Degree mill problems!

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by paidagogos, Sep 18, 2006.

  1. paidagogos

    paidagogos
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    As John Bear often said: "A degree mill diploma may be a time-bomb in your resume." Well, this bomb seems to have exploded on the pastor of First Baptist West Palm Beach. Read the story below:

    http://www.palmbeachpost.com/pbccentral/content/local_news/epaper/2006/08/26/s1a_FLOCKHART_0826.html

    Although I do not agree with my friend Rhet that all schools must be RA, I am staunchly opposed to degree mills. There are too many pastors and preachers running around boasting degree mill rags. IMHO, no degree, which is an honest position without deception, is better than a degree mill diploma.

    Wilbur M. Smith, who was a respected scholar and taught in three major seminaries, was very up front that he had no seminary degree. I like his integrity and style.

    IMHO, it is far better to say "I have no degree" than to claim a degree mill diploma that has no credibility. Now, let's hear those comments.
     
  2. El_Guero

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    I agree.

    Although I am not certain that that is a comment of an opinion . . .

    ;)
     
  3. El_Guero

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    Two thoughts came to mind as I read this . . . and then a third.

    First, if one line is the best that he can do - no wonder he did not earn his degree.

    Second, a friend was challenged on a new job one time. He said, "if you want the job you can have it, I'll quit." The trouble maker said, "you cannot quit. You have to resign in writing." He wrote, "I quit." on a sheet of scratch paper . . . Now that is one thing for a computer geek to do . . . but that leads to the third thought.

    Third thought, have 'we' (collectively as pastors in the profession of ministry) really cheapened our view of the pastorate that 'we' would easily lie, cheat, and steal and then be flippant in our apology when caught?

    3a. IMHO he cheated on his fake degree, he stole a position from a more honest pastor, and he lied and said it was his . . .

    3b. A one liner is just not respectful of that much damage . . .

    3c. I really hurt for the church, both there and collectively as a whole.
     
  4. El_Guero

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    PS

    A fourth thought, I pray that denominational leaders will abandon him, but not abandon his family. Unless of course, they were part of the deceipt.

    I honestly pray that instead of investing energy protecting him from his failure, that we would invest that energy in raising up a generation of noble pastors.
     
  5. UZThD

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    I notice that what some , including me, based on what I have read of their websites, would call millish schools are advertised on this very board , eg, Andersonville and Newburg Seminary.

    If it were Rhet's opinion that all save RA schools are mills, then I'd respectfully disagree.

    Defining quality by substance and not utility, IMO a mill is a school which awards degrees for work of a significantly lower standard than should be expected for that degree. I think some RA schools for individual courses, at least , may do that too. I suppose it is difficult to enforce a uniform rigor among profs. That is, I have a hunch that a few UA schools may at times teach better than some RA schools!

    Sure, subject matter affects rigor, I suppose. At Oregon State I was in the Ed. D. (not finished), and for the most part found MDiv courses at Western tougher than those doc courses in Education at OSU. But the OSU Speech Pathology, Audiology, and Psychological testing classes were more substantial!

    Perhaps course expectations for students is a more valid assessment of a school's quality than approval by an accreditational agency.

    EG, I have the joy this winter of teaching the course: Patrology, Christology, and Pneumatology. .

    Expectations for this course consist of

    (1) being able to respond in class discussion to the 215 questions I have written on the three texts. ( I have fond memories of being grilled in Christology by Bob Cook at Western),

    (2) passing a 2 1/2 hour subjective exam, and

    (3) writing a 20-25 page exegetical ( our seminary requires 6 course in Hebrew and 6 in Greek for the MDiv) / theological evaluation of Wiley's doctrine on the Monarchia of the Father as found in vol 1 of his Christian Theology. This paper is equally evaluated on : sources, SBL Style, English usage, comprehension, and structure.

    We are TRACS accredited, but were we not, that would still be a good course IMO.

    However, if an unaccredited school in its courses had expectations for students of a similar nature, then IMO such a school is not a mill whether or not it is accredited. Again, substance, not utility, is my point. Utility often varies with the type of accreditation a school has.

    Obviously high expectations for course work requires able students who can do the work and a competent faculty who themselves have experienced the rigor of genuine grad study and so know what should be taught and how.

    But these rigid requirements , or the avoiding of them, are what gives birth to mills.

    What continues to breathe life into mills is students either not knowing what rigor should be required, or, knowing that, opting to avoid the discomfort of it.
     
    #5 UZThD, Sep 18, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 18, 2006
  6. Dr. Bob

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    The issue here seems far from "degree mill" but about this man's CHARACTER (or lack of same).And the terrible condition of a church that was so shabby in their "search" for God's man.
     
  7. Broadus

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    Unfortunately, too many SBC churches (I write as a pastor of an SBC church) care more about getting a charismatic leader who can "produce" by growing the church than they do about biblical integrity. The pastor in question had shown the ability to gather a great following. For many, that's about all that matters.

    Bill
     
  8. Martin

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    I read somewhere, forgot the source, that he actually earned his degrees from Covington.

    What I want to know, however, is why his educational background was not verified before he was hired.
     
  9. Hope of Glory

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    I would like to post some thoughts, from a secular perspective:

    A friend of mine is a headhunter for Fortune 500 companies. (He head hunts for all sorts of places, but he has a reputation with the biggies.) Most of them value character, ethics, experience, and ability over a diploma. (Although, some state universities give out diplomas that are worthless these days; after all, it's all about self-esteem...) But, some companies look only to the diploma.

    Some correspondence universities, such as Phoenix, are much more valued that state universities.

    Some businesses will not hire anyone without a diploma, and it hurts them. They do not consider life experiences at all. Others, don't care one whit about a diploma, when the diploma is compared to life experiences. (Both are preferable, but he was giving me an either/or comparison that he came across recently.)

    Guess which ones are more successful?

    By the same token, how many churches are more interested in the impressiveness of the degree, or the impressiveness of the three-piece suits, or the importance of image when it comes to driving nice cars, etc.?

    How many churches advertise for a man who knows his stuff? Most of them are more interested in how many letters follow the title, then in the interview, they're more interested in his beliefs on rock music, short pants, etc., than they are in what he knows. I know one church that hired a man with a degree, but had little practical Bible knowledge, because he was a great story teller. He kept them mesmerized, but taught them nothing.

    Now, I'm not trying to excuse his behavior, if he lied (did he lie, or did they just not like where he got his degree?), but why did this church put such a high regard on that piece of paper if he was a good preacher who knew his stuff?
     
  10. North Carolina Tentmaker

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    I have to agree with Dr. Bob on this one. The issue is not his degree but his character. He lied or at least presented information in a way as to cause the readers to assume a lie. Had he been upfront and honest about his education the church may have hired him anyway. He had an apparently very succeful church in Memphis and held great recomendations. But he was not honest.

    The time bomb on your resume is not the unacredited degree, it is the lies and half truthes written to make you look like someone you are not. My masters degree is from an unacredited correspondance school many would call a degree mill. Although I disagree with that assesment when I have interviewed with search committees I am always sure to explain exactly what kind of school and program that was.
     
  11. paidagogos

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    Character is expressed in behavior

    Dr. Bob, I fully agree that this is a character issue but anyone who will intentionally seek a degree mill diploma has some character problem. Character is revealed by one's behavior--we haven't invented a character detector or integrity meter yet. At worst, a bogus sheepskin is a question of a man's integrity. He is deceitfully representing himself to be something that he isn't. At best, it is a question of ego and thinking too highly of one's self. None of the possibilities have a pleasant odor about them.
     
  12. paidagogos

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    Agreement

    I'm right with you on this, UZThD. IMHO, students go the degree mill route because they want the title without the rigor. However, there may be a few unsuspecting souls.

    On the other hand, there are a few good, unaccredited schools with rigor.

    The honest unaaccredited schools will tell you up front. The ones to avoid like the plague are the ones claiming full accreditation from bogus accreditors.

    BTW, best wishes on teaching your seminary classes this year. UZThD, I can tell this is a labor of love for you.
     
  13. paidagogos

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    Balance

    Broadus, you are right on target. Character and Biblical integrity are too often at the bottom of the qualifications for the pastoral candidate. Most people's estimations of a preacher have to do with how they personally relate to him. A winsome personality counts more than character, knowledge, etc. The Biblical qualifications for a pastor have more to do with character than education, personality, etc.

    You stated that some churches "care more about getting a charismatic leader who can 'produce' by growing the church than they do about biblical integrity." Here's a thought: Do they really "grow" the church? Is attracting a crowd the same as growing the church? Some mega-churches have the reputation of a five-year turnover cycle. Is this growing the church? Are the individual members of the church growing and maturing or did they just stop by for the circus? When the charismatic leader leaves, there goes the church. What do you think?
     
    #13 paidagogos, Sep 18, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 18, 2006
  14. El_Guero

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    Teaching is such a joy.

    Students on the other hand, can be problematic . . .

    Why can't they come up with a teacher's mill . . . you know - all the fun and the student gets no credit?

    :tonofbricks:

     
  15. gb93433

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    His resume has nothing to do with the laziness of getting a piece of paper from a useless degree mill for some $ in return.

    The man has been a liar for quite sometime not just now. He has a history of a lack of honesty and integrity and now just got caught in his hypocrisy.
     
  16. gb93433

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    They come with the parents who think school should be fun. Some of them even call the university to complain when a professor makes their child work hard.
     
  17. gb93433

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    They got exactly what they wanted and were looking for.
     
  18. Rhetorician

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    WPB, Fla Pastor

    To all that have an ear:

    As some of you know I am a member of the Germantown Baptist Church here in the Memphis area. We have just gone through this terrible debacle with the new Constitution/By-laws "fight" that split the church.

    I saw this story on several media outlets and started to post it. I wonder now why I did not. Was it:

    1. Because I was ashamed to put that brother through more controversy, consternation, rumor, and shame;

    2. Or, just because I am tired of the fussing and feuding amonst the churches in general?

    I don't know. But, I do know that personally & professionally and on some levels, I am and have become a rumor-monger. For this I repent openly and publicly.

    Note to BB colleagues:
    This is not meant in any way to be a rebuke or carry any negative tone to the responders of this thread.

    sdg!:godisgood:

    rd:1_grouphug:
     
  19. El_Guero

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    First, remind me not to tell you anything! ;)

    :godisgood:

    And second for what it is worth - I think in this kind of case, telling on a fool that would lie before and injur the church needs to be 'outed'.

    :1_grouphug:
     
  20. saturneptune

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    Degree mills are a fraud, plain and simple. This is true of the secular world also. For those of you who argue that "life experience" is good enough, that may be true. Experience and common sense are far superior to a sheet of paper from an accredited institution. That is not the issue. The issue is being honest and playing by the rules. If one has life experience to offer, then most colleges have methods of quantifying that into semester hours. The same goes for military schools, and other such training. These then count towards a real degree.

    What we are talking about here is sending in a fee from anywhere in the range of 500 to several thousand dollars, then you pick the major, then voila, in a few short weeks, you have a degree in Playing Marbles. Names in this catagory include Almeda, Concordia, and many others. This can be very dangerous in the secular world, people being hired for jobs that could affect the lives of many based on false credentials. Go to one of these websites like Almeda and look at their program.

    As far as doing this within the ministry, a person is asking for a spiritual job based on a lie. What is so sad is that many pastorates in the Baptist faith require no degree at all, it is up to the needs of the local church. A minsitry based on a lie. This should be against the law in both spiritual and secular jobs, and should require jail time if caught.
     

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