“Believe in God? Which One?”

Okay, you believe in God. That’s all well and good, but which God do you actually believe in? Is it the ‘fire and brimstone,’ jealous, tempestuous God of the Old Testament or the benevolent and merciful, God of second chances, of the New Testament? Although  They are One and the same, how you envision God speaks volumes about you as a person. A recent study published in the journal Psychology of Religion, shows that there is a direct link between your view of God and your willingness to cheat on exams. It seems that those who believe in a forgiving God of second chances are more likely to cheat than those who believe in an angry, mean God.  Go figure.

There are approximately 95% of Americans who believe in God, but conceive him a variety of different ways. About 28%  believe in an authoritarian, judgmental God, who is actively involved in our lives and the world at large. 22%  believe in a big-hearted, benevolent God  who is also actively involved but loves and forgives us despite our shortcomings, the God of second chances. Another 21%  perceive God as an inactive observer and bookkeeper who records each and every one of our misdeeds, a God who will sit in judgment in the afterlife. The remaining 24% of believers see God as the Creator who set the universe in motion, but does not play an active role in our everyday lives. So what we really have here are only two groups, those who fear God and those who don’t. One group of believers who will cheat when given the opportunity because they know God will forgive them and a second group of believers who won’t cheat because they fear the wrath of their judgmental, bookkeeping God. Very interesting.

But I wonder, does it end at simply cheating on a test or does it cover more territory? The implication are there. If a person would cheat on a test he would probably be willing to do even more devious things right? Why not? The God of second chances is a forgiving God.  Therein lies the problem, The God of second chances will always forgive. I have issues with that. I can’t tell you how many self proclaimed ‘Born Again’ Christians I have interacted with in the last thirty years  who used the “God  will forgive me” line as their personal “Stay out of hell” holy card. Every time they’d do wrong I’d hear “it’s okay, God loves me and forgives me whenever I backslide.” I always liked that term ‘backslide,” it’s such a quaint  way to describe a lapse of judgement, a subtle way to describe sin. I always wondered how many times a ‘Born Again’ believed he was allowed to backslide. I knew plenty who did it on a near daily basis. Is God’s forgiveness endless? Can a person go on sinning again and again and say “I’m sorry God” and all is well again? Somehow I don’t think that’s how it works.

I personally believe in a loving and forgiving God who is active in our lives. A God  who wants each  and every one of us to seek Him and develop a personal relationship with Him built on love and trust. I also believe He is a patient God, but He has His limits. I think in time His patience wears thin. You can’t continue living a life of sin and believe you are forgiven. The expectation is that you will make every effort to change your way of life because God is loving and forgiving not continue backsliding because He is loving and forgiving. My God is the God of second chances, but beyond that you may be taking your afterlife into your own hands…

"Monty Pythons image of God"

Just a thought…

J S

 

 

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2 Responses to “Believe in God? Which One?”

  1. Janene says:

    I believe in a loving God full of grace and forgiveness. . .who died for my sins and who knew the plans He had for me before I was even born: )

  2. Very informative and trustworthy blog. Please keep updating with great posts like this one.

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