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Christian Spirituality Scale (CSS): Development and Validation of an Instrument to Measure Christian Beliefs and Actions

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Abstract

Christians pursuing spirituality have used different instruments to measure it. However, different results may be obtained depending on the instrument used. Hence, the purpose of this paper is to combine the strengths of existing instruments to develop and initially validate a Christian Spirituality Scale, following the psychological understanding of conduct. Tested among 211 participants, the final scale contains 34 items that are initially valid and reliable, with a Cronbach’s of .925 for the whole scale, .924 for the Walking with God dimension (behavioral), and. 875 for the Belief in God’s Truths dimension (cognitive). The process consisted in content and face validity, construct validity through factor analysis, and reliability through Cronbach’s  coefficient. The scale is valid, reliable, and useful for Christian individuals, churches, and organizations seeking to monitor a biblically-based understanding of spirituality that includes both beliefs and actions.
Christian Spirituality Scale (CSS): Development and Validation of an Instrument to Measure Christian Beliefs and Actions
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CHRISTIAN!SPIRITUALITY!SCALE!(CSS):!DEVELOPMENT!AND!VALIDATION!OF!AN!!
INSTRUMENT!TO!MEASURE!CHRISTIAN!BELIEFS!AND!ACTIONS!
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Carlos!E.!Biaggi!
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Faculty!of!Business!Administration,!Middle!East!University,!Beirut,!Lebanon!
ARTICLE INFO ABSTRACT
Christians pursuing spirituality have used different instruments to measure it. However,
different results may be obtained depending on the instrument used. Hence, the purpose of
this paper is to combine the strengths of existing instruments to develop and initially
validate a Christian Spirituality Scale, following the psychological understanding of
conduct. Tested among 211 participants, the final scale contains 34 items that are initially
valid and reliable, with a Cronbach’s a of .925 for the whole scale, .924 for the Walking
with God dimension (behavioral), and. 875 for the Belief in God’s Truths dimension
(cognitive). The process consisted in content and face validity, construct validity through
factor analysis, and reliability through Cronbach’s a coefficient. The scale is valid, reliable,
and useful for Christian individuals, churches, and organizations seeking to monitor a
biblically-based understanding of spirituality that includes both beliefs and actions.
INTRODUCTION
The spirituality construct has been confused and often overlaps
with the construct religiosity. Those researchers that see
proximity between the concepts posit that religious beliefs are
core to spirituality (e.g. Lynn, Naughton, and VanderVeen,
2011), and argue that religiosity is strongly related with
spirituality (e.g. Emmons, 1999; Vitell, Keith, and Mathur,
2011). Furthermore, some researchers argue that in some cases
spirituality and religion are synonymous, because people look
to religious denominations in their quest to have communion
with God (Conger, 1994). However, even though “formal
religion can encourage spiritual experiences… spirituality and
religion are not necessarily one and the same” (Conger, 1994,
12). Additionally, other researchers assert that there seems to
be no connection between spirituality and religion, or attempt
to differentiate the constructs (e. g. Ashforth and Pratt, 2003;
Giacalone and Jurkiewicz, 2003; Mitroff and Denton, 1999).
Therefore, for the purpose of choosing the dimensions of
spirituality this study will review both spirituality and
religiosity dimensions.
Cornwall et al. (1986) developed a conceptual model of
religiosity, which they empirically tested. The base for that
model is “familiar to social psychologists who generally
recognize the importance of making a distinction between
knowing (cognition), feeling (affect), and doing (behaviour)”
(Cornwall et al., 1986, 227).
Their empirical test of the model, done on 1,874 Mormons
(Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) in the United
States, revealed five dimensions: one cognitive, two affective,
and two behavioural. Using Cornwall et al.’s (1986) model
Parboteeah, Hoegl, and Cullen (2008) empirically tested the
relationship between religion and ethics. Using data from the
World Values Survey (2000), a large sample of 63,087
respondents from 44 countries, they found support for three
dimensions of religiosity and their negative relationship to
ethics: cognitive, affective, and behavioural. They argue that a
multidimensional model better explains the relationship
between religion and ethics than a unidimensional construct of
religiosity, such as religion affiliation or church attendance.
Other researchers argue that religiosity can be measured by
cognitive and behavioural dimensions, leaving out the
affective dimension (McDaniel and Burnett, 1990; Rashid and
Ibrahim, 2008). McDaniel and Burnett (1990) posit that
religiosity is formed by a belief in God and a commitment to
live by God given principles. However, early studies of
religiosity have distinguished between religious beliefs,
religious feelings, and religious practices (Hall, 1891; Leuba,
1912; Starbuck, 1899).
Recently, following Cornwall et al. (1986) and Parboteeah,
Hoegl, and Cullen (2008), Biaggi (2013) offered a conceptual
model of Christian spirituality formed by three dimensions:
cognitive, affective, and behavioral. First, the affective
dimension of spirituality is named communion with God,
describing a personal relationship between the individual and
God. Second, the cognitive dimension of spirituality is labeled
believe in God’s truths, representing the acceptance by faith of
the core beliefs of Christianity. And third, walking with God is
International Journal of Current Advanced Research
ISSN: O: 2319-6475, ISSN: P: 2319-6505, Impact Factor: 6.614
Available Online at www.journalijcar.org
Volume 7; Issue 10(A); October 2018; Page No. 15752-15758
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24327/ijcar.2018.15758.2888
Research Article
Copyright©2018 Carlos E. Biaggi. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits
unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Article History:
Received 13th July, 2018
Received in revised form 11th August, 2018
Accepted 8th September, 2018
Published online 28th October, 2018
Key words:
Spirituality; Christian; scale;
validity; reliability
*Corresponding author: Carlos E. Biaggi
Faculty of Business Administration, Middle East University,
Beirut, Lebanon
International Journal of Current Advanced Research Vol 7, Issue 10(A), pp 15752-15758, October 2018
14753
the behavioral dimension of spirituality characterizing the
external acts that a follower of Christ exhibits.
Christians pursuing spirituality have used different instruments
to measure it. However, different results may be obtained
depending on the instrument used. Hence, the purpose of this
paper is to combine the strengths of existing instruments to
develop and initially validate a Christian Spirituality Scale.
Items were chosen based on biblical support, following the
psychological understanding of conduct proposed by Biaggi’s
(2013) conceptual model.
METHODOLOGY!
The methods applied to validate the CSS were: 1) generation
of an item pool, 2) translational validity: content and face
validity, 3) construct validity: factor analysis, and 4)
reliability: internal consistency through Cronbach’s a.
Generation of an Item Pool
Following Biaggi’s (2013) conceptual model of spirituality
three indicators were selected for each of the three dimensions:
1. Communion with God (affective dimension): is
measured by Bible study, prayer, and meditation
(Biaggi, 2013).
2. Belief in God’s truths (cognitive dimension): is
measured by two indicators proposed by Biaggi (2013) -
Bible as supreme authority, and plan of salvation- and a
third one that was added -the power of God.
3. Walking with God (behavioral dimension): is measured
by witnessing, service for God, and right living (Biaggi,
2013).
To measure these indicators an initial pool of 156 items were
selected from existing questionnaires, adapted from existing
questionnaires, or were created. The existing questionnaires
used for the initial item pool were:
The Christian Spiritual Participation Profile: Cronbach’s
a between .84 and .92 (Thayer, 2004).
The Spirituality Inventory: reliability between .619 and
.713 (Vyhmeister, 2006).
The Religious Commitment Inventory: Cronbach’s
a .95 (Worthington et al., 2003).
Christian Conservatism: reliability of .91 (Stellway,
1973).
The Spirituality Questionnaire: Cronbach’s a between
.78 and .97 (Hardt et al., 2012).
The Dimensions of Religiosity: reliability between .75
and .88 (Cornwall et al., 1986).
The Intrinsic Religious Motivation Scale: Cronbach’s
a .901 (Hoge, 1972).
With the initial item pool a Questionnaire Validation Table
was created. The validation table consisted of a conceptual
definition for each dimension, and a set of data for each item:
indicator, operational definition, questionnaire item, original
item (if change is made), reliability score, taken/adapted from,
pilot study test, and scale. While the conceptual definitions of
each dimension guided in the selection of indicators, the
operational definitions of indicators indicated what items were
relevant for each indicator. To strengthen the questionnaire 8
items were reversed coded (Weijters and Baumgartner, 2012).
Translational Validity
Content validity
The aim of content validity is to assess that the content of each
item is fitting and relevant to the purpose of the study. Content
validity reveals whether the content covers a comprehensive
array of the attributes under analysis, and is usually done by at
least seven experts (DeVon et al., 2007; Pilot and Hunger,
1999). Hence, seven experts were chosen in the fields of
theology, spirituality, and questionnaire design, and were
given the task of reviewing the initial item pool and assessing
its conceptual validity. Each expert individually evaluated the
applicability of each item using the following scale:
applicable, needs revision, not applicable.
Face validity
Face validity is the easiest and weakest form of validity
(Parsian and Dunning, 2009) because it involves assessing the
questionnaire’s appearance in relation of its feasibility,
understanding, readability, style, format, and clarity (DeVon et
al., 2007; Haladyna, 1999; Trochim, 2001). To assess the face
validity of the CSS five students and faculty from the target
population were purposively selected and were asked to
evaluate each item in terms of the clarity of the questions and
response options, the form (appears nice and appealing), and
the grammar.
Construct Validity
Construct validity indicates the extent to which the statements
in a questionnaire are appropriate to measure the significant
theoretical construct (DeVon et al., 2007; Kane, 2001).
Whether translational validity assesses a qualitative
differentiation between valid and invalid, construct validity is
a rather quantitative assessment (Parsian and Dunning, 2009)
that relates the intended variable (construct) to the proxy
variable (indicator) (Hunter and Schmidt, 1990). For instance,
witnessing and right living were selected as proxy indicators
for the behavioral dimension of spirituality. Factor analysis is
the tool used to assess construct validity when several items
measure one indicator.
To conduct factor analysis the questionnaire was sent to all
585 students and faculty of a Christian institution of higher
education in Silang, Philippines. 213 individuals completed the
survey, for a response rate of 36.4%. Since 2 observations
were deleted because of excessive missing data (more than
10%) (Walker et al., 2012), 211 valid responses were used for
the validity and reliability tests.
Factor analysis
The statistical method usually used to group items into
common clusters is factor analysis. The items’ loadings on
each factor help to interpret the factors, as well as reduce the
number of factors (Bryman and Cramer, 1999). Since the
loadings are a measure of relationship between the items and
the factors (Bryman and Cramer, 1999), the factors are a group
of items that relate to each other. Items that do not relate to
each other are exogenous to the construct and ought to be
deleted (Munro, 2005).
One of the factor analysis methods is Exploratory Factor
Analysis (EFA), which evaluates the relationships among
items without defining a specific hypothetical model (Bryman
and Cramer, 2005). EFA has the advantage of finding the
Christian Spirituality Scale (CSS): Development and Validation of an Instrument to Measure Christian Beliefs and Actions
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14754
highest variance with the minimum number of factors
(Delaney, 2005; Munro, 2005). While researchers do not agree
on the sample size to use factor analysis, researchers usually
recommend at least five respondents per variable (Munro,
2005). Besides abiding by that recommendation, this study
used the following criteria:
1. Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) measure of sampling
adequacy,
2. Bartlett´s Test of Sphericity,
3. Anti-Image Correlation, and
4. Factor loadings and the correlations between items
and factors (Hayes, 2002).
Principal Component Analysis (PCA) is the extraction method
selected for factor analysis. While Principal Axis Factoring
(PAF) (another frequent method of extraction) only examines
common variance, PCA has the advantage of analyzing the
total variance of a variable (Bryman and Cramer, 2005). Total
variance is formed by the specific variance plus the common
variance (shared with other variables) (Bryman and Cramer,
2005).
Even though the Kaiser criterion of retaining factors with
eigenvalues > 1 is usually used, it has the drawback of
misleading from the most accurate number of factors (Gorsuch
, 1983; Heppner et al., 2006). Hence, the number of factors to
extract was fixed to three according to the theoretical
framework.
Finally, since the factor correlation matrix, using an oblique
rotation method (Promax) with the desired number of factors
(3), yielded correlations among factors above .32 (.474, .356,
and .352), it was deemed appropriate to choose an oblique
rotation method (Tabachnick and Fiddell, 2007). Oblique
rotation methods assume factors are correlated (Gorsuch,
1983), which corroborates the interdependence of the
dimensions of spirituality. Hence, factors were rotated using
Promax, one of the most common oblique rotation methods
(Gorsuch, 1983).
Reliability
Reliability indicates the ability of an instrument to measure a
construct consistently, and indicates the extent to which items
conceptually fit together (DeVon et al., 2007; Haladyna,
1999). Since while a questionnaire may be reliable it may not
be valid, then both reliability and validity tests are necessary
(Beanland et al., 1999; DeVon et al., 2007). Reliability
involves the instrument’s standard error, the content’s
heterogeneity, and the sampling’s independence (Cronbach
and Shavelson, 2004). The most common reliability measure is
internal consistency reliability.
Internal consistency reliability
Internal consistency reliability evaluates the inter-item
correlations and the whole instrument consistency. The inter-
item correlation indicates the extent to which items
conceptually fit together (DeVon et al., 2007; Nunnally and
Bernstein, 1994). There are two ways of measuring internal
consistency. While split-half compares the correlation between
two sets of items that measure one construct, Cronbach’s a
averages all possible split-halfs (DeVon et al., 2007; Trochim,
2001). When an instrument is formed by more than one
subscale, Cronbach’s a should be computed for each subscale
and for the full scale (Nunnally and Bernstein, 1994). Hence,
Cronbach’s a was calculated for each dimension and for the
entire questionnaire.
RESULTS!
Content and Face Validity
Seven experts assessed the content validity helping to decide
whether items were to be accepted, modified, or removed.
Some items were removed based on similarity to other items,
others where modified for more precision, and others were
removed to reduce the number of items, seeking parsimony.
As a result, the questionnaire was reduced to 47 items.
Finally, five individuals from the target population evaluated
the instrument’s face validity, looking at the grammar,
aesthetics (online appearance), and clarity. Several items were
improved, and the general appearance of the survey was
modified according to the recommendations received.
Factor Analysis
To run the factor analysis the missing values (13 out of 9,917)
were replaced by the mean (Downey and King, 1998), and
small coefficients (below .33) were suppressed. Kaiser-Meyer-
Olkin measure of sampling adequacy is .874, above the .5
recommended (Kaiser, 1974). Bartlett´s Test of Sphericity is
significant for being less than a (Chi-Square = 5118.478; df =
1081; Sig. = .000). Also Measures of Sampling Adequacy
(MSA) were calculated to check that all items have an Anti-
image Correlation greater than 0.5 (MacCallum et al., 1999).
Three factors were extracted (according to the theoretical
framework) through Principal Component Analysis (PCA),
and rotated using Promax with Kaiser normalization. The first
factor was named behavioral (23 items), because 12 behavioral
items, and 11 affective items form it. Since the behavioral
items had higher loadings, it seems appropriate to name this
factor behavioral. A closer look at the affective items reveals
that the affective dimension (communion with God) appears to
have been measured with behavioral indicators (Bible study,
prayer, and meditation) instead of affective ones. Hence, the
intended affective items load in the behavioral factor.
Moreover, all the 23 items still load on the same factor when
EFA is performed only among them forcing the number of
factors to 2. The second factor is formed by 11 of the cognitive
items.
The third factor includes 7 reversed items. There is much
controversy regarding the utility of negatively worded items
(Barnette, 2000). In some cases the reverse-worded items
reduce “the reliability and validity of a scale, and frequently
form a separate method factor that does not appear to be
substantively meaningful” (Woods, 2006, 186). Woods (2006)
found that if more than 10% of respondents answered reverse-
worded items carelessly, researchers tend to “reject a one-
factor model for a unidimensional scale” (186). Whatever
reason it may be, these items do not correlate with the
theoretical factors (behavioral and cognitive) but only among
them. Hence, these items were removed from the scale. In
addition, 5 items were deleted because they did not
significantly (loadings lower than .33) relate to any factor, and
one item was deleted for being ambiguous (loaded on both the
reversed and behavioral factors). Table 1 presents the 47 items
that were factor analyzed.
International Journal of Current Advanced Research Vol 7, Issue 10(A), pp 15752-15758, October 2018
14755
Internal Consistency Reliability
Reliability of the CSS was calculated based on Cronbach’s a
coefficient. The coefficient obtained was .925. In addition,
Cronbach’s a coefficient for the subscales are .924 for the
behavioral dimension, and .875 for the cognitive dimension.
DISCUSSION!
The Christian Spirituality Scale (CSS) shows appropriate
psychometric properties, in terms of 1) translational validity
(content and face validity), 2) construct validity (factor
analysis), and 3) reliability (internal consistency).
First, content validity, the extent to which the content covers a
comprehensive array of the attributes under analysis, was
assessed by seven experts (DeVon et al., 2007; Pilot and
Hunger, 1999). In addition, face validity, the scale’s
appearance in relation of its feasibility, understanding,
readability, style, format, and clarity (DeVon et al., 2007;
Haladyna, 1999; Trochim, 2001) was evaluated by five
respondents from the target population. Second, factorial
validity was assessed through Principal Component Analysis
(PCA) with an oblique rotation (Promax), after assessing the
inter-correlation between the factors (Tabachnick and Fiddell,
2007). The two factors that were retained (behavioral and
cognitive) are strong and clearly discriminated (Meezenbroek
Table 1 Factor analysis
Component
Behavioral
Cognitive
Reversed
.889
.834
.808
.757
.739
.728
.694
.679
.663
.658
.603
.566
.547
.517
.505
.496
.452
.443
.440
.432
.420
.394
.393
.885
.804
.801
.752
.750
.743
.738
.716
.593
.563
.509
.592
.591
.533
.511
.492
.386
.429
.425
-.338
.412
Note: Extraction Metho d: Principal Component Analysis. Rotation Method: Promax with Kaiser Normalization. Rotation converged in 5 iterations.
Christian Spirituality Scale (CSS): Development and Validation of an Instrument to Measure Christian Beliefs and Actions
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14756
et al., 2012). The items that loaded in two factors were deleted,
as well as the items that did not sufficiently load on any factor
(Munro, 2005). And third, the full scale (a = .925) and the two
subscales (a = .924 and .875) enjoy good levels of reliability
as measured by Cronbach’s a, indicating that the items
conceptually fit together (DeVon et al., 2007; Trochim, 2001).
In addition, the CSS presents some other qualities. First, it
intends to be compatible with a broad range of Christian
denomination. Second, the item formulation appears to be
short and easy to understand, avoiding abstract and undefined
words (Meezenbroek et al., 2012). Third, it seems that the
items do not confuse spirituality with well-being and distress
(Meezenbroek et al., 2012). And fourth, it has a reasonably
number of items (34 items).
The CSS is a two-dimensional scale that measures the
behavioral and cognitive aspects of Christian spirituality, and
is formed by 34 items: 23 items in the behavioral dimension,
and 11 items in the cognitive dimension (see Table 2). The
behavioral dimension, Walking with God, is measured by 23
items that gauge 6 indicators: witnessing (5 items), meditation
(5 items), service for God (4 items), right living (3 items),
Bible study (3 items), and prayer (3 items). On the other hand,
Belief in God’s Truths (cognitive dimension) is measured by
11 items that focus on 3 indicators: the plan of salvation (6
items), the power of God (4 items), and the Bible as supreme
authority (1 item).
Table 2 The Christian Spirituality Scale (CSS)
(1) Walking With God (Behavioral)
N
VR
R
O
F
VF
1. I encourage others to believe in Jesus.
2. I work with other Christian believers for the purpose of introducing unchurched
people to Jesus Christ.
3. I invite unchurched people to attend church or small-group meetings with me.
4. I use my money for missionary work.
5. I have a prayer list of people who need to accept Jesus.
6. I serve in a church ministry or community agency to help people in need.
7. When a friend, believer, or neighbor suffers pain, hardship, or loss, I visit them
and empathize with them.
8. I depend on God to help me accomplish the work he calls me to do.
9. I try to offer physical or material assistance when I see that somebody is in
need, even if I don't know him or her.
10. I am kind, helpful, and polite with everyone.
11. God would be proud of what I do on the computer.
12. I live a healthy lifestyle.
Never
A few
times a
year
A few
times a
month
A few
times a
week
Less than
15 minutes
a day
About 15 to
30 minutes
a day
More than
30 minutes
a day
13. I read or study the Bible:
14. I pray:
15. I meditate on spiritual
things:
N
VR
R
O
F
VF
16. I read or study the Bible to learn the will of God.
17. When I read or study the Bible, I change my beliefs and/or behavior to
accommodate new information or understanding.
18. In my life I experience the presence of the Divine, and respond to it through
prayer.
19. I talk to God in my thoughts throughout the day and feel His company in my
activities.
20. I reflect thoughtfully on passages I read in the Bible.
21. I meditate upon the adorable character of Jesus Christ.
22. When I meditate upon h eavenly things I feel the peace and comfor t of the
Holy Spirit.
23. I record in a journal my thoughts on my spiritual journey.
(2) Belief in God’s Truths (Cognitive)
SD
D
NS
A
SA
24. I believe God is the Creator of everything.
25. I believe God is my Redeemer.
26. Even when facing hard times, I believe God has a plan for me.
27. God is the ruling power of history and He guides it providentially.
28. The Bible is God’s message to man and all that it says is true.
29. I believe God is calling me to repentance and to change my sinful behavior.
30. I believe God sanctifies me by the work of the Holy Spirit in my heart.
31. I believe the only means of salvation is accepting Jesus' death in my place.
32. I believe Jesus intercedes for me before the Father.
33. I believe Jesus will come back and take me to live with Him.
34. I believe I will live happily forever with God in the new earth that He will make.
N, VR, R, O, F, VF = Never, Very Rarely, Rarely, Occasion ally, Frequently, Very Frequently.
SD, D, NS, A, SA = Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Not Sure, Agree, Strongly Agree.
International Journal of Current Advanced Research Vol 7, Issue 10(A), pp 15752-15758, October 2018
14757
Limitations
The study presents some limitations. 1) Despite the effort to
measure the three psychological dimensions of conduct
(affective, cognitive, and behavioral), only two dimensions
emerged from factor analysis (behavioral and cognitive). A
closer look at the intended affective items reveals that the
affective dimension (Communion with God) appears to have
been measured with behavioral indicators (Bible study, prayer,
and meditation) instead of affective ones. Hence, the proposed
affective items loaded in the behavioral factor, and this
dimension is not present in this scale. 2) The data was
collected from mainly one Christian denomination; hence, it is
not representative of Christianity. 3) Since the scale was not
compared with other measures of spirituality, convergent
validity cannot be demonstrated (Meezenbroek et al., 2012).
4) Since data was collected at one time only (no test-retest)
and one source only, the results may suffer from common
method bias (Podsakoff et al., 2003). And 5) there was no
confirmation of the factors through structured equation
modeling (SEM) or Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA)
(Meezenbroek et al., 2012; Parsian and Dunning, 2009).
Recommendations
The following recommendations are warranted to strengthen
the validity of the scale in further research. First, it is
recommended to create well-formulated items that measure the
missing affective dimension. Second, the tool may be tested in
a wider range of Christian denominations, to assess its inter-
faith validity. Third, future research may use it along other
widely accepted spirituality questionnaires, to demonstrate its
convergent validity. Fourth, the stability of the responses over
time and common method bias may be assessed through a test-
retest method. And fifth, future research may corroborate the
dimensions of the scale through SEM and CFA
CONCLUSION!
The final scale contains 34 items that are initially valid and
reliable, useful for Christian churches and organizations
seeking to measure spirituality at the individual and collective
level. In line with the psychological understanding of conduct,
this questionnaire partially corroborates Biaggi’s (2013)
conceptual model of spirituality with two interrelated
dimensions: walking with God (behavioral), and belief in
God’s truths (cognitive). Thus, the Christian Spirituality Scale
(CSS) is a reliable instrument that can be used to assess the
level of spirituality among Christians whose aim is to monitor
a biblically-based understanding of spirituality that includes
both beliefs and actions.
!
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How to cite this article:
Carlos E. Biaggi (2018) 'Christian Spirituality Scale (CSS): Development and Validation of an Instrument to Measure
Christian Beliefs and Actions', International Journal of Current Advanced Research, 07(10), pp. 15752-15758.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24327/ijcar.2018.15758.2888
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