Originally posted April 1, 2011, at Barefoot Pastor. Republished with permission of the author.
Ten adults from our congregation are preparing to be confirmed/affirm their baptisms on the Easter Vigil (the night before Easter).
They have been in a class for the past year that I have, admittedly, packed a wee bit too much into. Last night, as we prepared to cover the Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe in Jesus ,” in 10 minutes, we got off track and the conversation went to hell — literally.
We started talking about hell. Where did Jesus go when he died? Did he die and just lie there dead or did his life after death begin immediately.
Is hell a real place that you can go to?
Did Jesus go into the hells on earth in some spiritual way and conquer them?
I was feeling a bit over my head (can’t we just talk about grace some more?).
And then we started talking about evil. I mentioned a couple of times that I’ve known I was in the presence of evil: once at a battered women’s shelter working with someone in the addictive grip of abuse, and again at a church in Rwanda that was the site of a genocidal murder.
Others had their own experiences such as at a German concentration camp or the events of Sept. 11.
I noted that we Lutherans don’t talk much about evil in a spiritual form — we talk much more about its manifestations. Evil as it appears in war, poverty, addiction and death.
We talk a lot about sin and believe it is critical to address sin head-on. But we do less with evil. Which made one of the natural theologians in the class say, “Why not? Scripture is full of it, isn’t it?”
So, we have research to do:
1) Why did we replace “hell” with “dead” in the Apostles’ Creed. And just what is normative for Lutherans regarding hell?
2) What role does spiritual warfare have in Lutheran theology? What is evil?
Find a link to Sarah Scherschligt’s blog Barefoot Pastor at Lutheran Blogs.