Date of Award

1982

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Religious Education, PhD

First Advisor

George R. Knight

Second Advisor

Roy E. Graham

Third Advisor

Roy C. Naden

Abstract

Problem. William Warren Prescott, 1855-1944, was one of the most influential educators of the Seventh-day Adventist church. As a religious educator he also served the church as preacher, writer, editor, and administrator. His influence on the church was extensive but until now there has been no comprehensive investigation of his life or evaluation of his contribution to the church.

Method. This study investigated Prescott's life from the perspective of his work as a religious educator. It has used the documentary-historical method of research. Major sources included the extensive official correspondence in the Archives of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and correspondence in the Ellen G. White Estate. Official records of organizations and institutions, church periodicals, newspapers, and miscellaneous archival materials were also valuable sources of information on Prescott.

Conclusions. Prescott's contribution to the Adventist church as a religious educator was extensive. As president of Battle Creek College and first education secretary of the General Conference, he helped shape Adventist education to a significant degree in its philosophy, its curriculum, and its institutions. His leadership in establishing formal theological education for the ministry of the church has had a lasting impact. As a theologian Prescott helped change the focus of Adventist theology. His insistent emphasis on the doctrine of Christ contributed to changes in the understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity in the church and in prophetic interpretation. His scholarly studies in history have been of lasting benefit to the church through his writing and his editorial work. As an administrator Prescott also had a significant influence on the organizational reforms in the church accomplished in 1901. An understanding of Prescott's life illuminates the development of early Adventist education and the theological development of the church. The study should be of value in providing a helpful perspective for continuing development in these areas.

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