Monday, July 18, 2011

The use of "rehabilitative" and "retributive" in relation to universalism

While not exhaustive, this google book search for the terms "rehabilitative", "retributive" and "universalism" show us that in the post-Puritan hey-day of early evangelicalism "retributive" was a term more commonly employed than the "rehabilitative" but then almost in parallel with the Industrial Revolution "retributive" fell out of favour and rehabilitative became more common. But what's most fascinating is that "universalism" has a similar upward trajectory to "rehabilitative" and then peaks shortly after "rehabilitative" peaks! This correlation is no doubt due to the fact that Universalism emphasises God's rehabilitative judgement.  (Only printed material is included in the search.)

9 comments:

Radagast said...

Fascinating post. I'm not sure why you say "The recent drop off is due to only printed material being included in the search," though. I can't see how that would affect the percentage use of the word.

Unless two of the groups are slowly switching to video and hence not appearing here?

Luke Isham said...

It's interesting isn't it the way in which rehabilitation and Universalism have parallel usage patterns.

I said "The recent drop off is due to only printed material being included in the search," because I thought Google Ngram only used printed material. Or do they include internet results as well?

Radagast said...

I think Google Ngrams and Books only use printed material. But that still shouldn't affect the percentage uses of words like "retributive" within the body of text.

Not unless Group 1 has switched from books and magazines to other stuff and Group 2 has therefore started to dominate the printed literature.

Luke Isham said...

I see, I might change that last sentence then.

Andrew Bowles said...

Logically, then, to return to the hey-day of evangelicalism and the dominance of retribution and eternal torment we need only to roll back the Industrial Revolution.

Luke Isham said...

Wrong thread, this isn't a debate about the carbon tax! ;-)

What's also interesting is that "rehabilitative" as a term peaks in 1980 while Universalism (not counting this year's data which might skew results) peaks twenty years later in 2000 but in parallel pattern. I think this suggests a correlation but I'm not quite sure what to make of it.

Alex Smith said...

Certainly interesting, not sure what it means for the future though. Maybe we are coming to a more balanced view that punishment is a combination of rehabilitative and retributive?? i.e. I think Ultra-Universalism completely throws out retributive, whereas EU* sees it as a combination (although ultimately rehabilitative in the sense that it brings people to a state where they can repent)

*From memory I did a poll about it earlier this year.

Luke Isham said...

I'm not sure if this is evidence that people are coming to a more balanced view on judgement. I do think however that whatever cultural factor that has made "rehabilitation" more popular is probably the same thing making "universalism" more popular given the similar usage patterns.

Alex Smith said...

Sonia said, "I wonder if the word "rehabilitative" was much in use at all until more recent times? I modified [it] to include "restorative"." It's very interesting see:
http://www.evangelicaluniversalist.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=1943&p=26317#p26317