Western "Biblical" Monotheism:
Domination and Partnership Variants

Last Updated: October 15, 2010

For Discussion
Not Written in Stone

D = Domination or Strict Father Model (variety possible)            P = Partnership or Nurturant Parent Model (variety possible)

Moral Authority

D: God is absolute authority, his will is our command

P: Nature itself contains clues as to what values we should promote; for instance, we should respect the creation & our fellow humans and help them fulfill their genuine needs.


D: For some, God is creator of everything except what we do with our will. For others, those who believe in Original Sin, God is even responsible for our capacity to avoid evil if we have it (those who have this capacity owe it to His grace, which He can grant but we can never deserve)

P: God may be behind creation in a general way, but we are important partners in the continuing creation and in the preservation of the creation.

Can God Be Moved by Us?

D: God is an unmoved mover; He acts on other beings; they do not influence Him.

P: God suffers with his creation because He cares about it.

Does God Make Us or Allow us to Suffer?

D: Suffering is part of His plan to teach us something, to get us to change our ways. Suffering in the present life (or in the Afterlife) is punishment for sins.

P: Some suffering is an unavoidable consequence of the laws that hold creation together; it's not necessary that God directly will that specific people suffer. Nor does God endorse suffering caused by unjust institutions.

Reading Scripture

D: God is the author, we should take Scripture literally; or, we should only follow non-literal interpreta-tions endorsed by the (authoritative) church or religious teachers.

P: Whether or not God inspired it, what we have reflects human writers, the needs or interests of their audiences, in their historical situation

Belief and Action

D: What is key is what you believe, e.g., that Jesus died for our sins and/or that the dead will be resurrected

P: What is key is what you do; the important beliefs are those that shape action. God wants us to love (and serve) our neighbors, and "the stranger" who is in need, and to stand up for the oppressed.

Attitude toward Human Authority

D: Actually ruling authorities rulers generally have God's backing (if they don't a prophet will tell you).

P: Actually ruling authorities do not necessarily have God's backing; God loves Justice; human beings can use their God-given powers of rational judgment to determine when rulers are unjust.

Attitude towards the Poor and Oppressed

D: Those who are materially successful generally have God's blessing.

P: God cares especially about the poor and oppressed; His servants should too.

Role of Violence

D: Violence to promote God's will is sometimes OK; sinners can expect a lengthy period of oppression at the hands of conquerors who are God's agents (even if they don't know it), sudden annihilation, or a painful afterlife in the end times.

P: It's not right to claim that God, whose essential nature is Love or Compassion, endorses violence by humans or to conceive Him as presiding over painful punishment of sinners for eternity.

Role of Jesus (for Christians)

D: Destined to be the ruler and judge of saved humanity

P: Most important is what Jesus taught, the kingdom of God as a caring, empowering, mutually respecting community of equals

Metaphysical Status of Jesus Christ (for Christians)

D: Pre-existing Christ, (for Trinitarians) along with God the Father, a member of the Three-in-One God; (for pre-modern Unitarians) God's eternal (but subordinate) Son

P: Jesus may have been essentially a very great (or the greatest) human moral and spiritual teacher, a person who taught in deeds, providing a model for us, as well as words.