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Christian Beliefs Index Measuring Christian Spirituality



One way to think about the components of religion is three-dimensional, which includes beliefs, practices, and experiences. A few years ago, a group of us studied Christian counseling to discover what Christian counselors actually did that was different from other counselors (Sutton, Arnzen, & Kelly, 2016). We wanted to get more specific about the identity of Christian counselors--beyond a simple checklist of their affiliation with a large group such as Presbyterian or a movement such as Pentecostal. As part of our plan to be more specific about spirituality, we created a few measures. 

Previously, I reported on a scale for assessing spiritual practices. This time I present a measure of beliefs, the Christian Beliefs Index.
           
The wording of the items clearly applies to the Christian faith, but the point of our measure was to be more precise about the diversity of beliefs within Christian cultures (i.e., groups or denominations). I’ll comment on the items below.
           
The full index used in the published article follows. It is presented by asking respondents to rate the items using a 5-point rating scale from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree.  

Please tell us a little about your Christian beliefs.

1.      I have had a born-again experience.
2.      God heals some people without human intervention.
3.      All Christians are called to share their faith with others.
4.      People who do not accept Jesus as their personal savior will spend eternity in hell.

Score the index by adding the values. Scores can range from 4 to 20 unless you use a different metric. In our study, the mean was 18.10 and the standard deviation was 2.19. The skew was -1.30, which was acceptable (+/- 1.50). Kurtosis was also acceptable (1.61).  Coefficient alpha for our study (Sutton et al., 2016) was adequate (.76).

We have used the scale in other studies. Here are the alpha levels: .72 (Kelly et al., 2018) and .80 (Sutton, Kelly, & Huver, 2019).

Validity data indicate significant positive correlations with other aspects of spirituality, which supports its use as measuring another dimension of the construct, Christian spirituality. Following is a table showing the Pearson Correlation Coefficients for the relationship between the Beliefs Index and four other measures of Christian spirituality.

Index or Measure
Correlation
Personal Christian Practices
.25*
Intratextual Fundamentalism Items
.56*
Christian Social Values
.52*
Christian Service Scale
.22*

p < .01

Brief Discussion

We designed the Christian Beliefs Index to obtain a more diverse view of Christian beliefs than would be possible from reporting an affiliation with a denomination or group. The born-again item (1) is a marker of evangelicalism so, we would expect high scores reflecting this segment of Christianity. Although many Christians believe in God’s healing power, the belief in divine healing (2) without human intervention is more typical of Pentecostals and charismatics. Of course, belief in miracles, including healing, is also a part of Catholic teaching. The sharing of faith (3) is a Christian mandate and part of what it means to be an evangelical Christian. Finally, the belief in Jesus as a personal savior and the consequences of an eternity in hell is closer to fundamentalism (4). Overall, high scores reflect a conservative type of evangelical beliefs close to fundamentalism, which is supported by the shared variance with the five-item Intratextual Fundamentalism Scale (Williamson, Hood, Ahmad, Sadiq & Hill, 2010).

Note also that these beliefs are significantly related to practices as we might expect but the correlation is lower reflecting a difference between what people believe and how they practice their faith.

The Christian Beliefs Index may be used by teachers and researchers without requesting permission. We just ask you cite either the Sutton, Arnzen, and Kelly (2016) or Sutton (2017b) reference below, which are sources that provide the text of the scales. Of course, more recent studies will include the reliability and validity data.


Resource Link:  A – Z Test Index

References

Kelly, H.L., Sutton, G. W, Hicks, L., Godfrey, A. & Gillihan, C. (2018). Factors predicting the moral appraisal of sexual behavior in Christians. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 37, (2), 162-177. 

 Sutton, G. W. (2017a). Applied statistics: Concepts for counselors, Second Edition. Springfield, MO: Sunflower. Amazon Paperback ISBN-10: 1521783926, ISBN-13: 978-1521783924 

Sutton, G. W. (2017b). Creating surveys: Evaluating programs and reading research. Springfield, MO: Sunflower. Amazon Paperback ISBN-10: 1522012729 ISBN-13: 978-1522012726

Sutton, G. W., Arnzen, C., & Kelly, H. (2016). Christian counseling and psychotherapy: Components of clinician spirituality that predict type of Christian intervention. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 35, 204-214.

Sutton, G. W., Kelly, H. L., & Huver, M. (2019). Political identities, religious identity, and the pattern of moral foundations among conservative Christians. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 48, pp. 169-187. Accepted 6 September 2019. Online October 16, 2019. 

Williamson, W.P., Hood, R. W. Jr., Ahmad, A., Sadiq, M., Y Hill, P.C. (2010). The intratextual fundamentalism scale: cross-cultural application, validity evidence, and relationship with religious orientation and the Big 5 factor markers. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 13, 721-747.


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