Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Educational Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Donna J. Habenicht

Second Advisor

O. Jane Thayer

Third Advisor

Roger Dudley


Purpose of the Study. The purpose of this study was (a) to describe how the concept of salvation develops among Adventist young adults and (b) to examine the perceived influence of mentors and (c) life experiences, especially traumatic experiences, on the development of the concept of salvation and intrinsic religious motivation.

Method. This cross-sectional developmental study utilized three instruments: (a) the Salvation Concept Interview, (b) the Life Experience Interview, and (c) the Intrinsic/Extrinsic Religious Motivation Scale. Interviews were conducted with 132 individuals, and the data were analyzed descriptively and quantitatively using Spearman rho correlations and Chisquares.

Results and Conclusions. Limited correlations existed between the maturity of salvation concepts and age. The major concepts of salvation were most frequently orthodox. Two-thirds of the subjects expressed assurance of salvation. Salvation concept maturity and intrinsic motivation were positively correlated. Subjects at the low intrinsic level were more egocentric and more unsure of their salvation. Subjects at the medium intrinsic level tended to be more orthodox and to view God as a father-type. Most perceived their fathers as good. Compared with other levels, fewer individuals reported traumatic events. Individuals at the high intrinsic level were more aware of their sinful nature, more dependent on God, and better able to integrate grace and works. Subjects at the very high intrinsic level were the most mature in salvation concepts. They seemed more empowered and were active in their pursuit of God. More individuals at the high and very high intrinsic levels understood salvation within the larger context of the universe and they tended to be relationship-oriented. However, those with childhood trauma did not understand how a relationship with God was connected with salvation. More individuals at these intrinsic levels (69%) had experienced considerable trauma. Interviewees who reported good fathering were more orthodox and understood the gospel better, while those with good mothers understood grace better, and those with good teachers had more understanding of God’s personal interest in them. Individuals who reported trauma between ages 14 and 34 tended to be more alienated from the church, whereas those who reported good parenting were the least alienated.

Subject Area

Salvation, Youth--Religious life.

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