NOTE – ADDED 3/11/2009.
Before commenting about this post, I’d like to point out that you need to respectfully read it word for word, carefully. I’ve noticed that people skim this post, and make assumptions and then comment on those assumptions.
In this post, I, in no way, state that you need a doctorate to lead people to Christ. Although I mention that the pastor of my old church home has an academically-earned doctorate, I, in no way, state or imply that you need a doctorate to lead a church. I, in no way, state that people with doctorate degrees are “better than/holier than/smarter than” non-doctorate degree holders.
All I’m saying is that when you use the Dr. title, people are automatically going to assume that you studied at an accredited university to obtain your degree. If you haven’t obtained your doctorate in this fashion, then you need to let people know this when you use the title because you don’t want to mislead people.
After carefully reading this post, in its’ entirety, feel free to comment, and if you want to know more about me or my novels, visit my website and look at other entries on this blog!
I’m Cecelia Dowdy, a Christian fiction author.
My Christian romance novels, John’s Quest, Milk Money, Bittersweet Memories, and First Mates are now available on Kindle and other e-readers!
My Christian novel, First Mates, is now available on Kindle as well as other e-readers.
Okay, now onto the Doctor of Divinity post:
I’m going to go off the beaten path and not talk about books, recipes, or writing today. I’d said earlier that I’d be posting about Divinity school. Something strange happened a few years back. A person who I knew slightly had a self-published book released. When I saw the cover, it stated this person’s name as: Dr. (Person’s name) D.D.
Number one, I was shocked, because this person had only been out of high school for a few years and wasn’t old enough to have a doctorate degree, and number two, this person had mentioned to me that they’d quit undergrad temporarily after only one semester. This person was currently working at a clerical job and wasn’t leading a church or anything.
I didn’t understand. How could this person call him/herself Dr., but then not have ever graduated from college, not even as an undergrad?
My sister’s roommate is a graduate of Oral Roberts University, so she knew a little about educational levels within the religious community. So I asked her how someone could have a Doctor of Divinity degree without ever graduating from college. She explained that a Doctor of Divinity degree is not always an earned degree, it’s honorary. People sometimes pay a few dollars to an institution and they can automatically use the title, even though they don’t have a degree. She said it’s a sore spot within the religious community with some people because there are others out there, who have rightfully earned their doctorate, and they don’t like the fact that others can use the title just because they want to, and have never earned a degree. I still didn’t get it. I said, “Do you mean to say that it’s a common practice?”
She said it’s fairly common. I guess it upset me so much because I don’t think a lot of people are aware this is the case! For example, when I showed the book mentioned in the first paragraph to a friend of mine, he looked at the cover and said, “Oh, he has his PhD? That’s impressive!” I laughed, and he said, “Why are you laughing?” That’s when I told him that the author had never earned a doctorate, masters or bachelors. He said, “Well, why does he have this on the cover of his book if he hasn’t earned the degree?” That’s when I explained that a Doctor of Divinity degree is not always earned the traditional way.
When I asked my best friend’s husband about it, he pointed out that not all doctorate degrees are earned. He said, for example, that Oprah and Bill Cosby had honorary degrees. He went on to say that if somebody says they have their doctorate, you need to ask them where they went to school and check out their credentials. That’s all true…however, I was always under the impression that when an honorary degree is bestowed upon someone, that person has done something truly phenomenal, and it’s only given by an accredited university and it’s done on rare occasions. However, my impressions might be totally inaccurate. Now, I have heard that some Doctor of Divinity degrees are given to those who have done some phenomenal works within the church. However, I don’t have any specific examples about the works that would be involved within a church to earn a degree in this fashion. If anybody has any comments about how this is done, I’d be interested in hearing what they had to say.
I asked some other people about the Dr. of Divinity issue, and they said they assumed if somebody called themselves Dr. or Reverend Dr. in the religious field, they thought that person had their doctorate degree. Like, they earned it at a university or religious school and studied approximately eight years, give or take! One woman asked me, “When someone calls himself Reverend Dr., I always thought they had their degree! Do you mean they don’t have their degree?”
I patiently pointed out that some do and some don’t. I know at my old church home, the pastor was known as Reverend Dr., and on the church’s website, it stated where he went to school to get is undergrad, masters and doctorate. Here’s a link from the webpage of my old home church. The reverend’s credentials are listed on the seventh paragraph from the bottom.
I just don’t think it’s right for somebody to use the title who hasn’t rightfully earned the degree. I feel to use the title, one should have been in school for several years, right? I’m not saying it’s wrong for un-doctored (if that’s really a word!) ones to have leadership roles within the church, or to give sermons and such, but I just don’t feel it’s right for them to use that title! I feel it’s not fair to those who study for their degree and earn it the ‘traditional’ way.
I did an internet search and found a few places where one can get their doctor of divinity degree fairly easily. Check out these links!
This one can get you a doctor of divinity degree for only $40!
This link offers the Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree for only $10.00!
This one is for $20.00, however, you have to be ordained to apply!
They charge $50.00 for their Doctor of Divinity Degree!
Those are just a few links. There are others. Just Google Doctor of Divinity honorary and see what comes up.
Also, check out this Wikipedia reference, too. (I know, Wikipedia is not the most reliable source, but I still look there occasionally for information.) If you look at the bottom of the entry it states: In the United States the D.D. is usually awarded as an honorary degree. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_of_Divinity
Does anybody have any thoughts about this? Am I over-reacting? Has my head been in the sand and this whole Doctor of Divinity issue is just plain common knowledge? Inquiring minds want to know! Also, if you disagree with this post, feel free to comment since I’d like to hear from all about this subject!
Also, if you have an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree, and you use the title Dr. regularly, I’d like to know if you let people know from the start that your degree is honorary and not earned the traditional way? If you were to speak or give a sermon, or are a guest someplace, do you let the audience know, somehow, that your degree is honorary? Or do you assume they already know this? I’m thinking they probably don’t know, unless they know you personally. What if you are on a panel with those that have earned their degree, and you’re introduced to the audience as Reverend Dr. XYZ. I’d think most in the audience would assume you’d earned your degree like the rest of the participants in the panel.