In 2008, a group of sociologists from Baylor University conducted a survey asking Americans how they picture God. This week, they published their findings in a book, “America’s Four Gods,” thus categorizing peoples' views: The Authoritative God--who is both engaged in the world and judgmental; The Benevolent God--who loves and helps us in spite of our failings; The Critical God--who catalogs our sins for future punishment; and The Distant God--who stands apart from the world He created.
While the folly of dissecting God's character is obvious, the assumptions drawn from the survey were not entirely wrong. The Researchers concluded that these four conceptions of God form the basis of our worldviews and are among the most powerful predictors of how we feel about issues in American life. The Bible affirms this truth: what we believe determines how we live (Prov. 23:7; 27:19).
We all suffer from distorted views of God as a result of our histories, life experiences, and Bible knowledge (or lack thereof), passed down to us from our parents or significant authority figures, God’s appointed representatives, as it were, until we are mature enough to develop a relationship with God. The obvious problem is this: they could not perfectly represent Him. If you struggle with a particular aspect of God’s character—mercy, justice, love, etc.—ask God to reveal the root of the lie; and then ask God to show Himself to you. “This is the new covenant I will make… says the LORD… I will be their God, and they will be my people… for they shall all know me” (Jer. 31:34-35).