Friday, October 8, 2010

Boxed God

From the article I mentioned in the last post, I copied the following excerpts:

"Froese and Bader's research wound up defining four ways in which Americans see God:

•The Authoritative God. When conservatives Sarah Palin orGlenn 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.

"They divide the world by good and evil and appeal to people who are worried, concerned and scared," Froese says. "They respond to a powerful God guiding this country, and if we don't explicitly talk about (that) God, then we have the wrong God or no God at all."

•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.

"Rhetoric that talks about the righteous vs. the heathen doesn't appeal to them," Froese says. "Their God is a force for good who cares for all people, weeps at all conflicts and will comfort all.

•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 — held by 21% of Americans — 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.

Others who cite a Distant God identify more with the spiritual and speak of the unknowable God behind the creation of rainbows, mountains or elegant mathematical theorems, the Baylor writers found.

This distant view is nothing new. Benjamin Franklin once wrote that he could not imagine that a "Supremely Perfect" God cares a whit for "such an inconsiderable Nothing as Man." *

Is not the God revealed by Jesus Christ all of these, and thus a Being of inscrutable wonder Who deserves to be regarded above the boxes labels create?

Next up in the Wild Wood, how the Lord is in each of these views.

*God Views. Pompa and Merrill.


Postmodern Redneck said...

I've been too busy--you actually snuck two blog posts past me! (we're also down to one computer again due to a hard drive that no longer works).

I've always appreciated Schaeffer's distinction that our finite minds cannot know the infinite God exhaustively, but we can know substantially. Along with that, C.S. Lewis' "Perelandra" incident where an angelic being tells the hero after he asked a question "There are no receiving places in your mind for the answer to that."

Prahlad said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Josiah said...

*As I was reading the different boxes in which God was put by one's political views I thought God is authoritative, benevolont, allows suffering and promises one day tears will be washed away, and is distantly above us in the heights of His being. In essence I came to the same conclusion as you all the cited adjectives can be used to describe Him.

*I would venture to guess that Froese supports Obama is aiming at the Tea Party in saying they do not believe in a belevont God.

*Earlier this week I walked and thought- God is beyond our boxes so far in fact that He cannot be constrained to being outside the box. He also meets us in the box.

John said...

Wow i love you blog its awesome nice colors you must have did hard work on your blog. Keep up the good work. Thanks

ded said...

Hey, Postmodern Redneck! Finite we are and prone to over simplification,as well, eh?

I don't remember that moment from Perelandrai, but that's a terrific allusion. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Josiah, thanks for reading your ol'dad's blog. I so enjoy hearing your ruminations! The insight into your thoughts is rewarding for me in more than a few ways.
Yes, He has purposefully boxed us and meets us there. Your thought on His "distance" is not where I am headed, but therein lies the value of hearing many voices. I'll try to have the next post up by week's end.

Jesse said...

Nice to see you post on this. I read the article when it came out and wondered how someone could think of God in just one way.
I agree with Josiah and have had the same thoughts before. I think many people limit their view of God to being "outside" their box. Thinking God is so much bigger then their world and their means they cannot possibly make difference or be used by him. When if you let God in your little box, and do what you can with your knowledge and means God has given you then he can take your action in your own little world and do enormous things outside your box you didn't know were possible. You bring dinner for 2 he feeds 5000. You put God in a box when you even start to draw the line.

ded said...

Hey, Jesse! so glad to see you walking through the Wild Wood.

How succinctly you write my last thought of the next blog piece on this topic. Let Him in your box and watch the wonder begin!

careyrowland said...

In answer to your concluding question in the blog:
Yes, he is.

careyrowland said...

...although I believe that Jesus manifests all the attributes of God, as I know you do,
I don't entertain any notions that anyone else in the world will agree.
We shall, at the end of our days, see who is accurate in this.