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The Descent into Solidarity

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Christ’s Descent into Hell as Stimulus for Justice

image of Journal of Reformed Theology

In the Apostle’s Creed, undoubtedly the most enigmatic phrase is Christ “descendit ad inferos,” descended into hell. After surveying various interpretations of the doctrine, this paper seeks to integrate the Reformed tradition’s view of the descent as the subjective experience of God-forsakenness with Hans Urs von Balthasar’s proposal that Christ entered into solidarity with the dead in hell with no hope of being found by God. The paper then draws three ethical implications from this reading of the descent: the importance of self-surrender, the necessity of solidarity with the oppressed and a chastened confidence towards the prospect for social change in our world.

Affiliations: 1: Boston College, MA, USA


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