What are God Images?

One of the best ways to understand Bill Gaultiere’s “God images” is by contrasting it to “God concepts.”

What is a God concept?

My God concept is what I profess about God. It is my intellectual understanding of God, based on what I have been taught and what I have explored through reading and what I have I decided or chosen to believe about God. The God concept of orthodox Catholics is reflected in what the Creed, the Scriptures and the Catechism say about God. One’s God concept is conscious and freely embraced.

What is a God image?

God images are totally different. My God image is my emotional and subjective experience of God, who I feel God to be in the moment, in my bones. My God image is how my emotions, how my heart interprets God subjectively, and that interpretation of God may or may not correspond to my God concept (or reality) at any given moment. God images are often latent and unconscious. Research indicates that God images are initially shaped by the relationship with one’s parents, and that God images are heavily influenced by psychological factors. God images are always formed experientially, and they flow from relational experiences and how we construe and make sense of those experiences when we are very young. You don’t choose a God image; it is initially formed into you. And you can’t will a God image away, it’s not subject to the sheer force of your will. But you can create conditions which change your God images.

God images result from your experiences with significant people in your life. 

1st 2 years of your lie have a huge impact on our God images.

Parents view as God growing up

  • difficult to access due to early developmental stages

God images are what take a seat on the throne of your heart.

We build an implicit religion around every god image.

Element of truth in each god image.

The reason other people are so important in the development of your image of God as a God of love is because your relationship with God is one of faith. None of us can physically see, touch, or hear God. So if your faith is to have relevance to your day-to-day experience of life, you need people you can physically interact with to represent and express God’s love to you. 60

5 conditions for secure God image:

  1. seen and known by God
  2. safe and secure with God
  3. sense of being comforted & reassured by God – especially when stressed.
  4. God cherishes, rejoices in you, delights in you
  5. Knowing at a deep level that God wills what is best for you.

What images do you have of God in your dark place?

  • compare vs 5 conditions

God I’m here – cry out to Him

  • Help me to know that you see me, that you’re with me.

Self images

  • emotionally driven
  • Subjective.
  • How we feel ourselves to be.

God image

  • corresponds to self image
  • May or may not correspond to God concept
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