I’ve just been reading the ABC News site and an interesting book has just been released in America titled “America’s Four Gods” by Paul Froese and Christopher Bader and describes four different ways in which people view God. What is even more interesting is that the way a person views God seems to be very strongly linked to their socioeconomic background and upbringing.
Basically, people in America (and I’m sure pretty much across the rest of the first world, too) view God in the following ways:
- The Authoritative God: According the website, someone who views God as authoritative believes God to be very judgmental and engaged in the world at the same time. What is interesting here is that the person who tends to view God in this way tends to be male and very evangelical. Not hard to believe when traditionally men are more the disciplinarians and leaders (note, I did say traditionally).
- Benevolent God: The second view of God is a God who is kind and loving and who enters into a personal relationship with you. Any guesses on what type of person follows this view? Yes, it is the evangelical woman. Once again, not hard to believe as woman tend to be more relational in nature and traditionally are the nurturers.
- Critical God: here people tend to view God has removed from our daily lives, but will render judgement on us when we die one day. Now this is interesting, this view of God is strongly seen in the lower-income and educational groups. As quoted on the ABC News site: “We find a strong tendency for African-Americans, for people who are at lower levels of income and education to believe in the ‘critical God,'” said Bader. I suppose one can also understand why this specific group of people view God this way – when you’re battling with the poor conditions, unemployment, crime, etc it can very easily seem to one that God is not involved in your life.
- Distant God: this is a God who created the universe and then stepped back and allowed things to just happen. The more “spiritual” and “enlightened” among us that are highly educated tend to view God in this manner.
Personally, I agree with all of the above. It worries me that we tend to limit God to our personal view, or only view God in a way that tends to meet with our socioeconomic background when I honestly think we can never put God in a box. I never had a grandfather growing up and used to long for that relationship – so I used to view God as an elderly gentleman with a kind heart and a kind face who just loved children. I think the danger lies in succumbing to only one view of God without realising that God is infinitely bigger than we can ever imagine Him to be. And in that infinity is so much love, grace and discipline – for our own good – that we cannot possibly even begin to fathom just how much God loves us.
I look at Baby Girl and I know that I would kill to protect her and do what ever is in my power to give her everything she needs to live a good and productive life. Surely, the creator of the universe would have my feelings for Baby Girl a hundredfold for us?
I have tried to not believe – but just can’t. It doesn’t make sense to me that all of life is just random matter and that there is no spirituality to it at all. When I look at Baby Girl, or see a glorious sunrise, or the beautiful birds at Birds of Eden, I can’t help but think and believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that God does exist. And He exists with all the love and grace in infinity for each of us.
So, why is the world in the sorry state that it is in? Well, bearing in mind that nothing is ever quite so black and white, I believe that we have the freedom to choose. We are not robots programmed to obey the laws of life on command. We are people with the freedom to choose and abdicate our responsibility towards ourselves and others if we so choose. If I take out a gun and put it to your head, that’s free will. It’s not God’s will, but because I have free will, I get to choose. I think all too often we blame God for things that have gone wrong in our lives and in our worlds without ever really taking true responsibility for it ourselves.
Just a thought on religion – out of interest I very seldom go to church. I find that church goers tend to push me away from God, instead of towards a closer relationship with Him. I know that this isn’t right, because church is where one IS supposed to find God. But, that just perhaps substantiates my point – God can NEVER be placed in a box. Even a Christian one.
The Baby Mama