Monday, January 23, 2012

Sinners obsessed with an angry God

The fear of hell has gained an unBiblical place in some discussions about Jesus. How can we tell if hell has been pushed to the front too far? We can compare it to the place it has in the gospels. Doing a quick verse search of the four gospels (AV), I found the words "hell, condemn, perdition" 25 times in the gospels* -- and the words "heaven, forgive, save" 209 times. So if someone wants a truly Biblical gospel approach, heaven should get far more time than hell -- and Jesus more time than either of those. I'm not saying you have to count words; but I am saying if the focus leans towards hell, then the priorities of the gospels have been turned upside down.

Is 50/50 -- equal time -- unbalanced? Yes, 50/50 is unbalanced when the original source material is closer to 90/10, in the nearest round numbers. Here's an example: do you remember how microscopes and magnifying glasses work? They enlarge things, and they measure how much magnification something gets. To get a 50/50 presentation here, you'd have to place a nearly 5x magnification on hell -- and in the same way you'd have to reduce the place of heaven to get it down to only 50%.

Jesus did not preach, "Repent, or you'll go to hell." He did not preach, "You're going to hell; repent so you go to heaven." He preached, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Then he spent a lot of time teaching what that kingdom of heaven is like. Preaching the good news does not need to be without any mention of hell -- but too many people preach a message where heaven is overshadowed by hell. That approach has it backwards. The gospel is that, in Jesus, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

* Yes, "perdition" was actually used in that old translation, which is why I searched for it.


Martin LaBar said...

Interesting and well done!

Weekend Fisher said...

Glad you liked.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF