Here's my response to the text-questions I got from Sunday's sermon. We talked about Jesus' descent into hell. The sermon itself is posted below, and below that is a post with several links to articles on this issue you might find interesting.
This week we are taking a look at the most controversial line the Apostle's Creed: "he descended into hell." You may not be familiar with it because since the 1989 United Methodist Hymnal, it has been relegated to a footnote and is not usually included in worship. But it was part of the creed for about 1500 years and I think it was stupid of us to take it out just because it is controversial and because the meaning of it is not abundantly clear. It's much better to wrestle and struggle with tough things like this than to just pretend like it isn't there. On Sunday I'll be sharing how I interpret it and why I think it is an important part of Christian belief.
If you are interested in exploring this some more, I would recommend the following articles. Keep in mind I don't agree with everything these folks say, and in some cases I strongly disagree, but these short pieces will give a good feel for the contours of the debate about this line. If you are really interested in exploring this some more, I would recommend John Sanders book, No Other Name. He has a whole chapter devoted to the question of whether people can be saved after death that is very helpful and insightful. (By the way, I have invited Dr. Sanders to come give a talk at PHUMC on 9/11 about being a Christian in a multi-faith world. More about that to come.)
He's pretty dense, but the theologian I have found most insightful on this issue is the Eastern Orthodox Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev. He has written a very comprehensive work called Christ the Conqueror of Hell, and has written an essay which summarizes his findings at: