All "Doctors" Really Doctors?
Preachers and the "Honorary Doctorate"
What do you mean, "Doctor"?
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
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.
The term "doctor"
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 a minimum of two
more years [usually more] of post-graduate for a doctorate.
Though some may earn the degree in a shorter time, 20 years of total
education is a typical minimum for 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—he (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.
to see what
Encyclopedia Britannic says on the subject.
Around 250 years
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
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
It came as a
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 doctorsone
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.
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
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!
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 thatstill
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.
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 buteducation.
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)
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.
All Earned Degrees Earned?
tactic used by some "schools" and preachers is the schools grant
degrees that are usually considered earned with minimal
or almost no academic requirements. One missionary we know who hold an earned doctorate said he has encountered several 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!
The missionary also
said, "As for myself having two earned Doctorates, I feel very badly
when being introduced at meeting as "Dr". I feel sick
because when they say, "Dr", 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". 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 thetrue
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
are only the degrees we presently know of, we are sure there are
several more. Also some of the designations of phony degrees
America may be legitimate in Europe and other parts of the world]
Doctor of Theology, [Th.D.]
Doctor of Religious Education, [D.R.E.]
Doctor of Ministry, [D.Min.]
Doctor of Education, [Ed.D,]
Doctor of Letters, [D.Ltts.]
Doctor of Literature, [D.Litt.]
Doctor of Humanities, [D.Hum.]
Doctor of Civil Law, [D.C.L.]
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.]