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Heaven, Hell & Crime

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Heaven, Hell & Crime

MP3 Audio (1.45 MB)

Can what you believe about heaven and hell indicate whether you would commit a crime? You'll be surprised by this study.



[Steve Myers] We ran across a survey the other day that was really an interesting one. It was a report from CBS News and they talked about a study that was published in a scientific journal and it was a study done by University of Oregon and University of Kansas. And it found some interesting things. Here’s what the study said, "It found that people who believe in hell are less likely to commit a crime, while people who believe in heaven are more likely to get in trouble with the law." And when I read that, it was like, that doesn’t make much sense. How can that be? And so as I read about it, it really took me back a little bit.

[Gary Petty] You know, what it shows is even though the traditional Christian viewpoint of heaven and hell isn’t exactly the biblical viewpoint, it does show that most people are more motivated by fear of punishment more than they really are of the law of God.

[Steve Myers] And this wasn’t just a little trite survey either. This was a survey that was done over 25 years, more than 25 years. Almost 150,000 people were involved in this. And it wasn’t just something that happened in America. This was a survey that took in data from all around the world. And so what they found is that rates of belief in heaven and hell had significant unique and opposing effects on crime rates. So, here’s what they found, a belief in hell predicted lower crime rates, where a belief in heaven predicted higher crime rates. So in a sense what they’re finding is that if you believe in a forgiving God, so you believe you’re going to go to heaven, then you can kind of get away with it.

[Gary Petty] Yeah.

[Steve Myers] And if you think you’re going to go to hell, and hell is a real thing, then you better shape up and not go against the law.

[Gary Petty] What it shows is two conflicting ideas that are actually both not what the Bible teaches us. One is God loves me, He gives me grace, therefore I have a license to sin. So sin becomes acceptable because God loves me. Well, if God loves me, I am to love Him back, which means I must now do what He wants and I must try to obey Him. And the second of course is, well, I will obey God only because I fear Him, you know. And so now you have another problem is that the motivation is fear of punishment, not love of God. And if you think about it, what’s really strange - God has to command us to love Him. Jesus Christ said the number one commandment in the entire scripture is to love God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul. So, God actually commands us to love Him. If we love Him, we will never use that as an excuse to, as a license to sin. And we will never be motivated just out of fear of punishment.

[Steve Myers] And I think it brings into mind what is our view of God? Do we have an authoritarian God? Do we have a loving God? And if we don’t have a balanced view of who God is, it’s going to lead us to the wrong conclusion. So we’ve got to make sure that we really do know God and that we really understand who He is and develop a right relationship with Him.

[Gary Petty] That’s right.

[Steve Myers] So that’s BT Daily . We’ll look forward to seeing you next time.