Date of Award

1983

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Counseling Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Wilfred G. A. Futcher

Second Advisor

Ernest Delaporte

Third Advisor

Donna Habenicht

Abstract

The Problem. This study was designed to discover how children from Seventh-day Adventist families react to their baptism after the event. Do they feel that they were "ready" at the time of baptism? Do they think they understood the Bible doctrines when they were baptized? Which people and factors influenced them in their decision? Have these children reached cognitive maturity according to the Formal Operations stage in Piagetian terms, the stage at which children are accountable for their decisions.

Method. A questionnaire of thirty-three questions was given to children in selected Adventist schools who had been baptized between June 1972 and June 1982. Five hundred and eighty two answered these questions. Chi Square tests were employed to analyze the data.

All the answers reported on the questionnaires were related to the Piagetian stages of cognitive development and especially to the level of Formal Operations beginning at around 10-11 years according to Jean Piaget.

Results. The research indicated that the peak age for baptism was 12 years in the Seventh-day Adventist church and that most of the children felt ready when they were baptized. However, as they grew older more felt that they did not understand Bible doctrines as well as when they decided to be baptized, and considered they were too young at the time of baptism.

Concerning the degrees of influence in their decision for baptism the children as a whole revealed that the parents had the greatest influence, followed by their minister, adult relatives and friends, peers, and a week of spiritual emphasis.

In the research a progression was found toward maturation from age 6 to 14 and above, supported in large measure by Piagetian stages of cognitive development.

Conclusion. The findings of the study conducted among Seventh-day Adventist children about readiness for baptism support in part Piaget's theory of cognitive development. When they wait until the Formal Operations stage, young people are aware of the importance of the decision for baptism. It is "their" commitment, a step forward in their spiritual life, encouraged by their environment, their family, their church and their school.

Subject Area

Baptism

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