Adolescent Moral Development In Christian Perspective -- By: John David Trentham

Journal: Journal of Discipleship and Family Ministry
Volume: JDFM 04:2 (Fall 2014)
Article: Adolescent Moral Development In Christian Perspective
Author: John David Trentham


Adolescent Moral Development In Christian Perspective

John David Trentham

John David Trentham (Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) served for six years prior to as the Young Adults and Missions Pastor and Worship Leader at the First Baptist Church of Mount Washington, Kentucky. He and his wife Brittany are both East Tennessee natives. Dr. Trentham recently published a major study exploring the nature of development among pre-ministry students attending different types of colleges and universities. He is married to Brittany and together they have one son, Maddox.

A series of recent and ongoing research studies are exploring the nature and extent of intellectual and ethical maturation among pre-ministry evangelical undergraduates at varying institutional types. This line of research represents the most in-depth analysis ever conducted among this population with regard to epistemological development—i.e., students’ maturity in their ways of thinking, reasoning, and judgment, as well as in their personal commitments to ways of living that exhibit a reflective consistency with the biblical worldview. This article highlights a number of prominent and notable common themes identified in the findings of this research as bearing relevance to pre-ministry undergraduates’ epistemological development, personal formation, and Christian discipleship. Also, the nature and impact of varying social-environmental conditions among pre-ministry college students is addressed.

Research Context

The findings and themes presented in this article are drawn from the initial study in an ongoing series of qualitative research studies, in which pre-ministry undergraduates from three institutional contexts were interviewed according to a standardized semi-structured interview protocol. The three institutional contexts included secular universities, confessional liberal arts universities, and Bible colleges. Thirty students, including ten from each context, were interviewed. This study thus served to initiate precedent findings for subsequent studies to augment and deepen lines of inquiry and investigation among this population. Currently, follow-up studies are being conducted in each of the three original contexts, and additionally among pre-ministry undergraduates and evangelicals attending non-confessional liberal arts universities, two-year colleges and universities, and evangelical seminaries.

While the Perry Scheme of Intellectual and Ethical Development served as an interpretive lens for the study, the researcher introduced the “Principle of Inverse Consistency” as a paradigm for critically interacting with Perry and other developmental theories. Additionally, an original metho...

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