I previously blogged about how talk of Heaven and Hell have both been eclipsed by talk of the Future. That got me wondering about one of the central themes of the Christian Faith, namely that Jesus died for our “sin,” in order that we might escape the “wrath of God.”
How do those two key themes trend with time?
As always, here’s an intro to Google’s ngram viewer for those just tuning in to this regularly scheduled program.
Because “wrath of God” is a three word phrase, it was essential to scale it up significantly in order to compare its usage with “sin.” The trend is fascinating. Not only have both been in decline, but their respective declines closely mirror each other. There were some spikes back between 1800 and 1840ish, and then a steady decline since at about the same pace.
And a small bump around 1950 – 1960. For both of them.
It would seem Christians have somehow overlooked the major themes of sin and the wrath of God in our vocabulary. Sure, those concepts don’t exactly make him out to be all warm and fuzzy like a cosmic gas-cloud of love (I’m borrowing that phrase), but truth is important, even if it isn’t popular or pleasant.
So did we get the Christian message wrong back in the day, or are we getting it wrong these days? Food for thought.