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Extra info for Religion and Ethnocentrism: An Empirical-Theological Study

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In John 15:12–15, Jesus declared to his disciples that they are no longer to be called his servants but friends. God is unveiled in the bonding of peoples in a free and reciprocal interaction. Hence, Christians acknowledge that when people form friendships, God’s love is at work, or that God’s love is present whenever people live in friendship. Contemporary authors criticize the tendency of modern culture to over-emphasize individual self in relation to God and other aspects of human life. They say that the construction of the modern self is drawn heavily around the themes of self-sufficiency, self-expression, autonomy, search for authenticity, natural development, personal creativity, individualism and emancipation.

Now the question is, if we have these ‘overabundance’ and assortment of images, what conceptual boundary can allow us to identify meaningfully, but also to delineate expediently, this whole plethora of God images? Here, we shall be aided by a conceptual structure that attitudes toward god 29 can allow us to identify and to make sense of all the possible images that can be presumed to exist among our respondents. 1 Van der Ven criticizes previous studies that employ this credo-based conceptualization and operationalization of God images by saying that they often measure topics which are of minor or marginal importance in relation to the ‘hierarchy of truth’ of the church, and those topics “embedded in codes originating in a cultural and social situation that structurally and conjuncturally belongs to the past” (Van der Ven 1998:147).

Anthropomorphic versus non-anthropomorphic God images On the second level, a distinction can be made between the anthropomorphic and non-anthropomorphic images of God. This distinction is proper only to the iconic faith and obviously not to the aniconic faith. Anthropomorphic images portray God by using symbols or descriptions that befits a person. ‘God’ is often described as someone who is behaving and feeling like a human being. God, in the anthropomorphic faith, is portrayed as a being like ourselves in the fundamental respect that we are both—God and ourselves—persons.

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