Quest-religious orientation among church leaders in Australia: A function of psychological predisposition or openness to mystical experience?

Quest-religious orientation among church leaders signifies a style of leadership committed to religious explorations more than to religious certainties. For this study, we set out to explore the extent to which quest orientation among a sample of 1,265 religious church leaders who participated in the 2011 Australian National Church Life Survey was a function of psychological predisposition, conceptualized in terms of psychological type theory, or a function of distinctive forms of religious experience, conceptualized in terms of Happold’s (1963) model of mysticism. The data demonstrated that higher levels of mystical orientation were associated with psychological predisposition, involving extraversion, intuition, feeling, and perceiving. After controlling for sex, age, education, denominational groups, and psychological type, higher levels of mystical orientation were also associated with higher levels of quest-religious orientation. Mystical orientation partly mediated the effect of intuition on question orientation, but psychological preferences (for intuition and perceiving) and mystical orientation seemed independently to promote quest orientation. Thus, church leaders committed to religious explorations rather than to religious certainties seemed to have been shaped both by psychological predisposition and by distinctive forms of religious experience. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)