"Preacher," "Doctor," or What?

Publié le par hort

Are All "Doctors" Really Doctors?
 
 By Timothy S. Morton

One doesn't need to be a Christian very long before he realizes the Christian  world is flooded with ministers or other believers calling themselves  doctor." If one picks up a book in a Christian bookstore it is more than  likely written by a "doctor" the obvious "Dr."  prominently associated with  their name. Many speakers on Christian radio sign off as "Dr. So and so", and  many Christians often refer to their favorite "Doctor" preacher when they  want to quote an "authoritative voice." What is the source of this doctor  fixation? Are all "doctors" really doctors? This article will reveal some  facts about doctorates, "preacher doctors" and pretense in Fundamentalism  your author has discovered since he became a Christian over 18 years ago.  
 
What do you mean, "Doctor"?

The term "doctor" in America has come to usually be associated with a medical  doctor. Most realize medical doctors are required to undergo years of  training before the advanced degree of MD or DO is conferred upon them. Only  after fulfilling the extensive academic  requirements of a doctorate in a  university could the person rightly call themselves (or allow others to call  them) "doctor." The same is true of other earned doctorate degrees (Ph.D, etc.). The person became a doctor because he completed the extensive training  and study required to obtain the degree. As a general rule, to obtain a  doctorate one must complete high school (diploma), college (Bachelors.  degree), two years of post-graduate work at a university (Masters degree),  and two more years of post-graduate for a doctorate. Though some may earn the  degree in a shorter time, 20 years of total education is typical for an earned doctorate. An earned doctorate, for the relatively few who choose to  put forth the considerable time, effort and expense to obtain one, carries  with it a high degree of prestige and accomplishment. It is the highest  academic degree offered. Regardless of the persons beliefs, opinions,  sensibility or lack of it, he deserves the title "doctor" for a simple but weighty reason ”The (or she) earned it! Even though many Ph'D's, etc. may be  evolutionists, humanists, hedonists, etc., or  even insane, since they   earned their degree, their doctorate cannot be taken away. Click here to see  what Encyclopedia Britannic says on the subject.  Honorary Degrees

Around 250 years ago some universities began granting a "degree" called an  "honorary doctorate" to persons it wanted to honor or recognize (usually a  dignitary, benefactor, or notable alumni). However, neither the university or  the honoree were gullible enough to believe the honor actually conferred a  full doctorate. The purpose of the honor was simply to recognize a person for  whatever reason, not to grant an instant education. Many times the honor was  bestowed on someone who already had an earned doctorate. Probably the most obvious proof that honorary degrees are not true doctorates is they are now  granted by colleges rather than exclusively by universities. Unlike a  university a college by definition cannot award an earned doctorate (or even  a masters degree) because it doesn't have the curriculum or accreditation to  do so. How could an institution grant an honorary degree when they can't even  confer an earned one! Sure they can give someone a piece of paper to honor them, but only the most conceited, deceived or ignorant would actually  believe this made them a true "doctor." There is little confusion about this  in the secular world. Honorary doctorates are routinely given to political  figures, civic leaders, and others, but to our knowledge none of the secular  honorees refer to themselves as "doctor" or allow others to seriously do so.  
 
Even Bill Clinton with all of his moral weaknesses and deficiencies doesn't  refer to himself as "doctor" even after having an honorary doctorate granted  to him by Oxford University in England! He knows if he did he would not be  taken seriously and ridiculed behind his back (more than he already is!).  Vain and flamboyant country singer, Dolly Parton, was also given an honorary  doctorate by a Southern Baptist college, but does she refer to herself as  "doctor"? Hardly. But give one of these pieces of paper to many  Fundamentalist preachers and what do they do with it? To them it is as  serious as a heart attack. They treat it as if it actually confers a college  education and they are full fledged doctors!  "Preacher," "Doctor," or What?  It came as a shock to us early in our Christian life to discover that many of  the most highly regarded "doctors" in Fundamentalism held only honorary  doctorates. A few were granted by major Christian universities, but many were  from small Bible colleges or obscure Bible institutes (which are usually an  extension of a local church). A far cry from a university. Once we became  aware of the distinction between honorary and earned doctorates we began to  notice that most of the "doctors" at high profile camp meetings, revivals, preacher's schools, and soul winning conferences were doctors in name only.  Some never attended college (not to mention graduate school), and a few did  not even finish high school! Furthermore, the presidents of several leading  Fundamentalist colleges have only honorary degrees (usually given by one of  their cronies at another similar school.), but that doesn't restrain them  from linking "Dr." with their name at every turn and encourage its use in their books, sermons and throughout their ministry! To paraphrase another,  "When a person goes to one of these "Bible Conferences" he is confronted by  so many professing themselves to be doctors one would think God was sick!"  This person also apparently senses the doctor or (appearance of) education  fixation that permeates today's Fundamentalism. It seems everybody wants a  "degree" and when they simply get a piece of paper from one of their buddies  saying they have one they treat it as if it is an actual doctorate. No wonder  a young Christian is lead to believe the same from their vain, self-serving  rhetoric. As the Scriptures proclaim, all are subject to pride and  vainglory's diabolical stranglehold an how preachers tout their phony  doctorates as genuine is a clear manifestation to its validity. "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem  other better than themselves." Phil 2:3

What's The Cause?

What could possess a normally rational man who is born again, called to  preach Jesus Christ, and otherwise scripturally sound to parade around with a  phony doctorate, pretending to be "educated"? What power could cause him to  boast of an attainment he has not attained and allow others to boast for him?  The same universal vices that caused Lucifer to fall, pride and envy. The  Bible bluntly says this "pride of life" is not of God, "...and the pride of  life, is not of the Father, but is of the world" (1 Jn. 2:16), and envy is  clearly ungodly. But this doesn't affect them. They apparently justify their  indulgence in their mind with self serving reasoning. One of their reasonings  is the institution which granted them the "doctorate" must have felt them  "qualified" or it would not have given it, but this argument is forced.  First, the only way to qualify for an earned doctorate is to finish the  requirements! Second, the "doctorate" is honorary by its very name. It is  called a "doctorate" because it is given by an educational institution which  confers true doctorates, their highest earned degree. If honorary doctorates  make a person a true doctor, then an auctioneer who is given a certificate  calling him "colonel" must also be a true colonel; a commissioned officer in  the US military! Another argument is, even though the person doesn't have the

required academic education for a doctorate they earned one through "life  experience," but this is still invalid and self indulgent. The person may  have a wealth of "life experience" that equips him for certain aspects of  Christ's ministry much better than most Ph.D's, but that still ignores the  fact he hasn't completed the required education for a true doctorate. Would you want to have surgery performed on you or a loved one by a true medical  doctor who graduated from a university or by someone who has "life  experience" only and no degree? Probably the most desperate argument is "A  doctors degree will further my ministry and open doors" implying it will help  Christ's ministry. But Christ's ministry when He was on earth was not tainted  by pretense, half-truths, and deception. Christ made no false claims to  "education" or position but said humbling things like, "For whosoever  exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be  exalted" (Luke 14:11), and "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this  little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 18:4).  Sayings that tear at the very root of the modern unearned doctorate craze.  When pressured some will admit their degree is honorary (but that doesn't  stop them from using it), others, however, seem to actually believe they hold  the advanced degree and resent anyone who questions it. What we are  addressing here is academic attainment and not necessarily spirituality,  ability or consecration. Some preachers with Ph.D's are so dry and lifeless  in their manner and deficient in common sense and sound doctrine that they  are little help to anyone. On the other hand a preacher with an eighth grade  education can have more insight into the Scriptures, a better understanding  of God's will, and a superior manner of preaching and presentation than some  men with two earned doctorates. Some of the best preaching I have ever heard  came from men with less than a high school education. Education is no  substitute for a humble heart, diligent study, or godly zeal.

Education :  ‘One Of The "gods"?

It has been said "The three greatest "gods" of America are money, sex, and  education in that order." We believe this observation to be accurate. Notice  the third god is not knowledge but education. Though many treat the terms as synonymous, there is a distinction. "Knowledge" refers more to what is known  or can be known, "Education," though, refers more to going through a course  of study with the intention of learning something. However, it is possible (and even common) one could go through many courses of study and yet have  very little useful knowledge (the proverbial "egghead") or one could have  little or no academic "education" and have considerable, useful knowledge.  The Lord, with full knowledge but no "education," is an example of the  latter. Upon hearing Christ's words the Jews (likely the Scribes and  Pharisees) said, "How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" (John 7:15). They saw He had knowledge, but no accepted (accredited, etc.)  education. Even in those days education in itself was a "god." They  considered their own Messiah (and his disciples, Acts 4:13) unlearned. That  many Fundamentalists treat honorary degrees as true doctorates is a result of  a similar view on education as the Pharisees. They are saying, in effect, one  cannot have true knowledge without an approved, recognized education. But some Fundamentalists take this farther. They reason, if one cannot get a real  education, the appearance of one is the next best thing. Enter the vain, self-serving abuse of the honorary doctorate.  
 
Are All Earned Degrees Earned?

Another deceptive, tactic used by some "schools" and preachers is the schools  grant degrees that are usually considered earned with minimal or almost no  academic requirements. Dr. Ron Powell [who holds two fully earned doctorates  and whose works can be found on this site] said more than once he has  encountered preachers who have received "doctorates" from one of these  "diploma mills." One told him, "the ONLY requirement was one book with a minimum of 100 pages and $600." Another told him much the same. This is  supposed to qualify the candidate for a "Doctor of Theology" (Th.D) degree?  Nonsense, pure nonsense. There is a lot more to a true doctorate than a short  book and some money. Just ask someone who has really earned one! Brother  Powell also said, "As for myself having two earned Doctorates, I feel very  badly when being introduced at meeting as "Dr. Ron Powell". I feel sick  because when they say, "Dr. Powell", they are innocently putting me into a  class of vain, proud, and egotistical preachers that I wish not to be  associated with. I just tell the Pastors to introduce me as "Brother Powell".  I really do feel so bad because everyone is a doctor these days. I do not  want to be catagorized with that bunch of prideful, self-righteous, pin-headed preachers." Clearly, the lust for "doctorates" so common today has  tainted the whole concept of "higher education" even for those who have truly  earned them! One would not normally think that supposedly honest, "godly,"  and "blameless" ( Imagine one of these egotistical Pharisees saying one is  not qualified for the ministry if he has had more than one wife! The Holy  Spirit said "blameless" before he said "husband of one wife," 1 Tim. 3:2!) Bible Believing, Fundamental preachers would resort to such deceitful  measures as desiring honorary or phony "earned" doctorates, but sadly, it is  true. They deceive their churches, brethren, and most of all, themselves! Not  to mention they demean the entire concept of doctorates for those who truly  earned them. Want to cut through the facade and see the true colors of one of  these fellows? Just begin to question his qualifications for his coveted, beloved "doctorate." What you see may not be very pretty, but you will then  realize why this subject is a "Taboo Topic."

Appendix  
 
[These are only the degrees we presently know of, we are sure there are  several more.]
A
Earned Degrees
Phony, Unearned "Degrees"
Doctor of Philosophy, [Ph.D.]
Doctor of Theology, [Th.D.]
Doctor of Religious Education, [D.R.E.]
Doctor of Ministry, [D.Min.]
Doctor of Education, [Ed.D,] Doctor of Divinity, [D.D.]
Doctor of Letters, [D.Ltts.]
Doctor of Literature, [D.Litt.]
Doctor of Humanities, [D.Hum.]
Doctor of Civil Law, [D.C.L.]

Notable Preachers With Only Unearned Honorary Doctorates Jack Hyles

John R. Rice
Jerry Falwell
Billy Graham
Curtis Hudson
Robert Sumner
Oliver B. Greene
J. Vernon McGee Plus many, many other preachers who are not nationally known.  [Again, we are not commenting on the spiritually, ability, consecration, or  ministry of those with honorary doctorates. Some of them have very effective  ministries and have been used of God. God will often use people in spite of  their faults and sins, but that is still no justification for self-serving  deception.]
 

Pimpin' Ain't Easy: The New Face of the Black Church
By Jasmyne Cannick,
New America Media, 
Oct 11, 2005
 
Editor's Note: The new black church is marked by its superstar pastors, multi-million dollar budgets and newfound affinity for the Republican Party.

"We're not just a church, we're an international corporation. We're not just a bumbling bunch of preachers who can't talk and all we're doing is baptizing babies. I deal with the White House. I deal with Tony Blair. I deal with presidents around this world. I pastor a multimillion-dollar congregation. You've got to put me on a different scale than the little black preacher sitting over there that's supposed to be just getting by because the people are suffering." --Bishop Eddie Long, New Birth Missionary Church, Lithonia, Ga., August 2005.

The sad thing is, he's right.

Today's New Black Church is the offspring of the civil rights era, but can easily be identified by its debatable and sometimes laughable theology, superficiality, greed, materialism, heavy involvement in politics, tricked-out arena sized church, 10,000 or more member congregation and of course its superstar pastor.

Plainly put, today's black church is not your grandma's church.

No longer content with selling baked goods and holding parking lot sales that bring in few dollars, today's New Black Church hosts revivals that cater to thousands and produces blockbuster movies that bring in millions. From old-school nurses' boards to new-school communications directors, the New Black Church now employs hundreds of full-time professionals each year. It looks more like a Fortune 500 company than the little black church that is only "baptizing babies."

Refusing to be courted by politicians during the election season only, the New Black Church has cut out the middleman and has become a force to be reckoned with by dealing directly with the White House year-round.

Having descended from being the visionary voice and leader for millions of black Christians, the New Black Church has reached out and made new and bold alliances, most notably the newfound love between today's black pastors and President George W. Bush.

After being cajoled by controversial conservative Lou Sheldon, dozens of superstar black pastors declared their support for President Bush's Faith-Based Initiative at a special summit of black religious leaders in Los Angeles last February. At that meeting, they chose Lou Sheldon, a white religious conservative leader to speak on their behalf, even though they were black pastors who had assembled at a black church in Los Angeles to talk about messaging to black people.

Understanding the weakness of today's superstar pastors -- that being greed -- President Bush's Faith Based Initiative has successfully solicited and co-opted black pastors. He has single-handedly paved the way for the wooing of blacks over to the GOP camp under the guise of protecting marriage, allowing prayer in schools and eliminating abortions for women, creating a moral panic within black America.

Today's New Black Church has become a pimp for Bush's agenda for blacks.

Yet, however blatant Long's comments are, they, like many other superstar pastors' comments and actions, continue to go unchallenged by the rest of black America.

"But I do think that the vote is up for grabs in a way that it has not been traditionally. And so, we have often suffered from the Democratic Party, who assumed that they had our vote, and the Republican Party, who assumed that they couldn't get our vote."
--Bishop T.D. Jakes on CNN's Paula Zahn Now, February 2005.

Obviously fearful of losing the support of the New Black Church, black Democratic officials and civil rights leaders have offered no opposition to the New Black Church.

Meanwhile, Bush continues to refuse to meet with black civil rights leaders, but has met with the superstar pastors on more than one occasion.

Having conquered the media, entertainment arena and now the White House, superstar pastors are poising themselves for their greatest challenge yet: running for political office. With the right support, timing and enough money to back a successful campaign, it's not that far-fetched to expect to see superstar pastors catapult themselves into public office, on the GOP ticket.

In February, civil rights activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson, while speaking at Tavis Smiley's "State of the Black Union" held at Bishop Eddie Long's church in suburban Atlanta, cautioned black pastors to not be distracted by "non-budget, private morality issues."

Millions of blacks were duped into voting for a president who used "non-budget, private morality issues" to distract an entire community from the issues that affect the lives of all blacks, like access to health care, education, employment, eradicating HIV/AIDS and protecting Social Security.

Black leaders need to return from their vacations and address this issue head-on with the New Black Church, lest we see a repeat of the 2004 presidential election in 2008.

PNS contributor Jasmyne Cannick, 27, is a Los Angeles-based writer of political and social commentary. She can be reached via her Web site, www.jasmynecannick.com
 




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