Knowing vs Knowing

According to a recent article from USA Today, you can tell a lot about a person by finding out what their basic view of God is.[*] Researchers from Baylor University surveyed more than 1700 Americans, asking questions about what they imagine God is like.  They reported that the respondents had four basic views of God:

  • The Authoritarian God is heavily involved in every aspect of people's lives.  This God is angered at human failings and will punish those who do wrong, both in this life and the next.

  • The Benevolent God is also interested in human events, and "still sets absolute standards" of right and wrong.  But, unlike the Authoritarian God, the Benevolent God is "primarily a forgiving God, more like the father who embraces his repentant prodigal son in the Bible."

  • The Critical God looks on with a critical eye, but does little to intervene. Proponents of this view are "less inclined to go to church or...see God as active in the world."

  • The Distant God is not so much a being as a "cosmic force" that is the agent of creation.  Now, though, this God is virtually uninvolved in the affairs of the world.

The researchers go on to note that each view of God is likely to influence a person's political and social attitudes in addition to their religious beliefs.  They did, however, acknowledge that there is a great deal of overlap to be found among people.  Not everyone fits neatly into one group or the other.  I'm glad they offered that last disclaimer.  I have had some experience of God that resembles all of the above profiles.  Some more than others.

So what do we do with these statistics?  I'm sure there are a lot of interpretations to be made.  I'm reminded of Jesus' statements that "As you seek, so shall you find."  Which is another way of saying, "You usually find what you're looking for."  Before we can claim to understand God we must seek to know Him.

Peter says the same thing in our theme verse for today: 3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us..." (2 Peter 1:3, emphasis mine).  How well do you know God?  What does it mean to know God?  That's what we'll be talking about today.

[*] Cathy Lynn Grossman, "View of God can predict values, politics," USA Today, September 12, 2006 (