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A University Course\u27s Influence on Students\u27 Perpectives Regarding Sabbathkeeping as Spiritual Discipline

By Ifeoma I Kwesi


Problem Although most students who attend Oakwood University are self-identified Seventh-day Adventist Christians, from general observation of their activities, conversations, and attitudes displayed on any given Friday night and/or Saturday (i.e., Sabbath), it would be easy to conclude that many neither enter nor exit their collegiate experience with a holistic understanding or experience of Sabbath and Sabbathkeeping. Methodology 1. As part of the research for this project I used a pre- and post-test methodology to determine the cognitive, behavioral and affective realms of Sabbath and Sabbathkeeping among students enrolled in RP131: Spiritual Formation for Ministry. The intervention was the aforementioned semester-long course which included weekly reading reports, weekly reports of the practice of the spiritual disciplines, reflection papers, resource files, a Sabbath service at a local synagogue, a weekend retreat emphasizing God’s special presence on Sabbath, and retreat evaluations. 2. My reflection on the Old and New Testaments as well as relevant passages from the writings of Ellen G. White, biblical scholars and theologians regarding Sabbath and Sabbathkeeping provided the foundations for this project. 3. I reviewed current literature on religious/theological education philosophy and curriculum in colleges and universities (in general and in Seventh-day Adventist institutions); postmodernism; spiritual formation (including spirituality and spiritual development within the context of developmental theories); biblical and theological moorings for spiritual formation; spiritual formation courses in religious/theological education (in general and in Seventh-day Adventist college and universities); the relationship of spiritual formation and/or spiritual formation course to university students; i the relationship of spiritual formation and/or spiritual formation courses to African American university students; the influence of spiritual disciplines; the influence of spiritual disciplines on university students; the influence of spiritual disciplines on African American university students; the influence of the spiritual discipline of Sabbath/ Sabbathkeeping; and the influence of the spiritual discipline of Sabbath/Sabbathkeeping on African American university students. The scholarship is these areas shaped and informed my research in both widening and narrowing the aperture of the lens through which I constructed the intervention to be implemented to examine and address a theological issue in ministry. 4. The details of the research methodology and implementation are described in Chapter 4. Outcomes and evaluations are presented in Chapter 5 and conclusions and ! recommendations are summarized in Chapter 6. 5. Again, the purpose of this dissertation was to examine a theological issue in ministry, namely, the influence of a spiritual formation course on the perspectives of Sabbath/ Sabbathkeeping as a spiritual discipline among African-American Oakwood University students. Another important objective was to provide the means by which students would be able to differentiate between Sabbath/Sabbathkeeping as a spiritual discipline and Sabbath/Sabbathkeeping as propositional truth and to evaluate the significance of the difference. Details of the course and the survey instrument are given in Chapter 5. Results All of the quantitative data, which reflected the differences in the pre- and posttest means, indicated positive outcomes. Key positive outcomes are the following: • Students who initially perceived Sabbath as a “burden” came to understand it as a “delight” and “good news.” • Students’ understanding related to Sabbathkeeping as a time of “no work” and a time for family improved. • Students’ understanding of spiritual formation as a process that is not under human control increased. • Students who initially perceived of spiritual disciplines as “spiritual restrictions, punishment or rules for salvation” came to understand them as “the door to liberation.” • Students’ understanding of the relationship between “being a good member of a church” and obtaining salvation improved. The qualitative data indicate that the influence of the spiritual formation course on Sabbath and Sabbathkeeping as a spiritual discipline has been a positive intervention, particularly in the area of anticipated commitment to Sabbathkeeping beyond graduation. Conclusions A college-level spiritual formation course that encourages an intimate, loving relationship with the Lawgiver Who is the Creator and Lord of the Sabbath as the means for appreciating and enjoying Sabbath as a special time to be with Him can change the perspectives of students who view Sabbath negatively to perceiving it positively, joyfully, correctly, holistically, relationally, and with greater commitment. A college-level spiritual formation course that provides biblical instruction on Sabbath and Sabbath observance in the context of spiritual formation as a balance of dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit and “discipline for the purpose of godliness” (1 Tim 4:7) through the examination of and engagement in the spiritual disciplines that are foundational to spiritual formation, a strong devotional life, and Spirit-led Christian service can change the perspectives of students who do not regard Sabbath and Sabbath observance as a spiritual discipline to acknowledging Sabbath and Sabbath observance as one of the means by which the Holy Spirit transforms human beings into “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

Topics: Sabbathkeeping, Students, Spiritual Discipline, Course, Oakwood University--Students; Sabbath; College students--Religious life; Students--Religious life; Spiritual formation, Practical Theology
Publisher: Digital Commons @ Andrews University
Year: 2012
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Provided by: Andrews University
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