Did Jesus speak twice as much about hell as heaven?

Page 2 of 2 (31 items) < Previous 1 2
This post has 30 Replies | 4 Followers

Posts 476
elnwood | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jan 14 2013 9:42 AM

I don't think the adage is true, but I noticed that people scrutinized the instances of "hell" more than "heaven." Jesus talked about the kingdom of heaven a lot, but not nearly as much as the word count would indicate.

From a cursory search, the word for "heaven" in many cases simply means "sky," (i.e. Jesus looked up to the heavens), and by far the most common use of it is "God who is in heaven," used 13 times just in the book of Matthew. So a lot of those instances are either repetitive or not relevant.

It would be interested to see someone actually break down what Jesus says about heaven instead of word-counting. I started doing this, but got bored.

Heaven is ...
at hand (Mt 3:2, Mt 4:17)
belongs to the poor in spirit (Mt 5:3)
belongs to the persecuted for righteousness' (Mt 5:10-12)
where God is (Mt. 5:16, 34, 45; 6:1, 9)
where those who teach and obey the commandments will be called great (Mt. 5:19-20)
where God's will is done (Mt. 6:10)

Posts 18577
Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jan 14 2013 2:26 PM

elnwood:

It would be interested to see someone actually break down what Jesus says about heaven instead of word-counting. I started doing this, but got bored.

Heaven is ...

at hand (Mt 3:2, Mt 4:17)
belongs to the poor in spirit (Mt 5:3)
belongs to the persecuted for righteousness' (Mt 5:10-12)
where God is (Mt. 5:16, 34, 45; 6:1, 9)
where those who teach and obey the commandments will be called great (Mt. 5:19-20)
where God's will is done (Mt. 6:10)

Perhaps this could be done with the assistance of some of the Topical Indexes available in Logos (e.g., Collins Thesaurus of the Bible, New Nave's Topical Bible, The Thematic Bible, Topical Analysis of the Bible, What Does the Bible Say About, etc.). But it would be more spiritually fruitful to go through the entire NT with a fine-toothed comb and do the exercise on one's own, looking for both explicit references, synonyms, and metaphors for both heaven and hell.

Posts 47
JD | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jan 14 2013 3:30 PM

A rhetorical question to ponder while reflecting upon Aquinas:

Is lying about the biblical text -- or parroting otherwise easily verifiable exegetical statements of a statistical nature --  a mortal or a venial sin?

Posts 3637
Floyd Johnson | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jan 14 2013 4:21 PM

One other solution to your question would be to contact the author - either through his former church or through his publisher.  My experience is that authors are willing to correspond with readers with questions and/or concerns.

 

Blessings,
Floyd

Pastor-Patrick.blogspot.com

Posts 1
Milan Pakes | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 22 2013 1:48 AM

Perhaps it would be more accurate to not use "words" but to use concepts of Hell / Heaven. For instance "lake of fire" is hell but would not be found using  the word "hell" or "outer darkness" which is another way Christ used to indicate "Hell" Speaking of Hell does not mean using the word "hell". Any search would be a waste of time if this is not taken into account. 

Posts 26014
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 22 2013 2:50 AM

Or we could ask if the statement/question was well-formed i.e. is it's truth-value determinable?

But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2008), Jn 21:25.

I would say that it is reasonable to ask the number of times recorded in the canonical Gospels, or the number of times recorded in all early Gospels, but not the number of time Jesus spoke of heaven and/or hell.Stick out tongue

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 1043
William Gabriel | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 24 2013 10:58 AM

Rosie Perera:

Perhaps this could be done with the assistance of some of the Topical Indexes available in Logos (e.g., Collins Thesaurus of the Bible, New Nave's Topical Bible, The Thematic Bible, Topical Analysis of the Bible, What Does the Bible Say About, etc.). But it would be more spiritually fruitful to go through the entire NT with a fine-toothed comb and do the exercise on one's own, looking for both explicit references, synonyms, and metaphors for both heaven and hell.

I've been thinking about this topic since I've seen it posted here. No doubt I've heard this claim before (as I am a big fan of [in a redeemed/sanctified sense, of course] and run in circles with people who are big fans of D.A. Carson), and I've heard it said that the rankings of recorded teachings are as follows: other < hell < money < kingdom of God. So I wonder if he's taking "kingdom of God" to mean something bigger than heaven specifically and taking it out of the count. You may or may not agree with this principle, but I'm thinking that's probably where Carson came to his conclusion.

Anyway, I was reading Matthew 23 yesterday, pondering heaven and hell, and I wondered how you would "count" this chapter. Jesus mentions "heaven" in Matt 23:9, but I'm not so sure I'd count it as teaching on heaven. He mentions it again in Matt 23:13, and I could go either way on it being counted in the "heaven" column. Then in Matt 23:15, Jesus mentions hell, but it seems to carry about as much connotation and weight as v13 did for heaven.

So I guess when I have the time I'll do what has been suggested here and place some thoughts or categories along with each reference. Then perhaps it will be possible to come to a conclusion and/or see how Carson drew his conclusion. Seems trickier than just counting instances, though. Good thing there's some research software we can use to help. Wink

Posts 1043
William Gabriel | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 9 2016 7:34 AM

Rosie Perera:

Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :):
Personally puzzled ? since Bible analysis shows more Heaven than Hell.  Searching Words of Christ likewise finds much more Heaven than Hell.

I was puzzled as well. I'd never heard this before (and it seems suspicious). That sent me searching to see if I could find the source of this information:

Comes from R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Sermon on the Mount:

Note the quote that precedes that comment. It is footnoted as coming from D. A. Carson's The Sermon on the Mount (1978). That is not available in Logos, but I was able to look inside it on Amazon.com and with the aid of some other sources that had more of the surrounding context quoted was able to discover this from Carson:

"“You may not believe that a hell exists. In that case, you may dismiss Jesus as a liar or a fool. Alternatively, you may be so attached to your sin that even the threat of final and catastrophic judgment may not induce you to leave it. But you will be foolish indeed if you simply accuse Jesus of frightening you into the kingdom. The real issue is the truth behind Jesus’ words, the truth which prompts Jesus’ warning. Either there is a hell to be shunned, or there is not. If there is not, then Jesus’ entire credibility is shattered, for he himself speaks twice as often of hell as of heaven."

So the source of Hughes' statement is D.A. Carson. It remains to be learned where Carson got that idea. He might be just repeating an unsubstantiated cliche. Here's a whole forum discussion about that subject: http://forums.bible-truths.com/index.php?topic=5257.0. So it appears that Hughes and Carson are flat out wrong, even if you're very generous in counting all the metaphorical references to hell (fire, utter darkness, gnashing of teeth, etc.).

This all goes to show, never take anything you read at face value without determining its source and checking up on it, especially if it goes against your gut instinct. But your gut can be wrong too sometimes.

I'm looking at this again today because some claims of the percentage of Jesus' teaching came up again. We're doing Treasure Principle and Alcorn make the assertion that Jesus teaches about money and possessions 15% of the time, and that it exceeds his teaching on heaven and hell combined. So I haven't categorized everything personally, I still need to do that, but I think this is a wrong conclusion.

Anyway, I found the quote you referenced, Rosie, in a Logos book: page 142 of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World: An Exposition of Matthew 5–10 [logosres:jsussrmconfwrld;ref=Page.p_142;off=1498]

The broader context shows that what Carson is getting at is that Jesus teaches twice as much about hell in the Sermon on the Mount. Probably depends on how you count it, but this is much closer to the truth. And I wonder if others have read this or heard others repeat it and applied it to all of Jesus' teaching.

Similarly, Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount by honestly attempting to frighten men and women into the kingdom, into salvation. You may not believe that a hell exists. In that case, you may dismiss Jesus as a liar or a fool. Alternatively, you may be so attached to your sin that even the threat of final and catastrophic judgment may not induce you to leave it. But you will be foolish indeed if you simply accuse Jesus of frightening you into the kingdom.

The real issue is the truth behind Jesus’ words, the truth which prompts Jesus’ warning. Either there is a hell to be shunned, or there is not. If there is not, then Jesus’ entire credibility is shattered, for he himself speaks twice as often of hell as of heaven.

Posts 1
Rob Muncy | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 29 2017 7:44 AM

Most helpful response! Thank you.

Posts 9916
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 29 2017 8:30 AM

Agree with MJ. The quotes come from the authors. And thus, depending on your views, the mix is a Holy Spirit (or not) issue (avoiding theology, sort of).

From a practical perspective, I doubt Jesus stopped talking after his 'sermon'. The crowd would be a bit mystified. I only mention this, since my software has analyzed the text by subject, term, etc within broad dating ranges ... you're always looking at the delivered product.


Posts 2
Steven Perry | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 6 2018 7:17 AM

I thank you!!! (many years later)

Page 2 of 2 (31 items) < Previous 1 2 | RSS