Honorary Degrees

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Dr. Bob, May 25, 2005.

  1. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    Saw a pastor proclaiming his Ph.D., then saw it was honorary! I had never seen such from a seminary.

    The really sad part was that the only degree the pastor had was a ThG (not even a bachelors).

    Anyone ever hear of a PhD as an "honorary" degree? DD, LLD, even LSD!! But PhD??
     
  2. Jim1999

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    In my 25 years with an accredited university, I never heard of an honourary PhD. I guess there are a lot of saucepan degrees floating around these days. What's the saying, "We're killing ourselves by degrees..."

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  3. ktn4eg

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    Some 25 years ago I was at a seminar on history at Tennessee Temple University that was conducted by Dr. Lexie Wiggins. Another brother from NC was asking Dr. Wiggings to explain what exactly an honorary degree meant.

    What stuck with me wasn't so much Dr. Wiggins' explantion. Rather is was this dear brother's preface to his question.

    To illustrate his reason for asking about what an honorary degree meant he told us of some Bible conference that he had recently attended:

    "Well, for the speakers you had Doctor This and Doctor That. I mean, there were more doctors there at this conference than you'd find at a hospital, and I wouldn't trust any of them to put a bandage on my little finger!!!" :eek:

    How's that for a unique perspective on the ministry?
     
  4. Paul33

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    That's the joke! Fundamentalist claim to be separated from the world, but they sure have the lying and pride part down pat!

    Oh, I'm Doctor So and So!

    They give them to each other! At one graduation I was at, the President gave one to the Vice-President, and the the Vice-President turned around and gave one to the President. It was sickening.

    And this at a fundamental Baptist college where we were being taught to be separated from the world.

    Maybe some of these frauds should actually attend a school and earn their degrees. Ironically, they might not be so proud of themselves as they come to realize they don't know hardly anything!

    That's what education does. It teaches us how little we really know, even when earning a Ph.D.
     
  5. Broadus

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    Never heard of an honorary PhD. I've seen a few ornery PhDs, though.

    Honorary doctorates should be given to those who have made noteworthy contributions to their field (something other than having a gazillion baptisms). Unfortunately, many pastors have egos which far surpass their intelligence. Gifted with an inflated view of their own innate wisdom and intelligence and minted with their own bachelor's degree from an unaccredited institution, they now establish an unaccredited Bible college which honors the founding pastor of another unaccredited Bible college with a DD. The president of the second Bible college reciprocates, and everybody is a DD. Ain't it grand?

    Bill
     
  6. gb93433

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    Just imagine those honorary degrees advising a student who is writing a dissertation.
     
  7. Paul33

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    I want a D.Lit. because I once read Shakespeare and quoted him in a sermon once.

    I want a D.D. because I once read a verse from every book in the Bible.

    I want a D.S.T. (Doctor of Sacred Theology) because I once had a good idea about how to set up the potluck line.

    Why stop at one honorary degree? And why stop at the old stand buys. There's got to be alot more doctorates out there for such a proficient guy as me.

    Dr. Paul, D.Lit., D.D., D.S.T.
     
  8. Jim1999

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    In the days of modernism, it was common practice to recognize senior ministers with honourary degrees. They were just that, honourary. The proper term is, honoris causa...a degree granted without examination. It had no academic status. It gave recognition to the many men, stalwarts of the faith, who defended the scriptures against the academia of modernism. The rule in my day was that this honourary degree was not granted by one's own institution. Most of the men I associated with back in the 40's and 50's earned such honours. They certainly didn't lack in academia, though deprived of advanced formal education due the times. The average baptist minister in those days had Bible college and at best seminary training, graduating with a B.Th.

    To-day, I do wonder about a lot of so-called degrees, honourary and otherwise. Just remember that not all men with such degrees are dishonourable. We ought not to paint the whole wall when we are engaged to paint the trim only.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  9. Paul33

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    Jim,

    Thanks for the history lesson. Very interesting and informative.

    I can see how an "honorary" degree could mean something to those who faught in the war against modernism. Kind of like the red badge of courage.

    Today, the situation seems somewhat different. Oppportunities abound to study and train for ministry. Unacredited colleges handing our honory degrees to their own staff just smacks of pride, arrogance, and insecurity. It is usually these same institutions who cry about separation and worldliness to their students, but humility seems to be sorely lacking.

    Point well taken about not every one with an honorary degree being deficient academically or otherwise. One only has to look at Billy Graham!

    Boy, will that make the hyper-fundies mad.
     
  10. PatsFan

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    I'm definitely impressed that you once quoted Shakespeare in a sermon. Move over, brother Stanley!
     
  11. PatsFan

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    When I was a student at Nyack College in the late 70's, President Thomas Bailey had an LLD. It was probably awarded decades earlier. He was no slouch as an academic, despite the honorary degree.
     
  12. paidagogos

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    The Ph.D. was once given by some universities as an honorary degree. After someone gave Bing Crosby an honorary Ph.D. it fell into disrepute.

    IMHO, few of the honorary doctors have done anything deserving of a doctorate. A few, such as Bucky Fuller or Peter Anwar, are fully deserving of their honorary doctorates.
     
  13. paidagogos

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    Fairly and well said!
     
  14. Dr. Bob

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    Thank you all for your comments. I am proud that the college at which I taught (Pillsbury Baptist College, formerly Minnesota Central University) long ago dropped giving ANY honorary degree from the pressure to "get" degrees by the faithful . .
     
  15. Palmetto Boy

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    This is an interesting article about honorary degrees. Here is a quote about their purpose:
    Personally I've seen honorary degrees done well and done badly. By any stretch it isn't an academic discredit to have one. It's only disreputable if gotten through croneyism.

    There was a time when honorary degrees apparently held more weight. I remember my surprise the first time I heard in one of my philosophy classes that Harvard has awarded honorary doctorates to promising individuals, seemingly just so that they could teach. I'm no academic historian, but I understand that this was the case with William James, Benjamin Peirce, and Alfred North Whitehead. My knowledge is mainly about philosophy and psychology, so I can't provide context on how often this was done in other departments. A quick Google search turned up a similar case with Nathaniel Bowditch.

    Interestingly, even though the individuals I mention above are all fairly well-known academics, Harvard failed to mention them in its selected list of honorary degrees recipients.
     
  16. RandR

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    Should those whose doctorate is "honary" go by the title, "Dr." so and so?

    Some who do:
    Jerry Falwell
    Paul Powell
    Tom Eliff
     
  17. TexasSky

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    I spent many years of my life working for an amazing man who posessed both an MD, and a Ph.D.. He was the Associate Dean of an accredited Medical School.

    A Ph.D. is meant to represent more than "what I learned," it is also meant to indicate that you are qualified to teach at the post-graduate level.

    For instance, during accreditation reviews, we learned that an MD is qualified to teach other MD's, and undergraduates, but they are not qualified to teach Ph.D. students. ONLY another Ph.D. can teach a doctoral student aiming for a higher degree - according to the accreditors.

    I also think that men who earned their Ph.D.'s with study and hard work, and who had to face their review committees should not have that hard work lessoned by someone going, "Oh, I'm a doctor too," who did not go through the hard work to earn it.

    With that knowledge, I think it is wrong for individuals with honorary degrees to use them without clearly indicating that it is honorary.

    For instance, I think Jerry Falwell should go by Reverend, not Dr. If someone wants to introduce him, they should say, "Jerry Falwell, who was honored with an honorary doctorate by...." and name the place that handed it out so easily.

    I know that some people I admire have honoary degrees, like Bob Hope, but he didn't dishonor people by using it.

    To use the title seems like a lie.
     
  18. Paul33

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    Amen!
     
  19. PatsFan

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    It doesn't bother me when I hear people refer to people with honorary doctorates as Dr. this or Dr. that, for example, Dr. Billy Graham or Dr. Ravi Zacharias. When people have had extremely honorable careers, like these two men, it seems fine to me to do so. I have a problem when people with honorary doctorates refer to THEMSELVES as Dr. this or Dr. that.
    ____________________________
    Texas, Your entry was quite interesting. I had not known that accreditors view the MD so differently.
     
  20. TexasSky

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    To be honest, Pats Fan, it was a surprise to many M.D.'s.
     

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