Masters Divinity School

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Pastor Robert, Jun 29, 2006.

  1. Pastor Robert

    Pastor Robert
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    What role does MDS play as far as training people for the ministry or a graduate education?

    Does anyone consider them a degree mill

    or are they making a legitimate attempt at providing a reasonable education?
     
  2. Martin

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    ==A good general rule with distance education is to make sure the school is accredited (SACS, TRACS, ATS, etc). There are several good schools to choose from. Each of the following schools offers graduate seminary programs online/distance (some may require one or two courses be taken on campus in modular format).

    Liberty University (MDiv, MAR)

    Southern Evangelical Seminary (MDiv, MA, MAR)

    Luther Rice University (MDiv, MA, DMin)

    Regent University (MDiv, MA)

    Temple Baptist Seminary (MM, MABS, MRE, MDiv, DMin)

    Piedmont Baptist College (MABS)
     
  3. Broadus

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    Hi Robert,

    Is your "Crestwood" as in Kentucky?

    The last time I looked at MDS I was unimpressed. I wouldn't categorize it as a degree mill since work is required. Neither, though, would I encourage anyone to pursue an education through MDS. There are too many viable, accredited alternatives, as Martin has pointed out. Look into those schools.

    For those looking for an easy way to get some initials after their name but won't stoop to a degree mill, MDS is the way to go.

    Blessings,
    Bill
     
  4. Pastor Robert

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    At what point would an un accredited school like MDS be considered a "good" unaccredited school?

    It seems that they are honest about their non - accredited status. It is also seems in their favor that they have not hooked up with a two bit bogus accrediting agency.

    Thanks

    P. Robert
     
  5. UZThD

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    ===



    Robert:

    I would suggest that these criteria generally (some exceptions) could be those of a good but unaccredited school:

    1) faculty of undergrad courses (eg BA, BTh) have at least an accredited master's degree in the area of instruction,

    2) faculty of grad courses (eg, MA, MDiv, doctoral) have an accredited doctoral degree in the area of instruction , Only a school with a number of faculty with accredited docs should offer a PhD/ThD IMO.

    3) Entry requirements for grad degrees are similar to those of accredited schools.

    a) to enter a PhD/ThD in Bible/Theology at most institutions requires an accredited MDiv or even a ThM . An MA will not suffice. These vary: At the Bap Sem in PA one can get credit for doc work with a ThM, but a n Mdiv is req. In contradt at DTS unless one has a ThM more is req. t

    b) usually there are language ENTRY requirements for a PhD/ThD.

    c) sometimes (eg The Master's) there are also extensive entry exams,

    d) often an academic thesis with high marks must have been done in the MDiv or ThM


    Typically unaccredited programs dumb down the entry reqs and lower the bar so that they can motivate more to sign up.

    4) The overall substance of curriculum should closely approximate that of an accredited school. MDS used to foolishly offer a doc for completing 6-8 courses. I don't know if they still do.

    What I just cannot fathom is how it is "Christian" to claim degrees as, "I am a Dr.," from doing grossly insubstantial work , when other good brethren undergo immense labors which culminate in that title.

    No, we don't to be "like the world," we want to be better! Better in our morals, better in our responsibilities, better in our educational standards!

    Better all around for our Lord--who could have taken the EASY way but did not. So, why should we take the EASY way in our academics??

    5) Individual courses should have the rigor that similar courses have in accredited schools.

    6) A consequence of the above is that the grad of the UA school should have as a result of his/her training the skills and the knowledge acquired by grads of accredited schools.

    This may become obvious when grads of UA schools contribute to scholarly literature or achieve recognition in Christendom beyond their own ecclesiatical circle.

    7) When that happens then, accredited schools may begin, as DTS now does with a couple seminaries, to accept grads from master's programs in some quality UA schools into the PhD. An example of this, if my memory is right, is Gore who went from a BJU masters into a Westminster's doc.


    For those things to happen I suppose in most cases the mentality as:

    " I'm getting a doc for personal reasons , so academics do not matter," or,

    "We're too separated to copy the world's standards, " or,

    " We would not accept accreditation if they tried to jam it down our throats"

    needs to be identified as what , IMO, it often is...... feeble excuses for poor performance!


    Bill G.
     
  6. Rhetorician

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    Unaccredited

    Pastor Robert,

    You said:


    "At what point would an un accredited school like MDS be considered a "good" unaccredited school?"

    Is it not an oxymoron to say that there is such a thing as a "'good' unaccredited school?"

    Justmyopinion on which I am an expert.

    sdg!

    rd
     
  7. paidagogos

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    A good non-accredited seminary

    No, Rhet, it is not an oxymoron. Whereas you and I are in total agreement regarding standards and academic rigor, I do not not equate accredited with good. There are poor accredited schools and I could name a few. Furthermore, BJU was a good unaccredited school until recently and I think you will agree. Now, they're a candidate for accreditation.

    Here's the website of a very good unaccredited seminary: http://www.gpts.edu/

    Look at the faculty and their credentials. Puruse their catalog and requirements. I think you will find them equal to accredited schools. I would not be ashamed to have a degree from these guys.

    Rhet, I would value your opinion after you review the web site.
     
    #7 paidagogos, Jun 30, 2006
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  8. paidagogos

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    Whenever the faculty, academic quality, requirements, etc. match those of accredited schools, I would say it is a good non-accredited school. Accreditation and certification have become buzz words. Although accreditation is no guarantee of quality, there are more good accredited schools than unaccredited. In accreditation, at least, there is some accountability and scrutiny. Accreditation, however, does not necessarily mean quality. The things we observe in the accreditation process is not quality but indicators of quality such as faculty qualifications, financial stability, course requirements, etc. As a general rule, academic quality is more likely to be found in an accredited school but it does not follow that unaccredited translates into poor quality.
     
  9. Rhetorician

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    Greenville & SES

    Hey Paid,

    You wanted my opinion so here goes!

    Greenville and Southern Evangelical (Norm Geisler & Ravi Zacharias) and just a few others are GOOD seminaries. But, if one considers that whole sub-genre of "unaccredited schools" all-n-all one had best stay away from them. I would even say that Bob Jones is a Great School w/ or wo any accrediting paper work. I have known too many BJU people who were committed to the Lord and excellence in all that they undertook! I was reared by a "BJU man" as pastor.

    Paid,
    You know me and know me well. There is still just "a little bit of devil" in me yet. I made the comment anecdotally and "tongue in cheek" just to get some of you "jacked up" and it worked.

    FTR, (for the record) I would be glad to have attended Greenville, SES, Bob Jones, and just a limited number of other fine "non-accredited schools." But, you and I both have been in this "education game" too long to trust our young ministers to those "in house" "church schools" who are run by the local pastor with only one scholar (maybe?) and end up looking like a clone of one or the other of them. That is really dangerous and scary when one considers it--IMHO!

    I meant no offense and was only trying to get a rise out of some! It worked but I had no idea it would be you?!:laugh:

    I always value your opinion and insights and count you as colleague and friend. We may disagree and have; but we have always loved one another in Christ!

    May God's blessings abide on your life and ministry!:smilewinkgrin:

    sdg!

    rd
     
    #9 Rhetorician, Jun 30, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 30, 2006
  10. Rhetorician

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    New Light

    To all who have an ear:

    It just occurred to me while I was reading back over the former posts????

    We have set up a false dichotomy of sorts!!!

    When the person who wants to defend and/or attend a sub-standard and unaccredited college, university, or grad school of religion says; "I just want to pastor a church." This is just wrong at its very core to me--IMHO!

    What we should be saying is: "God has called and gifted me to preach, teach, minister His word, go to the mission field, teach college or seminary, etc., I want the best education I can possibly achieve for His glory and the furtherance of His Kingdom."

    I like the old idea of being called to "full-time Christian service!" I always understood that to be the "call to preach." I have the idea that God wants our best regardless of what it may cost us personally. Did King David not say that he would not worship if it did not cost him something?!

    That is a false dichotomy. It is not either/or; but what is the best that I can be to serve God from henceforth and forever?

    I will make some angry here but I really don't care b/c they cannot get to me and "lay hands on me!":laugh:

    But,
    I really wish I could get inside the heads of folk who want to serve God half-heartedly or with a "that is good enough" attitude. Or, change the perspective of those who want to follow Christ and his call but don't want to "leave it all and follow Christ" whatever it may cost. It is a little scary but there is great blessing in total commitment.

    This is my rant and rave! If I have offended you, that may be an indicator that you have heard the truth and may not want to face it.

    As David Ring might say; "Thank you, your welcome!"

    sdg!

    rd
     
    #10 Rhetorician, Jun 30, 2006
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  11. Pastor Robert

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    So, i am to assume based on the wonderful and thoughtful replies, that this "sub culture" of seminaries are really part of the problem not part of the solution. Masters, Covington, Andersonville, LBU, and Trinity are substandard and really have no place in theological training.
    I put LBU in because i see it praised on different forums, however when i go on their site it seems that there are a lot of Home grown boys teaching at that institution. And that's a no/ no.

    P. Robert
     
  12. UZThD

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    ====


    IMO there appears to be a lot of difference in the quality of the schools you list. I'd like to respond to that list and also to a remark by Paid, correct me Paid if I misunderstand you.

    RE your list, Trinity and LBU IMO are likely to have more rigor than MDS, Covington and Andersonville. This opinion is based on dated reviews of websites , my having three long time virtual friends who did work at LBU , and on my own experience in the PhD in Bible at Trinity (3 courses) before they dropped that program. IMO the PhD work at Trinity was at MA level not at doc level.

    Re Paid's correlating qualified faculty to a school's quality, IMO that faculty is essential. But while "at" Trinity, though the faculty was qualified, the work was kept at MA level because the entry reqs were so modest. So, everything was dumbed down IMO, at Trinity despite the faculty being qualified!

    Trinity, at least then (2000-01), was evidence that a qualified faculty which lowers the rigor of its teaching to a school's too modest requirement or to fit the modest skills of unprepared students, instead rigorously reaching up to what the subject itself requires, may as well not be qualified.

    It is not enough for one to become an expert on a subject by acquiring genuine academic credentials unless one's students become experts too by one's teaching.
     
    #12 UZThD, Jun 30, 2006
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  13. El_Guero

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    Do you know if they relate with Geneva Reformed Seminary?

    Wayne


     
  14. Paul33

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    It was over selling.

    Now as to BJU. Despite their being a good school, their ingrown faculty at the seminary/graduate school level poses a real limiting factor, IMO.

    Because of this, they clone a lot of students, too.

    It puts them at the same level, methodologically, as the in-house seminaries.

    Which brings us back to accreditation.

    Because Liberty (and others) exists and is affordable, there is no excuse to go anywhere else for an online M.Div.
     
  15. UZThD

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    ===


    I agree that an ingrown faculty is probably not good. And I agree that master's degrees are offered by many good schools through distance education.

    So, one needs not take a masters from a lesser school.

    So why do these lesser schools prosper, then?

    1) Perhaps partly for theological reasons. Perhaps a particular UA school emphasizes doctrines which accred ones do not as KJVO or separation.

    IT is thought that unless a school teaches exclusiively one view of things the student, unable to think for himself, will backslide.

    Education=indoctrination!

    2) Perhaps because the applicant would not qualify. or thinks he would not, to enter an accredited school. Most accred seminaries can allow some exceptions to requiring an accred BA to enter a masters if the school wishes. But perhaps the application process appears complex at accred schools.

    At TTS and the now defunct ACCS I entered doc programs with a phone call!

    Easy enrollment=increased enrollment=$$

    3) Or perhaps curriculum is worrisome. We require, eg, six courses in Greek and six in Hebrew for the MDiv. Some school do not require languages.

    4) If the applicant desires a doc, then the "lesser" schools likely will accomodate unpreparedness for doc work whereas accred schools will not.

    \EG:

    a) IN the current DA in Bible at TRinity (unless its changed). NO Bible language is required! Imagine thata doc in Biblical Literature w-out Bible languages!

    In what discipline would that happen? A doc in French literature w-out French? I think not! A doc in Patristics w-out Latin?

    b) ON another forum, I intertacted with an LBU MA in Bible grad, a Jason G., who then was a year into the PhD in Bible at LBU. This Jason thought that to do lexical work for grad research the Strong's Concordance was quite an adequate tool!

    We might suppose Jason is an exception to what otherwise is a rigorous program except that Jason was getting "A's" in his courses!

    He had NO accredited masters to enter a doc program. He had no languages. His masters was in Bible from LBU and he had a 4.0 grade average in that masters!!

    So why do "lesser" schools exist? Perhaps partly for the Jasons so they too can get advanced degrees without advanced rigor !

    relaxed rigor=more students= more $$
     
    #15 UZThD, Jul 1, 2006
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  16. North Carolina Tentmaker

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    Pastor Robert:

    Back to the subject of Master’s Divinity School, I am enrolled there through the millennium3 program working on my Doctor of Biblical Studies in Pastoral Ministry. I would not call them a degree mill and I believe they are an excellent choice for advancing your education.

    For me this school was a perfect choice. I am a bivocational preacher with a full board of family and ministry obligations. I cannot quit work and go to school full time or relocate. I also am on a tight budget and cannot spend tens of thousands of dollars on a program.

    This is not a Phd program. It will not qualify me to teach at an accredited college. What it will do is make me a better pastor, preacher, and minister. I have a previously earned Masters of Divinity degree but did not have the language requirements for Master’s other programs.

    Master’s offers 4 doctor level degrees: Doctor of Biblical Studies, Doctor of Ministry, Doctor of Theology, and Doctor of Divinity. For me Doctor of Biblical Studies in Pastoral Ministry was the right choice. They describe this program as
    For me this was perfect although I do have a final writing assignment that does not seem very different than a dissertation to me. My previous master’s degree did not include graduate level language study.


    I have completed two classes through MDS and am working on my 3rd. So far I have found them very challenging. I realize this is an unaccredited degree, but I believe it has already made me a more useful servant for Christ.
     
  17. North Carolina Tentmaker

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    Several posters have mentioned the problems of ingrown and unqualified faculty. Just to be fair I applied this rule to MDS. Currently they list 36 course instructers. Of that 36 among their creditials they listed 39 bachelor’s degrees, none of which came from MDS. They listed 43 Master’s degrees, 11 of which came from MDS, and 31 Doctor’s degrees 7 of which came from MDS. That is 18 out of 113 degrees or 16% in house degrees. Among degrees listed there were some ivy leage schools (MA Harvard, MDiv Princeton, BA Yale), there was PhD from Oxford in England (Another PhD was from Sheffield, I am not sure where that is). There were PhD’s from Ohio State, Florida, and Texas A & M. There was MDiv degree from Emory, and several ThM, and ThD degrees from Dallas Theological and Southwest Seminaries.

    I think they qualify as a well rounded faculty.
     
  18. Rhetorician

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    Hopeless?

    UZThD,

    Bill,

    I guess what you, and Dr. Bob, and Broadus, and me, and many others have tried to declare, defend, and define concerning higher education for the 1 1/2 years that I have been on the BB has fallen on deaf ears?!

    All we want, I think, is for all who are called to minister God's Word to God's people is for them to be and to do their very best. We have never meant to impugn anyone's motives or intelligence I know. We may have appeared to be "educational snobs." But, that is not our motivation (or at least not mine).

    Many cannot quit and go off to seminary or Bible College. But as Broadus has so eloquently said on a number of occasions, there is no reason to get a shoddy or quick degree b/c of the INTERNET programs out there.

    Still some persist that the "in house" IBF type "church school" model is all that is needed. One reason I pursued the length and level of education that I did was that I did not want anybody to ever tell me; "Your not qualified to do this or that job;" wherever or whatever it was!!!

    We, as the Evangelical (or IFB churches, whatever you like?) churches will not even grant in some cases that we need as much formal and accredited education as a lawyer, or doctor, or CPA, or any other professional. I really just don't "get it?"

    We want the best surgeon if we are going to have a cancer removed. But, we go to "Rev. Dr. Runamuck" with his "gemme" or "I bought it at K-Mart" doctorate title for our church/ministry training. It is like our young men going into the ministry (or sometimes the older ones too) check their brains at the doors of some "church school" seminaries or IFB "big name doctorate" individual and then turn out looking and sounding just like him.

    I really DO NOT GET IT???????

    Just call me an "educational snob!!!"

    Your Welcome!

    sdg!

    rd
     
    #18 Rhetorician, Jul 1, 2006
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  19. UZThD

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    #19 UZThD, Jul 1, 2006
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  20. Paul33

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    NCT,

    I'm all in favor of you increasing your skill level. I'm glad that MDS is doing that for you.

    The school has been very upfront in one sense by telling you that the "doctorate" program you are in is deficient or inferior to traditional doctorate programs. That is good.

    What does not seem good is going ahead and calling your program a "doctorate" program.

    Considering that you value the program, would you still be enrolled if instead of earning a "doctorate," you received a certificate of biblical studies in pastoral ministry?
     

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