Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Martin, Dec 26, 2006.
Why do some people with real PhDs choose to teach at a school like Trinity College and Seminary?
Who do you have in mind? I clicked on their faculty page and saw a plethora of faces, names, and degree nomenclature, but I saw a link to personal information for only one. I suspect most of these have their doctorates from Trinity or someplace similar.
Also, do these men and women actually teach at Trinity, or are they somehow involved in a mentoring role, or are their resources merely used? Surely Trinity does not have that many faculty members, does it?
Of course, there is one last consideration. While you can hardly appreciate it while you're pursuing a PhD, possessors of PhD's are a "dime a dozen." There are many more than there are openings at accredited institutions. Sometimes folks are involved with a place like Trinity until they can get their foot in a door somewhere else.
I have to echo the last post on this thread. It is indeed hard for PhD's to get teaching positions. I had a parishioner who had a PhD in anthropology from the U of London in England, plus a theological degree, plus post-doctoral studies at U of Kansas and Princeton's Institute for Advanced Studies. He speaks English, French, Lingala, and one other African language (he's from Congo) ... but the best he has been able to do is get adjunct courses occasionally.
I have a colleague who just resigned after 21 years as pastor of a nearby church. He earned a PhD in history from George Washington Univ, but could not get a call to any college or seminary, and so is in the process of qualifying to teach high school social studies.
Hungry people let down their standards sometimes!
My tale is one of grace then according to what has been written here. I have a largely academic DMin. Academic in the sense that it is built upon 39 PhD hrs from a major university in Rhetoric. I always believed that God wanted me to teach. So I pursued a correlative discipline in order that I would not have to move my wife and family across the state or the US in order to do grad work. I did not know of the SA University options at the time or would have done one of those.
Life circumstances took me out of the PhD program. I ended up finishing at The University of the South's (Sewanee) School of Theology with the DMin and wrote a 175 page dissertation--not a DMin project.
What that did for me was to give me two areas in which I could teach grad school, seminary, or college. I have an MDiv w/Languages and an emphasis in Higher Ed. I also have an MAR in the History of Christian Thought. These two areas then are Religion and Communication in all of its iterations such as Speech and Inter-personal in which I can teach. The SACS RA says that you must have one master's degree "in hand" and 18 grad hrs. in the area where you are teaching to qualify.
I had worked for the hospital system here as a Pharm Tech. I was able to be hired at the College the hospital started b/c I could teach in two fields. Most of the profs must "wear two hats" b/c we are so small.
As I was finishing my doctoral work I became aware of the fact that all of the Biblical, Theological, Historical, Linguistic, etc., et al seminary fields were glutted already. If any of you have ever watched what I have tried to consistently tell the young men who want to teach college or seminary it has been this: it is absolutely imperative that you do something to set yourself apart IF you are going out into the academic market.
I was taught that there were three things one could do "to get the job!"
1. Study with someone of renown.
2. Study at a "Big Name" university like Vandy, Harvard, U of Chicago, etc.
3. Or, come up with a new or unique slant as a thesis for one's dissertation.
I was blessed to have mine be the number 4. It was/is only in God's Providence that I was/am able to have a "full-time gig" at an RA college. It has since opened other doors. I have a writing project with one of the Baptist college presidents. I am teaching in the Spring with Liberty on line. I am doing adjunct work also with Union U here close to home. And I am teaching 21 total hours this coming semester in three different venues!!!!! PTL!!!!
It seems that I am the exception rather than the rule! I would like to teach Homiletics from a Rhetorical perspective on the grad school or seminary levels. If that comes then I will praise God for that. But, I will certainly NOT forget the day of small things and do my best to be faithfull where I have been planted.
I say all that to say that it demands a "high pound of flesh" "to stay the course" (forgive the metaphors) in order just to be able to "get the paper work," and then there are no guarantees.
If I can encourage anyone who is on the path then I am glad. If anyone needs to talk with me please send me a PM or post on the BB.
I am here to help and encourage!!!
So to answer the OP so I will be in the ball park: many teach at "diploma mills" and "church schools" etc. because that is the only place where they can find to teach!!!!
If one has a doctorate in a natural science or math and some teaching experience he will have no problem getting a job in a university.
In my field of study they expect at least three to five years of industrial experience and orefer some teaching. I have had four years of high school and junior college. During my doctoral studies I have taught a class each semester. There have been several universities look at me because of my extensive experience in the field.
Personally I have had more impact on the lives of people when I was not pastoring than when I was. When a person becomes a pastor his influence among the people in the world immediately goes down to 1/2 or more. At a secular university I have an incredible opportunity to influence many students each time we meet. I am also able to influence the faculty as God opens their heart.
I truly believe that as time goes by more and more people will be influenced by their freinds and less and less by the churches. Too many rah rah TV preachers are giving good pastors a bad name. Fewer and fewer people are willing to enter a church but are willing to ask their colleague or coworker first. People who are not pastoring have much more influence than those who are pastors. As people become more gospel hardened and closed off from the gospel it wil take an active church to reach them and pray for them.
Martin OP Response!
Back in the day, when I was a lowly "Diploma student," at Mid America Seminary; I was taught to get the necessary "paper work" and go to the secular university to teach. It is one of the greatest "mission fields" there is!:smilewinkgrin:
Maybe some of us ought to consider going there rather than teaching, Bible College, Christian Liberal Arts University/College, Bible training institute, "church school," or Seminary of whatever flavor we prefer?
Oh, but I am sorry!!! If we do that, we will still have to have that "nasty old RA PhD" (or ThD). What a shame? To stand with the worldlings on their own ground we must have the same credentials as they have?!
PS. Don't misread the tone, you know how and why I meant what I said if you have read my posts in the past.:thumbsup:
==After just one semester on a secular University campus, working on my second MA, I could not agree more. And I am not just talking about the students I am also talking about the faculty and staff.
==I abandoned my "hope" to teach at a seminary some time back. There are several reasons for that. One fact is there just simply are not that many jobs in the church history/New Testament fields (mainly among seminaries). Going through all this schooling and then not being able to find a job would not be a good thing. After settling more on the history route I have made the choice to stick with the secular Universities. The simple fact is that a MA in history and a PhD in history, from a secular University, will open more doors than a MA in Church History and a PhD in Church History from a seminary. I have a MA in Religion so, at this point, I don't ""need"" another theology degree. I can focus on this MA and then work toward that all important PhD (while gaining teaching experience). When I am done I would be qualified to teach Church History at a seminary or Christian University/College, or I could teach American History at a secular college/University. Either way this route opens up more doors and that, for me, is one of the most important factors. I also really enjoy history (and always have). I love ancient history, American history, and church history. What I am doing is combining the last two. My main American history interest is the colonial period (the major has to be American history to 1865). I am focusing on religious beliefs/practicies (etc) during that time however I am also getting a good education in early American history. I have also found myself very interested in the first four presidents, their administrations, and their personal religious beliefs (etc). So this is certainly the right route for me. I am sure the Lord is leading and I am happy to follow.
When a Christian teaches in a university he is influencing future leaders in businesses and churches. Some of those students are foreign students who will be influential in their country.
I did not know where to post this so I thought I would stick it on the end of this thread. This semester one of the classes I am taking is the history of race relations in America. Ok, now get this. There are three students in the class, all of whom are white males, and the teacher is a middle aged white guy. This is going to be odd. I have never had a class that small before, and neither has the instructor, and I would have certainly thought this subject would have had more students sign up (and more diversity). Who knows why things turn out the way they do sometimes? I am also taking a class on the Holocaust which starts tomorrow night. The books are interesting but the professor worries me. He is a bit on the weird side (and I am being nice). However the people I have talked to, who have had him for classes, say he is a very good teacher. One lady I talked to about a month ago said she had him for some sort of European history course and by the end of the semester she was in love with the subject (a most unexpected thing). Like all of the other history professors he shares the belief that the graduate student should, by the end of the semester, know the subject almost as well as the instructor. Let's put it this way...today was the first day of classes, and I only had one class today, and I am already drowning in reading. I am also taking a Social Studies Education class online. That is a ten week class and, I am not joking, there is a book to read (and review) each week. I have taken graduate courses at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, I have a MA degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, and I can honestly say that this is the hardest of the three. Not because of the subject, I love history like I love theology, but because of the amount of reading. The number of papers are the same, the number of tests are the same, so the difference is not assignments. The difference is the amount of reading. I am now fully convinced that, from my experience, graduate seminary is not as demanding as secular graduate school. I have heard people make simular comments before and I believe some, on this board, have said that before as well. I wonder why that is? Anybody have any clues?
I had the opposite experience.
I think it varies from course to course and institution to institution. Some studies are practical in nature and others are more academic. At NOBTS, Dr. Stephens' Exegesis of Revelation and Dr. Brown's Old Testament Survey were hard enough to make you reconsider your calling. (slightly joking, but in a social setting, I did tell that to Dr. Brown once.) On the other hand, Youth Recreation was pretty fun and not too demanding other than being treated like teenagers at a weekend camp.
I've noticed people in secular grad schools have the same experience.
I am afraid that some seminaries, especially those like Trinity are less and less demanding. I feel this is all about $$$ and readily accepted by those who feel that seminary should be quick, easy, and convenient.
One guess would be that the prevailing ethos of secular graduate schools is "Weeding out". The elite in the academy do not want too many other competitors, particularly when the market for academic positions is very tight.
But seminaries, at their best, are interested in enabling people to do ministry, and therefore will often put up with marginal academic performance, trying to encourage people to do better, but always intent on retaining them, hoping to motivate them toward excellence. Of course there is always the political factor as well ... I remember a professor saying that he was working to get a student to at least passing grade, because he knew that student would become a pastor, with or without seminary degree, and, should the seminary flunk him, he would badmouth the school for the rest of his career!
Veracity of anecdotal opinions
The first thing is that I would challenge your premise as a general rule. It really depends on too many factors to make a generalization. One must consider the student’s skill in judgment, the different schools, the comparison of disciplines, the student’s aptitudes and abilities, etc. IMHO, it is rather rash to attempt generalizations on the data available from anecdotal accounts.
I do think there is more discipline and rigor inherent in mathematically based subjects. Personally, I did not find secular graduate school very rigorous especially in education and psychology. On the other hand, graduate work in the sciences and mathematics was more demanding for me but it was not unduly taxing. The biggest problem, IMHO, is that girls and partying do not mix well with academics--perhaps seminary discourages this.
Suppose a student who has great language skills and less quantitative abilities attempts secular graduate work in a scientific or technical discipline and later does seminary work. His opinion would probably be that the secular graduate school was harder than seminary. This, however, is a personal perspective due to his aptitude, not the rigor of the programs. On the other hand, I have a good friend who repeatedly failed NT/OT Survey and struggled with English/history but he was a whiz in calculus and engineering. Today, he is a nationally recognized engineer in his specialty and a partner of a substantial consulting engineering firm. Go figure.
Therefore, I contend that we cannot make a broad generalization here.
==I assume you are refering to Trinity College of the Bible and Seminary and not Trinity Evangelical Divinity School?
I certainly do not share the belief that seminary should be "quick, easy, and convenient". While I have no problem with making seminary, or any form of education, "more" convenient it should not be overly convenient. It should never be quick and easy. Neither Liberty nor Southeastern were "quick and easy" but neither demanded "as much" as the program I am in now. Of course this is very relative. Maybe I found seminary to be easier due to the massive amount of time I have spent in personal study (of theology, historical Jesus, etc). I have spent alot of personal study time with general history as well (American, etc) but not as much. So that to some degree "could" account for the difference in my case. I have, however, heard others say simular things. So I don't know.
==This is very much present. For example in my program the grading scale is as follows: A, B, C, F. There are no "D"s, earn two "C"s and you are out of the program, one "F" and you are out of the program. The structure of the program is very tight and, as I said, the professors require students to really grasp the material. I had a course last semester in which the final exam was three questions and we had 60minutes to complete it. You say, big deal. Well this professor wants detailed answers and even said so in the instructions. I managed about three pages per question and I did very well on the exam (A) and in the course (A). Some people did not finish the exam (I suppose they did not believe the professor when he said 60minutes max). Is that kind of thing good? Well it certainly keeps people out of the program and runs out those who can't keep up. If that is the goal then "yes" it is good. If the goal is to get as many people in the program as possible then "no" it is not good. I think they are going with "yes" it is good. I think my program has less than five people in it, but we share classes with the graduate social studies education program and the master of Arts in teaching (history/social studies concentration). So when everyone is added in I suppose the over all program is sort of large.
==That is a factor with any school. I suppose it depends how much importance the school puts on that kind of thing.
I get your point about generalizations and anecdotal accounts. But just to reinforce your idea about different skills and therefore differing perceptions of difficulty ... one of the students at the seminary where I teach on an adjunct basis trained as a lawyer before she came to seminary. After a semester of seminary, she told me she was very disappointed that the seminary was not more rigorous and demanding. I have not heard other students complaining about that! But then they do not come from one of the other learned professions first.
IMHO, this is very variable and depends on individual students. Their goals, abilities, and perceptions give rise to differing opinions about the same program. However, this thread has raised a very valid point, I think. In seminary, we have a mix of students pursuing academic and vocational goals. Because every pastor is expected to have a seminary degree, although he may not be heavily inclined to academics, he is thrown into the mix with people headed for serious and rigorous scholarship. The problem is how to meet the needs and goals of these individuals in the same class. The answer is usually threshold education at the level of the lowest student.
In secular graduate schools, there are disciplines, such as education and social work, which are less academic and more vocational in nature. Also, I think various schools differ in their approaches even to these subjects. The important thing, IHMO, is that each program is clear on its own goals and objectives. Good education can exist at all levels. Basic education is not necessarily inferior to higher education unless it makes claims higher than what it can deliver. For example, a good Bible institute education for people who will never attend seminary is honorable and worthwhile as long as it does not purport to be doctoral level work. What do you think?
Sometimes much less than wonderful work is accepted as passing even in schools thought to be top notch. I received from TREN a ThM thesis which I wanted to read as I found the topic interesting.
The degree was done in one of the cadillac seminaries. The committee chairman, first reader, is a very well known and published systematic theologian. The stage was set for this graduate student ,who had finished the BA, MS, MDiv, and now ThM degrees, to produce a signifcant research project and to report that research in a scholarly form and style .
Instead , while of respectable length ,133 pp, the thesis is filled with, I suppose, typo errors (eary =early ; Colosians=Colossians ; Philipians=Philippians ; Gathrie=Guthrie ;toppical=topical ; enviroment=environment -and others).
Then there is this student's dependence on secondary sources as, eg, defining the Christology of Arius by what Fortman says about Arius instead of reading Arius' personal creed or letters to Eusibius and Alexander.
Then there is the failure to interact with important resources as when the student asserts that no evidence leads one to suppose that monogenes means a begetting without interacting with Buchsell in TDNT or Dahms in Journal of NT Studies arguing from Septuagintal usage.
We all make mistakes, but in this case, IMO, the student should have been advised before the thesis passes to fix the typos, use primary sources, and interact with important literature before asserting conclusions upon which the thesis supposedly is evidenced .