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America's Four Gods: What We Say about God--and What That Says about Us Hardcover – October 7, 2010


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America's Four Gods: What We Say about God--and What That Says about Us + The Doctrine of God (Contours of Christian Theology) + Engaging the Doctrine of God: Contemporary Protestant Perspectives
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (October 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195341473
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195341478
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #673,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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

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Customer Reviews

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I found this book to be very interesting and thought provoking.
C. Kern
America's Four Gods is a fascinating and unique look at how Americans perceive God.
Darcia Helle
I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to understand Americans' beliefs.
Angela M. Hey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Robinson on October 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When many writers describe religion in America, they compare and contrast Catholics with Protestants; or Evangelicals with Mainline denominations and liberal faith groups; or religious adults with Atheists. This book goes much deeper and assesses people's belief in the nature of God. It turns out that a person's concept of God can predict many of her or his beliefs and actions.

People's belief in God is assessed according to two criteria: To what extent is God believed to interact with the world, and to what extent is God believed to judge the world. These two criteria produce five very different descriptions of God: An authoritative God who is both engaged and judgmental; a benevolent God who is engaged but nonjudegmental; a critical God who is judgmental and disengaged; a distant God who is nonjudgmental and disengaged; and the Un-God -- the belief held by Atheists that no God exists, or that they have no concept of God. Many people select one of the five concepts of God as a result of their childhood experience with religion, as modified by later life experiences.

The authors of "America's Four Gods" demonstrate "... how images of God influence our beliefs and behaviors regardless of our upbringing, our religion, our political identity and an array of other factors."

A very valuable contribution to the understanding of religion in America.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By C. Kern on December 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this book to be very interesting and thought provoking. Didn't fit my
beliefs for any of the four god categories, but learned a lot more in general. The
authors spent a great deal of time on referencing and researching, which truly shows
their devotion to giving the reader adequate coverage of the material. I would
recommend this book to both religious and non-religious individuals who just want
a basic evaluation of American religious beliefs. Very well written, easy reading
and not top heavy with intellectual interpretation.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Angela M. Hey VINE VOICE on May 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The research here is thoroughly documented, with questionnaire and references provided. Whether God is Authoritative, Benevolent, Critical, Distant or non-existent, in your belief system is likely to affect your attitudes to climate change, abortion, evolution and other popular themes. Note "likely", it's not absolutely certain that you will believe in a certain way, neither is it certain that you will have a view of God that matches the categorization put forth in this book. It is however, a jolly good piece of research.

The case studies, which range from mid-western outposts to trendy Aspen, will be credible to those with a religious upbringing, others will gain insights into worldviews different from their own. I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to understand Americans' beliefs.

The thesis of the book is that how you think of God is a much better predictor of how you will behave than some more widely accepted categorizations of people.

No longer should discussion of religious beliefs be taboo in certain circles, because this is what determines how many act, think and behave.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Darcia Helle TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
America's Four Gods is a fascinating and unique look at how Americans perceive God. When the right questions are asked, we find that people claiming the same religion, and even worshipping within the same church, believe in different versions of the same God. These beliefs color much of each person's views on life, from personal morals to politics.

While this book is well researched, documented and detailed, it is also easy to read and entertaining. A great read for anyone interested in religion and/or human behavior.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on January 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
America's Four Gods: What We Say About God - & What That Says About Us provides a powerful, comprehensive survey of American religious beliefs to explore how Americans view God. Many social and political conflicts actually arise from religious convictions rarely discussed: original survey data from thousands of Americans blend with interviews to consider the influence of differing beliefs in God on the American social and political system.
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By Rod Hineman on July 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
okay
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By L. Osborne on June 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
America is becoming a Christian nation in name only. Froese uses actual statistics to help the reader get a handle on the Christian beliefs that address God.
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By Joseph T. Skogmo on April 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book wasn't earth shattering, but it was interesting. It basically categorizes American theologies into four main groups, and whatever group one can be categorized in usually has predictable ways in which the treat the Bible, money, politics, science, etc. This is quite predictable and what we all expected, but it is proven with data. Sometimes, stereotypes are real.

Although, the book doesn't really account for the more complicated religious people in this country like moderate mainline protestants or Conservative Judaism, or moderate Islam, which are very difficult versions of religion to categorize .in the way that Froese categorizes. Liberals of the religions call think these groups are conservative; conservatives of these religions think these groups are liberal.
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