Both David from “Spirit in the Wild Wood” and Arthur from “The Voice of One Crying Out in Suburbia” pointed us to a USA Today article called “Americans’ views of God shape attitudes on key issues.” According to the authors from Baylor University, Americans who believe in God describe God in one of four ways:
The Authoritative God. When conservatives Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck proclaim that America will lose God’s favor unless we get right with him, they’re rallying believers in what Froese and Bader call an Authoritative God, one engaged in history and meting out harsh punishment to those who do not follow him. About 28% of the nation shares this view, according to Baylor’s 2008 findings.
The Benevolent God. When President Obama says he is driven to live out his Christian faith in public service, or political satirist Stephen Colbert mentions God while testifying to Congress in favor of changing immigration laws, they’re speaking of what the Baylor researchers call a Benevolent God. This God is engaged in our world and loves and supports us in caring for others, a vision shared by 22% of Americans, according to Baylor’s findings.
The Critical God. The poor, the suffering and the exploited in this world often believe in a Critical God who keeps an eye on this world but delivers justice in the next, Bader says. Bader says this view of God â€” held by 21% of Americans â€” was reflected in a sermon at a working-class neighborhood church the researchers visited in Rifle, Colo., in 2008. Pastor Del Whittington’s theme at Open Door Church was ” ‘Wait until heaven, and accounts will be settled.’ ”
The Distant God. Though about 5% of Americans are atheists or agnostics, Baylor found that nearly one in four (24%) see a Distant God that booted up the universe, then left humanity alone. This doesn’t mean that such people have no religion. It’s the dominant view of Jews and other followers of world religions and philosophies such as Buddhism or Hinduism, the Baylor research finds.
I think its possible to see each of these views of God in Scripture.
Could it be that each of these “views” of God is partly right, but also partly wrong? Could it be that most people focus on only one aspect of who God is?
If so, what do you think determines which “view” of God someone takes? What can someone do to “broaden” their view of God (that is, to see more than a single perspective or aspect of who God is)?