Calvinism, Gender, and Relational Spirituality

These beliefs and practices can be examined by psychologists and, while such scholars know the difference between correlation and causation, the recent study of Stephen J. Sandage (Boston U), Peter J. Jankowski (Bethel U), Sarah A. Crabtree (U Minnesota) and Maria L. Schweer-Collins (U Oregon) offers us plenty to think about. Their article is called “Calvinism, Gender Ideology, and Relational Spirituality,” and the article appears in Journal of Psychology and Theology 45 (2o17): 17-32. Prepare yourself for the reading because it is an informed and intensive analysis of data and numbers and it is cautious and analytical in conclusion.

To read on the theological debate, I recommend:

Roger Olson, Against Calvinism

Michael Horton, For Calvinism

Psychological and sociological research articles are a genre unto themselves. So, it opens with a summary conclusion/abstract of the study and I have reformatted it for ease of reading:

Participants were grouped on the basis of theological beliefs about divine-human and female-male dynamics using cluster analysis. We then explored whether these sub-groups might differ on (a) hierarchical social expectations, (b) commitments to social justice and intercultural competence, (c) religious exploration, (d) existential defensiveness, (e) views of psychology — theology integration, and (f) perspectives on women’s leadership.

The sample consisted of graduate students (N = 227) at an Evangelical seminary in the Midwestern United States.

Results yielded a four-cluster solution. (1)  Individuals scoring high on both Calvinist theological beliefs and complementarian gender role beliefs scored significantly higher on hierarchical relationship expectations and existential defensiveness, and preferred a Christian psychology view of integration and a male headship perspective of leadership, compared to those scoring low on Calvinism and complementarianism.

(2) In contrast, individuals scoring low on both theological dimensions scored higher on Arminianism, gender egalitarianism, social justice commitment, intercultural competence commitment, religious exploration, and they preferred an integration view of psychology and theology and a “no restrictions” perspective on women’s roles.

(3) Findings highlight implications for theological training and spiritual formation.

They used a variety of measures. The Calvinst-Arminian Beliefs Scale (Sorenson, 1981), a 15-item measure of egalitarian and complementarian gender role beliefs (ECS; Colaner and Warner, 2005; Colaner and Giles, 2008), the Interpersonal Hierarchy Expectation Scale (IHES; Mast, 2005), the Horizontal scale of the Faith Maturity Scale (FMS-H; Benson et al, 1993), they used a 2 question scale for intercultural competence (Cronbach’s alpha was .82), the Multidimensional Quest Orientation Scale (MQQS; Beck and Jessup, 2004), the Faith Maturity Scale-Short Form (FMS-SF; Benson et al, 1993), the Defensive Theology Scale (DTS; Beck, 2004, 2006a), they queried each on their integration of psychology and theology, and the Women’s Roles Questionnaire (Eliason, Hall, Anderson and Willigham, in press; Maltby, 2007).

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.