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Motivational Approaches to the Study of Theology in Relation to Spirituality

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This study concerns the relationship between motivational approaches to the study of theology and spirituality. The motivational approaches expressed by students are considered in terms of reasons for choosing theology as a field of study, and these factors are compared to dimensions of spiritual sensitivity. A total of 137 first-year students completed a questionnaire covering their motives for enrolling in the Faculty of Theology and their spirituality. The questionnaire was developed on the basis of earlier Finnish studies of motives (Niemelä, 1999) and spiritual sensitivity (Tirri, 2004; Tirri et al., 2006; Hay, 1998; Bradford, 1995). The data revealed some interesting and significant relations between the two. On the one hand, the community-sensing dimension of spirituality was related to a spiritual calling and a helping orientation; on the other hand, a spiritual calling was related to the value-sensing dimension of spirituality. Cluster analysis produced three student groups that differed in terms of motivational approach, spiritual sensitivity and uncertainty of career choice. Findings are discussed in the perspective of implications for the study of theology.

Affiliations: 1: University of Helsinki, Finland

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