Friday, June 13, 2008

Pseudo-Doctorates and the New SBC President

The moderate Baptist blogosphere is sounding off over the last 24 hours about the new president of the SBC, Johnny Hunt, pastor of the FBC Woodstock, Georgia. It appears that Hunt is regularly introduced as "Dr." Hunt although his only credentials for such are 2 honorary doctorates at "diploma mill" type schools. One is an honorary "Doctor of Divinity" from Immanuel Baptist Theological in Sharpsburg, Georgia and the other is an honorary "Doctor of Sacred Laws and Letters" from the shady Covington Theological Seminary in Georgia.

Examples of two blogs have gone into some more detail about this:

The most complete discussion of it is by Robert Parham on Here's the link:

I won't repeat what they have said. However, I will say this. I have always had a little bit of uneasiness about honorary doctorates. Of course, they are meant to be just that, "honorary." They do serve as a way for a university or college to award a donor or someone who has been supportive of that university.

However, shouldn't the title "Dr." should only be used to introduce someone if that person has earned the degree from a reputable, accredited research institution of higher learning. My Ph.D. from Baylor University took me 5 years to complete. I had to do three years of seminar work, pass a language exam, take 5 comprehensive exams over the field of religion in a two-week period of time, research and produce a prospectus for the dissertation and then work for approximately a year and a half on my dissertation. Following all that, I had a 2 hour oral defense of my dissertation before a select number of faculty members at Baylor University.

There is something inherently dishonest or at least unethical when a person allows the title "Dr." to be placed in front of their name if they haven't earned the degree through the doing the hard work. And, especially this is the case if the degree is an "honorary" degree from a diploma mill!

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