What was St. Peter talking about in regards to Christ's preaching to the spirits in prison? What was Christ preaching? The Law? The Gospel? The argument inevitably involves an exegetical discussion concerning the following passage:
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
Here is the link to the first (and introductory) post in this series:
Prof. Th. Engelder on The Hades Gospel Part I: "The Hades Gospel"
In Part II, "The Argument in Support of the Hades Gospel," Engelder examines the arguments for the "Hades Gospel" in detail. He spends time discussing the most frequently cited passages that come under discussion in the debate: 1 Peter 3:18f. and 1 Pet. 4:6. He also has an extended section on the word "prison" before briefly dealing with additional passages that are sometimes used in support of the "Hades Gospel". Engelder concludes this section with quotations of the proponents ("God's love and justice demand...") which expose the presuppositions which lead them to their positions regardless of the scriptural evidence.
[As a side note, it is interesting that in this and subsequent sections Engelder cites F. Delitzsch and Kliefoth as sympathizers/proponents of the Hades Gospel]
[Here is a brief introduction to Engelder and his work.]
Below are all six essays, in order, linked to the online articles.
Part I: "The Hades Gospel"
CTM May 1945 (Vol. 16, No. 5)
Part II: "The Argument in Support of the Hades Gospel"
CTM June 1945 (Vol. 16, No. 6)
Part III: "The Evil of The Hades Gospel"
CTM September 1945 (Vol. 16, No. 9)
Part IV: "Some Remarks on the Question of the Salvation of the Heathen"
CTM December 1945 (Vol. 16, No. 12)
Part V: "The Protestant Purgatory"
CTM June 1946 (Vol. 17, No. 6)
Part VI: "The Hades Gospel and the Apocatastasis Gospel"
CTM September 1946 (Vol. 17, No. 9)
Get Read Level: Pastors: 8/10 Laymen: 3/10
If you are a pastor who isn't comfortable speaking to this issue and the questions surrounding the life hereafter, then you probably need to, um, "supplement you knowledge" about basic Christianity. (Read: get it straight, fast. You should know this already!) There is a decent amount of German and other foreign language references in the article. However, the layman who is grounded in the Catechism and Scriptures and takes a plunge will indeed be rewarded with much good food for thought and reflection.