Why Earn a PHD?

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Jamal5000, Jun 30, 2002.

  1. Jamal5000

    Jamal5000
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    In the area of theology and Christianity, what can earning a Ph.D do for you?

    Several pastors that I know frown on ministers with Ph.Ds (let alone Th.Ds and D.Mins) because they automatically see them as believeing that those degree holders consider themselves as above the "less educated" ministers.

    What do you think?

    [​IMG] Jamal5000
     
  2. TomVols

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    A Ph.D. or Th.D. will simply give you more education and be what you make it. Most people I know that have those degrees will tell you that these do not necessarily make them better ministers (D.Mins do that) but that the research doctoral degrees are very academic in nature. Still, if you have had a solid M.Div., and want to go for a research doctoral degree, do it.
     
  3. Rev. Joshua

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    The reasons to get a Ph.D./Th.D. (the only difference is that the latter is awarded by a seminary, the former by a university - Southern found a way around this) in any discipline:

    - a desire to do focused research at the graduate level
    - a professional goal of teaching at the post-secondary level
    - a desire to publish or contribute in other ways to the scholarly community
    - a masochistic desire to make very little money for several sleepless years after seminary

    Traditionally, clergy have been rather bookish sorts anyway, and so more of them entered Ph.D. programs than could be accomodated by the number of available faculty (in a ratio far higher than in other disciplines - although the ratio of Ph.D.'s in the humanities to teaching jobs is ridiculous across the board). Often this was a matter of the best students sticking around seminary for another four or five years.

    Lo and behold, when the finally finished they got paid more as pastors than the folks with B.D.'s (or - later - M.Div.'s). Suddenly, it seemed like a good idead for local pastors who had no interest in the four reasons above to get Ph.D.'s.

    Of course, competitive Ph.D. programs are very tough to get into (Emory often has 250+ applicants for about 15 slots if I remember correctly) and they don't really meet the needs of your average pastor - enter the D.Min.

    Studies do show that pastors with D.Min.'s or higher make considerably more money than those with M.Div.'s. Personally, I think that's the primary motivation for the degree for many clergy.

    Joshua
     
  4. Jamal5000

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    Thank you for responding, TomV. What is the difference between theological degrees in Ph.D., Th.D, and D.Min? Isn't the D.Min more of a practicum type doctorate?

    [​IMG]
     
  5. swaimj

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    A D.Min (doctor of ministry) used to be called a Master of Ministry. Hardly anyone earned the degree. When they changed it to Doctor of Ministry it became very popular. ;) A D.Min is more of a practical degree for pastors. It is not for one wishing to teach in an academic setting.
     
  6. Rev. Joshua

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    Yup. A D.Min. is a professional degree (like an M.D., a D.V.M., a J.D., a D.O., etc.) It teaches you how to do something.

    A Ph.D./Th.D. is a terminal, research degree. To get one, you study something very closely and do original research in the discipline.

    On the nuts & bolts side, a D.Min. generally requires several years of ministry experience and a B average for admission, one to two years of coursework, and a ministry project. Concentrations are often pastoral care, church administration, homiletics, mission and evangelism, etc.

    A Ph.D. usually requires solid GRE scores (I've seen people in the 95th+ percentile get turned down from the more competitive programs), an A average, and no ministry experience. Generally it involves two-three years of coursework, reading proficiency in as many as five additional languages (but a minimum of two), comprehensive exams (often to include one outside discipline) and a dissertation (which takes on average 2-3 years). Concentrations are generally things like: Hebrew Bible, New Testament, Church History, Comparative Religions, etc.

    Joshua
     
  7. TomVols

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    One thing I'd add...the D.Min programs at the best seminaries are now becoming a bit more scholarly (Since you must be able to interact critically in order to minister practically) and the Ph.D programs at the best seminaries are now becoming a bit more practical since there are far more terminal research degreed folks than there are teaching positions. Some people frown on D.Mins. That's stupid. They don't give those things away. And we should not assume that the Ph.D. person can't preach or be a pastor.
    If you are looking towards the pastorate or a church staff position, but also have an interest in the theological disciplines, earning a Th.M. after your M.Div. may be a good idea. Then you can do the D.Min once you get about 3 years experience under your belt in ministry. I believe we should watch for external Ph.D programs to be offered by legitimate seminaries very soon though. Whatever degree you earn, get an education and experience.
     
  8. TomVols

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    Joshua brought up about the GRE scores. I know of seminaries that ask for a GRE score before they'll send you an application. :eek:
     
  9. Baptist Believer

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    That's true most of the time, but once I made the mistake of checking up on the doctoral dissertation of a preacher friend of mine who is a high-ranking SBC leader. (He always insisted he be called "Dr. XXXXXX" which irritated me, but I accepted it since he worked so hard on his degree.) I discovered he actually got his D.Min. in the Religious Education department. He didn't do a dissertation, but rather a project -- a series of sermons on tithing. His sermon series project was poorly written and contained bad theology ("God loves obedient children best") and a slightly watered down Oral Roberts-type of "seed faith" prosperity gospel.

    Yet, Southwestern Seminary gave him a D.Min degree. I don't call him "Dr. XXXXXX" anymore...

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Bugman

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    Duplicate post deleted - TomVols, Moderator.

    [ July 01, 2002, 10:29 AM: Message edited by: TomVols ]
     
  11. Bugman

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    If you are becomming a pastor to get a lot of money your in the wrong Job. I don't think you need a degree to be a pastor. None of the aposles had formal training but learned as they spent time with Christ, Spurgeon had no formal training. A bunch of letters after a person's name will nto make a better pastor then a person God has chosen to work through to guide his flock.

    Bugman
     
  12. Baptist Believer

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    Very true. Being a pastor should not be a profession but a calling. I know too many professional ministers who are chasing after more money, perks and larger churches. This was made very clear to me once when I was pastoring a very small church in Central Texas. (When I arrived we had an average attendance of 5 on sunday morning.) After 20 months of ministry (I earned nearly $300 a month plus a parsonage for a full-time position) I needed to leave to continue my education. The church was one of the finest experiences in my life. God greatly honored us and average attendance on sunday mornings grew to around 30-35 when I left.

    Yet I had numerous ministers look down on the church when I extended invitations to preach.

    I learned more about ministry there than in any other church. I also learned not to tie my self-worth to church attendance, budgets or buildings, but on faithfulness to God's calling.

    While I certainly did not get rich during that time (my bank account declined dramatically during that period) my life was transformed by the experience. I saw people gain faith in God's work in their town, I saw a few families come to faith in Christ and I had a few supernatural encounters which demonstrated to me that I was in the center of God's perfect will for my life.

    Yes, but Christians are called to prepare. Christ Himself did not start His ministry until He was 30 -- He apparently prepared Himself. Paul prepared Himself before beginning his public ministry. The 12 walked with Jesus for 3 years.

    If you go to school just to get a degree you are wasting your time. If you go to learn and prepare to serve God more effectively, God can use to enhance your ministry. It doesn't hurt to sharpen you axe if you're going to cut wood!

    [ July 01, 2002, 12:53 AM: Message edited by: Baptist Believer ]
     
  13. Brother_Joey_Gowdy

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    Just remember :

    God is no respector of persons

    and :

    God hid Himself form the wise and reviels Himself unto babes

    :D
     
  14. Aki

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    every teacher of God's word should know as much as possible about God's word. if it is through the bible school that he attains that knowledge, then he should go to the bible school. the credit, however, of a doctorate degree should not make a pastor be treated better than other pastors, nor should it be a basis for pride, additional recognition, nor additional salary. there are some tendencies in some churches to introduce a pastor based on educational attainment, implying that the hearers are going to be blessed because the upcoming preacher has studied much. i'm disgusted by that. a preacher was called by God to preach, and that alone is the basis that gives him the right to preach in the church where God puts him, and no member of a church should treat a better-educated pastor better, for, in the end, all their rights to stand at the front and teach came only from God's calling. indeed that is how God sees it and that is the way we should look at it too.
     
  15. HankD

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    Dear Jamal,

    There is another way of looking at this.

    If God has supplied the individual seeking a PhD with the resource, the time, the talent, the intelligence and the inclination to study and be the best he/she can be in His service, why not go for it (prayer assumed)?

    An earned PhD means sacrifice and hard work.

    If it wern't for such talented scholarship we wouldn't have an English Bible.

    Is pride a risk? of course, but we all know that pride is also a risk for those not qualified for a PhD.

    HankD

    [ July 01, 2002, 09:56 AM: Message edited by: HankD ]
     
  16. Jamal5000

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    Thank you for responding, Bugman. If I do earn a doctorate, I would use it in order to increase my awareness of a particular field (probably Christian Education or Church Administration) because I would like the analytical and research skills that you develop during the degree process.

    Then again, I guess that just comes with experience, right?

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Jamal5000

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    Th.M..I've heard of that, Tom, but I do not know a thing about it. What differentiates that one from the M.Div. and Th.D?

    [ July 01, 2002, 10:11 AM: Message edited by: Jamal5000 ]
     
  18. TomVols

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    Bapt Believer,
    You're onto something there. As John Piper's new book points out from the title, "Brothers, We Are Not Professionals." Some preachers have gotten too big for their spiritual britches. I don't know if education does that to them per se. I tend to believe it's a selfish pride that can come from many places.
    One thing about Southwestern. I was a bit suprised to hear that. I have a some good friends who started out in the Ph.D. programs there or at other places and because they were called to a church, did a D.Min instead from there or Southern and to a person said that the D.Min was more challenging and required more of them. (Besides, I'm a Southern guy, so I'd believe that about Southwestern!) :D
     
  19. TomVols

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    Bugman,
    You brought up Spurgeon and I'll bring up Moody as men who received no formal ministry training. But both men started Bible colleges to train pastors and missionaries. Think about it. [​IMG]
     
  20. TomVols

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    Th.M..I've heard of that, Tom, but I do not know a thing about it. What differentiates that one from the M.Div. and Th.D?</font>[/QUOTE]A Th.M. is a research oriented degree which is between the M.Div. and the Ph.D./Th.D. It's structured much like a Ph.D./Th.D., but usually can be completed in only about a year (Ph.D./Th.D.s take about 3-4) and requires a shorter thesis. More schools offer Th.M. also.
     

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