Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

Spirituality, Hope, Compassion, and Forgiveness: Contributions of Pentecostal Spirituality to Godly Love

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

Spirituality, Hope, Compassion, and Forgiveness: Contributions of Pentecostal Spirituality to Godly Love

Article excerpt

Love of God and one's neighbor is a virtue that is at the center of Christianity (Luke 10:27). Recent theorists have explored the potential link between love of God and benevolence toward people in a model identified as godly love (e.g., Exline, 2012; Poloma, 2012). Using available measures of spirituality and one constructed measure of Pentecostal-Charismatic spirituality, we found support for the godly love model in a Pentecostal sample. Based on the results of hierarchical multiple regression, love of God, viewed as attachment to God, religiosity and hope, significantly explained benevolence, or neighborly love, when operationally defined by measures of compassion and forgiveness. In addition, an index of Pentecostal-Charismatic spirituality significantly contributed to explaining compassionate benevolence beyond that accounted for by other variables.

Most of the world's seven billion inhabitants express religious or spiritual beliefs. The vagueness of the religious-spiritual construct has been addressed by many, leading to a vague notion that people speak of the sacred and often engage in worship-like activities or rituals they associate with the sacred. Many people identify with one of the world's large religious groups such as the monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, or those associated with Asia such as Hinduism and Buddhism. There are of course many other organized sets of beliefs and even more subgroups. In this present study, we examine the spirituality of Christians attending an American Midwestern university affiliated with a Pentecostal fellowship.

Perhaps more important than concerns about what it means to be religious or spiritual, is an interest in how the faithful express what it means to be deeply spiritual or have a mature spirituality within their faith community (Hood, Hill, & Spilka, 2009). In the current study, we distinguish between religiousness and spirituality in that religiousness is considered to include the beliefs and practices of an organized religion (Hill et al., 2000), and spirituality is considered to be the sense of relationship with the Sacred (Davis, Hook, Van Tongeren, Gartner, & Worthington, 2012; Shultz & Sandage, 2006) or a sense of closeness or connection with something Sacred (Davis et al., 2012; Davis et al., 2010; Hill et al., 2000). When the Sacred is religious, this has been called religious spirituality (Davis et al., 2012). When humanity is considered to be Sacred, it is called humanistic spirituality nature, nature spirituality and something beyond the corporeal, transcendent spirituality (Davis et al., 2012). In the present article, we consider religious spirituality and are particularly concerned with a particular subset of religious spirituality-that which is associated with Pentecostal or Charismatic Christianity, which we call Pentecostal spirituality.

Pentecostalism and related Charismatic groups are among the fastest growing Christian groups globally with upwards of half a billion members worldwide (Pew Forum, 2006). Research indicates that religious conversions often result in measurable changes in religious spirituality (e.g., Paloutzian, 2005). Recent theorists have focused on possible links between godly love and benevolence qua love expressed toward others (e.g., Exline, 2012; Poloma, 2012) specifically in Pentecostal samples. In this present study, we view benevolence as an important dimension of spiritual maturity and explore links between godly love and benevolence with a focus on the contributions of Pentecostal-Charismatic spirituality.

Pentecostal-Charismatic Spirituality

The conceptualization and assessment of religion and spirituality have been reformulated many times since the early focus offered by James (1902). In 1999, Mahoney and Graci found that a small sample of experts in religious studies identified charity, compassion, forgiveness, and hope among the concepts associated with spirituality. …

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