To do the Phd or not to do the Phd? That is the question

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Rhetorician, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. Rhetorician

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  2. preachinjesus

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    It's a decent article that hits a lot of the rudimentary issues behind getting a PhD. As someone who has one, it is a good initial step for interested parties. I am, however, convinced that these kinds of articles also need to speak practically about what a PhD brings someone professionally and honestly about the lack of proliferation of positions avialable to PhDs, especially non-first tier ones like SBTS and others.

    Anyhoo it's a good article, thanks for sharing it. :)
     
  3. glfredrick

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    I have worked hand-in-hand with all the Doctors in that article over the past decade and more. I've also seen a lot of fellows and a few ladies step up to do a Ph.D. and they were not ready nor qualified. Their writing in some cases was below bachelor's level (or worse)! They seemed to be adverse to reading and study as well. I also found (for the most part) that D.Min. students were worse, many being pastors who expected their church secretary or their wife to do a lot of the heavy lifting for them.

    If books, writing, critical thought, and an ability to capture all of that in a manner where a lengthy document is both coherent and cohesive are not your forte, then by all means do not pursue a Ph.D. I am of a mind that one ought read somewhere in the neighborhood of 3-5 books a week, practice at least two languages, and be ready to write 20 cited pages a week at a minimum before even considering the task.
     
  4. PilgrimPastor

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    WOW, I wonder how many Ph.D.'s live up to that standard. I did the D.Min. and I do my own heavy lifting ... :) ... but I don't doubt your appraisal as I know many... too many... Pastors...
     
  5. Martin

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    Good article. I am of the conclusion the PhD should only be for those going into academic fields. Those going into the ministry should pursue a MDiv and DMin. However anyone earning a PhD from a seminary who thinks that degree will get them a job in academics is, for the most part, dreaming. The humanities is one of the most difficult areas in which to obtain a teaching position (full time).
     
  6. Martin

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    ==I agree. However being able to read 3-5 books per week is not something that I view as productive. I read a great deal. Some books I read fast while other books I read really slow. For example, I have been nursing "Empire of Liberty" by Gordon Woods since March. I will read from it for a few days then put it away to pursue a topic mentioned in the book. It is much more important to learn the subject than to get through the book fast. That said, when I did my MA/History each class required we read (and write a scholarly review of) at least one or more books per week plus lengthy articles. When I did my MA/Religion (started as MDiv at SEBTS finished as MA at LU) that was not the case. The reading requirements were much lower at seminary. Those preparing to do the PhD should be better prepared.
     
  7. glfredrick

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    I had to read at that level to complete my Advanced M.Div. at Southern with a normal class load. Ware's course on Biblical Theology required a book a week for the semester. He taught it like he teaches his doctoral seminar. Only difference is that we were not required to do a critical review ON PAPER (had to present orally in class) which the Ph.D. cohort would have had to do.

    Of course, most did not keep up with that reading level and a lot of them sort of skated by. They may have a diploma, but they lost the advantage of pouring in the scholarship that comes from that level of work accomplished.

    I'm still on that pace by the way... I don't know another way to stay current and informed. Reading like that is only "unproductive" if it takes all one's time to accomplish it. I do that with a 60 hour work week and now with a church to pastor on top of my secular work. It is a gift!
     
  8. PilgrimPastor

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    How can you possibly keep up with that if you have a family? Even a need to sleep would interfere.
     
  9. Martin

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    ==In my experience, and in talking with others, that is a rare thing. Seminary has a reputation of being much less academically demanding than regular graduate level programs. Dr. Ware is to be highly recommended for requiring such academic rigor in his MDiv classes.


    ==I'm sure that happens at the best of schools. However one thing I noticed in my MA/History program was that those who did not keep up with the readings generally did not do well and were dropped from the program because they made a C or below in a class. Many graduate level programs in the social sciences require graduate students to not just sit and take notes but to be an active part of the class. Usually we sat in a circle and each student would lead the discussion at least once in the semester. If you don't read the material that is just not going to work out well for you.

    ==I can't read that much and get anything out of it (to be honest). I tend to take notes while I read and do further research on topics that interests me. That pulls me away from the book to other books/articles. Sure, I could plow through several books per week but I just don't believe I would get the same thing from them. It is all about preference though. Some people, like yourself, would probably bore yourself to sleep if you tried my pace. But hey, we each do what works best for us.
     
  10. glfredrick

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    I read rather fast and have great retention. I'm over 750 WPM at 90% on tests and no, I do not "speed read" in the normal way that people do that. I tend rather to read entire pages or paragraphs at a time. Just look at it, see it, assimilate it, then move to the next. Certainly much faster than I can explain it. :laugh:

    I can read the entire text of a car magazine in under 10 minutes then discuss the articles. Difficult reading like theology, philosophy, original languages, propositional arguments, formulae, etc., slows me down considerably, but I can still process the information rather quickly.

    And, my family knows that I read most of the time when I am not doing other things. I have 4-6 books going at any given time so wherever I am I just pick up that one and continue.

    Like I said, it is a gift and I surely do appreciate it and give thanks for it.
     
  11. preachinjesus

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    A valid question, my reply would be that if you can't keep up while faithfully maintaining family and job responsibilities than a PhD probably isn't for you.

    It is a serious degree for serious intellectuals.

    I'd also point out that a basic MDiv (even one with preliminary language requirements) isn't adequate for a PhD. You need to consider a ThM or other research based Masters degree before applying. The rigor will aid you I'm your studies.
     
  12. PilgrimPastor

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    Fair enough. I read a lot and write a lot but not 5 books a week. I'm not in the market for a PhD but not because I can't "hang" with the big dogs... More specifically, because I can effect a greater ministry, in my context, by writing in the public venues I presently write in. That is a good question to ask oneself "do I need a PhD for greater kingdom service or can I invest that energy in other areas for more kingdom effectiveness."
     
  13. preachinjesus

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    Well that should be a foundational question for any venture into academia. We've got a weird degree-crazy culture right now. One is only justified in their work or has something to show for it if they have a degree reflecting that work. Though degrees are important, they aren't the sole arbiter of knowledge.

    Theological PhDs are, rightly, rigorous degrees based in research and, usually, have little application for every day ministry situations. (That's not to say they don't aid those in ministry, I have a PhD and am in full time ministry in a local church.) One of difficulties is that most people don't care about the differences between topics like infralapsarianism and supralapsarianism, or classical foundaitonalism and weak foundationalism. They are important, but most folks in our pews and chairs just need encouragement and basic exortation. :)
     
  14. preachinjesus

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    As one who has a PhD and is in full time ministry I would gently object to your (otherwise) fine post at the point that I should have gotten a DMin.

    All the DMin programs I considered were so ridiculously simple I would have been better off getting an MBA and then an EdD. I have little respect for modern DMin programs particularly as they, at least to me, seem to be just one way for a guy to get DR in front of his name with little actual effort. Just the other day I perused two DMin projects completed in the last year and was appalled by their lack of critical engagement or any evidence of development of significant thought. Their conclusions were just terrible and you couldn't figure out how they reached their conclusions...I need to stop, this is how passionate I get against DMins.

    Maybe a better degree for ministry practitioners would be a combo of ThM and EdD in educational/organizational leadership (something I seriously considered.) Anyhoo, I'll leave it at that...:)
     
  15. glfredrick

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    I have seen similar... (And that is after working with over 100 D.Min. students on their projects.) Some are worthy projects that advance the field of knowledge through very useful field work. Many are along the lines of "How to grow the Sunday school program at podunk Baptist" with as little authentic scholarship as possible.

    But, that is how the degree is set up, and that is also why it does not carry the weight that a Ph.D. carries, not to mention that some schools will not allow someone with a D.Min. onto the faculty as a tenured professor. Lots of individual cases that are different, I know, but in general this is true.
     
  16. PilgrimPastor

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    As the possessor of a DMin I am half in agreement with you and very sympathetic to your comments. My DMin coursework was challenging, but I will admit that my project that I am presently doing could be as in depth or as light as I make it. Perhaps that is less true of a PhD dissertation? I've been researching the problem of pain and suffering in light of providence and intend to complete a substantive project, BUT in investigating other projects I found that for every solidly produced one there is one on how to do Sunday School.

    On the other hand though, that's the purpose of the DMin; a professional degree in ministry. Perhaps the problems you point out have much more to do with those earning the degrees than they do with the degree itself? I would like to see more advance credits from a DMin into an EdD program.
     
  17. Martin

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    ==I think you raise a very valid point. Goes back to what I was saying about my experience with two seminaries at the graduate level.
     

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