From Publishers Weekly
Using conclusions drawn from the Baylor Religion Survey first published in 2006, these two Baylor University professors expound on their thesis that Americans' view of God can be characterized as one of four basic types: authoritarian, benevolent, critical, and distant. By knowing which of the four types of God an American believes in, these scholars can predict that person's views on many of the pressing issues facing the country. As an antidote to the prevailing but simplistic dichotomy between religious and nonreligious Americans, this thesis is far more nuanced and satisfying. But it, too, has its limitations. It's not clear that people stick to one view their whole lives, and it doesn't fully account for the views of those who occupy middle ground, somewhere between a judgmental and forgiving God. Still, the fourfold God typology is a step toward better understanding how Americans regard morality, how they understand the presence of evil, and what meta-narrative they tell about their lives.
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Drawing from a wide-ranging survey of American religious beliefs, two Baylor University professors traveled the U.S. to explore the divisions that exist in America among believers. Froese and Bader look at what divides Americans, how they conceive God, and what role God plays in their daily lives. Despite the ongoing talk of the New Atheism, the U.S. remains one of the most religious countries in the world: some 95 percent of the citizenry believe in God. And yet despite, or perhaps because of, their religiosity, Americans also suffer from a religious illiteracy and, in particular, are ignorant of others’ beliefs. Americans, the authors contend, divide God into four categories: the Authoritative God, the Benevolent God, the Critical God, and the Distant God. The book demonstrates how these four images influence individual beliefs and behaviors regardless of upbringing, religion, or political identity. A fascinating and penetrating study. --June Sawyers