Made in Our Image

I usually don't embellish my theological bents here and I tend to shy away from theological debate on this blog.. but today I am thinking about how we tend to make God in our own image. This photo shows how religious people sometimes portray an image of an angry God to the world.. even to children.

I must confess that I certainly have an image of God. Generally speaking my theology.. weird as it is.. has become one where I try to filter views, religious and otherwise, through the life and teachings of the Jesus we find in the gospels.. not always neat and tidy though it may be. And I guess the cornerstone (not sure that word is even accurate to describe it) of my thinking is encapsulated in the third chapter of John's gospel where Jesus says:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Now I understand that the bible and the gospel is more than just these three sentences spoken by Jesus so many years ago. Yet I believe that they help to condense my thinking down to the idea that God loves us so we should in return love Him and love the ones that he loves. In a sense these sentences solidify for me the image of God in my mind as a loving Father who has created children in His image with the ability to simply return His love to Him and to others.

So I thought that I might takes a few minutes and briefly comment on the image of God that some people and a few religions embrace:
Angry God: I think that this is the deity that many people, like my friend Brian, were taught in their childhood. In some strange theistic dichotomy God is presented as one who loves you so much that you need to be afraid of him.. especially if you "sin". Hell, sin and the wrath of God are front and center when this image is presented.

Holy God: This image is a bit different than the previous one. God is still sometimes presented as angry but more of an "angry at sin" rather than "angry at you". The issue here is still the preoccupation with sin and judgment.

Exclusive God: This image is found in different forms in the religious world. Some theologies ascribe to the idea that God created some to be exclusively predestined to heaven and some to hell and torment. Some believe that if you are not one of us then your destiny is one filled with fire and brimstone. In these scenarios both God and His followers are exclusive entities.

Enabling God: This is the image that basically says that God is too nice to allow anyone to suffer.. of course this thinking always adds "after they die".. obviously most people are allowed to suffer before they die. This view presents God as a weak Father who in the end will do anything to ensure that His children do not suffer. The view of man in this scenario is one of the saddest. I have opined a bit on this previously in a post titled Divine Pets.

Absent God: This image is the closest thing to atheism or agnosticism that I can think of. It is the idea that God once created the world then took off into the vast regions of the universe and is no where to be found. Don't pray to this entity because He won't answer and is not interested in us.

The Man Upstairs: If ever there was a God made in our image it is this one. Basically this view says that God is one of us.. He thinks like us.. He judges like us.. His view of fairness is similar to mine.. or yours. This is the image that placates folks who rarely think about God and live lives devoid of anything spiritual.

Santa Clause God: This is the image embraced by many narcissistic leaning folks who believe that God exists to answer their prayers and to lavish them with good things. This thinking believes strongly in the promises of God when it is to their benefit to do so. I once wrote about this phenomenon with regard to healing here.
Well I think that I have covered enough to make someone mad at me. Of course these ideas are faulted.. like me they are not perfect.. these images are, in a sense, the images that I have about those images.


  1. I like what you write here Kansas.
    You have encapsulated much of what many Christians may also carry around with them while they encounter joys and travails in this life.
    God Bless you heaps and thanks for going to the trouble of helping others to have an answer concerning issues surrounding the image of God whenever encountered by them.

  2. We need Blog Pastor's and I for one am so glad we have you. This is so very well thought out, and so true to what people believe of the image of God. Before my Worship Bible, I didn't have the intimacy I had longed for with the Lover of my Soul, I was truly a devoted believer, but my image changed when I rushed to the garden early in the morning and saw that He was more than all the ones you mentioned.....longed to spend time with ME, imperfect ME. What a revelation what a change in my thinking.

  3. I needed to read this today. Before I opened your blog I was thinking about God and (as usual) was angry. I have tried for years to get past my angry. I just want a little help down here with my son. One friend recently said "your son is still alive, therefore God is answering prayer". It doesn't feel that way. Alive and suffering is not very good.

  4. I like what the Lord says about himself in Exodus 34: "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin."

    @ Barbara - I highly recommend "Pain, Perplexity and Promotion" by Bob Sorge. In it, he discusses Job, and reveals how the Lord is moving in our lives through the difficulties and tragedies to fulfill specific purposes within us. It is very encouraging. Bless you in this time - I don't know the struggle you are going through, but there is something deeper and more beautiful in the trial. Don't be overwhelmed, but anchor into the Father. He loves both you and your son with a heart that understands sorrow.

  5. This reminds me of the lyrics to one of my favorite songs of all time, "I Repent" by Derek Webb

    "i repent of trading truth for false unity/
    i repent of confusing peace and idolatry/
    of caring more of what they think than what i know of what they need/
    and domesticating You until You look just like me/
    i am wrong and of these things i repent"


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