Date of Award

2003

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Religious Education, PhD

First Advisor

John B. Youngberg

Second Advisor

O. Jane Thayer

Third Advisor

Roger Dudley

Abstract

Purpose. The purpose of this study was to examine Sabbath-keeping practices and factors related to these practices among Seventh-day Adventists on an international level.

Method. The Sabbath Observance Exploratory Survey (SOES) was administered to a convenience sample of 3,221 Seventh-day Adventists in 51 countries representing five geographical areas. The SOES was designed to measure beliefs about Sabbath-keeping, practices, motivations, and attitudes. Factor Analysis produced 13 factors based on 99 SOES items.

Results. Approximately 60%-90% of Adventists agreed to SOES belief statements of biblical Sabbath-keeping principles. Between 8%-84% reported being "usually" or "always" involved in spiritually nurturing practices (e.g., attend church, fasting); 2%-27% reported being "usually" or "always" involved in leisure (e.g., camping), non-restful (e.g., clean house), and/or routine secular practices (e.g., eat out at restaurants). About 85%-90% reported God-focused intrinsic motivations (e.g., I love God and His commandments with all my heart) as reasons for keeping the Sabbath; 34%-41% were motivated by reasons that are extrinsically people-focused (e.g., People expect me to). Only 4%-11% reported the attitude that the Sabbath is "usually" or "always" a burden and/or a stressor. Generally, demographic characteristics were related to beliefs, practices, motivations, and attitudes about Sabbath-keeping. Regression analysis suggests that lower levels of the Nurture Vertical Relationship (God-Focused) belief factor best predict Non-Restful, Leisure, and Routine Secular Activities, while higher levels of Nurture Vertical Relationship best predict Spiritual Nurturing Activities. The best predictor for Special Relational Activities was Self-Focused Intrinsic Motivation. Qualitative data revealed themes and categories supportive of SOES statements.

Conclusions. There is general unity on beliefs in biblical Sabbath-keeping principles among Adventists. Practices of Sabbath-keeping vary widely from leisure activities tospiritually nurturing activities. A large proportion of Adventists are involved in Spiritual Nurturing Activities and few are involved in Routine Secular Activities. The Nurture Vertical Relationship belief factor appears to be the best predictor for Sabbath-keeping practices. Participation in Sabbath School and church services was high; however, there was lower participation in other spiritual activities such as service and missionary work. Qualitative data suggest that the Sabbath has authentic meaning for large numbers of Adventists.

Subject Area

Sabbath, Seventh-day Adventists

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