Take the God Test

Take the God Test October 25, 2010

Which word best describes “your” view of God? Authoritative, Benevolent, Critical, or Distant? (ABCD — see below) Here’s the test that is found in the book we’ve been blogging about, and you will have to go to the book to find the technical discussions; there’s some great details and analysis there. Remember the study showed that nearly everyone thought God was loving, and it was the following set of questions that set Americans apart.

Here’s the rule for the day: We are not entering into conversation about the legitimacy of this test. That’s another day and another discussion. Today we are talking about results.

Did I say I think this book should be read by anyone who wants to know what folks in churches actually believe? One of the only social-scientific sketches of the data about beliefs about God.

We are looking at Paul Froese and Christopher Bader, America’s Four Gods: What We Say about God–and What That Says about Us.

Part 1: God’s Judgment

Question: How well do you feel that each of the following words describes God? [5 is Very well and the scale moves downward to 1 as Not at all]

1. Loving 5 4 3 2 1
2. Critical 5 4 3 2 1
3. Punishing 5 4 3 2 1
4. Severe 5 4 3 2 1
5. Wrathful 5 4 3 2 1

Question: Even if you might not believe in God, based on your personal understanding, what do you think God is like?

6. Angered by human sin 5 4 3 2 1
7. Angered by my sins 5 4 3 2 1

Total your numbers: [this is your Judgment score]

Part 2: God’s Engagement

Question: How well do you feel that each of the following words describes God?

8. Distant 1 2 3 4 5
9. Ever-present 5 4 3 2 1

Question: Even if you might not believe in God, based on your personal understanding, what do you think God is like?

10. Removed from worldly affairs 1 2 3 4 5
11. Removed from my personal affairs 1 2 3 4 5
12. Concerned with the well-being of the world 5 4 3 2 1
13. Concerned with my personal well-being 5 4 3 2 1
14. Directly involved in worldly affairs 5 4 3 2 1
15. Directly involved in my affairs 5 4 3 2 1

Total your score: [this is your Engagement score]

Scoring: This WordPress program doesn’t permit use of columns. So, there are two scales: Judgment and Engaged, separated by ****. So, add your scores for each parts of the quiz above.  What is your number for God’s Judgment (total) and God’s Engagement (total)? If you are between 18 and 30 for God’s Judgment, you are High; if you are between 6 and 17, you are low. On God’s Engagement, if your score is 32-40, you are high; if you are 8-31, you are low. Now find where you are by seeing the four options.You need to find whether are you High or Low for each scale. That’s the key result. Now you can find your combination.

If you are high in Judgment but low in Engagement you are Type C. That clear enough?

Of course, there’s a spectrum: you can be “low Authoritative” or “high Benevolent.”

Judgment  ****  Engaged
High (18-30) **** High (32-40) Type A (Authoritative)
Low (6-17) **** High (32-40) Type B (Benevolent)
High (18-30) ****  Low (8-31) Type C (Critical)
Low (6-17) **** Low (8-31) Type D (Distant)

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  • Rick

    I’m trying to make sure that picture does not subconsciously impact my answers.

  • smcknight

    Rick, funny, I thought of that.

  • rjs

    I can’t even begin to talk about the results of this test if the result above gives a distant or critical God. What in the world does distant or critical mean in this case?

    I “understand” the judgment part – at least that makes sense. Even the question on loving makes sense, although both extremes could mark high here.

  • T

    “Consider the kindness and the severity of God.” I guess there’s a critical “how” to that!

  • smcknight

    Sorry folks, I typed in questions assuming they numbers were the same all the way through. My mistake. RJS … pointed this out so I checked the book … and I’ve adjusted. I’ve deleted a comment or two to avoid the mess-up.

  • Scot, I would also change your “[5 is Very well, 1 is Not at all]” to something like…

    “The scale moves left to right from Very Well to Not At All”

  • smcknight

    RJS, I retook it … scored in the lower part of the Authoritative quadrant. I’m high on engagement and at the low end of their “high” for the judgment scale.

  • Authoritative (26/36)

  • rjs

    That makes more sense – if 1 means distant describes God well and 5 means distant does not describe God well. And same for 10 and 11.

    On the revised scale I would come out in their authoritative quadrant; close to the center though.

    God is loving 5 + middle of the road on the rest 6*3 = 23


    4+5+4+4+5+5+3+3 = 33

  • scotmcknight


    As I read through this book, and paid esp attention to “Distant,” I got the sneaking suspicion that scientists might have issues. Here’s what I mean: “Distant” suggests uninvolved. But a scientist might think God’s involvement is as much by way of creating a world that runs itself (a kind of deism) but that the running is driven by divine presence (a kind of very strong involvement). So that God is present in God’s distance. Did this occur to you?

  • jordan

    I scored 22/32, that’s about where I expected.

    Scot, for me the “Distant” questions were a little tricky. Growing up with a fairly deterministic Critical/Authoritarian view it’s becoming more and more difficult to reconcile that with my view of the world as a scientist. I still see God as concerned and present, but I’m not sure what to think of “directly involved”.

  • rjs


    I rather expect this is true.

    At 33 I am on the lower end of their classification of “high” engagement (which is 32-40. Depending on mood I could score between 30 and 34, so I could drop into the high end of their “low” engagement box.

    I would guess many here would be much higher into the “high” engagement box. (Probably you as well)

    But I would not drop under 3 on any of these questions. In every case I think the scale favors the engaged side or is neutral. Nothing favors the distant side.

  • DRT

    I am right on the cutoff on both dimensions (with the new numbers and scale). I suppose my mood at any given point would make me fall in one bucket or another.

    Scot, will you please remove my comment #3?

  • DRT

    On judgment, it is possible to score 35, not 30. 7*5=35, I think…

  • rjs


    Good point – I think, from what Scot wrote in the post, they remove the Loving question from consideration. I guess that this puts me at the very low end of the authoritative category at 6*3 = 18.

  • smcknight

    DRT, good one. The book is mistaken there.

  • Does anyone else struggle with these kinds of tests? I battle between answering what I think I’m supposed to think, and what I honestly feel.

    Having said that, I came out Critical, which I think (I mean feel) honestly summarizes my view of God at this particular part of my life-journey.

  • Even if you might not believe in God, based on your personal understanding, what do you think God is like?

    I’m tempted to quote Charles Babbage: I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.”

    I mean, what if I asked, “Even if you might not believe in vampires, based on your personal understanding, what do you think they are like?”

    Note: I do not mean to offend with this comparison, simply to illustrate the problems with the question. Depictions of vampires have been all over the map. Depending on the author, they have wildly varying intelligence, motives, impulse control, strengths and weaknesses, etc. etc. Some burn up in sunlight, some just sparkle.

    If one doesn’t believe in vampires or God(s), how is one to even begin answering such a question?

  • Mark #17 — I’m with you. There’s a disconnect between what I know the “right” answer is, and what I actually believe (based on my behavior) about God.

  • Well, with 23/24 scores, I guess I am not surprised to find myself in the “critical” group … and have a better feeling for the term “critical” than some, I guess. It is a fine line to walk the “love the sinner, hate the sin” path, and I believe it requires a God whose very nature is love, whose chosen disposition is restraint (grace) and whose ultimate goal is restoration of relationship (mercy).

  • DRT

    I think the lesson to learn from the god test is that you should never let a theologian do your taxes.

  • Sherman Nobles

    It can’t say I have a disconnect between what I believe the “right” answer is and what I actually believe. I scored 13/40 – Benevolent. From childhood, I’ve always believed in the love, mercy, and grace of God. And when I came to be filled with the Spirit (Charismatic) some 24 years ago I came to believe that God was intimately involved in my life personally and in the affairs of this world as well.

    It’s an interesting test.