Go to Hell!
Jesus descended into hell… this, for me, is the most radical theological statement the church makes, and the best good news for us all.
Hell, really more than a place (but even as a place) is the state of those for whom God does not exist – it is a place outside of the presence of God (of life and of love). On the cross God becomes God forsaken. Jesus, forsaken by God, dies and is “cast” into hell – into the land of those forsaken by God and denied the presence of God.
And yet… incarnational theology is almost always all about the yet, and this yet is that Jesus is God. God has landed in the land of God-forsaken by God’s own act, and when this happens what we learn is that there is no place now, no where, no when, no being or state of being or place of being or personhood of being that is denied God! The very place defined by God’s absence has found God right in the middle of it.
What better statement do we have than this: hell is the abode of God!
And what better theological litmus test do we have than this: if your statement doesn’t make sense coming from the mouth of the God who makes hell a dwelling place of incarnate love… well, you are on the wrong track.
He descended into hell. Thanks be to God.
postscript: this isn’t my first such post, like I said, it’s important to claim. If you want a lengthier and older and maybe less direct thought process on the subject of “he descended into hell” you can find more thoughts of mine here: https://akukla.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/descended-into-hell/