Date of Graduation

1987

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

This dissertation examined the Mormon Church's emphasis on secular education. The education-related statements of the twelve prophet-presidents of the Mormon Church (beginning with Joseph Smith in 1830 and ending with Spencer W. Kimball in 1985) were presented. The role of the prophet-president in pronouncing educational doctrine was discussed, and statistics were cited showing the superior educational level of the Mormons. Common educational themes among the prophets were analyzed. The Mormon prophets gave the following justifications for seeking secular education: First, that the Saints might more effectively preach the gospel; second, that they might become useful and learn practical skills; third, that they might find joy, happiness, and delight in learning, and finally, the prophets taught that Mormons should seek secular education because of other worldly considerations. A number of doctrines were examined which elucidated the Mormon educational ethos. For example, the Mormon prophets taught that secular and religious truths were all part of one whole, but they taught that the religious truths were more important. They taught that personal righteousness enhanced one's ability to learn. They took positions on Church and State issues, and cautioned Mormons concerning secular education. To Mormons the ultimate, earthly source for doctrine was their living prophet-president. Therefore only statements of the twelve prophets were relied upon to represent the official policy, position, and doctrine of the Mormon Church on educational matters. It became evident that there were definite parallels between Mormon educational development and national educational trends. In some respects the Mormon Church was ahead of its time educationally. It was apparent that the pursuit of secular education is a part of one's religious commitment in Mormonism. It is a theological doctrine, a tenet of the faith. This work brings together for the first time all of the major educational statements of the Mormon prophets. A complete study of educational doctrine in Mormon Church theology has never been undertaken before. This dissertation fully examines the doctrinal basis for the Mormon Church's emphasis of secular education.

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