The Inventory of Religious Con- I. The Hebrew-Christian concept of God cepts was established as the result of a joint (IO items) effort among several colleges, many church scores: the position of those who acrelated, to identify what contribution relicept the poetic and anthropomorphicgion was making to students’ philosophy of language of the Hebrew-Christiantralife. The measure was created within thedition referring to God context of a broader inventory (the Inven­tory of General Life Goals) designed to help the colleges improve their programs of general education. Specific areas of belief, in­ tended for use with Protestant students (the study was found to be less useful with Catholics and inapplicable to belief systems other than Christian), are covered.


 One hundred twenty items were developed to assess IO general areas of Christian belief. An additional ten miscellaneous items are included in the scale but are not used to assess the 10 ·general areas of Christian belief. The respondent may answer each item by accepting the statement, ex­ pressing uncertainty, rejecting the statement, or providing no opinion (i.e., the statement has no meaning, seems ambiguous, or im­ plies unacceptable assumptions).

Care was taken to avoid misleading clas­sifications such as liberal/conservative, Christian/non-Christian, etc., by simply labeling responses as either or y. The mean­ing of and for each of the IO belief areas is as follows:

scores: the position of those to whom the point of view is untenable

  1. Theism and nontheism (IO items)

    scores: the position of those for whom reference to a personal God and the supernatural have little or no mean­ing; the nontheistic position

    scores: the position of those believ­ing in some form of theism

  2. Historic Christian doctrines and prac­tices (20 items)

    scores: the position of those accept­ing the orthodox Protestant view of Christianity

    scores: the position of those rejecting the point of view

  3. Nontraditional statement of religious values ( IO items)

    scores: the position of those accept­ing nontraditional statements of reli­gious values

    scores: the position of those to whom these statements are not acceptable

  4. The Bible (20 items)

    scores: the position of those who be­lieve that the integrity of the Christian faith is dependent on belief in biblical prophesy, miracles, and the trustworthiness of the biblical record

    scores: the position of those who ac­cept the findings of biblical higher crit­icism

  5. Support of the church (10 items)

    scores: the position of those who be­lieve in the work of the church and are likely to support it

    scores: the position of those who are critical of the church and are unlikely to support it

  6. The economic order (IO items)

    scores: the position of those who be­lieve that the competitive system of free enterprise should be supported

    scores: the position of those who be­lieve we should move in the direction of a more socialized economy

  7. War and the use of force (10 items)

    1. scores: the position of those who be­lieve that participation in war can be reconciled with the Christian way of life

    2. scores: the position of the Society Friends or Christian pacifists

  8. One’s sense of worth or purpose (10 items)

    scores: the position of those who feel that their life has significance and pur­pose

    scores: the position of those who feel that their life has little or no meaning

  9. Freedom and determinism (IO items)

scores: the position of those who feel that their life is determined by various forces (pp. 81-82)

scores: the position of those who be­lieve in free will and individual re­sponsibility

“No opinion” (n) and “uncertain” (u) al­ternatives were provided in addition to the and scores just defined.

Practical Considerations:

 No special skills are needed to administer, score, or interpret this measure, though the scoring and inter­pretation system proposed by Dunkel (1947) is somewhat unusual. Dunkel has, for example, provided lengthy case studies of the religious beliefs of three students based on frequency analysis of their x, y, n, and scores for all ten content areas. Pro­ files are identified and then discussed on the basis of simple frequency counts of individ­ual items for each of the ten content areas. There are no other recommended scoring procedures, although one possible measure indicated is to assign scores a value of 3, and scores a value of 2, and scores a value of 1. However, given that little psy­chometric data is available, other rating scales (such as a Likert scale) may be tested. Some items are reversed scored.


 The Inventory of Religious Concepts is a subset of a more in­clusive measure called the Inventory of General Life Goals, which includes· multi­ plemeasures of attitudes toward the hu­manities. Though not planned to form a bat­tery, a question or hypothesis raised in one inventory was frequently investigated in light of responses found in the other mea­ sures. The inventory on religion was devel­oped to assess what impact religion was making on life philosophy. The sponsors of this large study, the American Council of Education, selected 22 colleges, which rep­ resented the following categories: a land­ grant college, a municipal university, a state teachers college, an independent lib­eral arts college, a Catholic college, a Protestant church-related college, a black college, a women’s four-year college, a women’s two-year college, and a two-year coeducational college. No normative data were reported.


 Reliabilities within categories (based on the sample of 700 students), esti­mated by Kuder-Richardson Formula 21, are identified in parentheses next to each category in the appendix. The reliability co­efficients range from .44 (economic order and sense of worth) to .86 (historic doc­ trines and practices).


 The more commonplace quantita­tive measures of validity (e.g., construct va­lidity, predictive validity, concurrent valid­ity, etc.) were not reported. Rather, a few lengthy case studies were reported to indi­ cate in “some small way” the validity of the instrument. The case studies are, at face value, supportive of the instrument’s validity.

It should be noted that the individual re­ sponsible for assessing the instrument’s va­lidity (as well as some other psychometric properties) was unable, because of factors beyond his control, to complete his work by the time Dunkel’s 1947 report was pub­lished. A brief footnote in the report was provided, however, which indicated high correlation between the Thurstone Attitude Scales and the inventory scores in the cate­gories on God and on the church.

Given the extensiveness of this inventory and given that few psychometric properties are reported and few scoring procedures are suggested, this instrument is a good candi­ date for further investigation.

Inventory of Religious Concepts (listed by categories)

Please indicate how you rate each of the statements below by using one of the following labels:

– you agree with the statement

y – you disagree with the statement

n – you have no opinion about the statement u – you are uncertain about the statement

Hebrew-Christian Conceptions of God (.81)

  1. Man is ultimately responsible to God.
  2. God is like a father, longsuffering, merciful, just, and infinitely kind.
  3. God is the Great Companion who shares with us the travail and tragedy of the world.
  4. God knows our thoughts before we utter them; He is acquainted with all our ways.
  5. There is a spark of God in every man to which His Spirit can speak directly.
  6. We were made to have fellowship with God and our hearts will be restless until they rest in Him.
  7. There is a divine purpose which directs all events for the ultimate good of mankind.
  8. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
  9. “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.”
  10. I humbly bow before the glory and majesty of God.

Attitudes toward God (Theism and Nontheism) (.63)

  1. I believe that men working and thinking together can build a just society without any supernatural help.
  2. Belief that in the end God’s purposes will be achieved tends to destroy man’s sense of social responsibility.
  3. The idea of a personal God is an outworn concept.
  4. We live in a universe which, in so far as we have any reliable evidence, is indifferent to human values.
  5. Belief in God as a personal force, or being, in the universe is not consistent with a sci­ entific view of the world.
  6. “God” is only a symbol of man’s ideals.
  7. I can make sense of the world without thinking of any mind higher than man.
  8. The term “God” is a symbol no longer helpful in man’s quest for the good life.
  9. Whether there is or is not a God is a matter of indifference to me.
  10. The attempt to believe in God is sign of a person’s failure to accept responsibility for his own life.

Nontraditional Expressions of Religious Values (.59)

  1. I believe a mature person should feel a sense of guilt when he fails to serve the needs of men.
  2. There is a fundamental process at work in the world, often symbolized as God, which, though it is related to human purposes, far transcends the mind of man.
  3. God is the symbol of man’s assurance that the universe supports his struggle for the larger social values.
  4. God is the personality-producing force in the world.
  5. God is the name given to the underlying, integrating reality of life.
  6. God is that power in the world which works for righteousness.
  7. Whatever obstructs or perverts the growth of quality or meaning in the world is “sin.”
  8. I believe that what is most needed today is a spiritual discipline-a way of sensitizing our inner lives to the work of God in the world.
  9. We are all members of one another-Russian, German, American; rich and poor; black and white.
  10. A person developing the quality of life seen in Jesus is realizing the essential purpose of Christianity regardless of his conception of the Bible or the “nature” of Jesus.

Historic Christian Doctrines and Practices (.86)

  1. I believe God sent His Son Jesus Christ to be the Saviour of the world.
  2. Man by nature is prone to evil rather than good.
  3. I believe the sacrament of baptism is an essential part of the Christian life.
  4. God is triune: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  5. Man by nature is lost and in need of a saviour.
  6. The Christian church is a divine-human society which God has ordained for the re- demption of mankind.
  7. Our hope of immortality rests upon our belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  8. Man is saved by the free gift of God’s grace.
  9. Regular participation in the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion is to me essential.
  10. I believe in the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
  11. We need to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved.
  12. Jesus Christ is seated “at the right hand of God the Father Almighty: from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”
  13. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary in a manner different from all other human beings.
  14. There is a personal Satan.
  15. All who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour are eternally lost.
  16. Hell, in addition to being a description of experiences in this life, is also a form of ex­ istence in a future life.
  17. “On the third day Jesus Christ rose from the dead”; after appearing to various persons and groups, “He ascended into heaven.”
  18. I believe the theory of evolution tends to destroy a true religious faith.
  19. We will be able to know our friends in the future life.
  20. Christ offered himself a perfect sacrifice upon the Cross to take away the sins of the world.

Attitudes toward the Bible (.81)

  1. Jesus walked on water and raised the dead.
  2. *52. One’s interpretation of any part of the Bible should be made in the light of the find­ ings of Biblical or literary criticism.
  3. *53. The Biblical story of creation is probably based on one of the early Babylonian myths.
  4. All the miraculous deeds of Jesus recorded in the Gospels are reliable history.
  5. The actual time, place, and circumstances of Jesus’ birth were predicted in the Old Testament.
  6. The Biblical story of creation is a divine revelation of what actually occurred.
  7. The Biblical writers were endowed with a divine wisdom that enabled them to foretell specific events in the distant future.
  8. *58. We may be reasonably certain today that man evolved from the lower forms of animal life.
  9. 59. All the miracles in the Bible are true.
  10. *60. The Bible contains some books which are definitely inferior from a religious stand­ point to some contemporary religious writing.
  11. 61. Man has no right to question the truth of God’s Word, which is clearly revealed in the Bible.
  12. *62. The writings of Plato, Aristotle, Dante, and Shakespeare are as inspired as the writ­ ings of Moses and Paul.
  13. 63. The Bible in the original manuscript was infallible, i.e., without error.
  14. *64. The “fall of man” in the story of the Garden of Eden is a myth symbolizing the prob­ lem of good and evil in the world.
  15. *65. We should attempt to understand and explain, rather than accept on faith, all biblical “miracles.”
  16. 66. If I believed that any part of the Biblical record was unreliable, I could no longer have confidence in its moral and spiritual teaching.
  17. *67. The story of Moses contains legendary material.
  18. *68. Many of the sayings in the Gospel of John are interpretations reflecting the mind of the early church rather than reports of what Jesus actually said.
  19. *69. The four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) contain some legendary material.
  20. 70. The entire account of Jesus’ teachings as recorded in the Gospels presents what he ac­tually said.

Support of the Church (.62)

  1. *71. The work of the church could be just as effectively done by the schools and social agencies.
  2. *72. In general, I consider church attendance a waste of time.
  3. *73. I believe that most people can grow spiritually just as well without going to church.
  4. To me, the church is the greatest single agency for good in the world.
  5. I feel that the work of the church deserves my time and money.
  6. *76. The church deals with platitudes and is afraid to follow the truth.
  7. *77. It is difficult for a person to be honest and still endorse what the church teaches.
  8. I believe the foreign missionary enterprise is one of the most effective means we have for developing a world brotherhood.
  9. In so far as I find it possible, I intend to be actively interested in the work of the church.
  10. I believe the church should engage in evangelistic work.

Attitudes toward the Economic Order (.44)

  1. An employer has a right to hire and fire men as he sees best.
  2. In the long run the competitive principle in business works for the good of all men.
  3. A man has a right to do what he wants to with his own money.
  4. The government should keep out of business and confine its operations to safeguard­ ing the public, compelling fair observances of the rules of the game, and serving its citizens in the realms of education and culture.
  5. *85. All property and money that affect the welfare of large numbers of people should be controlled by groups responsible to the people, not by individuals or groups who are legally responsible only to themselves as owners.
  6. 86. A competitive or free enterprise system in the long run tends to serve the interests of the common man more effectively than does a more socialized economy.
  7. *87. I believe that socialism under democratic control should be encouraged.
  8. I want the church to become more actively interested in social and economic ques­ tions.
  9. I believe that any movement that encourages a more socialized economy is contrary to the true American way of life.
  10. *90. The socialization of medicine should be encouraged.

Attitudes of Christians toward War (.70)

  1. I believe that there are situations in which Christians should use not only reasonable persuasion but also physical force in the defense of their ideals.
  2. *All war is contrary to the teachings of Jesus.
  3. *As a Christian, I cannot reconcile war with the principle of the Cross.
  4. *As Christians, we should refuse to kill our enemies.
  5. When our nation is at war, it is the duty of a Christian to work for a military victory.
  6. The way of nonviolence or Christian pacifism is an impractical philosophy of life.
  7. In a country having required military training, it is the duty of Christians to support this program.
  8. * I believe that the way of nonviolence-soul force-when practiced, is the most effec­tive means we have for overcoming tyranny and injustice.
  9.  If the people, through their duly elected representative, decide to go to war, it is a Christian’s duty to support his government.
  10. * I refuse to support or participate in any kind of war.

One’s Sense of Worth (.44)

  1. * Life is more or less drab and meaningless to me.
  2.  I believe I can achieve some significant purpose in the world.
  3. *I often wonder why I was born.
  4. *I am inclined to feel that my life is unimportant.
  5.  I feel that God has placed me in the world to make some significant contribution to the welfare of mankind.
  6. *There may be some purpose in life, but I have yet to discover it.
  7. * The idea of a goal or purpose in life has little or no meaning to me at the present time.
  8. * I believe our main purpose in life is to reproduce ourselves to maintain the human race.
  9. * There does not seem to be any real purpose for living.
  10. I believe that God has a plan for my life.

Freedom and Determinism-Man (.67)

  1. There is no real freedom of choice, since all of our actions are determined by past ex­periences.
  2. Man cannot be held responsible for his own acts since he did not choose his parents or the conditions under which he has been reared.
  3. All of our actions may be explained in terms of the way we have been conditioned.
  4. Freedom of will is only an illusion.
  5. Psychology proves, or tends to show, that there is no such thing as “choice” between “right” and “wrong.”
  6. I am inclined to feel that our lives are completely controlled by “natural law.”
  7. I believe that we are more or less puppets of social and economic forces beyond our control.
  8. We are parts of a mechanistic universe which controls every action of man.
  9. Since man is determined by his heredity and his environment, human freedom is illusory.
  10. Our lives are completely controlled by subconscious processes.

Miscellaneous Identifying Items

  1. It is possible to talk with the departed dead.
  2. There is probably some relationship between the course of a person’s life and the com- bination of starts and planets at the time of his birth.
  3. Our soul existed in another form before it entered this life.
  4. Numbers and signs have divine or mystical significance.
  5. It is possible to read a person’s character by studying phrenology-a science based on the relation of mental powers and abilities to the shape of the head.
  6. The world will continue to get worse until Christ returns for the final judgment.
  7. We are living in the “last days”; the end of the world is at hand.
  8. The good is the only reality; evil is illusory or unreal.
  9. Healing is brought to pass when a belief of disease which has been entertained in thought is dispelled and destroyed by the law and power of God.
  10. A good Christian goes to confession and attends Mass.

*These items are reversed scored (x=y; y=x)


Dunkel, H.B. (1947). General education in the humanities. Washington, D.C.: American Council on Education.

Subsequent Research: computer search found no research using this instrument.

Dunkel, H.B. (1947). General education in the humanities. Washington D.C.: American Council on Edu­cation.