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Concept of God and Personal Meaning: Investigating the Perspective of Older Adults

Faculty Supervisor:
Paul Lewis
Year of Project Completion:
Elizabeth Rempel


The positive effects of spiritual and religious belief and practice (e.g. church attendance or prayer) and the experience of personal meaning on older adults’ well-being are well documented. However, the associations between specific beliefs about God’s character and specific means of existential resolution have received little attention. The current exploratory study investigated associations between a God Concept Rating Form, generated from open-ended responses to the question “What is God like?”, and Wong’s seven subcategories of personal meaning. A significant negative correlation is found between salience of belief in a judgmental God and the Personal Meaning Profile subcategories of self-acceptance, self-transcendence and relationship with others. Salience of belief about God’s expectations for human behavior is positively correlated with self-transcendence at a near-significant level. Salience of traditional Christian beliefs is positively associated with meaning-finding through religion. Viewing God in relational terms is not associated with greater self-acceptance.

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About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.