The Title “Doctor”

by Jimmy Akin

in Non-Catholic Apologists

Yesterday Michelle posted about James White’s attitude problem and this sparked one of the perennial combox discussions about whether the title "Dr." should be given to White (with or without quotation marks; they’re used here because standard English orthography requires quotation marks around words that are themselves the subject of discussion; if I were to initiate a discussion of the word "word," it would get quotation marks too).

For the record, I do not think that this title should be given to White.

I come from an academic family, and doctorates mean something. They are awarded to individuals by accredited institutions to certify that the individual in question has met the academic requirements needed to earn the degree. The individual is thus entitled to the use of the title and the authority and respect it commands.

For an individual to claim this authority and respect based on a doctorate issued by an unaccredited institution is, howeve, unacceptable. Without accreditation there is no guarantee that the individual has academic achievements comparable to those of doctorates being issued by accredited institutions. In fact, most non-accredited institutions issuing doctorates are little more than diploma mills.

To concede the title "doctor" to someone just because they have a diploma from an unaccredited institution cheapens all doctorates everywhere by creating a doorway for bogus doctorates achieve social recognition.

The social recognition of bogus degrees is precisely what the accreditation process was created to prevent. Accreditation is a stamp of approval on a school that it has met the academic standards of the accrediting body and is qualified to issue degrees of the types for which it has received accreditation.

If a school–or a degree program within a school–is not accredited by a competent body then it has not met the academic standards needed and there can be no confidence in the merits of the "degrees" it issues.

The fact that an institution does not have accreditation automatically creates a cloud of suspicion as the vast majority of non-accredited "colleges" and "universities" are diploma mills or little better.

There is, in particular, little reason for confidence in the institution from which White claims a doctorate–Columbia Evangelical Seminary (formerly Faraston Theological Seminary–"Faraston" being a word that was made up by the seminary’s founder, who explains it as follows: "In the late ’80s, after years of God’s faithful watering and cultivating the seed and preparing me, He sent someone to encourage me to take the necessary legal steps to begin the school. The name Faraston is a combination of the name of that individual and my name. Thus, the name Faraston does not glorify any man, but it is a hybrid which is a memorial to God’s continued faithfulness. Therefore, ‘With the name Faraston, we make known God’s faithfulness.’ Faraston = God’s Faithfulness" [SOURCE]).

There are also serious problems with academic incest at the school, which is run out of a hole-in-the-wall.

Now, White has complained before that the photos at the previous link were taken by Mormons and has criticized me for linking them. In doing so, White committed the genetic fallacy, because Mormonism is not generally an indicator of one’s ability to operate a camera. Unless he wishes to maintain that the photos were reutered (which he has not), then I assume that they are genuine, and they speak ill of the resources that the school has at its disposal. It is difficult to see how any serious doctoral-level academic program could be administered from an institution with such meager resources.

The fact is that White has not made the sacrifices needed to attend an accredited school and thus there can be no confidence whatsoever that his "doctorate" is comparable to those issued by accredited institutions (say, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School). White therefore should not be referred to by the title "Dr." He should not hold himself forth to the public as a doctor, and it cheapens all doctorates everywhere to concede social recognition to unaccredited degrees and thus the diploma mill industry that pumps them out.

I therefore follow the practice of simply referring to James White as just "James White."

BTW, I should also issue

THE BIG RED DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this post faults distance learning. I have no problem at all with distance learning as long as it meets academic standards equivalent to those of traditional study programs. I’m sure that, in time, more doctorates will be available from accredited institutions via distance programs, but accreditation is the key to establishing a baseline level of confidence in these programs. Without accreditation, "distance doctorates" must be regarded in the same light as other unaccredited degrees.

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{ 115 comments }

Brent Robbins August 22, 2006 at 9:19 am

Jimmy hit this subject right on the mark. Hoo-Hah!!!

Craig August 22, 2006 at 9:30 am

Oh…so I guess Dr. Evil is not a real doctor either, huh?

Gene Branaman August 22, 2006 at 9:47 am

Yowza! This post is the very meaning of “definitive”. Not to mention charitable.
I do not rejoice in this confirmation, however. I pray whole-heartedly that Mr White, Mr Svendsen, et al, will cease this use of such a silly tactic to gain acceptance of their oft-refuted theological positions. I pray their hearts will be converted by the love of Jesus Christ. Sadly, it’s something rarely shows in thier writings.

bill912 August 22, 2006 at 9:48 am

Oh, sure, Jimmy! Next, I suppose you’ll tell us that Doctor Who isn’t a real “Doctor”, either!

David B. August 22, 2006 at 9:52 am

Are you saying that Dr. No, of James Bond fame, didn’t receive his Doctorate In Evil from a reputable source? I’ll never trust movies again.

Christopher August 22, 2006 at 10:00 am

Well now. There goes my opinion of Dr. Pepper.

Paul H August 22, 2006 at 10:03 am

Hey, and what about Rush Limbaugh? Are you saying that he isn’t really America’s “Doctor of Democracy”? And are you implying that the Limbaugh Institute for Advanced Conservative Studies is not an accredited institution?
😉

'thann August 22, 2006 at 10:07 am

Completely off topic (well, not completely), one of the teachers at my son’s Catholic high school received his doctorate from an accredited university. His real-live name: Doctor LOVE. (That is the coolest name I’ve ever heard!)
‘thann

GE August 22, 2006 at 10:15 am

Again I ask accreditation from where? Which accrediting body do you accept as valid and which accrediting bodies do you not accept? If one went to a school that is not accredited in the U.S. but is accredited in the country in which it exists, does this mean that those that earn their doctorates at that school can use the title of doctor everywhere but the U.S.? Even in the United States there are several accrediting bodies, which ones are we to accept and which ones are we to disregard. Everyone here seems to have all the answers, well please provide me with your insight in regards to what I ask.

Francis DS August 22, 2006 at 10:18 am

>The individual is thus entitled to the use of the title >and the authority and respect it commands.
What authority and respect do doctorates command on us laymen anyway? Why should they be given more deference than any normal person? These people are just our classmates who went to school longer than we did.
What’s the big deal?

Shane August 22, 2006 at 10:19 am

I will merely cite the case of Fr. Pacwa, who shows Dr. White the respect of such things as we are talking about. Of all the apologists, most of whom Dr. White can berather harsh in dealing with, he shows great respect towards Father Pacwa, and he is clearly more open to listening to him than to the rest. It is a case in point that love and respect, even when it is undeserved, is what saves souls.

Kasia August 22, 2006 at 10:23 am

Amen, Shane. I really appreciated all of your integrity and charity in your posts, both to Dr. White and to the other commentators on this blog.

Ry August 22, 2006 at 10:27 am

GE, if you are looking for reliable accreditation in the US, you would want your school to be accredited by one of the following: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities Western Association of Schools and Colleges, or Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

JohnD August 22, 2006 at 10:28 am
Shane August 22, 2006 at 10:31 am

What authority and respect do doctorates command on us laymen anyway? Why should they be given more deference than any normal person? These people are just our classmates who went to school longer than we did.
What’s the big deal?

I agree. Jimmy Akin has no formal theology training whatsoever. So what? It is the substance of his arguements that matters, not his title. His knowledge of theology and Catholic teaching surpasses most who have doctorates in these fields.
If one does not wish to refer to Mr. White with the title “Dr.” for the sake of presenting a particular impression to society, as Jimmy has pointed out, I can agree with the choice.
However, I would point out that in terms of a moral theological question like this, I believe that the question of the impact of calling him Dr. versus not calling him must be considered. The impact to society of not calling him “Dr.” is virtually nonexistant; it doesn’t make a difference to anyone but onesself and those who share the knowledge of the degree’s source. As I ahve pointed out, however, the impact of showing him that respect can be great towards fostering a good relationship with him and furhtering the salvation of his soul, as Fr. Pacwa has shown.
In short, if a person thinks that he has a certain authority and is swayed by his arguements because of it, then one ought to show such a person the source of his doctorate and explain its questionability. When addressing Mr. White, or speaking about him in public forums, calling him “Dr.” should be the norm, for it can foster a Christian relationship with him and lead to greater understanding betweeen him and oneself, while refusing to call him so will impact nobody else whatsoever.
In other words, if a person does not understand where his doctorate came from, they will regard him as an authority no matter what you call him, whether it be “Mr.” or “Dr.,” and if a person does understand where it came from, they will view him more questionably, whatever you call him, whether it be “Mr.” or “Dr.” What matters is not in the reference, but in the understanding of a given person of where his doctorate comes from. Aside from that, we as Christians ought to treat the man with the respect that history has shown will best foster Christian relationships.

JohnD August 22, 2006 at 10:37 am

Shane,
One can be respectful without engaging in misleading or dishonest language.
I would not call Mr. White “Doctor” for the same reason I would not call him “Father” or “Supreme Court Justice”.

Shane August 22, 2006 at 10:42 am

Imagine I had a father who was never a father to me. He never saw me, he never cared about me, he never spent one moment in my life. Should I not refer to him as “father” or “dad?” Of course not. He would be completely undeserving of the title, would not in any way be my father, but yet it would still be a matter of the respect owed him as a Catholic to refer to him as such.
As I have said, of all the Catholic apologists, Mr. White respects Fr. Pacwa and cares what he has to say where he does not seem to have the same feelings for others. As a Catholic, I am concerned with saving souls, and so that is the attitude that I will take.

Dean Whinery August 22, 2006 at 10:42 am

What about honorary doctorates? In addition to advanced degrees from Pontifical institutions, Father Hesburg of Notre Dame was accorded more than 100 honorary doctorates from a variety of sources. He never used the title, preferring the honorable title of “Father” or “the Rev.”. Some accredited schools without doctorate programs present these “honoris causa” titles as they see fit, and technically the recipients may be called “Dr.”
Have noticed that many universities with legions of doctorates on their faculties tend to use the title only for the president of the institution or for Doctors of Medicine.
Am recipient of one of these honorary degrees, the diploma looks nice on the wall, but just call me by my name and please try to pronounce it correctly.

GE August 22, 2006 at 10:43 am

I would ask you all to take a look at the following:
http://www.columbiaseminary.edu/aboutus/accreditation.html
Then I would ask you this. If a person who graduated from the above school, were to “cross the Tiber” and had a desire to become a priest, would you still refuse to recognize his doctorate?
I ask from a very personal standpoint.

Brian John Schuettler August 22, 2006 at 10:47 am

I hope you don’t hold these high standards to other titles that are obtained for vast sums of money but are nevertheless perfectly legitimate!
Brian John Schuettler, Duke of Aquitaine and Heir To The Crown of France and Britain

Ed Pie August 22, 2006 at 10:49 am

Oh…so I guess Dr. Evil is not a real doctor either, huh?
On the contrary, Craig, he did spend four years at evil medical school, hence is disgust at being called “Mr. Evil.”
If he went to an evil medical school in the Netherlands, it very well may have been accredited.

Scott W August 22, 2006 at 10:58 am

Then I would ask you this. If a person who graduated from the above school, were to “cross the Tiber” and had a desire to become a priest, would you still refuse to recognize his doctorate?
Yes, because facts are facts. Columbia’s gymnastics notwithstanding.

JohnD August 22, 2006 at 11:04 am

Shane,
If White has a more amiable relationship with Fr. Pacwa, I highly doubt it is on account of his use of the term “Doctor”, which I suspect Fr. Pacwa might use because he innocently assumes that White is being forthright.
I’ve never heard Fr. Pacwa refer to White, for the record.

J.R. Stoodley August 22, 2006 at 11:08 am

Ed Pie, I thought Dr. Evil was Belgian, not Dutch.
Still, I suppose it is right to presume the title is legitimate until you get good evidence that it is not.

Anonymous August 22, 2006 at 11:14 am

While I admire Shane for trying to be charitable (and articulate as well), unfortunately I think he is wrong on this one.
For example should we refer to David Bawden as “your holiness”, just because he claims to be the pope? I think the use of titles matters, and it is legitamite, in my opinion to respectfully say: Sorry, but I don’t accept your title as legitamite.

Gene Branaman August 22, 2006 at 11:14 am

Then I would ask you this. If a person who graduated from the above school, were to “cross the Tiber” and had a desire to become a priest, would you still refuse to recognize his doctorate?
Let’s rephrase that question. If a person who holds a degree from Columbia Evangelical Seminary were to apply to Harvard (or any other accredited & nationally recognized institution of higher learning) & had a desire to further his education, would Harvard refuse to recognize his degree, knowing CES’s status as a non-accredited institution?
No, of course not!
So why should any seminary, through which a future priest will earn his doctorate, do the same?

Gene Branaman August 22, 2006 at 11:16 am

Sorry, the “No, of course not!” in my post above should have been:
“You betcha!”

Lurker August 22, 2006 at 11:20 am

Is anyone else having problems accessing Catholic Answers Forums? Just asking.

GE August 22, 2006 at 11:21 am

Welp, thanks for the responses all, you have helped make up my mind. I will stay where I am and minister the best that God allows. Glad this issue came to light before I had to deal with the catholic snobbery first hand.

Paul Zummo August 22, 2006 at 11:25 am

Imagine I had a father who was never a father to me. He never saw me, he never cared about me, he never spent one moment in my life. Should I not refer to him as “father” or “dad?” Of course not. He would be completely undeserving of the title, would not in any way be my father, but yet it would still be a matter of the respect owed him as a Catholic to refer to him as such.
Well it’s good to know that I wasted five years of my life (going on six) going to an accredited university, studying under other people with legitimate degrees, and now working on a doctoral dissertation, only to learn that I could have people calling me doctor anyway if I just wanted them to earn my respect.

Paul Zummo August 22, 2006 at 11:25 am

Imagine I had a father who was never a father to me. He never saw me, he never cared about me, he never spent one moment in my life. Should I not refer to him as “father” or “dad?” Of course not. He would be completely undeserving of the title, would not in any way be my father, but yet it would still be a matter of the respect owed him as a Catholic to refer to him as such.
Well it’s good to know that I wasted five years of my life (going on six) going to an accredited university, studying under other people with legitimate degrees, and now working on a doctoral dissertation, only to learn that I could have people calling me doctor anyway if I just wanted them to earn my respect.

'thann August 22, 2006 at 11:29 am

To Lurker:
CA Forums are down, no time given as to when they’ll be back up. Been down for DAYS. I finally emailed them a couple of hours ago and received the above info.
I’m having CAF withdrawal.

Scott W August 22, 2006 at 11:35 am

Welp, thanks for the responses all, you have helped make up my mind. I will stay where I am and minister the best that God allows. Glad this issue came to light before I had to deal with the catholic snobbery first hand.
Not sure what you are saying here. That you were considering converting and now will not because an accredited Catholic seminary will not accept degrees from an unaccredited university/college just like virtually every accredited school on the planet?

Paul August 22, 2006 at 11:36 am

Shane you stated – In short, if a person thinks that he has a certain authority and is swayed by his arguements [sic] because of it, then one ought to show such a person the source of his doctorate and explain its questionability.
This is exactly the point considering the number of debates Mr. White is involved in. I would wager that a number of individuals attending his debates have no idea that Mr. White received his “Doctorate” from a non-accredited institution. I know a number of people that follow the teachings of so called “Doctors” such as Ken Hagin and Creflo Dollar (I’m not comparing Mr. White’s theology to theirs). In the past when I’ve asked these individuals if they realize that Hagin & Dollar only hold honorary doctorates from ORU they almost always respond that they did not know that. The point is that using the title “Dr.” lends credibility to your name and teachings at all times.

David B. August 22, 2006 at 11:37 am

GE,
I hope one disagreement with some Catholics will not keep you from looking into the possibility that the Catholic Church is the One, Holy, Universal, and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ.
Peace.

Ry August 22, 2006 at 11:44 am

I do not think the issue has to come down to snobbery. No one has said that “unaccredited” = “bad school.” However, the plain and simple fact is that there are distance learning schools out there that are nothing more than diploma mills taking money and giving out worthless titles.
Jimmy has pointed out that there are too many red flags surrounding CES that make its seriousness as an educational institution questionable. First see Jimmy’s link on academic incest. Or don’t see that link and go to CES’s faculty page and see firsthand.
Another suspicious thing about the school is their contact info. Even a distance learning school should have a real address, not a PO box.

Tim August 22, 2006 at 11:54 am

Mr. White really seems to strike a nerve with Catholics (I speak as one). We seem to expend a ton of energy on him. What is it about him and his arguments that folks find so worthy of this much attention? If his education is questionable, and his arguments ill-informed, then why bother? If he’s got something worth discussing, how about we all just call him what we want and deal with the substance of what he says? Just a thought.
Tim

GE August 22, 2006 at 11:56 am

Not sure what you are saying here. That you were considering converting and now will not because an accredited Catholic seminary will not accept degrees from an unaccredited university/college just like virtually every accredited school on the planet?
Actually that’s not the case, in fact, the bishop and the seminary are all prepared to accept my current credentials, but what kind of scandal would arise among the parish I was assigned to when they found out my background. If the reaction here is any indication of what I would find as a parish priest then I guess I should just stay where I am.
In fact I find that most clergy and many educators are more accepting of my credentials than the people here, but unfortunately if I were to finish converting and were to be assigned to a parish, I doubt that the majority of people I would be dealing with would be clergy and educators, but rather they would be regular everyday people, and reading this topic has shown me what regular everyday people think.
God Bless.

Ed Peters August 22, 2006 at 12:02 pm

When Norton wanted to be called “Emperor”, San Francisco obliged, but they all knew he was a nut.

Tim August 22, 2006 at 12:10 pm

GE –
If you’ve gone to the trouble of attending seminary (questionable or not) and have discussed your situation with your Bishop, then you obviously take your faith seriously. As one who recently converted, might I charitably suggest that the Church is either true in what she claims to be or she isn’t, and you have a responsibility to act on that Truth. Your desire to continue serving the Lord is admirable, but if he’s calling you to convert, your ability to be a priest shouldn’t have any bearing on your decision. Losing your position in formal ministry will be another hurdle that you’ll have to struggle through. He can still use you, even if its not in a formal priestly role. May the Lord continue to lead you.
Tim

Jeffrey Stuart August 22, 2006 at 12:12 pm

GE,
Whether or not your credentials were accepted by a Catholic seminary I don’t think is relevant to the issue at hand. That is a judgment call best left to the competent authority in the matter. Choosing to address James White as “Doctor” or “Mister” I think takes second place to just being polite and charitable in one’s response. I am a Naval Officer and by all rights I could demand that people address me by my offical title. However, I’ll settle for them just being polite. Youngsters however are required to use my first name which to them is “sir”. :)
God Bless yourself.
Stu

Kasia August 22, 2006 at 12:16 pm

GE, for what it’s worth:
1) I think there is snobbery everywhere; the difference is just the form it takes. Churches are made up of imperfect people. The fact that some people might question your credentials, to me, should not be an impediment to following God wherever He leads;
2) I personally feel that if the bishop and the seminary are satisfied with your credentials, it’s not for me to question them; and
3) Even if I got my undergraduate degree from Dewey Cheatem and Howe University, if I earn a doctorate at a reputable seminary, I think that is what most people will care about. (I am assuming, of course, that I would be straightforward about my undergraduate credentials prior to attending the seminary, but based on what you wrote I do not think that is an issue.)
I myself am starting RCIA next month. My joining the Catholic Church is not a done deal by any means, but I hope that I will be able to decide without taking individuals’ behavior into undue account.
God bless,
Kasia

David B. August 22, 2006 at 12:17 pm

GE,
I think there is a misunderstanding here. The Bishop, before ordaining anyone, would have make sure the candidate had a good education in Church theology. It’s not that someone with a doctorate from an unaccredited institution is stupid, but that a Catholic priest must be fully catechised by the Church before he can minister to Catholics.

Shane August 22, 2006 at 12:28 pm

GE, contact http://www.chnetwork.org/ it is exactly what you need.

Scott W August 22, 2006 at 1:31 pm

Actually that’s not the case, in fact, the bishop and the seminary are all prepared to accept my current credentials, but what kind of scandal would arise among the parish I was assigned to when they found out my background. If the reaction here is any indication of what I would find as a parish priest then I guess I should just stay where I am.
If the Bishop says ok, then any layperson with an issue needs to keep their yap shut. That’s reason #234 for joining the Church: the buck stops somewhere. :)

Brian Day August 22, 2006 at 2:17 pm

If the reaction here is any indication of what I would find as a parish priest then I guess I should just stay where I am.
GE,
I think you are generalizing here. Of all of the priests that I have met over the years, the only thing that is important to me is that they are priests (with valid orders). What seminary they attended, or where they got their undergraduate/graduate degrees is of little or no consequence.
I think you’ll find that that is the case with 99%+ of the people in the pews.

Michael August 22, 2006 at 3:35 pm

If James White wrote an academic doctoral dissertation and defended it, then I have no problem calling him “Dr. James White.” A doctorate is not about coursework. Coursework happens to be a requirement in most U.S. universities, but consider many respectable European schools.
The title of a Ph.D. or Th.D. or S.T.D. is bestowed on someone as a recognition by an academic institution or organization, accredited or not, for a contribution to scholarship in the form of a presentation of labor and research in a given field. That’s it.
Besides, if one of the most popular Catholic apologists had the same credentials as James White and called himself/herself “Dr.”, would anyone on this blog be objecting? As someone who is on the way to a doctorate, I can honestly say that if James White completed a dissertation and defended it then he is a “Dr.”. The question remains, however, did he complete the dissertation…
Evangelical Catholicism

Anonymous August 22, 2006 at 3:45 pm

“Besides, if one of the most popular Catholic apologists had the same credentials as James White and called himself/herself “Dr.”, would anyone on this blog be objecting?”
The short answer is yes.

JohnD August 22, 2006 at 3:46 pm

Michael,
So If I write a dissertation and defend it, then *any* organization can bestow the title of “Doctor” to me and expect others to recognize it? Well, I could get a doctorate in few days, no problem then! Woo-hoo! I need a little time to get some buddies together and think of a name.
Terms mean things, and the low bar you describe does not correspond to the term in question.

Jimmy Akin August 22, 2006 at 3:50 pm

“Besides, if one of the most popular Catholic apologists had the same credentials as James White and called himself/herself “Dr.”, would anyone on this blog be objecting?”
Yes. Absolutely. 100%. I would strenuously counsel the individual in private *not* to represent himself to the public as a doctor and, if he did so anyway, I would say on the blog that he is making a BIG mistake.
There is no double-standard here, and I resent the insinuation that there would be.

MikeD August 22, 2006 at 3:56 pm

What about people with Pontifical degrees (STD)? They are typically not reconized by academic institutions outside of the Church. Would they still be entitled to the by styled as “doctor”?

"dr." bearing, PhD August 22, 2006 at 4:17 pm

There’s one other issue regarding the use of the doctorate title as a means of establishing intellectual authority: Is the doctorate actually *relevant* to the issue at hand?
I hold a doctorate in engineering. But I almost never sign myself “Dr.” in comboxes, letters, and the like, if the issue I’m commenting on is outside my field of work. I’m not even really comfortable using the title “Dr.” in discussions that are scientific but not really directly related to my major field of study (perhaps I’m overly scrupulous).
Using it socially, I feel sort of mixed about. I’m not working in my field, in fact I never have; I’m a stay-at-home mom. Part of me really wants to use it, like: “I’m not JUST a stay at home mom! I’ve got a PhD!!!! You can call me DR!” But that’s embarrassingly prideful, and disdainful of the hard-earned title Mrs. that I also carry. You know, the one that actually reflects my vocation. (Which would you rather call a priest with a doctorate? Rev. Dr. Smith or Father Smith? I think the latter’s better.)
Of course, this discussion is relevant as it has to do with getting doctorates generally. :-) So just this once, I’m putting the title down there on my signature name.

Michael August 22, 2006 at 4:37 pm

JohnD–I noted that the institution needed to be academic.
MikeD–Excellent point. Pontifical degrees are very different than Ph.D.’s and even Th.D.’s as they are more pastorally focused. It is terribly difficult for a lay person who holds a S.T.D. to find employment on university faculties in the U.S. Consider how easy it is to earn the S.T.D. at the Angelicum these days (it’s earned the nickname “The Easy ‘A'”). By even Catholic universities, the Ph.D. is considered the standard academic doctorate. I find most Catholic university professors who hold S.T.D.’s are priests and religious with very few exceptions (two of my profs at Franciscan were lay scholars and held S.T.D.’s).
Jimmy Akin–Please don’t take my comment personally. I just have a hard time believing that you or anyone would throw a fellow Catholic apologist under the bus on one of the most popular Catholic blogs around just because he tags “Dr.” or “Ph.D.” to his name you don’t agree with it.
To speak or counsel someone in private is quite different than posting a lengthy article in order discredit someone’s credentials, however legitimate or illegimate that credential may be. Who among your blog readers is in danger of falling prey to the ‘academic authority’ of James White? Why cannot your consistantly brilliant rebuttals of his flimsy arguments be enough to discredit his work? The fact that White’s work is a frequent target (and appropriately so) of Catholic apologetics makes your post appear (at least to me and many others) as a polemic rather than as a heads-up to your devoted blog-readers (among whom I count myself).
I just can’t agree with you on this one, Jimmy, and I usually agree with everything you write. Perhaps I could see the justice of someone who holds a doctorate writing something in general about phony degrees, but certainly not in singling someone out–especially if that someone is a frequent opponent in debate.
Again, please don’t take offense at this. As someone involved in academia as both an instructor and a student, I do not believe discrediting James White’s academic acheivement or lack thereof was your responsibility.
Evangelical Catholicism

Mia Storm August 22, 2006 at 4:47 pm

Dr. Bearing brings up an often overlooked point: Many with genuine doctorates often choose to forego using the title, especially in social circumstances. And, in the United States, it is traditionally only medical doctors who use their title socially.
In the social world — as opposed to the academic or business world — it’s considered more modest to be discovered to be entitled to a title you didn’t insist upon. Those who insist that their titles be used socially have generally been considered to have broadcasted the highest level of respect to which they are entitled. On the other hand, someone who merely gives his name leaves room for people to make grander assumptions about who he might be.
As a general practice, I don’t begrudge people the titles they expect, which is why I don’t mind calling James White “Dr. White.” But I agree that styling yourself “Doctor” when your degree is from an unaccredited institution lends itself to considerable confusion and only invites people to speculate that you’re not as well educated as you’ve represented yourself to be.

Dean Fullofit. August 22, 2006 at 5:40 pm

So If I write a dissertation and defend it, then *any* organization can bestow the title of “Doctor” to me and expect others to recognize it? Well, I could get a doctorate in few days, no problem then! Woo-hoo! I need a little time to get some buddies together and think of a name.
No need to get your buddies together, John D. I’ve throughly examined your writings and research on this forum. Accordingly, and on behalf of the trustees of Winking, Blinking & Nod University, it is my pleasure to award you a P.h.D. in Communications.
Congratulations, “Doctor.”

Jeb Protestant August 22, 2006 at 5:54 pm

I don’t think the issue is one of having a degree from an accreddted institution. Why should a Christian institution be acreddited, since such acredidation is normally bestowed by unbelievers (such as the government). I’d rather get a degree from an unacrdited Christian institution than say, the Episcopal Divinity School which I’m sure is acredited (by Satan, among other groups).
I’d be more concerned about the course of study. Last I checked, Mr. White claims he got a doctorate because of a popular presentation of the Trinity. By definition, it isn’t a contribution to scholarship, however good it may be.

Dean Fullofit August 22, 2006 at 6:27 pm

I don’t think the issue is one of having a degree from an accreddted institution.
This issue is that James White is a fraud — academic and otherwise. He should be ashamed of himself for calling himself “Dr. James White” when his P.h.D came from a diploma mill.
A few minutes ago, I made John D a P.h.D. I like John D so now I am also going to award him a MD (medical degree) as well. Do you think if James White got sick he would avail himself of the medical services of Dr. John D, MD, a proud alumnus of Winking, Blinking & Nod School of Medicine?

Greg McR August 22, 2006 at 6:33 pm

“There are also serious problems with academic incest at the school, which is run out of a hole-in-the-wall. … It is difficult to see how any serious doctoral-level academic program could be administered from an institution with such meager resources”
If size matters so much to you Mr Akin; what does that say about you, having just shamefully demonstrated to all just how small a person you really are. A very sad day.

"dr." bearing, PhD August 22, 2006 at 6:40 pm

Greg McR, I’d say it says he has a realistic idea of what it takes to run a doctoral program, at minimum.
For one thing, you need a pool of faculty who are competent to evaluate doctoral candidates and the quality of their contributions to the overall body of scholarly work in the field or fields in which the institution awards doctorates.
That place doesn’t have it. Period.

Jimmy Akin August 22, 2006 at 6:50 pm

Please don’t take my comment personally. I just have a hard time believing that you or anyone would throw a fellow Catholic apologist under the bus on one of the most popular Catholic blogs around just because he tags “Dr.” or “Ph.D.” to his name you don’t agree with it. . . .
I just can’t agree with you on this one, Jimmy, . . .
Again, please don’t take offense at this. As someone involved in academia as both an instructor and a student, I do not believe discrediting James White’s academic acheivement or lack thereof was your responsibility.

I mean to be as polite as I can about this, but saying “don’t take this personally” is only appropriate if the comment that follows is not, in fact, personal. If the comment that follows amounts to a criticism of the person himself (rather than his arguments, e.g.) then it follows that the comment is to be taken as a personal criticism.
In your combox post, you go to great lengths to phrase yourself politely (for which you deserve full credit) but it appears nevertheless that you are accusing me of some form of dishonesty toward my readers–perhaps involving self-deception–when you state that you have a hard time believing I would do what I said I would do. This is evidently a personal criticism.
The situation as you pose it also involves two straw men. First, pointing out that a fellow Catholic apologist does not have an accredited degree and that I think it is a mistake for him to hold himself out to the public as holding a doctorate does not amount to “throwing him under the bus.”
Second, I have not taken upon myself the burden of discrediting White’s academic credentials in any generalized way. I intervened in a discussion that I did not start and that was occurring on my own blog. As noted, I am from an academic family and I react strongly to the inappropriate use of the title “Doctor.” This is my blog, and if I choose to intervene to explain my position on a matter that is being discussed by others, that is *totally* within my competence.
If I were renting out highway billboards outside James White’s home in Phoenix that said “James White is a phony doctor!” then you would have grounds for criticism, but my blog is unambiguously my space, and if I feel my readers are being misled by comments on the blog then it is completely within my purview to issue a clarification.
In fact, it would be within my purview as blogmaster to say “Readers should not extend unaccredited academic titles to individuals in their comments in the combox” and add that to Da Rulz, but I haven’t done that. I’ve only stated my opinion on the matter; I haven’t demanded that others stop calling him “Dr.” in this space.
The correct use of academic titles is a matter of principle with me, and the *exact* same thing would happen if it were a Catholic apologist. I wouldn’t go renting billboards in Apologist X’s home city announcing his phony doctorate, but if the readers of my blog started to refer to him as “Dr. X” *on* my blog then I most assuredly *would* point out that the doctorate is unaccredited and the title should not be used in my opinion.
This is a matter of principle with me, and I am not kidding.
If you continue to doubt this then you are rejecting my direct statement of what I would do (a second time) and it is difficult not to take offense when someone flatly refuses to take your word on a matter and calls your honesty into question.
See if you feel similarly the next time someone comes on your blog and accuses you of dishonesty with your readers and/or self-deception.
If your readers start telling you what your responsibilities are and aren’t regarding the subjects you choose to cover and what combox conversations you choose to intervene in, I suspect you wouldn’t take kindly to that, either.

Some Day August 22, 2006 at 6:55 pm

Take that!

Some Day August 22, 2006 at 6:58 pm

Who is this White character anyways?

Maureen August 22, 2006 at 7:52 pm

If the bishop’s willing to ordain you, it doesn’t matter what your academic credentials are.
See, I am vaguely aware that priests have to take lots of classes at the seminary and stuff, but actually, I think the only time I ever cared about those stats is when I was playing a role-playing game which included a priest character played by somebody else.
(“Dude! You’re a priest! Of course you know Latin!”
“Yeah, that’s right! Of course I know Latin!”
*hope the game admin has never heard anybody complain about seminaries minimizing Latin study*)
The credentials that matter to me are ordination and “the archdiocese says he can teach this”. And it’s not like it’s even my business, really. If you show up at the parish and the pastor’s good with you, or the bishop sends you to my parish, there you are. People are much more likely to worry about your politics or whether or not you put them to sleep. These days, they might quietly check to see if the new guy at the parish has been up to anything bad at other parishes. But nobody’s going to look for your academic credentials.
(Especially if you don’t go calling yourself doctor. But if you do, then more people will want to know more details just to be sociable.)
Do I expect some great academic? Not really.
Did I get good teaching and pastoring out of the theologian priest with a zillion doctorates I had at my university’s parish? No, not really.

Michael Sullivan August 22, 2006 at 7:57 pm

I am entering my fifth year as a graduate student in philosophy at a major American Catholic university. I’ve worked long and hard for my M.A. (finished) and Ph.D. (getting pretty close). For someone who has not done the same or comparable work to claim the same title looks to me an awful lot like taking credit for work that someone has not done. In the academic world this practice is known as academic dishonesty, or, in the vernacular, cheating, and is a career-ending offense.

Some Day August 22, 2006 at 8:06 pm

Well the holy Cure d’Ars ( I forget the saints name) was in worldy terms worthless mentally.
He was not bright at all. But he was a saint, and that is all that matters. The he was ordained, and regardless of whether a priest has vocation or no the Sacrament of the Order is so powerful you’ll get if you don’t got it. And as he was a saint, he said a simple sermon and it converted a whole town…
The key here is always SANCTITY.
Now studing is not a bad idea.
But I am 16 and speak with the seminarians of the REGIONAL (many dioceses use it and there is less than a 100) in Miami, FL and they are clueless.
Not to boast, but only to serve as an example, but I can be their teachers because they must be learn trash. They only know the latest relavist theology and how to turn a million dollar deficit into 5 million dollars profit.
Ay!
So if studying is important, than they are lacking it, at least the material.
But most important, you don’t see purity in their eyes, not a single drop of apostolic zeal in their voice and sadly, a lack of spiritual life.
Lets pray that the Priesthood is restored to its glory that is none other than Christ’s own.
Saintly priests is the only way to have saintly laity.
Regina Sanctorum Omnium! Ora Pro Nobis!

Michael August 22, 2006 at 8:23 pm

Jimmy,
Thank you for your honest follow-up.

I mean to be as polite as I can about this, but saying “don’t take this personally” is only appropriate if the comment that follows is not, in fact, personal. If the comment that follows amounts to a criticism of the person himself (rather than his arguments, e.g.) then it follows that the comment is to be taken as a personal criticism.
I understand what you are saying here, and I apologize for coming across as personally attacking. For clarity’s sake, I neither addressed your person nor your argument. What I addressed was the appropriateness of the post. If I deem some action inappropriate, I am not necessarily criticizing someone’s character or person. For example, when I lead my students in prayer and I notice that one of them is not focusing on the devotion and is distracting other students, I will correct that student. I am not thereby leveling a personal criticism but simply pointing out that ONE particular action was inappropriate. This is the spirit in which I left my two comments.
…it appears nevertheless that you are accusing me of some form of dishonesty toward my readers–perhaps involving self-deception–when you state that you have a hard time believing I would do what I said I would do. This is evidently a personal criticism.
I regret that you perceived an accusation of dishonesty in my comments. I did not question your honesty in providing your opinion on White’s ‘degree’. I can see where my words convey doubt on my part regarding whether or not you would have written a post on Catholic who is masquerading as something he/she is not. I’ll take you at your word.
The situation as you pose it also involves two straw men. First, pointing out that a fellow Catholic apologist does not have an accredited degree and that I think it is a mistake for him to hold himself out to the public as holding a doctorate does not amount to “throwing him under the bus.”
Second, I have not taken upon myself the burden of discrediting White’s academic credentials in any generalized way. I intervened in a discussion that I did not start and that was occurring on my own blog. As noted, I am from an academic family and I react strongly to the inappropriate use of the title “Doctor.” This is my blog, and if I choose to intervene to explain my position on a matter that is being discussed by others, that is *totally* within my competence.

I write this only because you and I are both suckers for logic. There are no straw man arguments in my post. A straw man is a mis-representation of the position of another and then the refutation of this misrepresentation. First, I never reproduced your argument in any fashion. Second, I did not attempt to refute your argument or any misrepresentation of it. Again, the spirit of my comments was in questioning the appropriateness of posting what you did. If anything, you could take the angle that my logical falacy was argument by false analogy, but even that’s up for debate. But by logical analysis, there are no strawmen arguments in my comments since I did not even address your argument.
…but my blog is unambiguously my space, and if I feel my readers are being misled by comments on the blog then it is completely within my purview to issue a clarification.
Point well-stated, and point taken. I was clearly out-of-bounds in discussing the appropriateness of a post on your personal blog. Please accept my apologies.
If your readers start telling you what your responsibilities are and aren’t regarding the subjects you choose to cover and what combox conversations you choose to intervene in, I suspect you wouldn’t take kindly to that, either.
Your suspicions are well-founded. If this were a neutral forum of discussion, perhaps my comments on the inappropriateness of your post would have been appropriate. But again, because this is your blog, you have the right to post as you wish. A better approach on my part would have been commenting on White’s doctorate rather than engaging in critique of what is appropriate for your blog.
And so while I stand by my original comments on the nature of doctorates, I retract my comments on what is inappropriate for you to post, as well as my doubting any sincerity on your part. I appreciate your honesty and passion in addressing my points, especially because you helped to point out a key area of weakness in my expression of charity. And when you help a brother, you embrace the essence of Christian brotherhood.
I learn a lot from you, Mr. Akin.

Evangelical Catholicism

Dozie August 22, 2006 at 11:48 pm

“As I have said, of all the Catholic apologists, Mr. White respects Fr. Pacwa and cares what he has to say …”
Not so, James White has heard Fr. Pacwa present Catholic faith again and again, yet he continues to say: “Where have I been anything but completely clear in my statement that Rome does not possess the gospel, and therefore is not a “true church with problems,” but a false church?”.
Now, is there any reason to be kind to this self-proclaimed enemy of the Catholic Church? Do we not have the mandate to treat him like a Publican?

Francis DS August 23, 2006 at 12:20 am

Let us now turn our focus on dentists. Do they deserve to be called Doctor?
Why do we always open our mouths in awe at their presence? Has any of them extended any scholarships lately?
(just kidding)

Lily August 23, 2006 at 4:36 am

I confess to being somewhat “allergic” to honorifics in general. It is, perhaps, the one part of my youthful leftist tendencies that has survived into my far-from-youthful self of today.
Now, when someone has earned an academic title, I can live with it. But I refuse to cater to every so-and-so who claims to be a doctor of this, & a doctor of that. (I used to call my physician “Doc” when I was, as mentioned, young & deluded. I grew out of that….;-) mostly).
But I continue to have a kneejerk reaction to the kind of nonsense that James White presents every time he claims to be a “doctor”….
Jimmy, you are a lot kinder than I am, & my hat is off to you for stating the facts both clearly & with charity.
My own version would have been like the little boy watching the parade: “The emperor has no clothes! The emperor has no close!!”
‘Nuff said.
God bless all here.

Scott W August 23, 2006 at 6:24 am

I can’t seem to find the post now, but didn’t someone say accrediation is no good because some accredidations come from Satan? ROTFLMAO.

JD August 23, 2006 at 7:30 am

“Excellent point. Pontifical degrees are very different than Ph.D.’s and even Th.D.’s as they are more pastorally focused.”- michael
Well, Michael, I’m afraid I have to disagree with you. Pontifical degrees are not, by their nature, “more pastoral.” I had the same two STD profs at FUS that you did and one of them, at least, was a stellar scholar!
Furthermore, I’m in my 2nd year of study for a pontifical licentiate that required an MA for admission to the program. The licentiate/doctoral track is difficult, demanding, requires considerable scholarship, and contribution to current scholarly debate. The difference between civil degrees and Church degrees really boils down to subject area (my area of study can only be studied through ecclessiastical programs), not an emphasis on pastoralism. In fact, I daresay that my civil MA had more of a pastoral focus than my ecclessiastical licentiate.
I’m quite sure Dr. Ed Peters, JCD, would agree.

Kevin from Ohio in Virginia August 23, 2006 at 7:44 am

I don’t disagree with Jimmy’s posting, however, sarcastic swipes at “Dr.” White with quotation marks like the ones I just used are inappropriate regardless of his school’s accreditation status.
Also, the title of ‘Dr.’ shouldn’t be the source of TOO much “social recognition,” as Jimmy put it. While a PhD should be acknowledged as someone who is academically accomplished (another good reason for the accreditation process) and extremely knowledgeable in his area of study (yet another good reason for the accreditation process), I don’t think it should be a ticket to quasi-nobility, either. A PhD deserves the same kind of “Christian love”-type respect that EVERYONE deserves… and that includes not taking jabs at the legitimacy of their degrees.

Kevin from Ohio in Virginia August 23, 2006 at 8:00 am

What about the guy in the Red Stripe beer commercial?
BOO CREEPY FOOT DOCTOR!!!

ajesquire August 23, 2006 at 8:16 am

As big, if not bigger, a problem (because more prevalent) than people from unaccredited institutions claiming the title “Dr.” is people mis-using their accredited degrees.
Specifically, people with Ph.D.s in non-scientific fields referring to themselves as “Doctor” when commenting on scientific subjects, thus giving the impression that they have some special knowledge or expertise worthy of high regard.

Michael August 23, 2006 at 9:38 am

JD,
I did not say that Pontifical degrees were less academically rigorous. I only said that they had a pastoral component that is not found in traditional Ph.D. and Th.D. programs.
The two professors we speak of were in fact quite pastoral in their material in class. In fact, those two professors I found to be the least academically challenging at FUS–but this does not indicate that this is the case for all holders of Pontifical degrees.

TJ August 23, 2006 at 12:01 pm

I’m shocked! I just found out that my degree from the School of Rock is unaccredited!

Greg Mc August 23, 2006 at 12:08 pm

Dr James White has an earned degree from an unaccredited institution. It is dishonest to characterize that (either directly or implicitly) as a “phony degree” He has done as much or more study as would be required from an accredited institution. The issue seems to be that none of the Catholic apologists can go toe to toe with him on the facts. That being the case; the focus must then be shifted to personal, professional and character attacks to obfuscate and draw attention away from the paucity of genuine interaction with arguments and ideas. That is what makes you look so small Mr Akin

Anonymous August 23, 2006 at 12:15 pm

“He has done as much or more study as would be required from an accredited institution.”
How do you know that is true? With accreditation, at least there are some standards that need to be met in order to be awarded the doctorate. With an unacredited degree, we have no clue as to the level of rigor required in the doctoral program.

Greg Mc August 23, 2006 at 12:36 pm

Who ever you are; Do you have some indication that he has not? No, you just want to throw as much mud as you can and hope something sticks. All the while ignoring the substance of the arguments because you have no rational response.

whoever August 23, 2006 at 12:53 pm

“Do you have some indication that he has not? No, you just want to throw as much mud as you can and hope something sticks. All the while ignoring the substance of the arguments because you have no rational response.”
Actually, there is plenty of evidence that his doctorate is phony, Jimmy has already given us some. Accreditation bodies have standards for doctoral degrees for a reason. First of all, you would need classrooms, which James’ school doesn’t have. Second is the issue of academic incest. It would be extremely hard for me to get a job at the institution where I received my doctorate because of this issue. They want people with outside doctorates to keep themselves honest. Third, I have an accredited doctorate and my dissertation is part of the public record. You can either buy a copy of my dissertation or get it through interlibrary loan if you are concerned about it’s quality. However, we cannot do that with Mr. White’s so called “dissertation”.

JD August 23, 2006 at 1:10 pm

Michael-
I’ll agree with you that neither of those fellows was tremendously challenging–my point was that one of them, in particular, was one of the most deep and beautiful thinkers I’ve ever met, and not an academic lightweight. Maybe a teaching lightweight, but not an academic lightweight. You might say he was a king of thought, if you catch my drift!
You can decide for yourself who I mean.
Thanks for the clarification. I briefly felt my hard work in this program was being demeaned!

Brother Cadfael August 23, 2006 at 1:10 pm

Greg Mc,
That looks like a rational response to me. What do you say?

Alois August 23, 2006 at 1:52 pm

Greg Mc,
I think the amount of work Mr. White has done is irrevelant to this conversation. My father has worked as a mechanical engineer all his life and has made significant contributions to the field. That still doesn’t make him a doctor. I have seen many protestant pastors with similar degrees. There is no doubt that they are good at what they do, intelligent, and so on. The problem is that there is a tendency to use this title simply to bolster one’s respect and authority in a particular field. We have standards in our country for what defines a doctorate. In Mr. White’s defense of his degrees (which can be found here: http://aomin.org/CrEd.html) he states:
“Do not allow the traditions of our society rob you of the opportunity to advance in your learning and enrich your life and ministry.”
Does this imply that if one doesn’t have a doctorate they can’t advance in learning and advance in their life and ministry? He appears more concerned with the title of doctor than with the accepted requirements for earning one.
If you don’t like the traditions of society, why not disassociate yourself with them? Why not just make your own degree? I have an idea. Mr. White could make his own degree called an EAT: Exalted Authority in Theology. That sounds impressive. It even follows the schismatic thought process on which protestantism is built: if you disagree with something, break from the accepted and do your own thing. The fact that Mr. White is so adament on holding onto this title leads me to believe he is using it more as a badge of honor. Mr. White, you can still be intelligent, respectable without the Dr. in front of your name.

Greg Mc August 23, 2006 at 2:34 pm

Whoever; You should be ashamed to call yourself a Christian and repeat the kind of slanderous charges you have just made. There has been zero evidence provided to show that James White has a “phony degree” In fact he has an earned degree at an unaccredited institution. Institutions are accredited not degrees. A distinction that your degree has apparently not helped you to fathom. Just goes to show you that people with degrees can still say very stupid things.
Re classrooms. On-line distance education by it’s very nature does not have or need a physical classroom. In fact I could go to a third rate local school and sit in a physical seat to listen to an under paid third rate professor lecture on some subject, or I could listen to one of the most brilliant scholars in his particular field give a lecture on the same subject over the internet. You should get with the times friend.
“Second is the issue of academic incest.”
You should give a concrete example of what you are referring to before making such a serious and defamatory charge as that. Exactly where is this “academic incest” that you speak of?
Brother Cadfael; The whole issue of Mr Whites doctorate is itself a red herring designed to avoid interacting with the substantive issues and arguments that Dr White raises. That was my point and I think it stands. Dr White does not appeal to his doctorate as an authority he uses the text of Scripture and primary source material that directly pertains to whatever particular issue is being discussed. That’s why you all don’t like him. He knows your theology better that most of your own experts. They come off looking foolish and inept in face to face debates and the only thing left is to start hurling insults or change the subject before the people see they have been misled by Rome.

Anonymous August 23, 2006 at 2:48 pm

Alois; Thanks for that link.
http://aomin.org/CrEd.html) he states:
“Do not allow the traditions of our society rob you of the opportunity to advance in your learning and enrich your life and ministry.”
(((“Does this imply that if one doesn’t have a doctorate they can’t advance in learning and advance in their life and ministry?”)))
It does no such thing! Rather than worrying about doctorates perhaps you should start by enrolling in a remedial reading course?

Brother Cadfael August 23, 2006 at 2:49 pm

Greg Mc,
“Whoever” was responding to the only question you raised in the prior post, which was:
Do you have some indication that he has not?
Despite your attempt to answer “No” for him (that is the answer you so desperately want to believe), “Whoever” calmly provided you several indications that call Mr. White’s degree (and I’m sorry, his use of that degree as an indicia of authority) into question.
And if Mr. White does really understand what the Church teaches, then I for one will pray for his soul, because he has no excuse for remaining outside it.

Greg Mc August 23, 2006 at 2:49 pm

The last comment was mine.
Greg McR

Whoever August 23, 2006 at 3:10 pm

“Whoever; You should be ashamed to call yourself a Christian and repeat the kind of slanderous charges you have just made. There has been zero evidence provided to show that James White has a “phony degree””
I decided to look into Columbia Evangelical Seminary a little further. They do have a fancy website, however if you dig for some facts, things look a little bleaker. CES is a nonprofit organization, so their tax returns are a matter of public record. In 1999, around the time Mr White received his so called doctorate, CES had total revenue of about $68,000. They offer a doctoral program on $68,000 per year! And it appears to be even less now, because there are no tax returns after 2001, which suggests that their revenue went below the minimum required to file the nonprofit tax returns.
Other facts gleamed from the IRS form 990. There is only one paid employee, Rick Walston, who makes about $19,000 per year (although more in later years). So we have a doctoral program with no paid faculty? Please don’t tell my administration about that one. They do spend a chunk of change on advertising about $7000.

Greg McR August 23, 2006 at 4:08 pm

Whoever;
I don’t understand why a huge staff and large physical buildings are a requisite for the kind of focused individual work that goes into getting a doctorate? What is required is a qualified mentor (Rick Walston has four earned degrees from accredited schools), the completion of the required research and a dissertation. BTW, “you may see his whole Th.D. dissertation in book form: THE FORGOTTEN TRINITY, published by Bethany House Publishers”
I have looked for a dissertation by “Whoever” but it seems to be figment of someones imagination.
Dr White: “The Th.M./Th.D. program I completed with Columbia required a total of 128 semester hours of work for the Th.M, and an additional 32 for the Th.D. …My doctoral program included the writing of six nationally published books. Most doctoral programs require papers and a dissertation. Four of those six books would, taken individually, be substantially longer than many standard dissertations.” http://www.aomin.org/Novak1.html
If you bother to read Dr Whites works or listen to any of his debates, you will see that he does his homework very thoroughly and the breadth of his scholarship speaks for itself. Your response is nothing more than cheap shots on your part produced by frustration that you have no substantive answers to the issues he raises. I wouldn’t put my name on posts like the ones you produce either; I would be too ashamed.

Whoever August 23, 2006 at 4:25 pm

“I don’t understand why a huge staff and large physical buildings are a requisite for the kind of focused individual work that goes into getting a doctorate? What is required is a qualified mentor (Rick Walston has four earned degrees from accredited schools), the completion of the required research and a dissertation.”
Obviously, you don’t work in a university. What you need when offering a doctoral program are specialists. For example, My doctorate is in economics, specializing in urban economics. What that means, is that I am not qualified to supervise a doctoral dissertation in say, international economics. While I understand much of what goes on in international economics I am not familiar enough with that field to help someone who really wants to make a contribution to that field, and that is what a doctoral dissertation is: a contribution to the scholarship in a particular field.
Can one person be qualified enough to supervise everyones dissertation in a subject? In my opinion, no.
“If you bother to read Dr Whites works or listen to any of his debates, you will see that he does his homework very thoroughly and the breadth of his scholarship speaks for itself.”
I think that Jimmy Akin does his homework, and I am impressed with the breadth of his scholarship. That doesn’t mean however that because Jimmy has done a lot of work that he automatically deserves a doctorate. As a holder of a doctorate myself, I guess that gives me the right to start Whatsamatter U, and grant Jimmy a doctorate based on the breadth and depth of his writing. But personally, I think Jimmy would receive more respect without the doctorate from Whatsamatter U.

Alois August 23, 2006 at 4:27 pm

Greg Mc,
I’ve been thinking about doing that! Can you recommend a good accredited remedial reading program? Thank you for answering my question succinctly and then insulting me. It’s much appreciated!

The reason I asked that question is because he portrays himself as disadvantaged. He is essentially saying if you can’t play by the accepted standards for a doctorate, it’s okay to disregard those standards and still say you have a doctorate. He says:
“Whatever you do, don’t let anyone convince you that you are better off skipping more education unless you can get government money to pay tuition costs. Christian education can be done with or without governmental money.”
Remember, this is all in the context of him defending his degree and title.
THEN refer back to his previous statement:
“Do not allow the traditions of our society rob you of the opportunity to advance in your learning and enrich your life and ministry.”
Based on his explanation and his actions, I feel the question I raised (Does this imply that if one doesn’t have a doctorate they can’t advance in learning and advance in their life and ministry?) was valid.
And for the record, I’m not opposed to CES offering degrees or educating people. But I think they add to their lack of academic credibilty by offering one of the most revered degrees when it clearly does not conform to the widely accepted standards of said degree. Like I said before, if they want to, they should give their own name to it, like Exalted Authority in Theology. But they won’t do that because what they want most is the weight that goes along with the title Dr. I think Mr. White should take his own advice and not allow “the traditions of our society rob you of the opportunity to advance in your learning and enrich your life and ministry” by admitting he is not a real doctor as our society defines it.

Scott W August 23, 2006 at 7:11 pm

Plenty of Catholic apologists have disposed of White’s arguments handily so the idea that people are just chewing on this because they don’t have an answer is absurd. The issue over the title is a worthwhile addition to the evidence of the intellectually-suicidal position of anti-Catholicism.

Kevin August 23, 2006 at 8:09 pm

I don’t see what all the fuse is about. Clearly to call Jame White a “doctor” would technically be against his own doctrinal position and literalist biblical interpretation.
Folks if you would be so kind and turn to the bible you’ll discover the verse (waved at Catholics continually) “Call no man father” but wait don’t forget the other part “call no man teacher” meaning of course from the Greek ……DOCTOR :). Basically all you bible believers, evangelical, reformed church and born againers can’t have your cake and eat it too and of course that includes Mr. White, amen?

Lily August 23, 2006 at 9:34 pm

“Mr” is a perfectly respectable title. The fact that James White thinks he needs something more tends to make me think that he has a wee problem with self-esteem issues. (Not being a psychologist, I hesitate to state whether he suffers from low self-esteem, or is so dang full of his own importance that he thinks he’s entitled to a “Dr” in front of his name….which, by the way, was a perfectly good & respectable name–until, of course, he dragged it through the nearest millpond by attacking other people for the High Crime & Misdemeanor of Disagreeing With James White.
And just for the record, I really am a Methodist. My only title in the real world is “Miss”. I find it more than adequate.
In cyberspace, I am Grand Duchess of Belalugosi, over at http://nationstates.net/ just because I say so.
I am in charge of Feline Forces at http://forums.catholic.com/ just because a group of friends & I say so.
These are made up titles, but then, I have never pretended otherwise.The problem happens when someone–say, James White, buys a title & then insists that everybody recognize it. If I really started insisting that as “Grand Duchess”, I had the right to demand that all fall on their knees & grovel before my “Mightiness”, I would expect a sharp rebuke. (And a trip to the nearest mental health facility might well be in order, to boot).
(Mind you,:-) my cat really is an Ordained Minister in the Universal Life Church. But that’s a whole other story….).

Francis DS August 23, 2006 at 10:14 pm

Here’s my take (just thinking aloud):
– A title of ‘doctor’ means ‘teacher’, and it implies that the person holding the title is a teacher within his discipline, because he has extended the scholarship available in the discipline, and his contribution was recognized. Thus has ‘taught’ the others.
– That person is not a teacher outside of his discipline. A doctor in economics does not make one a teacher in the field of scripture studies, and vice-versa.
– If someone holds an accredited doctorate, then that means his contribution was recognized by a recognized body of that discipline.
– If someone holds an unaccredited doctorate, then that means his contribution is recognnized only by a body that itself is not recognized by that discipline. In this particular regard only, there seems to be no distinction between a phony degree and an unrecognized degree.
– That means, someone who holds a unrecognized doctorate is not recognized as a doctor by his own discipline, and is certainly not recognized as a doctor outside his discipline.
– To say that he should be considered a doctor on the basis of his works is appealing to the wrong people: we laymen are not qualified to regard his work and declare that he is a doctor.

J.R. Stoodley August 23, 2006 at 10:30 pm

Incidentally, doesn’t the word “mister” just mean “master.” And didn’t Jesus also say “call no man on earth ‘master'”?

J.R. Stoodley August 23, 2006 at 10:39 pm

I suspect a primary reason for White’s use of thr title “Dr.”, besides the fact that he no doubt personally believes his college’s lack of accreditation is incosiquential, is that he wants to establish what sort of person he is.
Those who engage in apologetics and related activities may be clergy, scholars, or just knowlegeable, zeal-filled people. He wants to establish himself as a scholar.

Jimmy Akin August 23, 2006 at 10:56 pm

Michael wrote:
Please accept my apologies.
Apologies accepted! Thanks for a reasonable discussion, even if we do not agree on all points.

Whoever August 24, 2006 at 3:08 am

Lily wrote:
“”Mr” is a perfectly respectable title.”
Good point. Actually, the Wall Street Journal usually refers to people with Ph.D’s as Mr, it is part of their editorial style. However, I know some professors who just have a fit if they are called Mr. Personally, I think they are getting a bit too carried away with themselves.

Anonymous August 25, 2006 at 3:55 am

“CES is a nonprofit organization, so their tax returns are a matter of public record. In 1999, around the time Mr White received his so called doctorate, CES had total revenue of about $68,000. They offer a doctoral program on $68,000 per year! And it appears to be even less now, because there are no tax returns after 2001, which suggests that their revenue went below the minimum required to file the nonprofit tax returns.”
Other facts gleamed from the IRS form 990. There is only one paid employee, Rick Walston, who makes about $19,000 per year (although more in later years). So we have a doctoral program with no paid faculty? Please don’t tell my administration about that one. They do spend a chunk of change on advertising about $7000.” — Whoever
Ever check out the Form 990s for Catholic Answers, Whoever? If not, I highly recommend it. Karl Keating would view the $7,000 you mentioned above to be chump change. For example, Keating pays a ghost writer by the name of Gary Waltersheid $60,000 a year to write his appeal letters. Funny, but every “appeal letter” I ever received from Catholic Answers was signed by “Karl” and claimed to be “From the Desk of Karl Keating.” I wonder why an attorney and author like Karl Keating would need a ghost writer to ask for more money?

jd August 25, 2006 at 6:06 am

I did check out the 990 for Catholic Answers. Jimmy- you aren’t doing too bad at all! Nice work if you can get it!!!
:-)
Seriously, Thanks for all you do!

bill912 August 25, 2006 at 6:45 am

I wonder why someone would post anonymously if he wants to be taken seriously?
Maybe I’ve answered my own question.

Chicken August 25, 2006 at 12:40 pm

Would you give your name if you were reporting your neighbors running a crackhouse?
There can be a blessing in anonymity in that someone can state what they truly feel/think/believe without the hounds being released on them.

Click Me August 25, 2006 at 2:33 pm

And its not like the claims made above can’t be verified rather easily. All you need is 39 cents for the stamp on the letter you’ll be sending to the IRS when you request to see a particular Form 990.
http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=96430,00.html

Anonymous August 25, 2006 at 3:15 pm

Or go to guidestar.org and save 39 cents.

Really Click Me! August 25, 2006 at 4:12 pm

Thanks to the anonymous poster who posted on August 25, 2006 at 3:15 PM. I am VERY grateful to you for the link that you provided.
That said, tell me again, Bill912, that an anonymous poster shouldn’t be taken seriously simply because they wish to remain anonymous.
Please click on my screen name or see the following URL for a copy of the latest Form 990 that Catholic Answers filed with the Internal Revenue Service:
http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2004/953/754/2004-953754404-01ab67f8-9.pdf

Anonymous August 26, 2006 at 12:00 pm

Has anyone ever tried to pull up a 990 on James White’s organization? I’ve tried, but never found it.

White's 990 August 26, 2006 at 3:38 pm
Or Click Here August 26, 2006 at 3:45 pm

Sorry about the bad link above. It looks like you will have to either click on “White’s 990” in the post above or copy & paste this URL:
http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2004/942/927/2004-942927843-01cc438d-p.pdf

Linda Sue August 27, 2006 at 11:52 am

Etiquette, from the voice of such personages as Letticia Baldridge or “Miss Manners” Judith Martin, would say in the United States, a person who is a physician uses the title “Doctor” while an academic Ph.D (Ed.D, etc.) uses the title “Mister” or the similar feminine form.

Lily August 27, 2006 at 3:12 pm

By the bye, I did a smallish bit of checking of my own, into other-than-regional (ie, religious) accreditation. CES, it would appear, is accredited by absolutely nobody.
(Not that this surprised me. But there it is…)

Some Day August 27, 2006 at 3:27 pm

I am a master.
According to etiquette.
That is funny.
In Spanish we don’t make a change based on a age.

Anonymous August 27, 2006 at 3:47 pm

Websters…
Main Entry: doc·tor
Function: noun
1 a : an eminent theologian declared a sound expounder of doctrine by the Roman Catholic Church — called also doctor of the church b : a learned or authoritative teacher c : a person who has earned one of the highest academic degrees (as a PhD) conferred by a university d : a person awarded an honorary doctorate (as an LLD or Litt D) by a college or university
2 a : a person skilled or specializing in healing arts; especially : one (as a physician, dentist, or veterinarian) who holds an advanced degree and is licensed to practice b : MEDICINE MAN
3 a : material added (as to food) to produce a desired effect b : a blade (as of metal) for spreading a coating or scraping a surface
4 : a person who restores, repairs, or fine-tunes things

robo March 5, 2008 at 11:56 am

This discussion of STDs is borderline racist. It is not more pastoral than a PhD, it just derives from the Roman system. It is probably more comprehensive than a PhD, but only just (considering pre-reqs are 5 year STB, 2 year licentiate). They are largely equivalents. The Easy A is a joke, but so are many US state schools and even quite a few private ones.

bill912 March 5, 2008 at 12:47 pm

“borderline racist”?????

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