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Theistic Conceptions in American Protestantism

Walter Broughton
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Vol. 14, No. 4 (Dec., 1975), pp. 331-344
DOI: 10.2307/1384405
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1384405
Page Count: 14
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Theistic Conceptions in American Protestantism
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Abstract

A semantic differential administered to liberal, moderate, and conservative laity (N = 511) identified three dimensions of theistic imagery in which a traditional conception of God's goodness, mercy, and justice was dominant. The first dimension, traditional imagery, was strongly related to certainty of belief in God's existence and other orthodox Christian beliefs, as well as to devotionalism and ritual observances. It and certainty of orthodox belief each independently influenced religiosity. A second dimension of anthropomorphic imagery was unrelated to piety, but appeared to reflect cognitive sophistication. A third, bi-polar dimension described lay perceptions of God's immanence and scrutability. Liberals are here separated from conservatives by a lesser preference for traditional imagery (reflecting their greater doubt about orthodox beliefs).

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