Four Views Of God

In Rev. Dr. Josh Rowley’ sermon today on Zephaniah he mentioned a study by Baylor University on four views of God, which were:

  • The Authoritarian God “is deeply involved in daily life and world events. God is angry at sin and can punish the unfaithful or ungodly.”
  • The Benevolent God “is deeply involved in daily life and world events but is mainly a positive force reluctant to punish.”
  • The Critical God “does not really interact with the world but is unhappy with its current state and will exact divine justice.”
  • The Distant God “does not interact with the world and is not angry.God is more of a cosmic force that set the laws of nature in motion.”  (Source:

I was wondering on what your view of God is in regards to those four views and in light of Zephaniah Chapter 1?

Furthermore, here is a link to the study Josh mentioned:  (you will need Adobe Acrobat to open)

My view of God is that, God is Benevolent, Critical, and Authoritarian.  I view God in that way because God is presented throughout the Hebrew Scriptures in a negative sense.  So I can see God at all four view points.  Josh in our discussion today, mentioned that Presbyterians view the bible in its entirety when interpreting it. I view the bible in the same way.  God is presented in a Loving, Gracious, Violent, Benevolent, Critical, Distant, and Authoritarian in different parts of the bible.   However, when you view the bible without considering the rest of the bible then God can be viewed in a negative sense.  The most difficult questions about God deal with the negative attributes of him in the Hebrew Scriptures.  Basically, why does God allow violence and why does he do it himself?  So is God just those four view points or is God loving, gracious, patient, in Jonah 4.2:  “gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love”, and so forth?  I think he is all.

My Bible as Literature course at Washington State University Vancouver had questions about all the negative verses about God.  Those verses are trouble some for Christians to explain to non-Christians.  But if you view all of those negative verses about God in light of rest of Scripture, you will be able to see him as more than just the 4 views Baylor study says.

Which brings me to, what do you think the character of God is?  Why do prophets come to give judgement to people?  What is the use of prophets?  Is it exhortation or negative judgement?  Is it about “turn and burn” or something else?  Do the Major and Minor prophets apply to the current cultural context in America?  How?

Ann Fischer, church member, mentioned to me after worship that, my paraphrase – “Since we are created in the image of God, can humans be angry, judgmental, critical and authoritarian like God?”  In other words, Do humans and God share the same attributes and characteristics?    I think Ann is on to something with that statement!

Please leave your comments on this site or email me at


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