Bringing the Text to Life

To Hell and Back 1 Peter 3:18-22

To Hell and Back

The Apostles' Creed, supported by certain biblical texts, suggests that death may not close the door on hope, even for the unrighteous.

At a Glance

The Apostle's Creed declares that Jesus "descended into hell." Some support seems to come from today's epistle reading. But what does it all mean? And, really -- so what?

Editors' Pick

For material based on today's gospel text, see "Brain Buckets," March 5, 2006, at

We start with a story of how Ian Rolland died, 4,500 feet below ground in a cave. And not just in a cave, but a sump. When it comes to exploring deep caves, a sump is a dangerous thing.

A sump is a low point in a cave passage -- in effect, like the j-trap under a bathroom sink. But instead of being clogged with hair and bobby pins, cave sumps are often filled with icy water, silt and stalactites, all in pitch blackness, so that getting through them is a matter of high risk. It requires the use of underwater lights, diving equipment, special garb to keep hypothermia at bay, the stringing of guide ropes for finding one's way back out and a steely grip on one's courage.

And rightly so, because...

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