The Orthodox False Gospel
"The Harrowing of Hades"
It may be that the Mormons obtained their heretical false gospel by modifying the Orthodox beliefs about "the descent into Hades". The heresy of Mormonism is that when Jesus died"descended into Hell" and rose again, he secured resurrection (for everyone) and forgiveness of sin for Mormons (but not salvation - which to them is also a process with varying degrees "of glory"). This is a foul heresy, as no one could burn in Hell forever except Jesus supposed;y "obtained their resurrection", making a mockery of the sufferings of Christ.
Get this clear - God was always going to resurrect the dead for judgement, the righteous and unrighteous. Jesus dd not die and rise again to secure anyone's "right" to be burnt in Hell by being resurrected. It is a contradiction of the entire purpose of his sufferings and victory in resurrection. Any scripture you might find saying he obtained our right to a resurrection to salvation, it is reference to the salvation he earned for true believers.
The Orthodox view:
In the Creeds they treat as if they were holy writ itself it says:
Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith unless every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
And the catholic faith is this:......
19) Who suffered for our salvation;
20) descended into hell;
21) rose again the third day from the dead.
22) He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the living and the dead.
It also appears in the Apostle's Creed, but in the Nicene Creed it simply says "he was buried".
from these quotations we see the following Eastern Orthodox doctrines:
Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: Christ the Conqueror of Hell
The Descent of Christ into Hades in Eastern and Western Theological Traditions
1) The Byzantine and old Russian icons of the Resurrection of Christ never depict the resurrection itself, i.e., Christ coming out of the grave. They rather depict ‘the descent of Christ into Hades’, or to be more precise, the rising of Christ out of hell.
2) Christ, sometimes with a cross in his hand, is represented as raising Adam, Eve and other personages of the biblical history from hell.
3) Under the Saviour’s feet is the black abyss of the nether world; against its background are castles, locks and debris of the gates which once barred the way of the dead to resurrection.
4) the above-described iconographic type is considered to be canonical, as:
a) it reflects the traditional teaching on the descent of Christ to hell,
b) His victory over death,
c) His raising of the dead and delivering them from hell where they were imprisoned before His Resurrection.
d) The traditional Catholic doctrine insists that after His death on the cross Christ descended to hell only to deliver the Old Testament righteous from it. A similar understanding is quite widespread among Orthodox Christians.
If they insist (which some might, some might not) that Jesus did not earn the right to resurrection for souls, but only the right for the saved (under the old covenants) in Hades to be released from there, where did they go to? Or do they stay there but simply now have the right to be released later? In effect this is the doctrine "Jesus died to complete the salvation of those who are dead in the time of old testament" which doctrinally is significantly different from the doctrine that "the grace of Christ from calvary was in its effect ex post facto" throughout the previous history before he died.
The Evangelical doctrine.
From my experience of Evangelicalism over decades, the general Evangelical position seems to be that the references to Jesus preaching to "the spirits in prison...." is not a reference to Hell or Hades, but that the Holy Spirit and Jesus (confirming Trinity) caused Noah to be in the Spirit in his preaching, in the hundred of years the Ark was being prepared, and that they also spiritually drew the crowds who flocked to see the Ark of Noah and deride him to repent. Further the victory Jesus obtained "over death" is that the second death would have no power over those who are eventually saved, not that people would no longer die (as is evident) and do not forget the unrighteous and unbelieving will still go into the second death,or Hell. This victory over the Second Death was available as part of the salvation offered to those who are eventually lost, and rejected the free gift of God (this is to show my previous comment was not Calvinistic).
Keeping the so called "catholic Faith".
"Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith unless every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly." The Athanasian Creed.
So..... is it even necessary to hold a doctrine on whether Jesus "descended into Hell" literally, in order to "keep real the Faith" or be saved? I believe it is evident to those who are spiritual that it is entirely unnecessary to hold a doctrine on this topic to be saved, as it is not included in the two great definitions of the gospel that saves, 1 Cor 15:1-4 and Luke 24:44-48. Furthermore if you hold to the explicit definition of many Protestants and Evangelicals that Jesus did not preach in Hades, you can still be saved if you trust in Christ, and even if that turned out to be untrue and Jesus did visit Hades, the error would not be such as to damn you. However....... stating "you cannot be saved" unless you believe the Orthodox interpretation is heresy, as it is once again adding something superfluous to the salvation message as if believing it is definitely necessary for salvation. It is corrupting the simplicity of the gospel of Christ that saves, that is belief in his victory for our salvation in his death and resurrection.
The "ex post facto" doctrine of grace
is multi faceted and is not dealt with in-depth on this page, as the doctrine discussed here about Orthodox beliefs about "the descent into Hell" is more specific and less generalised.
Old testament salvation:
Part of the refutation of Eastern Orthodox dogma on this subject is their misunderstanding of old testament salvation, which they falsely say was also "a process" obtained partly by human works, under the many old covenants, such as the Adamic covenant, Edenic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic etc. Mankind has in fact never been saved by works, ever, it is just that the keeping of the Old Mosaic Law was considered by God an outward visible sign of true invisible inner Faith, and as such was a quality indicator of repentance, that is it is not just mouthed repentance or Faith. In the new covenant we are delivered from keeping many of the draconian old laws such as continually travelling to Jerusalem to keep now defunct feasts, and a strict sabbath so strict it was a chore to keep it. A massive difference between modern Orthodoxy and ceremonies carried out under Moses Law, is simply Moses Laws was real, Orthodox traditions, rites and ceremonies are simply man made bunk.