The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Jesus' descent to hell

And why do sponsors denounce hell's host?

In the Apostles' Creed we confess, "He (Jesus) descended into hell." What does this mean?

This phrase was added to the creed at the Synod of Sirium in 359 A.D. because Markus of Arethusa wanted to express the truth that in his death on the cross, Jesus experienced the abandonment of God, which is, in fact, hell. The sinless Son of God was bearing the inevitable consequences of our sins for us. He went to hell so we who receive him in faith will not have to. This is how far Christ went to save us. 

Why are parents and baptismal sponsors asked to "renounce all the forces of evil, the devil, and all his empty promises"? Many have no idea what they are promising.

This is a remnant of an understanding of baptism that has an element of exorcism in it. Martin Luther used an even stronger expression of baptism as deliverance from the power of the devil.

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March issue

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