Updated: Sep 8, 2021
Hey friends! Welcome back to 1 Peter. Today we'll be reading three chapters and closing this book out. These chapters feature some similar "advice" about marriage that found in some of Paul's letters earlier on. Take that with a grain of salt, please haha. Today also features the scriptural basis for what's understood as a the harrowing of hell. (Redemption of souls in hell) that we say aloud in things such as a the Apostles Creed. Can you find it? No worries if not! We'll discuss it down below. Let me know in the comments if you found it :)
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
Both Peter and James speak of the tongue as being the source of evil, whereas Paul does not say that in his writings. Why do you think that is the case? Do you agree?
What is your understanding of hell and God's relationship to that? In other words - do you believe that people are sent to hell by God? What criteria is the basis for that? Is there any redemption possible for these people?
- Commentary -
So in this section I'll be addressing that second question but before I do I want to encourage you to watch two videos. The first is the original video which called the concept of hell into question and the second is a response to it which defends God as both just and loving. The question I want to you answer is whether or not both Ghandi is in hell and Hitler is in heaven and why you think either way. Then I'll go into detail below.
Rob Bell's Original Video: (Note: For many, many people Rob Bell is considered a heretic who has gone too far in the way of universalism. I am not endorsing or condemning him as a public figure in this commentary - we're only focusing on the content of this one specific video.)
((Second Note of disclosure: I have read this book and enjoyed it.))
Jeff Bethke's Response Video: (note that this is a reupload and Jeff has removed the video from his official channel. He may or may not still stand by the same message.)
In the apostles creed we say the following words regarding Jesus:
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
He descended to the dead, in other words, he went to hell and 3 days later he went up to heaven. I find this to be a really massive theological point that we tend to just gloss over when he chant out the apostles creed like a collective cult. JESUS WENT TO HELL? The scriptural root of that conviction comes from 1 Peter and Ephesians where similar words are read. In today's reading it says the following in 1 Peter 3:18-20 Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. So he went and preached to the spirits in prison— those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. In other words, the belief according to this scripture is that Jesus died not just for the living but for those that had died before he came in order to liberate and save all of humanity and not just those present and future. This is crucial to God liberating us and returning us to (new) Eden in Revelation. With this belief you can say that every character we read bout in the Old Testament as far as Genesis will also be in heaven too. It's a more "progressive" reading of the text to include Jewish people in heaven as well as Christians. Is heaven a VIP party for Christians or for all people of all faith and non faith alike? That's up to you to decide. We can't be certain either way.
There are a number of different theories on hell with the scariest version being that all but 144 chosen people will go to hell to the most liberal of beliefs suggesting that hell exists but it is empty because of Jesus. Others, such as Bell, argue that hell cannot exist because a loving God would not create a space of eternal torture and rather hell is a state of mind. (When you learn your child has cancer or some other tragic thing beyond words.) Hell is anything where the world does not look like God would want it. Where you do you fall on that spectrum? Is Ghandi in hell because he did not accept Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior? Maybe. Is Hitler in heaven because Jesus' forgiveness is greater than our capacity for evil? Maybe. What is your take? Remember, that we can be certain of none of this. So whatever your take is be respectful to others beliefs as well.
For an understanding of a Methodist perspective on hell I invite you to read the following thoughts from Rev. Adam Hamilton as found on the UMC Beliefs website.
"The Rev. Adam Hamilton: “So, people ask me, ‘Do you believe in hell?’ And the truth is, I don’t want to believe in hell. I don’t like the idea of it. But as I think about the idea of hell logically, it seems like it has to be there.
And here’s what I mean: Jesus said that we’re to pray, ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ And when I think about that, I think that means that heaven is a place where God’s will is done; where we love perfectly, we love God and we love our neighbor, where justice is done, where we live selflessly, and we live as servants and we find the joy in that. I think, if that’s what heaven is, then it must be true that there has to be a place for people who don’t want to live that way.
God doesn’t force us to experience heaven. God doesn’t force us to do his will, he allows us. And, so everyone is invited. We still have a choice, ‘I’m not interested in doing God’s will.’ And so, to me, it seems that there is a natural and logical corollary that there must be a place for those who don’t want to do God’s will. And when I think about Dante’s inferno and these various levels of hell, you know in Dante’s painting, the idea of people gnawing on each other, eating each other, constantly trying to get something from somebody else and satisfy their own needs, a place of deep hunger and no fulfillment. And that’s what I think hell is.
I don’t think God intends anyone to go there. I think God’s intention is that everyone come to the party, but that he won’t force us to come to his party. And I love how C.S. Lewis described it, he says, ‘It’s where the doors are locked from the inside, where we could always escape if we chose to. But there are people who will never choose the life that God offers us in heaven but instead will choose a life still absorbed in self.”
Praying the Hymns
Our prayer for today is inspired by hymn 344 - Tu Has Venido a la Orilla (Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore). The English version is linked beneath the original. The tune is absolutely stunning.