Stress From a Biblical Perspective Assignment | Buy Assignments Online
After reading the provided article, discuss the topic of stress from a Biblical perspective. What insights about stress can be gleaned from the article? What insights about stress can be gained from the Bible? Provide at least one specific example from the Bible of a traumatic event or stressful situation and how the stress was handled. Cite the journal article (one required), the Bible (verse and application required), along with any other sources used in APA format (optional additional sources). in at least 200–250 words
Reading the Bible, Stressful Life Events, and Hope: Assessing an Overlooked Coping Resource
Neal Krause1 • Kenneth I. Pargament2
Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018
Abstract Many people rely on religion to deal with the stressors in their lives. The purpose of this study is to examine a religious coping resource that has received relatively
little attention—reading the Bible. We evaluated three hypotheses: (1) reading the Bible
moderates the relationship between stress and hope; (2) people who read the Bible more
often are more likely to rely on benevolent religious reappraisal coping responses; and (3)
individuals who rely on benevolent religious reappraisals will be more hopeful about the
future. Support was found for all three hypotheses in our analyses.
� Stressful events
It seems that virtually every survey on religion contains a question on how often study
participants read the Bible or other sacred literature. However, these data have not been
exploited fully. Instead, questions on reading sacred literature are, more often than not,
relegated to the status of a control variable or they are combined with other religious
behaviors to form more comprehensive indices of private religious practices (Ciarrocchi
et al. 2008; Davis and Epkins 2009; Marquine et al. 2015). Handling Bible reading in this
manner makes it easy to overlook important functions that may be performed by this
particular type of religious behavior.
As Hood et al. (2009) maintain, religion performs a number of important functions. One
function involves helping people cope with adversity. The purpose of the current study is to
see whether reading the Bible or other sacred literature serves as a potentially important
& Neal Krause firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, 1415 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029, USA
2 Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH, USA
J Relig Health https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-018-0610-6
coping resource. We have been able to identify only two quantitative studies that focus
specifically on turning to religious literature in the face of adversity. The first study was
conducted by Johnson et al. (2016). These investigators studied 101 women who were
diagnosed with PTSD. They report that women with PTSD were more likely to read the
Bible on a regular basis when they were exposed to a traumatic life event. The second
study was conducted by Tepper et al. (2001). These researchers studied 406 individuals
who were diagnosed with persistent mental illness. They found that 30% of their study
participants turned to reading scriptures in an effort to cope with symptoms of mental
illness. Since both of these studies were conducted with special populations, it is difficult to
determine whether the findings can be generalized to a wider population.
Further support for the notion that religious literature is a potentially important coping
resource is provided by a small cluster of qualitative studies. Based on a series of in-depth
interviews, Arcury et al. (2000) found that reading the Bible was a common response to the
challenges that are associated with disease self-management. Similarly, Gerdner et al.
(2007) found that one of the primary ways in which family members helped women who
were dealing with caregiving stressors involved reading Bible passages to them on a
regular basis. Another qualitative study by Hamilton et al. (2013) suggests that the Bible is
often used as a mental-health-promoting resource during stressful times. Further support
for the notion that people turn to sacred literature in order to cope with adversity is found in
the research program of Krause (2002). He conducted a series of qualitative studies in an
effort to develop closed-ended survey items on religiousness. One closed-ended item in his
resulting measure of spiritual support asked study participants to report how often, ‘‘… someone in your congregation helps you find solutions to your problems in the Bible?’’
(Krause 2008, p. 38).
The findings from the studies that have been reviewed so far suggest that some people
turn to the Bible for help in dealing with stressors they encounter in their lives. However,
this research does not directly test whether people reap specific benefits from doing so. In
order to address this issue, researchers must assess whether reading the Bible moderates the
relationship between stress- and health-related outcomes. We are unaware of any studies
that empirically evaluate this statistical interaction with data from members of the general
population. The first goal of the current study is to address this gap in the literature.
Two questions must be addressed at this juncture in order to flesh out the theoretical
underpinnings of our study. First, it is important to reflect more deeply on what people may
actually get (or hope to receive) when they turn to sacred literature during difficult times.
As we will discuss below, addressing this issue provides a way of thinking about religious
coping that has not received sufficient attention in the literature. Second, it is important to
identify an outcome measure that is well suited for capturing the potential benefits of
turning to the Bible for help in overcoming adversity.
What Reading Religious Literature May Provide
Wuthnow’s (1994) widely cited work on support groups in American society provides a
useful source of information on what people hope to get when they turn to sacred literature
for assistance. This work is relevant because Wuthnow (1994) devotes considerable
attention to Bible study groups, which are formal groups in religious institutions that are
designed to help people learn about their faith by discussing scriptures and other reli-
giously oriented literature. Wuthnow (1994) reports that an important function of Bible
study groups is to help people deal with personal crises. This is accomplished by helping
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people deepen their faith and develop more realistic and mature ways of thinking about the
nature of God. A more mature view of God includes trusting in Him and believing that
what has happened is part of His plan for helping those who are in need. This function
corresponds closely to Pargament’s notion of a benevolent religious reappraisal coping
response (Pargament et al. 2000). As Pargament and his colleagues argue, benevolent
religious reappraisals do not deny the reality of the seriousness of an event (Pargament
et al. 2000). Instead, this type of coping response helps a person reframe the meaning of a
stressful situation by placing it in a larger more positive and hopeful religious context.
Based on these insights, the second goal of the current study is to see whether turning to
sacred literature is associated with greater use of benevolent religious coping responses.
Pursuing this second goal is important because it highlights an understudied dimension
of religious coping and represents a shift in thinking about reading the Bible. Instead of
being a form of instructional religious practice or discipline, reading the Bible in this
context becomes a way of coming to terms with one’s own life problems. Based on the
discussion that has been provided up to this point, we view reading religious literature as a
religious coping resource in its own right. Similarly, benevolent religious reappraisals are
also construed as a religious coping resource. By linking the two empirically, we aim to
show that one religious coping resource (i.e., reading the Bible) serves as a gateway for a
second religious coping resource (i.e., adopting benevolent religious reappraisals). The two
differ in that one (Bible reading) is a more distal factor, while the other (benevolent
appraisals) is a more proximal factor in the coping process. However, they are similar
because when they are taken together, they provide a richer conceptual view of the way in
which people may use their faith to deal with adversity: they rely on multiple religious
coping resources, not just one and they may activate these resources in a sequential
We were unable to find any studies in the literature that examine the association
between reading the Bible and benevolent religious coping responses. However, research
by Vishkin and his colleagues provides some support for examining this relationship
(Vishkin et al. 2006). These investigators report that individual who are more religious are
more likely to use general cognitive reappraisal coping responses. Our work attempts to
bring this relationship into sharper focus by examining one specific dimension of religion
that may be involved in this relationship (i.e., Bible reading) and coping responses that are
more explicitly religious in nature (i.e., benevolent religious reappraisals).
How the Benefits of Reading Religious Literature May be Manifest
Hope is the primary outcome variable in the analyses that are provided below. The reason
for choosing this outcome measures can be traced to two findings in the literature. First,
research reviewed by Folkman (2010) suggests that stress may erode a person’s sense of
hope. Second, the benevolent reappraisals coping strategy that was discussed above may
help replenish a threatened sense of hope. This coping response includes the belief that
even though one is faced with adversity, God has a plan. Moreover, this plan will
strengthen a focal person, thereby allowing them to ultimately hand the stressful situation
successfully. Implied in this perspective is the notion that although the precise nature of the
plan may not have been grasped fully, some people have faith and hope that the plan will
ultimately lead to the best outcome. There are both biblical as well as social psychological
reasons why hope makes a good outcome in the research on religion and stress.
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With respect to a biblical basis, the apostle Paul succinctly captured the role of hope in
the process of relying on religion to deal with adversity: ‘‘We also glorify in our sufferings
because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character,
and character hope.’’ (Romans 5:3–5, New International Version). It follows from this that
if a person turns to the Bible for solace and guidance during difficult times, they may
eventually become more hopeful about the future.
Snyder and his colleagues provide a clear social psychological framework for linking
involvement in religion with hope (Snyder et al. 2002). According to these investigators,
hope is viewed as a goal-directed cognitive process that includes both planning and the
motivation to reach goals. These researchers go on to point out that religion provides a
prepackaged configuration of goals, pathways for accomplishing these goals, and the
necessary cognitions for successfully pursuing the pathways. Perhaps this is one reason
why Capps (1996) argues that pastors are fundamentally providers of hope: ‘‘Pastors, I
suggest, are agents of hope by definition (or calling) and often that is all they are’’ (p. 325,
emphasis in the original).
Findings from a number of empirical studies are consistent with this logic. More
specifically, research by Krause and his colleagues (Krause 2014; Krause and Hayward
2012; Krause et al. 2015) as well as studies by Jankowski and Sandage (2011) indicates
that greater involvement in various aspects of religious life is associated with a greater
sense of hope.
Taken as a whole, the discussion that is provided above leads to the following study
H1 The magnitude of the relationship between stress and hope will be lower for people who read the Bible more frequently.
H2 People who read the Bible more frequently will be more likely to adopt a benevolent religious reappraisal coping strategy.
H3 Individuals who adopt a benevolent religious reappraisal coping strategy will be more hopeful about the future.
The data for this study come from a nationwide, face-to-face, random probability survey of
people aged 18 and older who live in the coterminous USA. The interviews, which were
completed in 2014, were conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC).
The response rate for this study was 50%. A total of 3010 interviews were completed
successfully. The sample was stratified into the following age groups: age 18–40
(N = 1000), age 41–64 (N = 1002), and age 65 and older (N = 1008).
After using listwise deletion to deal with item nonresponse, data were available for
between 2873 and 2159 study participants. The reason for different sample sizes is the way
information on benevolent religious reappraisals was obtained. Study participants were
given a checklist of 12 life events they may have encountered in the past 18 months. The
respondents were asked to identify the one life event that was most stressful for them.
Following this, study participants were told to keep this event in mind as they answer the
questions on benevolent religious reappraisals. A total of 707 study participants were
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excluded from the current study because they did not encounter a major stressor in the
previous 18 months.
A series of preliminary analyses were performed in order to develop a demographic
profile of the participants in this study. These analyses suggest that the average age of the
participants in the current study was 46.4 years (SD 17.7 years), 43.8% are men, 44.7%
were married at the time of the interview, and the average level of educational attainment
was 13.4 years (SD 3.1 years). These descriptive data as well as the findings that are
presented below are based on data that have been weighted.
Table 1 contains the measures of the core constructs that are evaluated in this study. The
procedures that were used to code these indicators are given in the footnotes of this table.
Three indicators were taken from the work of Scheier and Carver (1985) to measure hope.
A high score denotes greater hope (M = 11.0; SD 2.1; range 3–15). The internal consis-
tency reliability estimate (i.e., Cronbach’s a) for the composite measure of hope is .707.1
A single indicator that assesses how often study participants read the Bible when they are
alone was taken from the work of the Fetzer Institute/National Institute on Aging Working
Group (1999). A high score on this item represents study participants who read the Bible
more often (M = 3.1; SD 2.4; range 1–8).
Stressful Life Events
Exposure to stressful life events was assessed with a 12-item checklist that was developed
by Moos et al. (1984). A simple count of the number of events that respondents had
encountered in the 18-month period prior to the survey was computed. The average number
of events was 2.7 (SD 2.1; range 0–12).
Benevolent Religious Reappraisals
This coping response measure was developed by Pargament and his colleagues (Pargament
et al. 2000). A high score stands for respondents who relied on this coping strategy more
1 Scheier and Carver (1985) claim that the items in their scale assess optimism, but we refer to them as indicators of hope. Following the seminal work of Peterson and Seligman (2004), we believe the terms ‘‘hope’’ and ‘‘optimism’’ are virtually synonymous. Moreover, these investigators note, the correlation between the two is ‘‘considerable’’ (Peterson and Seligman 2004, p. 570) and despite differences in the way they are operationalized, the correlates of these constructs are ‘‘strikingly similar’’ (Peterson and Seligman 2004, p. 570). The reader might also wonder whether the items we use to assess hope capture a state-like or trait-like phenomenon. Generally speaking, state-like phenomenon are less stable than trait-like phe- nomenon. However, as we will show below, stressful life events tend to be negatively associated with hope, suggesting that the construct we measure changes over time. Clearly, longitudinal data are needed to address this issue.
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often (M = 7.5; SD 2.9; range 3–12). The reliability estimate for this brief composite is
Religion Control Variables
Two additional measures of religion were included in the analyses provided below to help
insure that the effects were due to bible reading per se and not some other dimension of
Table 1 Core study measures
A. I always look at the bright side of things
B. I’m optimistic about my future
C. In uncertain times, I usually expect the best
2. Bible readingb
When you are at home, how often do you read the Bible?
3. Stressful life eventsc
A. Moved to a new residence
B. Death of a close friend
C. Separation or divorce
D. Trouble with family members
E. Trouble with friends or neighbors
F. Your own serious illness or injury
G. Serious illness or injury of a family member
H. Death of a spouse
I. Death of an immediate family member (other than spouse)
J. Unemployed for more than a month
K. Income decreased substantially (20% or more)
L. Assaulted or robbed
4. Benevolent religious reappraisalsd
A. Saw my situation as part of God’s plan
B. Tried to find a lesson from God in the event
C. Tried to see how God might be trying to strengthen me in this situation
5. Church attendancee
How often do you attend religious services?
6. Private prayerb
How often do you pray by yourself?
aThese items were scored in the following manner (coding in parentheses): strongly disagree (1), disagree (2), uncertain (3), agree (4), strongly agree (5) bThis item was scored in the following manner: never (1), less than once a month (2), once a month (3), a few times a month (4), once a week (5), a few times a week (6), once a day (7), several times a day (8) cA simple count was taken of the number of events that were experienced dThese items were scored in the following manner: not at all (1), a little bit (2), quite a lot (3), a great deal (4) eThis item was scored in the following manner: never (1), less than once a year (2), about once or twice a year (3), several times a year (4), about once a month (5), 2 to 3 times a month (6), nearly every week (7), every week (8), several times a week (9)
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religion that is associated with it. These religion control variables assess the frequency of
church attendance and the frequency of private prayer. These items were taken from
research by the Fetzer Institute/National Institute on Aging Working Group (1999). A high
score on these items reflects more frequent church attendance (M = 4.7; SD 2.8; range 1–9)
and more frequent private prayer (M = 5.9; SD 2.5; range 1–8), respectively.
Demographic Control Variables
The relationships among the measures in Table 1 were estimated after the effects of age,
sex, education, and marital status were controlled statistically. Age and education were
scored continuously in years, whereas sex (1 = men; 0 = women) and marital status
(1 = married; 0 = otherwise) were coded in a binary format.
Data Analysis Strategy
The first hypothesis that was developed for this study specifies that the relationship
between stressful life events and hope will be weaker for study participants who read the
Bible more often. This means we expect to find a statistical interaction effect between
stress and Bible reading on hope. Following the procedures that are recommended by
Aiken and West (1991), tests for this interaction were performed with ordinary least
squares multiple regression analyses. All of the independent variables were centered on
their means. Following this, a multiplicative term was created by multiplying the centered
vales of the stress by the centered values of Bible reading. Then, a test for the proposed
interaction effect was conducted in two steps. First, the additive relationships between the
independent variables and hope were estimated in Model 1. Second, the cross-product term
was entered into the model in the second step (Model 2).
If the regression coefficient associated with the multiplicative term is statistically sig-
nificant, then it is important to perform some additional calculations to see whether the
proposed interaction effect is in the hypothesized direction. These additional computations
are performed with a formula that is provided by Aiken and West (1991, see p. 12).
Support for the first hypothesis would be found if the relationship between stress and hope
becomes progressively weaker at successively higher levels of Bible reading. Although any
value of Bible reading can be used in these additional computations, we selected four
equally spaced scores that capture the full distribution of bible reading values: 2, 4, 6, 8. It
is important to show that there are a sufficient number of cases at each of the selected data
points because too few cases can result in statistical estimation problems with data
sparseness (see Cohen et al. 2003, for a discussion of data sparseness). The following
number of cases was observed at each of the selected bible reading scores: 2 (N = 423), 4
(N = 188), 6 (N = 296), and 8 (N = 106). As these data reveal, we did not encounter
problems with data sparseness at these selected values of Bible reading. Once estimates
have been derived at the selected data points, Aiken and West (1991) provide an additional
formula that reveals whether these coefficients are statistically significant.
The tests for Hypothesis 2 and Hypothesis 3 were more straightforward. OLS was used
in both cases. Hypothesis 2 was evaluated by regressing benevolent religious reappraisal
coping scores on the religion control variables, the demographic control variables, and the
frequency of Bible reading. The stress measure was not included in these analyses because,
as we discussed above, questions on benevolent religious reappraisals refer specifically to
the single most stressful event. Hypothesis 3 was assessed by regressing hope on the
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frequency of Bible reading, stressful life events, the interaction between reading the Bible
and stress, benevolent religious coping responses, and the control variables.
Table 2 contains the results of the test of Hypothesis 1. Findings from the first step of the
data analysis procedures that were discussed above are provided by Model 1, whereas
Model 2 contains the results that were obtained after the multiplicative term was added to
the regression equation.
Two noteworthy results emerge from the estimates that were derived from Model 1.
First, the data suggest that greater exposure to stressful life events is associated with a
diminished sense of hope (b = – .134; p\ .001). But in contrast, reading the Bible more often does not appear to be associated with hope (b = .034; ns.).2
The estimates that were derived with Model 2 are of greater interest because they
contain the test for the proposed interaction between stress and Bible reading on hope.
These data indicate that a significant interaction between stress and Bible reading is present
in the data (b = .029; p\ .001; unstandardized regression coefficients are discussed when presenting the results of tests for interaction effects because standardized effects are
meaningless in this context).
2 Preliminary analyses suggest that the level of exposure to stressful life events is not significantly asso- ciated with the frequency of Bible reading (r = – .024; ns.).
Table 2 Assessing the relation- ships among bible reading, stress, and hope (N = 2873)
aStandardized regression coefficient bMetric (unstandardized) regression coefficient
*p\ .05; **p\ .01; ***p\ .001
Model 1 Model 2
Age – .059**a – .062***
(- .007) (- .007)
Sex – .022 – .022
(- .093) (- .091)
Education – .044* – .044*
(- .029) (- .030)
Marital status .027 .028
Church attendance .069** .071**
Private prayer .105*** .108***
Stressful events – .134*** – .132***
(- .136) (- .133)
Bible reading .034 .035
(Bible Reading X Stressful Events) – –
Multiple R2 .053 .058
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Following the data analyses strategy that was presented earlier, additional computations
were performed at four equally spaced Bible reading scores to see whether the interaction
effect is in the hypothesized direction. The results from these additional calculations are
not shown in Table 2. A value of 2 represents people who read the Bible less than once a
month. The additional calculations reveal that greater exposure to stressful life events
among people at this level of Bible reading is associated with lower hope scores
(b = – .164; b = – .166; p\ .001). A score of 4 stands for people who read the Bible a few times a month. At this level of Bible reading, stress is still associated with lower hope
scores (b = – .106; b = – .108; p\ .001). However, the standardized estimate is about 35.4% smaller than the estimate for study participants at the previous level (i.e., those who
read the Bible less than once a month). Study participants with a score of 6 say they read
the Bible a few times a week. At this level, stress is not significantly associated with hope
(b = – .049; b = – .050; ns.). The same is true for study participants who read the Bible several times a day (i.e., those with a score of 8) (b = .008; b = .008; ns.). Looking across the full range of scores, the data suggest that reading the Bible more often tends to fully
moderate (i.e., offset) the negative relationship between stress and hope. These data
therefore provide support for Hypothesis 1.
Hypothesis 2 was designed to examine one way in which the potentially beneficial effects
of reading the Bible might arise. This issue was addressed by estimating the relationship
between reading the Bible and relying on benevolent religious reappraisal coping responses
when the most significant life event in the previous 18 months was encountered. As discussed
above, this relationship was evaluated by regressing benevolent reappraisal coping scores on
the frequency of Bible reading as well as age, sex, education, marital status, church atten-
dance, and prayer. These additional analyses (not shown here) indicate that people who read
the Bible more often are more likely to rely on benevolent religious reappraisal coping
responses when the most stressful event was encountered (b = .130; b = .158; p\ .001). Hypothesis 3 was designed to bring the analyses full circle by assessing whether greater
use of benevolent religious reappraisal coping responses is associated with greater hope.
Recall that this hypothesis was evaluated by regressing hope on benevolent religious
reappraisals, the frequency of reading the Bible, stress, the interaction between reading the
Bible and stress, and the control variables. The findings (not shown here) suggest that
people who use benevolent reappraisals to deal with the greatest stressor tend to be more
hopeful (b = .215; b = .148; p\ .001). Support is therefore found for Hypothesis 3. These analyses further reveal that the interaction between reading the Bible and stress is still
statistically significant (b = .024; p\ .01), but it is approximately 17.2% smaller than the estimate that is provided when the measure of benevolent reappraisals is not in the model
(see Table 2) ((.029- .024/.029) = .172).
Sacred texts are, arguably, the backbone of a faith tradition.3 They typically contain
information on the history of a faith tradition, but, more importantly, they also contain
precepts which presumably lead to a better life. Even though sacred texts are a vitally
3 Our study was conducted in the U.S. and as a result, the study participants were overwhelmingly Christian. The statement that religious texts are the backbone of a faith tradition is appropriate for those with a Judeo-Christian background. It should be emphasized, however, that religious texts may play a less central role in other faith traditions, such as Buddhism.
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important part of a faith tradition, it is surprising to find that empirical research on them has
lagged behind research in other substantive areas (e.g., religious coping) in the religion and
health literature. The purpose of the current study was to redress this imbalance in the
literature by assessing whether reading sacred texts contributes to the quality of life by
providing access to potentially important coping resources. Toward this end, three
hypotheses were evaluated. The first specified that the relationship between stress and hope
would be weaker among people who read the Bible more often. It was proposed in the
second hypothesis that people who read the Bible more often will be more likely to adopt
benevolent religious reappraisal coping responses to deal with the single most troublesome
life event they encountered in the previous 18 months. According to the third hypothesis,
individuals who adopt benevolent religious reappraisal coping responses will be more
hopeful about the future. The data from the current study provide support for each of these
There are three reasons why the findings from this study are noteworthy. First, to the
best of our knowledge, this is the first study that assesses the potential stress-buffering
function of reading sacred scriptures in the general population. Second, an effort was made
to move beyond this important issue by clearly identifying one way in which reading the
Bible may confer stress-related benefits: adopting benevolent religious reappraisal coping
responses. Third, we examined these issues with data from a large nationally representative
survey of adults.
Even though our research may have contributed to the literature, a substantial amount of
work remains to be done on reading sacred scriptures. Perhaps the greatest need has to do
with the measurement of this core construct. As in the current study, researchers often
assess reading sacred scriptures with a single indicator (e.g., Fetzer Institute/National
Institute on Aging Working Group 1999). Yet even a moments reflect reveals that reading
sacred scriptures is a complex phenomenon in its own right. Briefly reflecting on research
on prayer helps illustrate this point. Many researchers initially assessed prayer with a single
indicator. But as this literature began to evolve, it quickly became evident that there are
different types of prayer (Poloma and Gallup 1991) and different functions of prayer
(Spilka and Ladd 2013). Perhaps researchers can develop a counterpart to this literature in
their work on reading sacred scriptures. For example, it might be useful to devise a
topology of reasons for reading the Bible. Some people might read the Bible for help in
dealing with stress, but others might read sacred scriptures simply to deepen their faith,
while yet other individuals may read the Bible in order to feel closer to their chosen faith,
thereby deriving comfort in knowing they are part of an ongoing tradition. These (and
other) reasons for reading scriptures could be measured directly and then examined in
larger models to see which one(s) are associated with health-related outcomes.
Following closely on the point that was raised above, it would be helpful to identify the
specific Biblical passages that people turn to when they encounter stressful events. This in
turn may help flesh out our understanding about how Bible reading shapes religious coping
responses. Unfortunately, our study does not contain data on the specific Biblical passages
that people consult during difficult times. Gathering this type of information should be a
high priority in the future.
As the data in our study reveal, Bible reading, stress, and religious coping responses do
not explain all of the variance in the hope outcome measure. This suggests that hope is
likely to be influenced by other aspects of religious life, as well. Research by Krause and
his colleagues suggests that social relationships in the church may play an important role in
this respect. More specifically Krause and Hayward (2012) report that more frequent
informal support from pastors is associated with increases in hope over time. Similarly,
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research by Krause, Ellison, Shaw, Marcum and Boardman (2001) indicates that more
frequent informal support from fellow church members is associated with greater use of
religious coping responses.
It would also be important to gather more information on the context in which Bible
reading takes place. We assess Bible reading in private, but people also attend Bible study
groups. It would be helpful to see whether reading the Bible in groups conveys a similar or
even greater benefit than reading the Bible privately.
In order to advance research on reading the Bible, investigators should also address the
limitations in the work we have presented. At least two shortcomings are in need of
attention. First, the data for our study are cross-sectional. Consequently, the causal
ordering among the constructs in our models was based on theoretical considerations alone.
For example, we assumed that people who rely on benevolent religious reappraisals are
subsequently more likely to feel hopeful about the future. But one might just as easily
argue that people who are initially more hopeful are subsequently more likely to adopt this
type of coping response. Longitudinal data are needed to address this, as well as other
causal assumptions in our work. Second, only one specific coping response was examined
in our study. However, as Pargament et al. (2000) show, individuals may adopt a wide
range of coping responses when they are confronted by an unwanted stressor. Some of
these coping responses may be especially useful in research on reading sacred scriptures
(e.g., collaborative religious coping, seeking spiritual support). Clearly, examining the
relationship between reading the Bible and a full spectrum of coping responses will likely
yield much greater insight into the potential benefits of this core religious behavior.
In recent years, the theories and measures that are used in the study of religion have
become increasingly sophisticated. We applaud these efforts as long as more fundamental
aspects of religious life are not overlooked. If our study accomplishes anything, we hope it
calls attention to one of the most basic elements of involvement in virtually any faith
tradition—reading sacred scriptures.
Funding This study was funded by the John Templeton Foundation (Grant 40077).
Compliance with Ethnical Standards
Conflict of interest Neal Krause and Kenneth I. Pargament declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Ethical Approval All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committees and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed Consent Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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