The belief at the very heart of christianity is the incarnation of Jesus. The light of the world, steps into the darkness and the darkness is transformed by his light. Note that I didn’t say the darkness was merely dispelled or disbursed. It is transformed.
There’s a teaching within the Orthodox church that essentially states that there’s nowhere Jesus goes that doesn’t get transformed into the holy of holies by his presence there.
I wonder then, what are we to do with hell now that Jesus has not only defeated it, but also given it by the means of his presence transforming light. His light was and is not like a twinkle light from a tree that bears his birthday candle. His light is rather like the power of the sun contained in human form.
If there’s really nowhere he goes that can’t be transformed, then it necessitates a rethinking of even the most dark and fearful places. It necessitates a rethinking of all that would seem to be disciplinary, all that would seem to be retributive, and all that would seem to be dark.
There’s nowhere that could possibly be a part of the human existence that he hasn’t taken part in, played the role fully, and made a part of his own experience. There’s nowhere that could possibly have fallen outside his reach as his light grew brighter and brighter. The light of the cosmos lights all that exists. The eternally preexistent one shines light into the darkness, and the darkness is “overcome” or “transformed”.
Jesus said that we will all be salted with fire...but salt is good…so keep salt in yourselves. He’s talking about fire. The context even looks like he’s talking about “the” fire. But this is pre-cross. This is before Jesus’ light has entered the darkness and the depths of our hatred and violence. This is before the harrowing of hell so brilliantly penned by St. John Chrysostom.