Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


School of Education


Curriculum and Instruction EdD

First Advisor

Robert D. Moon, Jr.

Second Advisor

George H. Akers

Third Advisor

Mercedes H. Dyer


Problem. The South American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is studying the possibility of offering graduate theological education in its own territory. According to curricular theory, decisions regarding curricula should be based on studies of the society in which the school functions, studies of the nature and status of the discipline, and studies of the needs and aspirations of the learners. Information regarding South American society and theological education in the territory of the South American Division existed in scattered sources and needed to be gathered and organized. Most of the information concerning the learner--the Seventh-day Adventist minister who would attend graduate school--was non-existent.

Method. Information concerning societal factors and theological education in South America was collected and organized from existing sources. Information regarding the ministers was obtained by means of a questionnaire sent to the five hundred ministers of the South American Division assumed to meet the criteria for the study: a completed four-year postsecondary theological course and a minimum of four years of service, or the holding of selected administrative positions. Despite mail and communication problems, 69.2 percent of the ministers responded. Data obtained included information about their work and congregations, evaluation of past theological education, and perceived needs for future study.

Findings. Societal factors identified as most critical to shaping theological education were: (1) Catholic religion and general pre-occupation with spiritual matters; (2) population trends, including rapid growth, urbanization, and rejuvenation; (3) educational patterns, including a difficult secondary curriculum followed directly by professional training and a growing number of professionals; (4) limited financial resources due to poverty and inflation; and (5) growth patterns of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, including rapid growth, and high rates of apostasy. Professional theological education in South America begins immediately after secondary school, usually lasts four years, and leads to a Bachelor of Divinity degree. This basic degree is followed by a Master of Theology degree, granted usually after three quarters of coursework and a master's thesis. Ecumenism and liberation theology influence some Protestant programs, while others are evangelically oriented. Present Seventh-day Adventist theological education in the South American Division compares favorably in content and number of hours with the non-Adventist accredited programs in Latin America and with the professional training for ministry offered at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Berrien Springs, Michigan. Ministers surveyed reported large districts and much time spent in pastoral and outreach activities, but little time in specialized ministries and training lay persons. The educational needs most often reported were in the areas of church administration, evangelism, and pastoral ministries. Ninety percent of the responding ministers desired further education, and 27.5 percent expressed willingness to pay all expenses for additional education. The ten subjects judged most important for further study were: righteousness by faith, advanced evangelism, lay leadership training, doctrine of Christ, biblical eschatology, advanced preaching, doctrine of the atonement, church administration, biblical theology, and biblical exegesis.

Recommendations. It was recommended that: (1) Seventh-day Adventist theological education in the South American Division be offered within the philosophical, cultural, educational, and socio-economic context of its countries; (2) the degree granted by Seventh-day Adventist theological schools be considered the basis for a graduate program of three quarters of classwork plus a master's thesis; (3) the possibility of offering this program on the campuses of existing schools, perhaps during the summer, be studied; (4) the core of the curriculum be those subjects preferred by responding ministers; (5) strong emphasis be placed on the preparation of ministers to train lay members; and (6) subjects such as church growth and Christian education, not included in the respondents' first preferences, should also be offered.

Subject Area

Theology--Study and teaching--South America., Theological seminaries--South America--Curricula.

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