PhD, LLD, DD, Ed.D, Th.D, etc.

by Edward O. Bragwell, Sr.

More and more we are seeing my brethren attaching academic degrees to authors of religious writings and in advertising them as speakers at church events. Not only this, but often advertisement of church lectures and meetings contain a bio of the speaker's outstanding accomplishments in the academic and secular fields. Just a couple of generations or so ago that would have raised eyebrows among most those that sought to restore primitive Christianity and it should have.

I am not against education nor excelling in one's chosen secular calling. I always told my children to get all the education that they had sense enough to use. I have known a number of preachers with a list of academic degrees, but they refused to use them or allow them to be used to "enhance" their standing as preachers of the gospel.

These things are often used to impress the world and fellow Christians of the importance of these men among us, that we too, have an "educated ministry." The idea is that because of their standing in academia, the professional and business world, they somehow are better qualified to speak on matters of "the faith" that those without such standing.

What ever happened to "standing behind the cross and preaching and exalting Christ?" It was said of Peter and John that they were perceived to be "uneducated and untrained" men, but the people perceived that they had "been with Jesus." (Acts 4:13). Gospel preachers and writers today may not have been with Jesus in the same sense as the apostles, but it can be perceived whether or not they have "been with" the Book, His word. It was important to Paul that men's faith did not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God (I Corinthians 2:5).

Paul was likely the best educated and most accomplished of the apostles, but he counted all these things as loss: "Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:8). Paul also indicates that he made a deliberate determined effort to not use the tactics that would exalt human wisdom so that those who heard him would have their faith stand in the power of God rather than the wisdom of men.

We can gloss over the practice of exalting brethren's academic and professional accomplishments all we please. It is still nothing more than taking pride in our being able to compete with others in those areas.