This is the focus of a new book by Paul Froese and Christopher Bader entitled America's Four Gods: What We Say About God and What That says about us (Oxford University Press, 2010). In this volume the authors use original survey data, interviews and something called "the God Test" to determine how Americans view God. They boiled down their results into four different categories of God. They are the authoritative God, the benevolent God, the critical God and the distant God. Here is how they explain the categories. :
What distinguishes believers in an Authoritative God is their strong conviction that God judges human behavior and sometimes acts on that judgment. Indeed, they feel that God can become very angry and is capable of meting out punishment to those who are unfaithful or ungodly. Americans with this perspective often view human suffering as the result of Divine Justice. Approximately 31% of Americans believe in an Authoritative God.
Like believers in the Authoritative God, believers in a Benevolent God see His handiwork everywhere. But they are less likely to think that God judges and punishes human behavior. Instead, the Benevolent God is mainly a force of positive influence in the world and is less willing to condemn individuals. Believers in this God feel that whether sinners or saints, we are all are free to call on the Benevolent God to answer our prayers in times of need. Approximately 24% of Americans believe in a Benevolent God.
Believers in a Critical God imagine a God that is judgmental of humans, but rarely acts on Earth, perhaps reserving final judgment for the afterlife. The Critical God appears to hold a special place in the hearts of those who are the most in need of help yet are denied assistance. Approximately 16% of Americans believe in a Critical God.
Believers in a Distant God view God as a cosmic force that set the laws of nature in motion and, as such, the Distant God does not really “do” things in the world or hold clear opinions about our activities or world events. In fact, believers in a Distant God may not conceive of God as an entity with human characteristics and are loathe to refer to God as a “he.” When describing God, they are likely to reference objects in the natural world, like a beautiful day, a mountaintop, or a rainbow rather than a human-like figure. These believers feel that images of God in human terms are simply inadequate and represent naïve or ignorant attempts to know the unknowable. Approximately 24% of Americans believe in a Distant God.