Accredited or Non-Accredited, What for the Pastor?

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by TCGreek, Aug 24, 2007.

  1. TCGreek

    TCGreek
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    1. From another thread, I got the impression that I brother wanted to head for the ministry, but didn't think a pastor should have to be a holder of an advanced accredited degree.

    2. I got the impression that he thinks a degree from a non-accredited school would cut it, if the school is proven to be credible. What do you think?
     
  2. SBCPreacher

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    Just my 2 cents...

    An accredited degree doesn't make someone a good pastor.
    An unaccredited degree doesn't make someone a poor pastor.

    Years ago, as an associate pastor, I have served with both. The accredited degree pastor wasn't that good a pastor or teacher. The unaccredited was a much better pastor and teacher.

    I think the person, the calling of God, and the anointing of God is what matters.

    Honestly, that lady at the bedside of the dying husband doesn't care at all about where I got my degree - but she does care that I'm there.

    Again, just my opinion.
     
  3. Martin

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    ==This person did not think a pastor "should" have an advanced degree from an accredited school? Well then that person is promoting the idea of ignorant pastors. I think pastors need a BA in a "secular" field such as history or sociology before they attend seminary or Bible college. Why? Because it gives them a broader base of knowledge. Then they need to attend a seminary or Bible college that is accredited and has a good reputation for godliness and academics. Getting an easy degree is not getting an education. More than ever, pastors need to be knowledgable on a whole host of issues. There is nothing worse than a pastor who gets behind the pulpit only to display his ignorance of history, Bible, or some other field. That is why a secular degree is a good idea. It gives the person a broader base of knowledge. Those who wish to be pastors should major in a field like history. In fact I think history is the best subject. The study of history teaches people how to think critically, how to examine evidence, and how to write out their findings.

    ==For undergraduate degrees non-accredited schools are fine as long as the school has a good academic reputation (of course this is rare since most good schools are accredited).
     
  4. Broadus

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    I view accreditation as setting a minimal standard. There are a few schools which have shown themselves to be credible which have, for philosophical reasons, have not undergone the steps necessary for accreditation. Bob Jones was one, though it is now accredited by TRACS, a move I applaud. Whitefield, for one, has chosen not to do so, though I think it could be accredited by TRACS were it to choose to take that step (and I wish it would).

    Actually, I do not think a seminary education is mandatory for one to be a good pastor. However, I do think that training is essential, and that training could take place under an experienced and well-trained pastor in a mentoring situation. I do, though, think that in our day and in our culture there really is little reason for a man, unless he lives in an impoverished situation, not to gain a seminary education. I want a pastor to be able to comfort the widow whose husband has just died, and I want a pastor to be able accurately to exegete a text of Scripture and exposit it to his congregation. I want a pastor to be able to help a young congregant who is unsettled by his evolutionary-propagandizing professor. Possessing merely a "good heart" that wants to serve God is insufficient. An indept minister, regardless of his motivation, is more dangerous than an inept surgeon. One deals with eternal matters; the other with temporal. Yet we are more concerned with inept physicians than we are with inept ministers.

    That said, I will warn every student I can about the plethora of schools which have set up shop offering degrees which cannot possibly be credible. Though I have a PhD in church history from an accredited institution, I am not qualified to be teaching doctoral seminars in New Testament theology or Old Testament interpretation. Yet many "institutions of higher education" have less qualified profs doing just that, and often their own degrees are from questionable institutions.

    Bill
     
  5. StefanM

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    Wouldn't be a bit biased there, would you? :laugh:

    I minored in history in college (majored in ministry), and I also completed 6 hrs of graduate work in history. Yes, it makes you think, and for this reason, I think it would be a good minor or a good choice for electives. However, I would not advise a minister to major in history, primarily because doing so does not help much in the secular job market. If the minister has to be bivocational, the history degree won't open a large number of doors. History education, however, may open some more.

    I would say that someone who wants to get a secular undergraduate degree should major in business or something in demand such as biology/chemistry/physics education. These would make bivocational ministry much easier, and, especially in the case of science, you aren't going to be able to get a degree without being challenged.
     
  6. mcdirector

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    I do think an educated pastor is better than a non-educated pastor. I think a pastor seeking God's will is better than one who is haughty. I want an honest pastor above a dishonest one. ie claiming a degree he doesn't have or an accredited degree when it isn't.

    I think in this type of forum - at times - we tend to come across as falling into two camps 1) education matters not at all as long as we are seeking God's will or 2) education only matters if it is accredited. (ok we are divided in this camp too ;) )

    The fact of the matter is that under God's leadership, some Pastors can get the learning they need to become good pastors without a formal degree. BUT the degree will help to push them to do that. Having looked at the curriculum of biblical studies programs and MDivs for accredited and non accredited schools -- the curriculum is more strenuous for the accredited schools. But the unaccredited programs still would have benefits of increased knowledge and understanding of scripture.

    I've met some Bi-Vo's while serving on Association training teams and I honestly did not know how they juggled it all - much less with throwing in working on a Div or Theo degree in there.

    I don't think we can dismiss what SBCPreacher said.
     
    #6 mcdirector, Aug 25, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2007
  7. UZThD

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    IMO,

    1)the issue is not accreditation but quality. Yet, some denominations or churches may consider only accredited applicants. And accredited usually is better than not and offers more utility.

    2) In my experience of listening to sermons, some pastors do not much use what is learned in seminary in sermon preparation and delivery.

    3) Too bad ; the seeds of cults is the ignorance of congreants.

    4) And, the shallow preaching by some grads with accredited MDivs is fodder for the notion that mills are just as good. If one is not going to use languages , advanced Biblical studies, and theology in ministry, why require it in seminary?

    My 7th grade learning disabled students learned more about eastern hemispheric history in a semester than some church goers whose pastors have accredited MDivs learn about Scripture and doctrine in a lifetime of faithful church attendance!

    Guess that bile comes from being a retired teacher with seminary stuff too. Sorry.
     
    #7 UZThD, Aug 25, 2007
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  8. Martin

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    ==Of course not! Where would you get a silly idea like that? :smilewinkgrin:

    I can't lie, I am bias to the core...

    ==I agree. A degree in history education would be a great major. In fact, if I were 18 again, that would have been my major. I would not, however, advise anyone to take religion courses at a state/secular university. If someone is at Liberty or some other Christian university fine, but if they are earning their undergraduate degree at a state/secular university I would advise them to stay far, far away from the religion department. Maybe a major in History Education with a Minor in American Studies, sociology, business, or something like that.

    ==For Bivocational pastors I would give the same type of advice. Get an education you can use. In my post I was thinking about those going to be full-time pastors. I guess History Education, English Education, or something like that is safe ground for an undergraduate degree if one is unsure of their future prospects (full time or bivocational). A great choice, at least in North Carolina, would be Math Education. With that degree you could really almost write your own pay check. My natural father teaches math in the public schools. I don't "think" he is licensed or anything like that. He has a undergraduate and graduate degree in math, it is a small rural county, so that was all they needed. Then again my natural father is not "minister" material (though two of his brothers have been Pentecostal Pastors). I am the sole Baptist on that side of my family tree. My mothers side is Methodist.
     
    #8 Martin, Aug 25, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2007
  9. StefanM

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    I think that far too many ministers assume that they are going to be full-time. Even if you are going into full-time ministry, things may change later on, and having a useful degree would be beneficial in that instance.

    I forgot about math education. If I had to do it all over, I would have probably majored in math education. Math was my favorite subject in high school.
     
  10. TCGreek

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    1. My own pastoral bias is that a man must be familiar with the biblical languages (being able to read prociently, not just looking up words), church history, theology, biblical exegesis (working with the languages) and pastoral counseling.

    2. And as I look across the plain field, an accredited seminary is best fit to meet these challenges but a whitefiled might be the exception.
     
  11. LeBuick

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    I disagree. I would prefer to sit under a man who has a close relationship with God than one with many degree's. Degree are a good added extra but in no way detrmines or reduces the ability to lead/teach God's people.

    My fathers pastor growing up couldn't read. But he knew his Bible and had an understanding and relationship with God that was unmatched. He pastored a Church which promidently had doctors and lawyers as members and most of them didn't know (or care when they learned) he couldn't read. You are saying the book with the best cover is the best book to have and because a book has a tacky cover it has nothing to give. I disagree completely.
     
  12. LeBuick

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    Well said...
     
  13. Broadus

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    I would be interested in knowing more about your father's pastor. How did he obtain such a knowledge of the Bible without knowing how to read? Did someone read to him? That would have been before the Bible was on audio tapes, wouldn't it have been? Did he acquire it by listening to other preachers? Then he would have been at the mercy of what they said, wouldn't he? I'm not saying such cannot occur; I just wonder how it did.

    I have no doubt that there have been excellent, albeit uneducated pastors. Still, that is the exception to the rule, not the rule. I don't think there has to be an either/or dichotomy. I would rather have a well-trained pastor who walked close to the Lord than a poorly or untrained pastor who walked close to the Lord, wouldn't you?

    Bill
     
  14. Martin

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    ==Very good point and a very good reason for a pastor to seek a "secular" education before Bible College or Seminary.
     
  15. Martin

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    ==A degree does not mean that someone will make a good pastor, true. However if a pastor wants to be a well educated person, in general, a degree will do him a lot of good. It will give him more options occupationally, it will give him a better understanding of subjects other than theology, and it will give him more material for sermon examples :smilewinkgrin:


    ==I don't know how long ago that was but things have changed. Today pastors need to know how to preach against complex errors (evolution, the Jesus Seminar, etc). Having a background in those subjects (science, history, etc) gives a person more knowledge of those subjects. If a person has a undergraduate degree that have at least dealt with each of those subjects even if those subjects are not his focus. As for a pastor who can't read, while not that unheard of historically, I would want a pastor who could preach from the text of Scripture and dig deeply into it's grammer and historical context. That has nothing to do with the cover, as you suggest. That has to do with wanting a pastor who has a right (close) relationship with Jesus Christ and who is well educated. Those two things go much deeper than the cover.

    Edit to add:

    Most of the "uneducated" pastors who I hear on our local radio station make dangerous theological mistakes. What I hear from them is tradition. This what their grandpa believed, what their pa believed, and thus what they believe. The Biblical truth really does not matter to them, though they claim it does and I don't doubt their honesty. However they are reading their traditions into Scripture and anyone who does not agree with their tradition is labeled a heretic. These same type pastors often make major historical mistakes as well. What's the big deal about that? The big deal is that such historical blunders are used to teach against being part of a church that is connected with a denomination, to promote KJV-Onlyism, to promote tradition over Scripture, to confuse people about church history in general, and to invent and promote the fictional idea of a "Christian nation" (even though the New Testament knows of no such entity). They maybe very sincere, and I know many of them are, and they may love the Lord (and that is wonderful), but their lack of knowledge hurts their ministry and outreach.
     
    #15 Martin, Aug 25, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2007
  16. TCGreek

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    1. I see the advantages of obtaining a a secular degree, let's say in History.

    2. But there's the man out there who has the called of God upon him to enter the ministry and feels that an undergrad in Bible and an M.Div would do it.

    3. I know of the uncertainties of life, but I believe that is more the exception than the rule.

    4. A man does not have to secular degree to be well acquainted with the field of science and such like. Rather, he must continue to read and educate himself in such matters, gleaning illustrations from every facet of life.
     
  17. Martin

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    ==He should do what the Lord leads him to do. My point, however, is that obtaining that general education degree is a good idea. They can get their Bible education first and then go back (part-time) and get the general education major (History, Math, Sociology, etc). It really does not matter. I just believe earning a "secular" undergraduate degree makes anyone a better educated person. Why? Because it will expose them to most of the various areas of study while focusing on one. This can be done through a Christian University like Liberty University.

    So I am not denying the call and the need, the requirement, the man of God has to follow the Lord's leading.



    ==True, but let's think about that for a second. Since I am working on a MA in History let me use history as an example. Sure I could learn history without earning a degree in it. I can purchase history book, after history book from Amazon, Books-A-Million, or Barnes and Noble. I can read biographies, accounts of events, histories of nations, and become very well versed with those things. However I am missing something. What is that? I am missing that hands on "here is how to be a historian" training. I will miss out on learning how to "do history" (writing reviews and doing original research). I might also not learn how to handle a secondary source and how to handle a primary source in research. Let's go a step further, if I might not even learn how to determine what is a secondary source and what is a primary source. For example, is a newspaper account a primary or secondary source? Not an easy question to answer. The same is true with science, math, theology, medicine, and any other field you can think of. Earning a degree in a subject prepares a person to make that subject their life. My life is history and theology. That is how I will earn my bread in the future.

    Self education is great but it cannot replace formal education. Nobody can be formally educated in every field so we all have to do some amount of self education. For example I love meteorology. At one time, many years ago, I gave the idea of becoming a meteorologist serious consideration. However I took a introductory class in that subject and quickly realized it was not for me. However I enjoy reading books on it and keeping up with various weather events (etc). However since I have had no formal training in the field I can't claim to have a working/professional knowledge of meteorology.
     
  18. TCGreek

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    1. I think it boils down to preference. I see your point in going back and getting additional knowledge, but I believe a man can attain such through self-education. The argument then becomes, every time he needs to venture into, let's say astronomy, then he should pursue a class. How about just buying a few good books and reading on the matter.

    2. A good undergrad accredited degree, from experience, should include liberal arts studies, math, literature, history, etc., that are of a secular nature.

    3. But another man's pursuit might be classics, but he would have learned to read widely, for such is of a well-educated man.

    4. I'm a champion of formal education. I would advise every young man to get a solid accredited formal education. That is not the issue. Continuing education is.

    5. The same way you still continue to read on metereology, the same way another person can continue to read his readings outside of his discipline, educating himself.
     
  19. spartacus

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    Thought you may find this interesting. There are some familiar names. This was taken from CES's web site.

    Who Are They?
    There are many people out there with unaccredited degrees who are doing just fine, thank you very much. The late Dr. Walter Martin had his Ph.D. from the unaccredited California Western University (now called California Coast University), and it was certainly a valid credential in his life. He founded the Christian Research Institute (1960). Dr. Martin was well-known for the definitive work titled, The Kingdom of the Cults (published by Bethany House Publishers) and the radio broadcast called, "The Bible Answer Man." He was recognized worldwide as an expert in Christian theology, comparative religions, and the cults. Dr. James R. White , famed apologist and author of The King James Only Controversy has his Th.D. from Columbia Evangelical Seminary, and it too has been a valid and valuable educational credential. Dr. Glenn Wagner has an unaccredited Ph.D. and once served as the vice president of Promise Keepers and has taught classes for several accredited seminaries (including Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland) and has published several books including, Strategies for a Successful Marriage (NavPress), and is also contributing editor to the book, Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper (Focus on the Family). These next three men earned their doctoral degrees from Luther Rice Seminary long before it became accredited: Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D. ,Pastor Charles Stanley, Th.D. , and Dr. Stephen Olford , Founder and Senior Lecturer of the Stephen Olford Center for Biblical Preaching. He is known for his expository preaching and pastoral leadership. He too earned a Th.D. from Luther Rice Seminary prior to its accreditation.

    Was B.B. Warefield's degree accredited? What about James P. Boyce?::smilewinkgrin:

    I think this issue of Ed. for pastors is an intersting one. A Number of differing Denominations and/or churches require different creditials and sometimes not so demanding ones. Any thought on how churches or pastors can better communicate their needs to differing centres of education?
     
    #19 spartacus, Aug 25, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2007
  20. spartacus

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    Well, I just found out that Chuck Swindoll does not have an accredited degree He graduated in 1963 from Dallas Theological Seminary. It was accredited by SACS in 1964 and ATS in 1994.

    He was the president of DTS for seven years ('94 -'01) and now serves as chancellor. He also has four honorary degrees.
     
    #20 spartacus, Aug 26, 2007
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