessed glory which they expected; whereas Christ the Lord descended, not to suffer aught, but to liberate from the miserable wearisomeness of that captivity the holy and the just, and to impart to them the fruit of his passion. By his descent into hell, therefore, no diminution was made from his supreme dignity and power.1

  1. Theodore Alois Buckley, The Catechism of the Council of Trent (London: George Routledge and Co., 1852), 62–63.
Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

One Response to “Trent’s Catechism on the Descent into Hell”
  1. Milton Almeida says

    I will go for this! I actually think His descent into Hell, meaning “…amongst the dead, descended to subdue those demons by whom, in consequence of sin, they were held in captivity.” (the captivity of the souls) is the fulfillment of what He said: “…the gates of Hell (same Hell) will not prevail against the Church” – Now, we know by the Old Testament what gates are in a fortified city and in military terms. Gates were not used to attack the enemies, but rather to defend from their incursion or invasion into the city; gates were, as such, the last defensive resort of a city, which places the Church in the “attack”, or the “attacking forces Christ went to Hell to “attack” hell in such a way that its gates could no longer hold in prison the souls of whom He revived by His death on the cross!
    Amen!

    Man, this comment is so good that you should preach on it next Sunday Joel!

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