Not surprisingly, in recent years seminaries have found it important to think of themselves as comparable to other professional schools, such as those for law and medicine, and many now offer the Doctor of Ministry degree as a further means of establishing this parity. Unfortunately, the typical seminary does not offer training that can compare with the rigor of these professional schools. The Doctor of Ministry degree is in fact not much of a doctorate; the standards one must meet to receive this degree are frequently below those required of candidates for the Master of Divinity (a degree that not too long ago was called the Bachelor of Divinity). It is a case of professional elevation not by accomplishment but by linguistic inflation. What used to be the minimum level of knowledge for entry into Christian ministry, gauged by a bachelor’s degree, has out of professional necessity and a wave of the magician’s wand now become a doctorate by the addition of what may amount to little more than refresher courses.
Last year, I passed this passage around to a couple of my friends in the same program. You could see one of them turn red with anger. Dr. Wells teaches at Gordon-Conwell, where we were, and I’m sure my friend was thinking of storming his office. I can understand why. It’s hard to pay what we’re paying, both in money and time, and then to feel that it’s not worth it. When we head down to school next week, three of us are scheduled to go out with Dr. Wells. No, we’re not going to give him a noogie. I actually think his book is very good, and it is going to be fascinating to talk to him. It feels funny to be enrolled in a D.Min. program in preaching of all things. D.Min. sounds so modern and is almost enough to get you kicked out of some circles these days. There are probably fewer programs that could be less trendy than one in preaching. I’m glad to be able to spend time with someone like Haddon Robinson. It’s about the friendships you form in the cohort. And I still believe that preaching has relevance, even though the forms of preaching may change. Should be fun. A week to go.