Friday, July 1, 2011

Why church at all?

Why does anyone go to church at all? 
No doubt people have many different reasons both conscious and unconscious. Psychological research has identified certain personality types as having different reasons.

A widely accepted method of measuring personality type is the Five Factor Model (FFM) which measures:

1. Neuroticism: anxiety, angry-hostility, depression, self-consciousness, impulsivity, vulnerability.

2. Extraversion: warmth, gregariousness, assertiveness, activity, excitement-seeking, positive emotions.

3. Openness to experience: fantasy, aesthetics, feelings, actions, ideas, values.

4. Agreeableness: trust, straightforwardness, altruism, compliance, modesty, tender-mindedness.

5. Conscientiousness: competence, order, dutifulness, achievement-striving, self discipline, deliberation.

It has been argued that religiousness should be included with these factors as it is a universal factor in the human experience. As most research has been done on Christian samples, researchers at Wits University have included religious orientation and religious affiliation.

Some researchers studying psychology and religion have defined two approaches to religion; 1. Extrinsic religious orientation (ERO) and 2. intrinsic religious orientation (IRO).

1. ERO is characterized by those individuals who use religion for their own ends; for what they can get from it such as social prestige or status, approval, comfort or protection.

2. IRO is found in those who embrace, and try to live by, a religious creed. Their commitment to their beliefs is evident in every aspect of their lives. They live their religion as opposed to using their religion.

Although there are always exceptions, people who score highly on the agreeableness and conscientiousness scales of the FFM, are likely to practice IRO. People who exhibit ERO are likely to score higher on Neuroticism and Extroversion. The Openness to experience measurement show mixed results. It was also suggested that religious commitment should be measured i.e. the degree to which a person adheres to their religious values and beliefs in daily life.

Another factor is the difference between religiosity and spirituality as it has been shown a relationship where openness is related to spirituality and closeness to religion. As in all studies of the human condition, the debate is endless.

It remains for each individual to consider their own spirituality and religious orientation, affiliation and commitment.

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Editors note: This is a guest post and not always the opinion or view of the blog or its owners and related parties. As a result no action can be taken against such parties

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