Kristoferos is about Chris’ reflections on the value of the phenomenon of faith in the personal and social context of religion.
“A man’s religion is the audacious bid he makes to bind himself to creation and the Creator. It is his ultimate attempt to enlarge and to complete his own personality by finding the supreme context in which he rightly belongs.”
G. W. Allport
This reflection examines role of religion through the Allport’s and Batson’s lens concentrating on psychological theories primarily as it expounded in three of Allport’s most significant works (1) Becoming. Basic Consideration for a Psychology of Personality, (2) The Individual and his Religion, (3) Personality and Social Encounter and Batson’s social-psychological with an empirical approach in the Religion and the Individual.
Allport can place his finger squarely on the sore spot of theoretical discord and in such way that the issues become clear. Batson’s empirical research in the Religion and the Individual has examined the motives for pro social and antisocial behavior; the research has focused on vicarious emotions (such as empathy) and personal values (such as religion) as sources of these motives. Based on pro social motivation Batson has attempted to answer the altruism question: When we help others, is our ultimate goal to benefit them, or is it always, somehow, to benefit ourselves? Daniel Batson has looked on religious behavior as a possible source of altruistic motivation and have found strong support. This is one reason why I have devoted so much time and space to en examination of D. Batson’s book and G. W. Allport’s Becoming. The subtitle of the book, Basic Consideration for a Personality of Personality, suggest its nature and scope. The material of this book represents the author’s response to the assignment of assimilating and interpreting his discipline [psychology] as it relates to human welfare and to religion broadly conceived.” . . . . “
The outlines of the needed psychology of becoming can be discovered by looking within ourselves; for it is knowledge of our own uniqueness that supplies the first, and probably the best, hints for acquiring orderly knowledge of others.”
Will this require that the concept of the self be considered as basic in psychology? Many are conceived that the answer must be yes; Allport is dubious, but it turns out that he is fearful lest self come to be regarded as a homunculus, a mannequin who dwells in the head. To avoid this restoring of the soul in an unwanted sense, he proposes the term proprium. On this basis psychology of becoming can be constructed in which a sense of selfhood can be kept, and this is important for democracy and for religion. While brief, this is an important book because it rises great openness of self-understanding.
In the second book, The Individual and his Religion. I consider particularly helpful Allport’s analysis of the marks of the mature religious life, which correspond to the tests of Batson’s research. Allport suggests for religious maturity of personality, the ability to be objective about one’s life, and a unifying philosophy of life. Much emphasis is given to what he calls the heuristic character of mature sentiment. By this he means its exploratory or pilgrim character as against the constant tendency to absolute religious formulae and to identify them with God alone.
The third of Allport’s books that I have examined is Personality and Social Encounter. As is characteristic of the author, the complex subject matter is presented in terms of an analyzed set of syndromes: extrinsic religion and intrinsic religion. But description is never enough for Allport and he offers religionists the problem in a clear and slanted statement: how to transform the extrinsic style of religion . . . into intrinsic religion, where the total creed of equimindedness becomes woven into the fabric of personality itself. Other reasons are equally important
In like manners, Batson proposes three ways of being religious. How religious experience is likely to differ for extrinsic people of a means orientation from those, who have an intrinsic end orientation and those who have a quest orientation in contrast to Allport’s intrinsic vs. extrinsic religion. Extrinsic type of religion is strictly utilitarian, useful for self in granting safety. For example, a businessman who goes to church only because of good for business. While the intrinsic regards faith as a supreme value.
Besides being one of the most significant founders of the discipline of psychology, Allport deserves to be given careful consideration because much of what he contributed is still relevant. I believe that many of his insights into the relationship between personality and religion are basically sound. Furthermore, I think that if this scientific branch of inquiry can advance, it needs to rediscover Allport’s focus, although altering his models and his methods will be necessary. Finally, in his study of religion Allport posed a discussion to the personology, that continues to be valid at the beginning of the third millennium, namely, in dealing creatively with life existential questions.