Intellectual Dishonesty

I have recently discovered how plagued the Church is with deception. I’m not talking about people wandering around in false doctrine, though there is plenty of that about. I’m talking about Christian ministers — some in high profile ministries — in collusion with faux educational institutions, deliberately deceiving others with regard to their academic qualifications. The real scandal is that it is not a scandal.

I just thought it was a bit silly when I saw the late Kenneth Hagin calling himself “Dr. Hagin” after Oral Roberts gave him an honorary doctorate courtesy of ORU. But one preacher, however popular, flaunting his honorary degree does not a scandal make.

Recently I was looking at the websites of various leaders involved in what is known as the “Apostolic-Prophetic” movement. A disproportionate number of them seemed to have doctorates. Cindy Jacobs even has two. It didn’t take long to discover that all of these doctorates were from “schools” of theology started run by their friends. Cindy Jacobs got her honorary first doctorate from Christian International Ministries, run by Bill Hamon. Hamon “earned” his bachelor’s and master’s from his own Christian International School of Theology before allegedly receiving an honorary doctorate from an unnamed university.

Beyond those who are using honorary doctorates to call themselves “Dr.”, there are those who are claiming to have earned doctorates. They have them from organizations like the Wagner Leadership Institute. They get credit for attending each other’s meetings and conferences or watching each other’s videos. They take two-day and three-day courses like “Discovering Your Destiny through the Fivefold Ministry Gifts” and “Apostolic Breakthrough”.  Each of these equates to “training units”. Get enough training units and you get a doctorate. Or as WLI states on their website:

WLI  desires to remain unhindered from traditional higher-level educational requirements and is not an accredited institution. WLI offers three diploma tracks: Bachelor, Master, and Doctor of Practical Ministry. Diplomas do not certify levels of attainment, but rather accumulation of training units.

You can’t get your training units simply by attending a seminar or webcast or listening to a CD or watching a DVD. You have to write a 3-5 page paper. Within 90 days. Unless you bought a CD or DVD, in which case you have one year. The paper should not have anything to do with demonstrating knowledge of the “course” content. It is only a self-evaluation. “Students fail a course only when they neglect to turn in papers on time.” Not academically up to watching a DVD and taking a year to say what you got out of it? “Students may also receive training unit credit for on-going ministry, writing books, mission trips, and pre-approved self-studies.” It is nice that WLI admits that its diplomas are essentially worthless.

However, do those who attended conferences and other meetings and sit under the teaching of these “doctors”, know where their spurious credentials were obtained? Or do they trust that Dr. Chuck Pierce or Dr. Cindy Jacobs or Dr. Bill Hamon or Dr. Rus Jeffrey or Dr. Don Lynch or Dr. Jim Goll or hosts of others have legitimate claims to use the title?

To put oneself forward as having what a reasonable person would expect to be academic credentials in the promotion of Christian ministry, when no such credentials exist, is nothing less than fraud. It is deception. Fraud and deception are not condoned by the apostles and prophets of the Bible, those who claim to be such today notwithstanding.

I wish that the rot in worthless academic credentials ended with this particular infestation, but it runs deeper and wider in the Church. Of this, more later.

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5 Responses to Intellectual Dishonesty

  1. Pingback: Intellectual Dishonesty « David's Daily Diversions | Church Leadership

  2. Larry Henry says:

    Have always thought much for what is passed off as “Christianity” in “The Church” was a scam and false teaching. Now i know “the rest of the story” idiots teaCHING “SHEEPLE” WHO ARE AFRAID TO READ THE BOOK AND THINK FOR THEMSELVES….(OOPS SILLY KEyBOARD)…didn’t mean to shout but too lazy to correct it..need more coffee this morning…

  3. Dave says:

    I don’t think that much or what is passed off as Christianity, relative to all of the teaching in the Church is scam or false. I think those who would perpetrate such things may have an inordinately high profile in a society driven by television, radio, and information technology. There is a lot more to Christianity than just what happens to be the latest fad or movement.

  4. Dr Don Lynch says:

    Dear friend, you are wrong in your assumptions. For one, I have more than one doctorate, so you have to wonder which one is good enough to meet your standards of being appropriate. WLI does not offer honorary doctorates, and the concept that their doctorates are not appropriate because you fail to understand the standards by which they are measured isn’t sufficient evidence for you to lump people into a generalization.

    The measure of education is the ability to do something with the information acquired, not the mere accumulation of notes or the process of sitting still in lecture hall for a set amount of time. As you might know, credit hours simply means the amount of time you sit in a class. With a bit of research you would discover that the most respected of institutions suffer great fraud on a regular basis, that most professors spend very little time in class rooms, and the measuring sticks of a good doctorate are so varied as to be innumerable.

    The educational standards of WLI are actually higher than many Christian seminaries and schools. You also put me in a class of people here in which I do not belong. I am not on the same plane with some of these names you mentioned.

    Perhaps we could also discuss people with doctorates who fill the world with foolishness, the educated who lead the kingdom to distraction and false doctrine, learned enough to be empty of good sense or Biblical thinking. I attended accreditated Christian university, and failed to open a Bible one time for the entire BTH I received! No study of the Scripture. Truth about truth. Class rooms filled with leaders who were there because they couldn’t make it in the real world of ministry, writing ridiculous books that were efforts to come up with some novel new idea that would make them famous.

    I would appreciate having a leader with a doctorate in revival, Ecclesia, kingdom, and apostolic authority! Sounds much more like Jesus to me.

  5. Dave says:

    I did not suggest that your doctorate, or any of them from WLI, was honorary. That the educational standards of WLI are higher than many Christian seminaries and schools I find entirely plausible. If you have seen my blog entry immediately after this one upon which you commented, I have addressed that issue as well. As for the standards of WLI, the description of the academic requirements speaks for itself. I do not think this is a failure on my part to understand. I don’t think the measure of a doctorate is the amount of time spent in a classroom. Having been involved at the graduate level in both the US and the UK, I think the UK model of the PhD as a purely research degree is as adequate as the US combination of further coursework and research. Either of them is the result of three years of full-time academic work completed by demonstrating an substantial, peer-reviewed, original contribution to the knowledge of a particular field of study – substantial enough to require 80,000 to 100,000 words to adequately defend it. That is the measure of the ability to do something with the information acquired.

    There are many other laudable things to do with the information one acquires. For most people those things are what God has called them to do for the advancement of His Kingdom, whether great or small. Most people neither have, nor need to have, doctorates. And they certainly don’t need to have doctorates that make people think they have attained a certain level of academic credibility that they, in fact, don’t have.

    That there are those with doctorates or other academic credentials who believe and promulgate false doctrines does not make the acquisition of credible doctorates a bad thing. That there are those who excel or find their calling in an academic environment rather than in the “real world of ministry” doesn’t make their calling or service to God and His Kingdom of any less value. We bloom where we are planted. Just like in “real ministry”, there are those who do ridiculous things (and sadly often write ridiculous books), and very often come up with novel ideas. “Real ministry” is every bit as full of heretics as hallowed seminary halls.

    But let us focus on the real point of the article. It is that “real ministry” is currently full of ridiculous books by those who want the credibility of a doctorate to substantiate the value of what they have written. I’m sorry if I have lumped you unjustly with the others I have listed. I have not read your work, though I have read some of the things written by the others.

    I don’t know that it sounds like Jesus to have a doctorate in any of the fields you mentioned. I don’t think Jesus needs to research Himself or any one of those topics.

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