James White’s eternal doctorate: And what’s yours worth?

James White’s blog aomin.org is my favourite, especially his podcast “The Dividing Line.” Alas, owing to the haaaalidays, there have been no podcasts, and so I’ve been feeling rather forlorn.

What I want to talk about here is White’s Doctorate obtained from the unaccredited “Columbia Evangelical Seminary.” (See “Of Doctorates and eternity”

Before I talk about the besmirching of White’s degree, let me say something about degrees in general. Did you know that some accredited universities in the US accept doctoral students from certain countries and when they graduate their degree contains the stipulation that it is not valid in the US?

When I was teaching at Fort Hare University (Nelson Mandela studied there – whoopee), one of the junior lecturers in the (English) Department said he was going to the US for 18 months to do an M.A. I said to him: “Eighteen months! Why don’t you do two or three?”

I know several South African graduates from accredited British Universities, who couldn’t explain what their dissertations/theses were about, and never published, and will – if I’ve got nothing to do with it – never ever be able to publish in an accredited journal.

Back to James White. What counts, as White, correctly points out, not exactly in these words, that if you can’t DO, your piece of paper is not even worth the doo-doo you wiped it on. And James White sure can do. So all you Arminians and Muslims (now not only James, but me as well, has put his foot in it), put that in your pipe and smoke it.

But hey, James, you too are not exactly snow white. Remember that time you cocked a snook from your underground bunker at Liberty University at Ergun Caner’s PhD from the “University of South Africa.” Now, it is you who is being horrible. Of course, I know that if you knew (and knew me) that I did my teacher’s diploma and B.A. Honours (French) there, you would have been more – as the Apostle Peter admonishes – gentle and respectful.

There’s another South African University tucked away in the cute North-Western town of Potchefstroom (formerly “Potchefstroom University,” now “North West University”). As far as Christian theology goes, especially Reform theology, Potch is high up there. Ask any Dutchman. Mike Licona sometimes hangs out there.

“Mike has a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies (University of Pretoria). He completed all requirements “with distinction” and the highest marks. He is a frequent speaker on university campuses, churches, Christian groups, retreats, frequently debates, and has appeared as a guest on dozens of radio and television programs. He is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Institute for Biblical Research, and the Society of Biblical Literature. Mike is currently the president of Risen Jesus ministries and serves as an external research collaborator, Faculty of Theology, North-West University (Potchefstroom).”

Now James, or any other (North) American, don’t diss North West University (Potch), ’cause I did my M.A. there. En passant, I also have a Ph.D. (applied linguistics – so now I am qualified to do something with it) from a South African University, the University of Cape Town. Stop it! Didn’t you know that the first successful heart transplant was done there? True, the patient, a Jewish grocer, Louis Washkansky , only lived on for 18 days.

Viva University of Cape Town, viva Potchefstroom University – and vivaaaa Columbia Evangelical Seminary. And viva all Calvinists, Jewish and otherwise.

14 thoughts on “James White’s eternal doctorate: And what’s yours worth?

    • I repost my comment on SlimJim’s site and his response.

      on January 17, 2013 at 12:11 am | Replybography

      I am most grateful to you for putting me on to this thesis. I am interested to see whether the writer says anything about Lewis’ view of “myth” and how it relates to the historicity of scripture, for example, the singular (in both senses of the word) creation of Adam.

      Talking of Pretoria, did you know that if you had to register there as a student, they would call you (in English) “Clever Jim.”

      Say after me: “Ek is baie slim” – I am very clever.

      on January 17, 2013 at 11:35 am | ReplySLIMJIM
      Haha. When I called myself Slim Jim I didn’t know what it meant in what I presume to be Afrikan? I just noticed that you have written much about C.S. Lewis on your blog and they deserve to be read. I’m going to have a look!

  1. Caner has a “Th.D”, not a PhD. The Unisa ThD only requires the submission of a thesis. An American PhD requires at least 2 years of course work before starting on the dissertation.

    Since you’re in South Africa, could you go investigate Caner’s ThD thesis for plagiarism?

    • Hello John. Thank you for the correction; a Thud instead of a Phud, it is then. In South Africa, it is usually an M.A./M.Th. thesis (minimm 2 years) that prepares you for a doctorate in the humanities and theology.

      About plagiarism and Caner, I think enough worms are already out of the can. Besides, to do that I’d have to give up days of watering my lettuce.

  2. Reblogged this on OneDaring Jew and commented:

    On James White’s blog, I came across the piece “Of doctorates and and Eternity.” http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php/1998/06/01/of-doctorates-and-eternity-2/

    God srengthen you, dear James. I have learnt much from you.

    Here is White:

    Many are not familiar with the fact that most Christian schools are desperate to obtain what is known as “accreditation,” the almost magical “acceptance” by a recognized “body” that allows them to attract the largest body of students. The cost of becoming “accredited” is high, often running into the millions of dollars just to be able to offer the most basic courses. Accrediting criteria are pretty much the same for all schools in the United States, whether religious or secular. These have included, for years, the size and location of the library, classroom building availability, staff qualifications, etc. Obviously, new or small schools cannot obtain accreditation very quickly, and any school that wishes to keep its tuition low either has to forgo the privilege, or receive some extremely large donations that can offset the cost.

    Obtaining accreditation also allows schools to participate in government loan programs. Education is a high-competition area, and without such programs, many schools are simply unable to compete.

    I was raised to believe that “accreditation” equaled “quality,” so that “non-accreditation” meant “no quality.” It was so much a part of the fabric of my thought that it never entered my mind to look outside the established “traditional” accredited schools as far as my own education was concerned. No, I had never really thought about what it meant that some “accrediting” body was, in the final analysis, determining how Christian education should be done. I had never been challenged to think about such things.

    After completing a B.A. and an M.A., with honors, in accredited institutions, I entered into fruitful and important ministry. My ministry did not allow for a large amount of remuneration—in other words, we were, like many who seek to honor the Lord in consistently giving an answer for the hope within us, without a lot of monetary support. As I looked into doing doctoral work, I began to put more and more thought into the how’s and why’s of Christian education. While I had been in seminary, I had noted that many of my fellow students were tremendously confused about what they believed, why they were attending seminary, and what they were going to do after they got out. Yet, even in this state of utter confusion, they graduated, now with “degrees” telling the world that they were proficient in….what? I discovered, as any other serious student has discovered, that you get out of a program of study what you put into it. Even when I had professors who truly struggled to communicate, if I would try to understand, and put forth extra effort, I would be rewarded with understanding and growth. I also learned, as many others can testify, that I profited the most when I studied on my own, branching out from class discussions or readings. Many, many vital areas of Christian thought were not addressed at all in my core classes, despite my acquiring over 100 hours of graduate study.


    Detractors Galore

    I recognized, when I enrolled with Columbia, that given the nature of my work in apologetics, I’d undoubtedly hear attacks upon my school and my scholarship because Columbia is too young to be “accredited.” Such ad-hominem argumentation is the norm for many of those with whom I have dealings. It wouldn’t matter where I go, or what school I attend, that kind of attack will follow. I have experience teaching in accredited schools, and a Master’s degree from Fuller Theological Seminary. That hasn’t stopped such folks from using ad-hominem argumentation against me. And any person that would be impressed by such argumentation isn’t going to be giving me a fair hearing anyway, and I can’t worry about that. Instead, the person I’m concerned about is the person who will understand the following statement: A person’s scholarship is not determined by the name of the school he or she attended, but by the quality of that person’s writing, speaking, and teaching. Anyone who thinks that just because you went to Yale you must be a real scholar hasn’t put much thought into the subject. I ask only one thing: look at what I have written, all that I have written, and ask yourself one question: does the nature of the writing, the depth of the research, and the understanding of the subject, indicate a doctoral level of education? As I said above, anyone who wishes to question my degree need only stack up his or her published works against mine and demonstrate that I just haven’t done the work. If they can’t, they are reduced to saying that scholarship is determined by how much you spend in tuition. And anyone who believes that isn’t going to be listening very carefully to what I say anyway.

  3. I don’t care if you got your degree from a diploma mill or from granny’s printing press when she did counterfeiting back in the day, just stop calling yourself “Doctor” and having the gall to call out the education of others in a debate.

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