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Measuring Christian Beliefs

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This article opens with a critique on the conventional scales intended to measure Christian beliefs. It is concluded that the implicit theological approach behind Creed-alike scales is one that is taken for granted (a neo-scholastic one). The Humanistic Religious Beliefs Scale (HUMBEL) is meant to overcome this one-sidedness. Based on a critical review of two research lines, it was concluded that: a) researchers inspired by the study of Hunt (1972) failed to unravel distinct personality-based attitudes toward one and the same heritage, but that their findings unintentionally point to the existence of different religious beliefs, and b) Felling, Peters and Schreuder (1991), developed scales which represented only the concepts of absolute transcendence and absolute immanence. The concept immanent transcendence was not included. The Humanistic Religious Beliefs Scale is designed to represent a Christian elaboration on the concept of immanent transcendence, and measures to which degree the faith is put forward that God could reveal Himself in the actual contact between people. Both the Humanistic Religious Beliefs Scale and the newly developed Individualistic Religious Belief Scale (INBEL), designed to represent a Christian elaboration on absolute transcendence, and intended to measure to which degree the conviction is expressed that God is concerned with every individual separately, were administered to 455 members of Roman Catholic nuclear families who were involved with the church. Both parents and one of their children were tested. Results indicate that several criteria of external validity are met. It is concluded that Christian religiousness, is rather severely underestimated, when making use of Creed-alike scales, solely. Furthermore it was concluded that the Humanistic Religious Beliefs Scale could neutralize the paradox, that some Christians can be in favour of prejudice and authoritarianism, while others are opposed to it. Some suggestions are made for further research.

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