Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Pastor with a D. Min. Degree Should Not Be Addressed as "Dr." - Tom Kelley

After a few weeks of posting at Grace and Truth to You and fluctuating with my desires about comments, it seems that moderation provides the best solution for what had become a  perplexing problem. Moderating comments--viewing them before they are posted--is a compromise between the completely open comment system which sadly allows subversiveness from ideological ranters which drowns out the substance of other commentors, and the completely closed system which just as sadly shuts out the incredibly astute comments of many who either agree or disagree with what I write. Until events dictate otherwise, Grace and Truth to You will operate under comment moderation.

I've discovered an army of Southern Baptists, usually silent in public, who feel empowered to comment on blogs, and their comments are both needed and thought provoking. One such layman, a highly educated professional himself, wrote a comment on last week's post about mail order degrees obtained by some Southern Baptist pastors. Tom Kelley did not comment about fraudulent degrees, but instead wrote about D.Min degrees,  degrees that are legitimate post-graduate degrees for many Southern Baptist pastors. However, Tom expressed his disapproval that these pastors either insist on being called "Dr." or even allow others to address them as "Dr."--a distinction that the D. Min degree does not afford. Tom explained his feelings in this manner:
"One thing that bothers me is the number of pastors who complete D.Min. degrees and then refer to themselves (or allow others to refer to them as) "Dr." As a practitioner's degree, the preface of Dr. for a D.Min. grad is not appropriate, as it is with an academic's degree, such as a Ph.D., Th.D., or even Ed.D.

It's appropriate, if one sees a need, for a D.Min. to follow their name with their "letters", just as a lawyer can follow their name with J.D. (Doctor of Jurisprudence). But one should no more call a D.Min. grad "Dr." than one would call a lawyer "Dr." This is because the purpose of both degrees serve as terminal degrees in the practice of one's "craft"; the degrees are not intended as scholarly qualifications.

In fact, a pastor with a Ph.D. should not be called "Dr." in reference to his position as pastor, only in his work as a professor or theologian. Even someone with an M.D., a profession notorious for insisting on being called Dr., would be out of line to think his mechanic should call him "Dr." when he gets his oil changed.

Context is key."
In light of Tom's perceptive--and in my opinion, accurate--comment, I would like to thank Kevin Ezell, President of this year's 2010 Pastors' Conference in Orlando. No speaker is listed as "Dr.". Most speakers have earned the D.Min degree. A couple have earned Ph.D's. It is right to do away with all titles when SBC pastors are called to preach the word of God. Christ Himself spoke about being careful of considering oneself superior to those to whom one speaks (Matthew 23:8). Thankfully, the SBC Committee on Order of Business has adopted a similar approach when presenting speakers.

Do you agree that the D. Min is not an academic research degree, and that pastors desire to be identified as a person with this degree, they should abstain from "Dr." before their name, and simply go with D. Min after their name, as would an attorney with a Juris Doctorate degree? Or do you believe that a pastor with a D.Min should be called "Dr." and introduce himself as "Dr."? It seems that most Southern Baptist pastors with a D.Min believe it is both normal and expected for their congregations to refer to them as "Dr.". I think Tom Kelley has made some valid points about this being an errant practice.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Bob Cleveland said...

The same thing goes for pharmacists. Beyond the undergraduate degree, there's Pharm.D. But we don't call them "Doctors".

I think how the individual wants to be addressed tells a lot about them, so such degrees are useful to us folks out in the pews.


Glen Alan Woods said...

I agree with most of what you have written, Wade. In my D.Min. program there was a very strong research component concerning the interface of academic learning and ministry praxis. Historically, the written final product for D.Min. students was a project which addresses a key question or problem in their local ministry with potential for broader application. It was not a research dissertation in the tradition of Ph.D. dissertations.

However, that is changing in D.Min programs around the USA. At Western Seminary, there has been a transition to more vigorous research so that the final products can rightly be called dissertations, rather than merely products. They still address a key question or problem of ministry, but they do so with the added expectation of original empirical research. Sometimes this is statistical. Or it can be in the form of exhaustive direct observation, as in ethnographic field research. In Ph.D's students aim to contribute original research to the public body of knowledge in a narrow area of discipline. Some of the D.Min programs are moving this direction as well, although it clearly is with a view toward strengthening ministry practice, rather than simply adding to the theoretical knowledge base.

And yes, I still prefer to be called Glen. :)

Jeff said...


I couldn't agree more. I have an earned Phd from Southern. I teach in a seminary and my students within the context of the institution use the term Dr. which is a part of the academic culture. Were I to go back into the pastor, the one thing I would insist on is NOT being called Dr. Pastor or simply "Brother" for the younger folks is ok. My peers and elders (seniors) may feel free to call me whatever they wish--first name or Pastor/Brother.

Regards, Dr. oops, er, Jeff Straub

Anonymous said...

I am married to a pastor who worked mighty hard for his Ph.D. In fact, the whole family sacrificed - for years. I am also working on mine, and yes - the sacrifice is tremendous.

We both serve as adjunct faculty for an SBC institution. My husband does not use his title accept in the classroom. I don't plan on using mine, either. It becomes a barrier anywhere outside academia.

This blogpost hits the nail on the head!

Mr. and Mrs. :)

Tom Kelley said...

Wow -- I need to be careful of my comments; no telling what might become of them! I am honored you thought my comments worth consideration.

I have to say, I agree with everything you wrote, and I pretty much agree with everything I wrote.


Unknown said...

Kudos. I could not agree more. The distinction of "Dr." is purely for the academics when it comes to this. As one who is currently working toward his own post-grad degrees, I realize that the goals that I have set are not for the notice of the public arena, but for my own personal enrichment. When I get to share any material I have learned with others it is a privilege and honor that they feel that I could possibly give them an answer to their query. More education does not make one a better Christian nor place them on some new plain in heaven. As for myself, it makes me realize just how little I know and how much more there is to learn and live out on a daily basis.

John B said...

As far back as I have known and in many contexts, Pastors possessing a D.Min. have normally been referred to as "Dr." For me, the problem is when people lord their titles or education or experience or [fill in the blank] over people.

This post provoked a couple of questions for me:
1. When and where did the D.Min. degree originate? What was the attitude towards "titleing" D.Min.er's at that time?
2. Should the M.Div. degree be treated differently than other Master degrees? It is a different type of degree. Most M.Div. degrees do not require a Bachelor degree. It is my understanding that historically the M.Div. has melded a typical Bachelor coursework with a Master's coursework resulting in the high number of hours.

The Squirrel said...

I don't have any graduate, and certainly no post-graduate, degrees. I don't even really like being addressed as "Pastor." Most everybody just calls me "Gene."

One young lady, whose parents insisted (which I fully supported and in no way tried to undermine) that she call adults "Mr" & "Mrs" used to call me "Mr Gene." I liked that :D

Nobody at church calls me "Squirrel"... at least, not yet...


Rex Ray said...

My father (with a MD degree) said a degree didn’t change a pig any except put a little more curl in its tail.

We were told by a professor at NTSU when we applied for a job, we’d stand a better chance of getting it if we left our graduation rings at home.

I was in a church that announced the pastor would get a raise in salary when he got his Ph.D. (I wondered if the church bulletin would have “Dr. xxx”)

I agree with Jesus not to call any man Father. I believe “Father” is implying a statue of praise. When Heriod did not prevent people from calling him a god, God killed him.

Scott said...

If the seminaries are using the term doctor in describing the degree I think it is perfectly appropriate for the one who earns the degree to be called doctor. It seems foolish not to, IMHO.

I agree that in most instances those of us in ministry should not want to be called "Doctor" as it can easily lead to thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought. Perhaps the preference of some that the term not be used can be linked to their own feeling of superiority at earning a PhD, although I don't feel this is the case with Mr. Kelly

Pege' said...

Wade, My theory is unique. All Pastors should be tested in the field...literally for one year prior to becoming a Pastor. They should be required to be sheep farmers for one year before given any position or title in the church. If they can care for a herd of sheep well...then they are qualified to care for God's flocks. No PHD, MD,DR. Just Wade Burleson , Shepherd.
That's my humble opinion and I am sticking to it!

Charlie said...

Wade, you wrote:
Or do you believe that a pastor with a D.Min should be called "Dr." and introduce himself as "Dr."?
I think the problem is in the personality and ego of the person - with any doctorate - who introduces himself as such! I prefer my church folks and others simply call me by my name. I'm equally put off by the sanctimonious "Brother" or "Reverend" or whatever.
Good post.

Anonymous said...

1. The degree---any degree---is in the person, not the institution (e.g., a good friend was a way-below-average student in high school; after some major, major crises in his life, he got things together and now is a doctor with a practice in Dallas and also holds 2 masters degrees---though absolutely no one in high school would have thought it possible);

2. Some may go beyond the requirements of their DMin programs and complete PhD-level research; we'll likely never know it, though, as only the final written project is available for public consumption---and most of us never will take the time to read it;

3. Some actually under-perform on their research and/or final written projects but hire editors who offer many suggestions for improvement of the project or actually insert improvements in it before it's turned in for committee approval; that seems deceptive and not "doctoral," to say the least;

4. Pharmacy doctorates are much more grueling that DMin doctorates;

5. In this day and age, I admire any adult---especially non-traditional ones---who completes any higher education degree, including reputable ones earned at a distance from the main campus of the institution (I don't hold so much to the "community of scholars" idea these days); if it's a doctoral degree, those folk deserve to be referred to as "Dr." if anyone does;

6. I call folks in our church with legitimate earned doctorates "Doctor" (without including his/her first or last name) when greeting them as a way to indicate to them that I understand what it took for them to complete the degree (ones in mind: medical doctors or higher ed doctorates); I don't consider that a big deal, and they don't seem to consider it one either;

7. Some with earned doctoral degrees continue to act like children, even in corporate settings of the church; I would NOT call them "Doctor"---but would advise them to change their behaviors so that someone might!

8. I have more strong feelings about being able to post comments here anonymously (100% in favor of it) than I do the topic of this thread.

Good job, Wade.

Anonymous said...

In our history's past former soldiers have not worn their medals on their suits or outfits during armed forces celebration because of the humility in which these awards were earned. Perhaps our SBC leadership (pastors and entity leaders) could learn that just becasue you have earned something doesn't mean that you have to wear it on your sleeve (or church bulletin) :)

Unknown said...

There is too much title worship in the SBC. It seems the title is a validation of ministry and authority rather than truth, substance and servanthood. Way too much verbal fondling is going on in our introductions of speakers/ preachers especially in some of our seminary chapels. It is another example of the spiritual superstar culture that is degrading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If someone insists on a title, they have serious problems. To minister to others we must draw near to them, not set up barriers and distance by the use of titles to denote superiority. I have a D.Min and told my churches that I did not want to be called Dr. I was still pastor or brother. I studied for the degree to better equip myself for ministry and I enjoy the academic challenge. Let us get away from title idolatry and back to serving together to further the Kingdom of God.

Tom Chantry said...

I even step back from wanting people to call me "Pastor." It's one thing when people teach their kids to do so as a way of learning respect within the church, but I can't imagine insisting on a title. It would be embarrassing, too, since there is a surgeon in our congregation who never wants or expects to be called "Dr." outside her hospital.

My years among Southern Baptists were spent in a backwoods area. As I recall, the pastors were all called "Brother So-and-So," a very Baptist way of emphasizing the non-dictatorial nature of the pastorate. It's sad to see that tradition fading through a fascination with worldly titles.

Man of the West said...

Some years ago, I became dimly aware that most of the Southern Baptist "Doctors" I met hadn't so much as read Calvin's Institutes in their entirety, which I thought a rather odd omission for religious scholars of any stripe. Then someone explained to me that most of them had doctorates in what amounted to "church management."


I've been a lot harder to impress ever since, and I never, ever operate on the assumption that any given pastor has read very widely.

But maybe that's just me.

Scott said...

I think this is a helpful and important discussion. It seems clear that of paramount importance is attitude and expectation. Any degree is ultimately a means to an end. Is the end an elevation of status and prestige? Or is the end a deep desire to shepherd Christ's flock more effectively? Perhaps the one with degree demonstrates which end based on the expectations when introduced.

One other comment that takes issue with a statement made by Tom. He said,"In fact, a pastor with a Ph.D. should not be called "Dr." in reference to his position as pastor, only in his work as a professor or theologian." I have no issue with refraining from referring to pastors as "Dr." However, I think the role of pastor is that of theologian and his approach to study should be rigorous. And the depth of his knowledge of God's Word as he stands to feed God's people should be deep and rich. While I understand Tom's point I do think the clarification needs to be made.

Paul Burleson said...


Tom Kelley is my kind of guy..in more ways than one. ;)

ml said...

Galatians 6:14 What will I do that ever out does the cross? Certainly not my PhD. Besides if I use that to earn, gain, or increase my message I am working against the gospel. We (I) need to make sure I am more Spirit empowered preaching than diploma empowered. I think that will preach at the convention, too. oh, and I do have an earned PhD.

Stonebriar said...

I have an earned Master of Divinity w/ Biblical Languages degree from a SBC Seminary. I place an M.D. after my name each time I sign. Is that wrong?

Steve Mortensen

Josh from FL said...

I believe if the degree is legit and the work was put into it, then one earned the title.
What one does with the title is another story.

My senior pastor earned his D.Min. from New Orleans. On formal documents and church material his name is "Dr"; however, around church and the community his title is "Pastor" or "Brother". He doesn't insist or even suggest people should address him as "Dr".
To me, this expresses meekness and humility - a leader leading by example.

However, if someone WANTED to call him "Dr" I don't think they'd be out of line. Just understand it's not demanded.

Michael Ruffin said...

As they say down here, "You can call me anything you want just as long as you call me for dinner."

JS Houston said...

This post is typical of what is wrong in the SBC and evangelicalism in general: writing about issues that don't matter in eternity. People are dying each day without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and you are worried about whether someone should be referred to as "Dr." or not. Most of these men that you take issue with are leading churches (by example) to win their neighbors and co-workers to Christ while you blog about the veracity of their degrees. It appears that many of them (Vines, Brunson, Hunt, Hoskins, Stanley, Merritt) learned something of value
in their educational process as evidenced by their burden for souls and soul winning. Why not take off the gloves of fighting and put on the gloves of working in the fields that are white for harvest? I believe that your writing skills and intellect could ignite a passion in many if it were dedicated to challenging men (women) to spread the good news of the Gospel with a world that desperately needs it.

Just saying,


Anonymous said...

I agree with much of what you have written here with one exception: setting up all the guidelines in the world of when and where the term "Dr." can be used is pretty much a form of legalism. The issue for pastors and ALL Christ Followers (both in professional "ministry" and "secular" work) with earned Ph.D's or any other form of higher education is simply this: does your degree or education make you think of yourself more highly than you should? Jesus cares about our heart- not our title our our business card or our degrees. Lets remember how sinful we are. So sinful that no one my ever call us "Dr." but having earned a degree might STILL inflate our pride.

I know the point of this post is the attitude of pastors in SBC about their degrees. Those words are much needed. But there is another issue that only adds fuel to that and it is the local church and their need to confer a title upon the pastor. I don't know why it is, maybe they need a pastor they can be "proud" of. I know of many pastors with earned D.Min's that do not refer to themselves as "Dr." or ask their church members to refer to them as "Dr." but what is hanging on the sign out front? Usually something along the lines of "Pastor: Dr. So and so."

John said...

It is a Doctor of Ministry degree so I don't have a problem with a pastor being called Dr. if he has one...I have one, but prefer to be called by my first name or by the title 'pastor.'

The term I hate is Rev. or Brother. The latter seems way out of date and the former forgets that only God is to be reverenced!

It would seem to me that the pride isn't always in those who have the D.Min wanting to be called Dr. as much as it is in those with a PhD being bothered that they are. :)

Unknown said...

Man of the West:

A number of years ago a pastor friend of mine was commenting about a certain prominent Southern Baptist minister (who formerly was a pastor, and then an administrator at a denominational agency), whom he knew fairly well. My friend stated concerning this minister that he had written more books than he had read.

Robert A said...

This whole "Dr" business is, in part, a carry over from the good ole days of the fundamentalist-modernist controversies. The fundamentalist leaders had the befuddling position of being deeply anti-intellectual but also going out and getting honorary doctorates and honorary doctorates. Then requiring their followers to call them "Dr."

I guess there is something to being elevated to a certain status...but it seems sorta silly to me. I remember talking with a guy who only had an earned B.A. but several honorary doctorates (mostly from unaccredited institutions) and kept correcting anyone who referred to him in anyway but "Dr." It was odd.

B Nettles said...

I used to teach at an institution which had a law school. At some point there was a memo sent around telling us that we should refer to law school faculty members by "Dr. xxx " within the academic context because they had "doctor" in their degree, J. D.

Shortly after that, one of the faculty took a sabbatical to earn an advanced degree from Yale. The degree was a Master of Laws. Huh?

One more story: while I was an undergraduate at a Baptist school the local Biggest Baptist Church called a pastor who happened to not have a doctorate. The wealthy donor/deacons wanted to call him "Doctor," especially in all their promotional literature, so the school promptly awarded him an honorary doctorate. You can imagine the cynicism that abounded among my Watergate/Vietnam era classmates.

Christiane said...

Wow. What a timely post.

You see, I was thinking about getting some nice stationery printed at a little shop in the city with my name embossed. (No pride intended: my mother used personalized stationery, so it is not unheard of in our family.)
I've never done this before now because I am TOO CHEAP to spend the extra money on something that elegant. (Elegance skipped a generation: my daughter has no problem spending money and being elegant. :)

Well, I read this post, and I am not going through with it. The linen paper was beautiful, the edging so amazing, and all the styles of embossing properly lady-like. My dear mother, of blessed memory, would have been proud.

But then the awful reality sets in:
" oh my goodness", imagine if my stationery became a source of 'pride' and I got carried away and had my 'letters' added for bachelor of arts and masters degree in education. People do that, you know.
Then there are those three state certifications . . . .
And then . . .


i'm not going that way. I'll give the money I save to the missions.
Come to think of it, I will give up stationery all together and use loose-leaf, both sides. Or maybe, I'll forget using the paper, save the trees and just e-mail.

Hmmm, pride dies easier if you never let it get a foot-hold . . .
(I said that.) :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Pastor Burleson,

I am currently pursuing an accredited D.Min. degree from Baylor University's Truett Theological Seminary, so I can offer a personal perspective on this post.

I don't like being addressed with any title at any time, and I have informed my congregation of this preference on more than one occasion. However, almost to a person they refer to me as 'Pastor,' even when I meet them out in public away from the church building, as if 'Pastor' were my first name. Occasionally I respond with 'Hello, Member!' That usually catches the member's attention.

Some have already started referring to me as 'Dr.' though I strongly dislike the appellation, especially since I have yet to earn the degree. I agree that too many titles lead to too many temptations to think too highly of ourselves than we should. I am honored to be a pastor, I am humbled to be anyone's brother in Christ, and I know that I will someday earn a doctor of ministry degree, but I wish people would just call me


Jonquil said...

A note from outside the ministry world: My father, a Ph.D in mathematics, *never* uses his title socially. (He taught in a Quaker school, which meant he didn't use it professionally, either; his students called him "Hal".)

So even people with academic doctorates can prefer to separate the academic title from their personal lives.

greg.w.h said...

I have a hard time not thinking of Matthew 6 when I read this post. Especially the first four verses.

Ok, ok, I'll relent and copy and paste those in here:

Matthew 6:1-4 (NIV)
Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Now I realize this passage has nothing to do with titles and everything to do with self-inspecting our own motivation for doing good works. For some reason, Jesus's direct. succinct words on the subject of our motivation for helping the needy seem to speak volumes as well on our motivation for getting a D. Min.

Greg Harvey

linda said...

I grew up with pastors being called brother so and so and with them reciprocating by referring to the men and women serving in the congregation as brother or sisther so and so.

I believe that was altogether Biblical, and that it preserved the priesthood of the believer and soul competency.

The pastor was an equal with a specialized job--as was everyone else.

And we worshipped Jesus, not idols of flesh and blood.

Anonymous said...

Stonebriar, I believe the proper form would be M.Div., not M.D., since that is reserved for medical doctors.

JSHouston, Wade blogs (as well he should) on any issue that he feels is cheapening the cause of Christ. The title of "Doctor" for some of the men you mention seems to be making them feel puffed up with pride, and better than their brothers and sisters in Christ. This pride is a definite barrier to spreading the Gospel. Therefore, Wade is right to bring this particular issue to light.

In any case, Wade is a pastor, and spends quite a bit of time in the field with those harvesting gloves on.

Alaskan in Texas said...

As a lawyer licensed to practice law in Texas, I thought you would be interested to know that the Texas Supreme Court Professional Ethics Committee has ruled (Ethics Opinion No. 550, May 2004) that it is ethical for Texas lawyers who have J.D. degrees from accredited law schools to use the title "Dr." in social and professional communications. It wasn't always this way in Texas, but times and rules have changed.

There is an important limitation, however. It is that such usage cannot be misleading or false. And, as you astutely observed, context is key.

The other limitation is practical. Lawyers simply do not make a practice of calling themselves or each other "Dr." Doing so feels weird and somewhat unseemly for most lawyers I know. On the other hand, being called "Dr." would not be a big deal for a lawyer who was also a college professor in the course of her work as a professor. There again, context is key.

By the way, Commenter "Stonebriar" asked whether it is wrong to use the letters M.D. to designate his attainment of a masters of divinity degree (which I also hold). Brother: It is inaccurate. "M.D." is short for a Medical Doctorate. An "MDiv" or "MDivBL" is the shortened form of the degree you have.

Bob Parsley said...

Twenty years ago, Southwestern Seminary awarded me a D.Min after much sweat and tears. I have never used the term "Dr." to introduce myself and have no plans to ever do it in the future. One factor most comments have ignored is the explosion of bogus doctor degrees among prominent Baptist pastors. Are your readers aware of the vast number of pastors with mail order degrees from diploma mills. Ever heard of Luther Rice or Trinity in Newburgh, IN? When we begin dropping the DR. greeting let's remember to start first with them.

Anonymous said...

I studied to receive my MDiv because it was required for me to qualify for my ministry.

Why do people seek doctorates? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

It's all about title and position. These things, though they may be important, are not important in God's economy, nor in His kingdom. In light of that, I'm not sure of this matters at all in the grand scheme of things!

Lydia said...

I grew up in the SBC referring to leaders as Brother so and so as a child. Our parents called them by their first names, though.

Ah, those were the days of Priesthood of believer and soul competency. Not the lording it over celebrity bunch we have these days....

BTW: Tom Kelly is reasoned, very well read and I am honored to call him a friend.

Billy Edwards said...

When I was at SWBTS taking the Baptist History course, the teacher told us on day one that he was currenlty writing his dissertation and that he was not to be referred to as "Dr. XXXXX." Smiling, he said, "Just call me Master." That kind of humor hits our worship of degrees pretty well. BTW, since I don't have a doctorate, I tried that on my wife. She didn't buy it :)

Wyman Richardson said...


I received the DMin. from the Beeson Divinity School almost six years ago. I worked hard at it and enjoyed every bit of it. I hold no notion that it's a PhD, am fully aware of the differences between the two degrees, have never tried to pass it off as such, and routinely correct folks who introduce me as having a Phd. I instructed our secretary NOT to put "Dr." in the bulletin. It's not on my business card, not on my desk, and no diplomas are on the wall, though I'm in no way ashamed of it. I'm just not a title guy. As far as I know, folks who join our church have no idea I have a DMin unless somebody else tells them. I received it because I love learning and I wanted to better myself (plus Timothy George was my project advisor, so that was great!). Also, there's no place near me in south Georgia to do a PhD.

Anyway, I really don't have an opinion on who should be called "Dr." and who shouldn't, though I don't like guys calling themselves by that name. All I know is I'm not interested in being called "Dr.", though sometimes when I speak elsewhere I'm introduced by the title.

Also, some of you might be familiar with David Wells essay, "The DMin-ization of Ministry" (he hits that topic hard in his book No Place for Truth as well). I think he was a bit harsh on the topic, but made some interesting points.

Wyman Richardson

Anonymous said...

Why must we separate the academy from the church? There was a day when both had a relationship with each other. However, people with a "doctorate" should not lord that fact over their congregations.

Bojac said...

You know for preachers living and preaching yrs ago a high school education was an accomplishment. I have been a baptist pastor for over 40 yrs. I have a masters degree but felt like I was undereducated in the prescense of many of my brothers who were referred to as Dr. Personally now that I am i hope a little wiser I like the prefix brother more and more. Sometimes it is difficult to be submissive to the Holy Spirit when we are so "highly educated" Who are we trying to impress, the world or our Saviour? Bro. Jack

Tim Marsh said...

John B,

My facts may not be accurate (after the events of recent weeks I feel the need to state this qualification) but I believe that the DMin originated at Princeton Theological Senimary in the 1970's. Princeton recently suspended its DMin program, BTW.

Though the DMin can be a helpful program for the practice of ministry, there are problems that I have with it:

1. In most cases, no financial aid is offered. Of all DMin's I have checked into, only Campbell University Divinity School (North Carolina) and Asbury Theological Seminary have possibilities of financial awards. Churches and/or degree candidates themselves are expected to foot the bill.

2. The rigor of DMin programs varies from institution to institution. For example, some do require a dissertation while others just a project report of 50 pages.

3. Some institutions make it convenient for DMin studies. I remember an ad in the Alabama Baptist from one of the SBC Seminaries: "What to do on the weekend: Go fishing, or a ball game? Get a DMin instead!"

4. The insistance of some to be called "Dr." is a problem. The DMin sometimes is used for professional advancement.

A DMin should be an academically rigorous program that prepares a minister to serve at a higher level of competency, with a project that contributes to the overall body of knowledge for the practice of ministry. Right now, I could not name a DMin project that I have read or studied that has made a significant impact on the way ministry is practiced.

Yet, I am looking into a DMin program. However, I hope that God leads me to one that will help me to more effectively serve God's kingdom and the local church.

heath lloyd said...

This whole discussion seems (IMHO)to be a waste of time.

Tim G said...

I will add this to the thoughts on this thread which may get us back to the point I think that Wade was making:

My mentor, who has a DMin was asked upon his calling to our church what title he liked. His response has been my marching goal for all of my ministry. He said "some call me Dr, some call me David, some call other names! I pray that I will serve you so that your natural response in addressing me will one day be Pastor. I will do all I can to earn to that title!"

I think that sums it up!

John Fariss said...

To anonymous at 1:09:00 PM:

You said, "It's all about title and position."

With all respect sir, I must disagree. I went back to school and earned a D.Min. because I recognized that I needed something more for the ministry than my seminary degree (M.Div.) had provided. I believe that the knowledge and work has benefitted both me and the churches I have since served, and it was never about title or position, at least not for me. Frankly, I know very few (if any) who hold a D.Min. or a Ph.D. who did it for the "prestige" or the "title" or a particular "position," no more than for "the money"! HA!

BTW, I neither ask nor suggest that people call me, "Dr. Fariss," although a few (mostly seniors) do so in spite of my requests to be called "John" or at most "Pastor John." And occasionally one of our ex-Catholics forgets and calls me "Father John." On a few documents, mostly marriage certificates, I sign "Rev. John H. Fariss, D.Min.," but that is a formal distinction under very limited circumstances.


John Fariss said...


Drew University used to offer some financial aid for D.Min. students, as I received some from them. Don't know if they still do, as I have not had a reason to keep up with it. Also, they made off-campus classes convenient, flying professors down to either Carraway in NC or Eagle Eyrie in VA.


Wyman Richardson said...

Ha! Well, I'm embarrassed. Nobody has called my hand on this, but out of curiosity I just went and checked my bio page on my site (which was set up by a friend a couple of years ago) after posting that I don't like titles and don't use titles - and there it is: "Dr. Wyman Richardson." Oh well. At least I sinned in ignorance! I don't read my own bio often and I'm blaming my web guy! :-)

Blushing and Untitled,
Wyman Richardson

Rick said...

Having earned a Doctor of Ministry degree at Dallas Theological Seminary, I don't print the title "Doctor" in our church bulletin, nor do I insist that others refer to me using that title. However, if they should choose to do it at some formal occasion where it seems appropriate, I do not object, for two primary reasons:

(1) The academic institutions chose to label the degree "Doctor" of Ministry, rather than Bachelor, Master, Associate, Guru, Expert, etc. Most of these academic degree planners have a vocabulary large enough to use a different word if it was necessary to do so.

(2) The first time someone called me "Doctor" I was being hooded at an academic ceremony and the person calling me by that title had earned a Ph.D. Thus, if it's wrong to call those with a D.Min. a "Doctor" someone needs to tell the genius with the Ph.D. who first came up with the idea!

Aussie John said...


The insistence of titles was an identifying mark of the Pharisees!

Tom Chantry and I are on the same page.

Anonymous said...

I think anyone that has earned a true Doctorate deserves the title. I will say all of the ministers I know never introduce themselves as Dr. anything and the D.Mins do just have the designation on their card and stationary. It others that actually refer to them as Dr.

On the other hand I know several with honorary degrees that use the title which to me is out of line.

Stonebriar said...

Are you serious? To those reading my one and only comment to Grace & Truth to You -

(I have an earned Master of Divinity w/ Biblical Languages degree from a SBC Seminary. I place an M.D. after my name each time I sign. Is that wrong?)

- And now you are instructing me on the proper title association accompanying the M.D. and M.Div. distinctions...

I was so kidding! Where did you miss that? I was simply trying to get a rise out of Burleson. I know he laughed. I apologize if it didn't land on all.

Maybe I should have said, "Mayberry Deputy."

Lighten up men,
Steve Mortensen

Bob Cleveland said...

Just by way of information, we've gotten to be pretty good friends with Dr. Sheri Klouda. We've visited twice, had lunch there last summer, etc. But I told her early on that I would always address her as "Dr. Klouda" .. even though she tells students she's "still just Sheri".

I explained that I knew how she had been disrespected by Paige Patterson and his "machine" and that I wanted her to know that at least one guy out here would always refer to her as Dr. as my way of showing all the respect I could for a most respectable lady.

As you said, context is key.

Darrell said...

Wade, I am truly thrilled to see your commen section open and to read the thoughts of Godly people. I also am glad you will filter the not so godly. I learn a lot here and enjoy the blog.


Gordon Johnson said...

Bob Parsley,

I am not sure why you slam Luther Rice Seminary. You are quite mistaken in calling it a mail-order diploma mill. I just completed a Master of Divinity degree through LRS, and I greatly enjoyed the course. It is clearly not a diploma mill - it is nationally accredited, has a qualified faculty, a campus, a library and has rigorous standards.

I chose LRS because I was church planting in Siberia and felt the need to increase my skills, especially in the original languages. The course was great for me.

Maybe you ought to climb down from your "my degree is better than yours" horse and stop trying to discourage those of us who have had to complete our degrees via D.E. I know nothing of the Trinity in Indiana, but LRS is not a diploma mill.


Anonymous said...

All this reminds me of the following:

We all know what BS is, well MS is "More of the Same" and PHD is "Piled Higher and Deeper". :)

wadeburleson.org said...

I caught it Steve Mortensen-- and laughed.

I'm in New York, so I can't comment as frequently as usual.

Anonymous said...

Best response heard years ago from a senior pastor referred to as "Doctor": "Man, I'm not even a registered nurse!" That pastor had not earned a doctoral degree, so his statement about himself was true.

I'm working now toward a DMin degree--because I love the particular subject matter and it's the next degree after the MDiv I earned years ago. The course work is grueling enough for me--and not easy to get finished as a fulltime husband, dad, minister, and Grace and Truth to You blog reader!


Christiane said...

God bless you, BOB CLEVELAND, for your befriending of Dr. Klouda. I wonder if Paige Patterson ever gets a twinge of conscience when he thinks about what he has done? I hope he does. That would mean there is still hope for him.

You are good person, Bob. The real leaders of the SBC aren't the ones who hold the titles. The real leaders are the ones who serve Our Lord in all their ways. They are the ones people can look 'up' to, because their caring ways point those people always towards Christ.

Anonymous said...

Trinity Seminary-Indiana: working on recognized accreditation; several great Southern Baptists on faculty, one as president, and many among student body (none stupid) . . . film at 11.

Pastor Bob Farmer said...

I go back to Webster's College Dictionary where the 2nd definition of a "doctor" is "a learned or authoritative teacher." Under the idea of not calling those with professional degrees Dr., then we shouldn't refer to physicians as Doctors. Who really cares what you call preachers or physicians... "a rose by any other name smells just as sweet". Spurgeon's congregation called him "Governor". I think this topic is "much ado about nothing". However, I do admit that Americans are obsessed with titles. Is that a bad thing? Probably...if your insecure in relationships, or are overly preoccupied with your own importance, titles become a portal to ones psyche. But in the grand scheme of things I think it is biblical to show respect to those in authority and if that means calling someone by a title then... I respect you Rev. Buleson.

Anonymous said...

I'm an IMB missionary working in the field with no college or seminary degree.

I would like to be called servant.

Anonymous said...

Below is the link and the info from the NSF page as quoted by Dr. Anthony Pina.
The following is taken verbatim from the USDOE website:

Recognized Research Doctorates

The best-known research doctorate title awarded in the United States is the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). However, there are a number of other doctoral titles that enjoy the same status and represent variants of the Ph.D. within certain fields. All of them have similar content requirements.

You should remember that first-professional doctoral degrees are not research doctorates in those fields. The research doctorate in all such fields is either the Ph.D. or one of the related research doctorates named in the list immediately (below).

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) recognizes the following degrees as equivalent to the Ph.D.:

Doctor of Arts (D.A.)
Doctor of Architecture (D.Arch.)
Doctor of Applied Science (D.A.S.)
Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)
Doctor of Chemistry (D.Chem.)
Doctor of Criminal Justice (D.C.J.)
Doctor of Comparative/Civil Law (D.C.L.)
Doctor of Criminology (D.Crim.)
Doctor of Environmental Design (D.E.D.)
Doctor of Engineering (D.Eng.)
Doctor of Environment (D.Env.)
Doctor of Engineering Science (D.E.Sc./Sc.D.E.)
Doctor of Forestry (D.F.)
Doctor of Fine Arts (D.F.A.)
Doctor of Geological Science (D.G.S.)
Doctor of Hebrew Literature/Letters (D.H.L.)
Doctor of Health and Safety (D.H.S.)
Doctor of Hebrew Studies (D.H.S.)
Doctor of Industrial Technology (D.I.T.)
Doctor of Library Science (D.L.S.)
Doctor of Music (D.M.)
Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.)
Doctor of Musical Education (D.M.E.)
Doctor of Ministry (D.Min./D.M.)
Doctor of Modern Languages (D.M.L.)
Doctor of Music Ministry (D.M.M.)
Doctor of Medical Science (D.M.Sc.)
Doctor of Nursing Science (D.N.Sc.)
Doctor of Public Administration (D.P.H.)
Doctor of Physical Education (D.P.E.)
Doctor of Public Health (D.P.H.)
Doctor of Professional Studies (D.P.S.)
Doctor of Design (Dr.DES.)
Doctor of Religious Education (D.R.E.)
Doctor of Recreation (D.Rec./D.R.)
Doctor of Science (D.Sc./Sc.D.)
Doctor of Science in Dentistry (D.Sc.D.)
Doctor of Science and Hygiene (D.Sc.H.)
Doctor of Science in Veterinary Medicine (D.Sc.V.M.)
Doctor of Sacred Music (D.S.M.)
Doctor of Social Science (D.S.Sc.)
Doctor of Social Work (D.S.W.)
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Doctor of Canon Law (J.C.D.)
Doctor of Juristic Science (J.S.D.)
Doctor of the Science of Law (L.Sc.D.)
Doctor of Rehabilitation (Rh.D.)
Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.)
Doctor of Sacred Theology (S.T.D.)
Doctor of Theology (Th.D.)


Anonymous said...

There seems to be some confusion about doctorates. The National Science Foundation (NSF) classification system that was linked at the US Dept of Education web site had the following classifications (as best I can reall):

i) First Professional degree: JD's, MD's, DC's, MDiv, etc.

ii) Recognized research doctorates. Here they differentiated between the PhD and professional doctorates (eg DBA, DMIN, DMUS....etc). Professional doctorates were preceded by a graduate degree.

I cannot find the link but the verbatim post with the info I will put below (from an old discussion board link 2005). I recall the actual page and this info appears to indeed be verbatim. Dr. Pina who posted it is a respected academic.

So, from my point of view a DMin is an earned doctorate and the person should be entitled to be called Dr. Now, they have other issues (just like a PhD would) if they run around introducing themselves as "Dr.". But then I have seen the title "pastor" become an ego issue too. I have met MD's who feel they are the only ones with REAL doctorates and in fact, the media generally only refers to MD's as "Dr." to avoid confusion.

Many of the people who do not want to give someone the respect their title deserves also have ego issues wrapped up in it (mine is bigger than yours....or I am jealous you have a bigger ice cream and so on). I am not in any way implying that in regard to the blogger's motivations and this issue seems to be part of our general slide in America away from respect.

Sorry do not know how to make quote italicized. Also do not have time to check for spelling and grammar issues (sorry).

Anonymous said...

MDs probably believe PhDs do considerably less work to earn their degrees, putting in fewer hours to complete them, and might take issue with PhDs referring to themselves as "Doctor" . . .

Somewhat relative, and irrelevant. Everybody earn the degree God leads you to; have fun doing it, and put it to good use (the senior pastors I've served with so far who have completed doctoral degrees: little good to the church day-to-day, almost as if they don't have the knowledge from the courses completed or the degrees themselves . . . one of which the congregation paid for directly and not just via CP contributions).

Rodney Sprayberry said...

Actually the list of research doctorates from the DOE is much shorter and a D.Min is not on it.


Anonymous said...


The info and link I posted was from 2005. Your link may be revised or contain different info.

Here is the Encyclopdia link from AllEXPERTS.COM that has a smiliar list to the one I posted along with a good explanation of different doctoral degrees (professional vs first professional degrees). Again, you can see the DMin listed along with the other doctorates such as the DBA, DMus, DPA, EdD...etc. This probably jobes with ATS's description of the DMin as a doctoral level program.


I think the point has been made that DMin are doctorates and DMin's should be referred to as "Dr." when appropriate. That is respectful and something we need more of in the US. However, anyone with a doctorate who refers to himself as 'Dr' outside of specific settings (be they a PhD, EdD, DMin or MS) has ego issues. They same could be said for people I have met who use the word "pastor" as if they were referring to themselves as a price royal. Some of the worst offenders are pastors with no theological education. I guess in many ways, most of those I have met with doctorates may be referred to as "Dr." on paper on in some setting but when they introduce themselves to you they say, "Hi I am Mike". The exception was that I met an EdD who once referred to himself as "Dr' in social settings and wanted it on paper even if others were not referred to as Mr. or Ms.

Pastor Bobby T said...

I have a D.Min. -- like the little old lady siad, "Oh, you're one of those Doctors who don't do nobody no good!!!"

But, for those who do not know the truth of the matter: I earned my M.Div. from one of the 6 SBC Seminaries (SWBTS), and it required88 hours to get one M.Div!! (Plus I had 6 hours of Greek for NO CREDIT ... so really it was 94 hours!) I could have earned almost three Master's Degrees at a state school in the same amount of time!!! THREE! (Usually 36 hours each, but with proper planning some courses will count for all three Master's Degrees in state schools.)

So, when I enrolled for my D.Min. at NOBTS, the work I put in exceeded many other Doctoral programs. Other Doctoral Degrees that have referred to (DJ, Pharm, etc.) do not require a Masters Degree first. Again I say 88 hours! Just imagine that.

My D.Min. Project Report (a.k.a. Dissertation) was 222 pages long... 70% of it was RESEARCH. I also know two foreign languages.

I don't care what you call me as long as you call me in time for supper. I just know the education and work I put in for it was grueling. Have a good day.

Carl White said...

Someone asked why get a DMin? I don’t know why others do. I know why I did. Pastoring a small but wonderful church in rural Mississippi, I had pushed and cajoled those people in every way I knew how to get them out of their comfort zones and to reach out. Though the population was in a slow decline, we had actually seen some growth, and then – I hit a wall. I was ready to move.

Then a senior pastor whom I greatly respected and who had pastored this church when he was younger, came to me and told me, “you have pushed a bit too hard and they are yanking your chain.” I asked what I should do? He suggested the church would support me if I sought a DMin.

I did and they did. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I found the DMin program (at SBTS) rigorous, challenging, and validating. It helped me to fully integrate a large part of my education at the MDiv level. It stretched me, encouraged me, and in a non-soteriological sense, saved me.

When I was struggling to get my project approved (and it was a struggle), the director of the program told me two things. One, the game here is they throw out obstacles and I negotiate them. The learning is in the process. This was absolutely true. Two, he said make your mark in life by ministering to the people God has called you to serve, not in writing a paper for the faculty. Again, this was absolutely true.

This wonderful rural church threw me a reception fit for a king. On that day I said they could all call me “Dr.” After that, I figured it was my degree, I had earned it and I could do with it what I wanted. I chose to hang it on my wall and not around my neck. If someone needed to use a title, I preferred “brother,” or even better, “pastor.”

On side note, a few years later I was called to a larger city church. They wanted a pastor with an earned doctorate. When opening a bank account the bank officer (a church member) had “Dr. & Mrs.” put on the checks. It was quite a surprise and a brilliant move. They never asked for i.d. at the grocery store or at Wal-Mart when we wrote a check! Though these days we rarely write a check, I have kept it that way. Anything else printed that I have control over just has my name and after it, “Senior Pastor.”

I’ve earned that, too.

Bob Cleveland said...

"A doctoral student named Twiddle
Refused to accept his degree
He didn't object to the "Twiddle"
But he HATED the "Twiddle D D""


Anonymous said...

My MDivBL from SWBTS: 92 hours, plus some no-credit Greek classes. Lots of leveling classes, I suppose, included in those 92 hours in those days for guys like me with undergrad degrees in photography or aviation or etc. but not Bible/religion/ministry (my undergrad degrees: AS-Education, BS-Education; other grad hours in Educational Administration before seminary).

Kinds of research vary in difficulty, I suppose; my DMin: historic type--not original survey type with statistics to calculate afterward and to report about, or etc. (like the 150 pages mentioned just above).

Learn it, share it, use it, everybody!

Rodney Sprayberry said...

Anonymous (May 21st, 9:40 pm)

Don't get me wrong. I am not slamming D.Mins. I just recieved mine. I worked hard for it. Lot's of historical research (not original).

I did it for no other reasons other than to deepen my understanding of church ministry and enhance personal growth.

It was not easy but I believe worth it.

I too, think the point was well made.If "context" is key then it seems to me that folks with D.mins may be referred to as Dr. (in a ministry context) However, If someone is demanding, requiring, or referring to self as Dr. there may be other issues at stake beneath the surface.

Doug said...

I will repost this from a recent post on here....

I recently went to take my mother to have Cancer test at that wonderful college DUKE University.

As I walked in with my mother in the atrium, I looked around at all the medical staff and DOCTOR who were chatting, walking, discussing situations concerning patients.

I even went into the Theatre and heard Doctor's discussing Cancer and their treatments.

As I walked with my mother to her appointment for the scans, I began to think......

What if all these truly educated and trained doctors were a part of the Baptist Conventions. It really madde me so angry that all thoise so called DR have decieved soooooo many into really thinking they are something that they are NOT!

Fake Dr titles need to be expoloited more today than ever...

I even found some who have position that "REQUIRE" degrees to hold these positions, but when I uncovered them...it was/is status quo! I exposed one man in GA who said he had 3 degrees from Colleges and other Seminaries and who had the FAKE DR title too....

and put it in the Christian Index newspaper for all GA Baptist to read.

Right Mike Everson, Robert White, Gerald Harris....

I have exposed many who have fake doctor degrees only to be ridiculed and mocked....but after my experience at DUKE, I now am more determined now than ever to expose those who are using these FAKE DR degrees to further their personal causes and power...

Need I say more?

Following Christ, Not Man;
Doug Pittman


Todd said...

I once heard a pastor who was introduced as Dr. He said "Dr" is kind of like a pigs tale. It is cute but serves no functional purpose. Even if I earned my degree years ago, I prefer pastor to Dr. And Todd to that.

Those of us who earned our DMin degrees rather than order them or pay someone else to get them for us may in some folks opinion believe we do not deserve to be referred to as Dr. Our families will wonder why in the world they sacrificed as they did. It is not that they want a trophy husband or dad, but they know the countless hours in reading and research above and beyond the norm - and yes, I did type research.

On most all occasions many of us do not parade the title. Only in instances where it should be used do many of us employ the moniker. For instance, when serving as adjunct faculty at a theological institution, certain writing projects, and in contexts where the title opens up a conversation about life and faith - and yes that has happened. Using the title in denominational meetings, pastor's conferences, etc - seems about as important as relaying how many baptisms and how large the church. But, we don't spend as much type addressing that scorecard issue.


Anonymous said...

Well said Todd. There is a time and place for use of titles. When someone has spent a few years and sacrificed many things to earn a doctorate (DMin, PhD, etc) that is an accomplishment that should be recognized. At the same time as countless others have noted there is a time and place for the title. Usually people with accredited doctorates do NOT go around introducing themselves as "Dr" even is it correctly noted as such in writing (completely appropriate).

I would also hazard a guess that people with accredited doctorates (DMin's, EdD's, PhD, etc) would be among the most upset at people using "fake doctorates" from diploma mills. The amount of time and effort spent on earning an accredited DMin, PhD, EdD is enormous. For someone to purchase one from a mill is unethical.

I realize we need to be careful as there are some unaccredited programs that are substantial. I understand that (eg) Pensacola Christian College and a very few others might fall into this category. But there are others than require glorified book reports. If you are a pastor who got a doctorate (PhD, EdD, DMin, etc) from a diploma mill and are calling your self "Dr.", shame.

Pastor Bob Farmer said...

What do you call someone who graduates last in their class at medical school?

Anonymous said...

I once knew a woman who insisted on being called "Mrs. Doctor". Her husband was a veteranarian - true story.
Blessings to all,

Smithfield Student Ministry said...

John B you are a bit off track, let me clear up a few things. The MDIV is a graduate degree like any other master's degree. A four year bachelor's degree is required for admission into a MDIV program. Most schools offer a MACE or MA as well that requires less credit hours. For me the MDIV was a 90 hour degree and the MACE was a 60 hour degree. I am currently enrolled in a DMIN program and it is a 32 hour degree that requires a MDIV plus 3 years ministry experience just to apply. I chose the DMIN for two reasons: the cost of the PH.D is more than a local church pastor makes in a lifetime and I wanted a practical hands on degree that would connect to my working experience in the local church. DMIN is newer than the PH.D, which is why there is still confusion in the general public about the program. I still get church members asking me how the PH.D work is going? I used to explain the difference in programs but it takes too long! Most churches don't care if you are a PH.D or DMIN, but many are looking for it as the level of education continues to grow. Used to be a college degree was good enough, then seminary, now post-graduate, in the future published work. The official proper way to call a person with a DMIN or PH.D that is ordained is Rev. Dr. Preacher Man, Jr., III. Some pastor's don't even what to be called "reverend." I don't care what they call me. There are a lot of worse things to be called than "Doctor."

Anonymous said...

The answer is very clear. The distinction of adorning one's name with a "Dr." prefix requires full completion of a terminal academic degree; not a professional degree. In other words, one must culminate the academic experience with fully dissertated and defended research work; not a capstone project or else!

In my case, I earned my Juris Doctorate in 2010, but enjoying the right to be called "Dr." will have to wait until I defend my dissertation after completing all of my PhD courses.

Therefore, anyone who insist in being called "Dr." and does not have a PhD, EdD, ThD, PsyD or other terminal/research degree is seeking an undeserved distinction!

Rasputín D. Lamácula, JD, MTh

Smithfield Student Ministry said...

Rasputín D. Lamácula,
Just so you know, the DMIN is a terminal degree for a minister and it does require a dissertation as well as a project and it also requires a defense of your dissertation by a doctoral committee or council. In my opinion, the DMIN for a minister, is more rigid in some ways than the PHD, that does not require you to actually put your theory to the test. Don't let the course hours fool you, there is plenty of hours involved in my doctorate of ministry degree and I don't have an issue using the "Dr." in formal settings. The DMIN is one of the most misunderstood degrees in my opinion.

Xicon Economics said...

As one who has two earned PhDs, one from Florida State University and one from Mississippi State University...one in industrial technology and one in engineering economics... it is a disgrace that pastors who have these DMins almost mandate that they be referred to as Doctor. It is amusing to me when they refer to themselves as Dr. Jones, or have others do so. It is especially amusing to me when they introduce themselves to me as Doctor. They look like fools.

I have read many of their writings, articles, and reports over the years, and they are pathetic. The DMin is not remotely in the same realm as an earned PhD, and to the PhD, it is overly obvious. If the DMin was similar to a PhD, it would be called a PhD.

These little DMin "projects" they complete are not publishable in a referred journal as they are by no means research. Like JDs, the DMin is merely a master’s degree. The MD is not even that, as many US schools do not require a BS degree prior to admission to their three year vocational program (training). By the way, many professional fields require post-degree training prior to licensing, just like MDs, yet we do not consider that as “education” as they do. It is training.

The rigor in these DMins is missing, altogether. Compare the curriculum. As a SB, I am embarrassed that our seminaries produce such poorly educated people – who then refer to themselves as Doctor. Further, as a Christian, I am embarrassed of the vast volume of pastors who refer to themselves as Doctor, or have others do so, while never earning even an accredited DMin, let alone an earned research degree, eg, PhD. To name a few within SBC, as well as others: Johnny Hunt, Charles Stanley, David Jeremiah, Charles Swindoll, Jerry Vines, and many, many others.

By the way, how often do I refer to myself as Doctor, or in my case, Doctor Doctor? Never verbally. Never. When signing my name? Never. When introducing myself? Never. Only when someone else is introducing me... or a profile is written describing my background or the findings of a study I conducted. Outside of that? Never.

Herbert M. Barber, Jr., Ph.D., Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer, Xicon

Anonymous said...

I'm really amazed that someone with an earned Phd would state "The rigor in these DMins is missing altogether." How would you know? Have you conducted credible research to find out? The fact is there are D.Min. programs that are academically rigorous...period. Not to mention the fact that you have to have an earned 90 credit hour Master of Divinity degree to gain entry (not a 30 or 45 hour Masters as if you were in education or some other fields). Furthermore, most credible programs won't accept you unless you can demonstrate 3 years of full time ministerial experience.

The Doctor of Ministry is a great degree for thosed engaged in Church/Non-profit work leadership. I would imagine an individual with an earned accredited D.Min and some ministerial experience would also be a great practical theology professor. Should pastors introduce themselves as "Doctor?" I don't think so. I can't imagine a more honorable and humbling title than "Pastor"

Xicon Economics said...

To Anonymous… If you care to debate this issue, please have the courage to sign your name. First, I see you have no understanding of what research is, and what is not by your asking, “Have you conducted credible research to find out?” Such would hardly be considered research. Assessment perhaps, but certainly not research. Research is the creation of new knowledge – not a review of curriculum. I presume you have a DMin?

Additionally, the fact that an MDiv is 90 semester hours has nothing to do with a DMin being a doctorate, or not, as is the topic. Your MDiv could be 1,000 semester hours and your DMin would be 10,000 semester hours, and the rigor would still not be there – unless you take the appropriate coursework. To your uninformed comments directly, yes. Yes, I have reviewed the curriculum (coursework) for DMin programs in the DMIn programs at SBTS, SWBTS, and the like, none of which required courses with significant rigor. As an example, the following prerequisite courses are most often required in accredited doctoral (PhD) programs:

Linear Algebra/Mathematical Modeling
Calculus 5/Differential Equations
Measurement Theory I & II
Probability Theory
Inferential Statistics
Nonparametric Statistics
General Linear Models
Causal Modeling
Hierarchical Linear Modeling
Research Methodology
Research Design

The above courses are prerequisites to courses in your major, though they may be named differently from program to program.

Did you take these in your DMin, Anonymous? If so, good for you doctor. If not, you stand corrected.

Herbert M Barber, Jr, PhD, PhD

Anonymous said...

If someone has earned an advanced degree, whether through an ATS seminary or another, and has earned both valid/viable BA and MA before, then to use the honorable term "Dr" is their right. My father was a MD and insisted everybody call him Dr. I have generations of clergy before me, all Doctors of Divinity, a degree we deem an honor today not academically earned. I hold valid degrees and I am considered a Doctor of Ministry, Pastoral Leadership and right now I am without a church but the Dr. is for treating souls and thus, recognized by God Himself. All this bickering is foolhardy. Let it be. If some wish to use the title, so be it. What harm is being done to any other field with doctors to question the practice.

Anonymous said...

I think that many of you who are complaining about D.Min. program graduates using the title "Dr." are puffed up about your PhD or ThD degrees. Those who earn a D.Min have also earned the title "Dr." A Doctorate degree of any kind represents that an individual has advanced knowledge in their particular field of study. If they can't or shouldn't use the title "Dr.", then the name of the degree should be changed to "NOTD.Min." This should satisfy all of you egomaniacs that refuse to show respect to someone who has excelled in their particular field of study. This really is an exercise of arrogance to even be debating this subject. I would think those involved in ministry would have much better things to do.

Anonymous said...

I left a comment on this ridiculous discussion. But where is it? Don't you people have anything better to do? Those of you who are whining about D.Min degrees receiving the title of Dr. I have one thing to say...Whaaaaaaaaaaaa! My degree is better than his! No it is not! Yes it is! Mommy, tell him that mine is better! Get over yourselves.

And to you, Mr. Blog editor. Why do you feel that you need to Censor comments on this dreadful waste of time discussion? Go pray with someone or disciple someone and stop complaining/whining/bickering about who deserves the title of Dr. and who doesn't. Jesus doesn't care about degrees. He cares about love, kindness, and obedience to His commands!

Unknown said...

That the D.Min is accompanied by the title "doctor" in addressing the recipient is hardly debatable since its practice is so well established for so long a time. David Jeremiah holds a D.Min and uses "Dr." even in self reference, to which no one objects. The practice is too well established.

Secondly, the D.Min is distinguished from other professional doctorates because a research project, governed by dissertation standards, is required. The JD, MD, PharmD do not have such a requirement. That "dissertation" project is the crux of any doctoral degree that subsequently incorporates the title "doctor" in one's name.

I do agree that non-accredited doctorates acquired by pastors, such as "Doctor of the Church" degree do not have the standing to incorporate the title "doctor" in one's degree.

Many institutions that used to offer the Doctor of Divinity degree (Asbury and Vanderbilt) or Doctor of the Science of Theology(S.T.D., San Francisco Seminary) or Doctor of Practical Theology have transitioned that degree into a D.Min, and thus the degree has a longer history and heritage than acknowledged by the original writer of this blog.

A D.Min degree entitles the recipient to incorporate "Doctor" in ones name and it seems to be widely and historically acknowledged. The debate really was over before this blog appeared, in my opinion.

Georg Karl, D.Min.

Anonymous said...

I find it so interesting in our culture that everyone gets to have a title except pastors. There has been a real push to strip every title away and just call them Joe. I get it on a certain level, however pastors work just as hard in school and spend just as much money as everyone else. Sadly if they do not get post grad degrees, it's quite difficult to get a job because the "worldliness" in the church requires higher education. But...everyone blames the pastor. I don't really get that? I know my husband would love to have saved 60k on his education and just pastor with out any title at all. Though that is not really an option in our modern world. So I would disagree with your comments. After 7 years of full time study and a small fortune...I am proud to call him whatever title he prefers.

Anonymous said...

This was quite an interesting, though somewhat pointless discussion. If a person earns a doctorate degree from a respected, accredited school, he or she has the right to be referred to as "Doctor." In light of the fact that most D.Min programs require a 90-credit M.Div as a prerequisite, as well as several biblical language courses, not to mention a dissertation or research project equivalent to that of many Ph.D programs, D.Min graduates should be given the same privileges as any other doctors. While I disagree with people forcing others to refer to themselves as "Doctor," I find it ridiculous to suggest that people with earned doctoral degrees in ministry are forbidden from using their degree title.

Anonymous said...

Producing fake certificates which will look like the originals has been very easy as we are providing them at a reasonable time and rate. We provide fake college transcript which will be made in high quality paper. The fake degree certificate will have the exact wordings, style and color as per your order and requirements. We try to make the fake transcripts look like the original one as much as possible.

Libby said...

I totally disagree and it is disrespectful to dismiss one's hard work, sacrifice, and determination to obtain the honor of either degree. They should, justifiably, be called "Dr." and can choose if they would rather be addressed without the title. It is at the individual's discretion.

Anonymous said...

Where have you found a legitimate MDiv that does not require a bachelor degree?

Anonymous said...

What is discussed here pertains, to a large extent, to a minute technicality with regard to use of the term "Dr." As an educator, the only inherent difference between an Ed.S and an Ed.D is that the former degree usually requires one practicum, and the latter requires two practicums. As someone already states, a Pharm D., is often referred to as "Dr" in a clinical setting. I find nothing outlandish or inappropriate with the term at all. Anyone, with half a brain, will understand the difference, academically, between a Ph.D, and an Ed.D. Great article though.

Anonymous said...

How do you compare apples with oranges?
There will be good ones, there will be bad ones, for both.They are different kinds of fruit and supposed to mean that way.
To compare both doctorates with the aim of downgrading on any, is unwise.
There must surely be a need and validity in both tracks for it to survive the beatings of time.
The motive and attitude in acquiring the said doctorates deserved consideration.I have some friends who "bought/bribed" D.Min from "who knows where seminaries", and insisted on being called Dr.xxx. And I had Ph.D professors who taught slightly better than my Sunday school teachers.
To me,what is as important as the "D"s after your name,is what is said after you open your mouth. In this sense, the title is the form,the function will attest the genuineness of this form.
I don't care how many doctorates/ what doctorates you have if you do not make sense of what you are saying/doing.

PJ said...

Wow, we are way to uptight about this. My church people call me "PJ" for Pastor Jerry. I have several earned degrees but never sign with them or insist that they be recognized. However, there are people who will address me a title. I don't need it. I don't care. But I am certainly not going to make them feel uncomfortable by correcting them. I say, follow the "circumcision" rule. If someone is pompous about their degree and wants the title. Don't use it! If someone is humble and faithful and is being introduced and you want to honor their efforts in gaining knowledge and understanding by using a title…use it.

John said...

There is one major problem with saying that a D.Min. is not an academic degree and thus should not be called doctor.

Your doctor does not have an academic degree either, but you call him or her doctor.

The other problem is that a D.Min. is a research degree with a dissertation which a Ph.D. has also.

The only problem that I have with a pastor being called doctor is when they only have a honorary doctorate.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of the area in which a doctorate is earned, a doctoral degree is the highest level of education. Thus, whether Ed.D, Ph.D., D.B.A., M.D., D.S.W., Th.D., or D.Min. any person who has attained this level of education is worthy of the title doctor.

Unknown said...

Wow, I'm a little late here, but we should pay honor to whom honor is due (Rom13:7). Some of these earlier comments sound as though folks were arguing to see who could be the most humble... And Xicon man is correct, those of us with theological DMins do not understand what scientific research is; my DMin project was clinical in nature and conducted in a hospital setting. It took the expert guidance of MD researchers and medical statisticians (PhD in statistics) to help me shape my thesis question(s). They helped me develop & interpret the data in a way that it would be not only be valuable to other hospital chaplains but that it would also publishable in medical journals for other care providers to see the added value of chaplains as members of the interdisciplinary care team.

A most comprehensive history and understanding of the Doctor of Ministry degree can be found on Liberty University's website:

Alex Ellis said...

I hate to say this, but it seems that if one earns such a title then as Dr. Hale said pay honor where honor is due and stop trying to have a humblest person in the room contest.

Unknown said...

Strictly speaking it is totally correct etiquette to refer to any person having earned any doctoral degree as "doctor." It seems, however, that in a church world full of unearned and inferior degrees that those people who have the least credible degrees are the most fond of being referred to by the title.

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled across this ancient thread. It caused me to stop and think about the titles used by some pastors of a few churches I've been part of over the past 50 years or so. I remember Dr. Xxxx, D.D., who was **always** addressed as "Dr." Honorary degree, yes? Then there was Dr. Xxxxxxx, DVM. Somehow his veterinary expertise was never obvious in any literature I saw. Shouldn't his MDiv from Dallas have been enough? But he was always "Dr. Xxxxxxx."

Now, our head pastor, Dr. Xxxxx, has a degree of some kind from Fuller. I've never seen any letters after his name, but I'm pretty sure he never lived in Pasadena, so it couldn't be a PhD, correct? And hardly a Sunday goes by but that he mentions having a doctorate. This past Sunday, he even casually mentioned having a PhD, and I'm pretty sure it isn't. Of all of my friends, past and present, who have M.D.s or PhDs, not one ever asked to be called Dr. What's with us holy people?

So, what to conclude? It seems that using the title, or allowing it to be used, is often a trap. It seems to represent a lofty image, which must then be fed to be sustained. And I suspect that, in some cases, it reveals the bearer's sense of inadequacy. Some of the most amazing people I know are also the humblest. One of them is an astronaut and world leader in space exploration, but you'd never guess it if you were introduced in a social setting. Oh yes, and he also happens to love the Lord. And that's what most impresses me about him. Would that I was more like that gentleman.


Unknown said...

Good points by the last poster, especially about how inadequate some must feel who insist on titles. It's also true, unfortunately, that a huge market exists for diplomas from mills specializing in serving the pastoral community. That part is the absolute worst. Forget whether or not the etiquette is proper or improper for someone who's actually earned the degree to use the title. Why on earth would someone who hasn't earned the degree want to pay someone an exorbitant (or any) price to help them lie and say they've earned it?

Ministers of the "Truth" should be the last ones to want that. I don't have any problem with someone who has earned a doctorate being called "doctor," but a large percentage of the time, especially in smaller churches (say 250 or less) when someone is called "doctor" it's not even honorary, it's flat out phony.

You can usually tell by the way they torture grammar and also by how they mispronounce and often misuse the Greek words they feel compelled to display their mastery of. It's pathetic and sad.

Ben said...

While it matters not whether someone wants to call me "Doctor", I would add to what Rick said in his comment back in May. Right after I was hooded by a PhD upon receiving my "Doctor of Ministry" diploma at New Orleans Seminary's graduation ceremony, another PhD announced me as "Doctor..." from the podium.

So I suppose whomever has a problem with my being called "Doctor" (though hardly anyone at the semi-rural church I pastor calls me that) can take it up with "Dr." Chuck Kelley.

Otherwise, I'll continue taking his and NOBTS's word for it.

Unknown said...

This is something I've wondered about. One day at church the pastor introduced himself as Doctor. I thought well that's interesting. He has given himself another title.

Anonymous said...

I'm a j.d. There are three times that I use (or allow) doctor to be used. When I am teaching if a student calls me that, I don't object, but tell them to call me by my first name or professor. When I am working with a client from a country where it is customary ( in which case, If they are educated, I will explain it is not customary here, but if they are a poor uneducated indigent, I won't correct them as they may not understand and think I am not a qualified attorney.) And when I make reservations somewhere, of course would do that even if I didn't have a "d" since you get better service and screw them for such discrimination.

I look down on anyone who insists on being called doctor ( mds more than) because of what it says of their ego. However, if they want to be called doctor based on an honorary degree or one from an unaccredited school/mill, then they are just pond scum.

Anonymous said...

Three things: First, as a layman who has spent years (too many) earning a Ph.D. degree, I will, in recognition of the sacrifice I know the individual to have made, honor them by pronouncing "Dr." before his or her surname. And as to the rigor and quality of the D.Min. degree, this is sure to vary by institution and program, just as it does with Ph.D. programs within a single university. However, just because the D.Min. is a professional doctorate, it is not, as has been stated equivalent to a juris doctor degree, which is a first post-bachelor's professional diploma. Most people who have acquired the D.Min. have done so after completing a lengthy and rigorous M.Div., which can require upwards of 87+ credit-hours. Compare that to my Master's program which required only 36 credit-hours of study. The point is that a D.Min. absolutely entitles a person to use the title of "doctor" in professional correspondence. That being said, anyone outside of a hospital or academia who insists on being called "doctor" is imprudent at best.

Second point: A more important concern in Southern Baptist life is the puffery and obsession with titles that has led scores and scores of pastors to obtain diploma mill doctorates. This is not just disingenuous, it is a cancer that is quickly eroding the integrity and moral foundations of the denomination. I personally know of one prominent SBC pastor who has a diploma mill doctorate, a State Baptist Convention President with the same dubious credentials and, here's the kicker, a trustee of NOBTS who got his doctorate in the mail.

Jesus taught us that the first will be last and the last will be first. I'll leave it to HIM to determine in which group all these fake doctors fit. Also

Third: Louis said, "A number of years ago a pastor friend of mine was commenting about a certain prominent Southern Baptist minister (who formerly was a pastor, and then an administrator at a denominational agency), whom he knew fairly well. My friend stated concerning this minister that he had written more books than he had read."

I believe your pastor friend and I know the same person.

Confident Christianity said...

I will complete my DMin June 2016. Please call me Roger.

Roger Sharp, Interposed

Anonymous said...

Surely wondering why my last post was not posted a few months ago.

Dr. Dr. Herbert M. Barber, Jr.

Anonymous said...

The anonymous poster of Dec. 3, 2015 is correct on all points. I would add several points:

First: The distinction between professional and academic degrees is a 20th century invention, and it was invented by people with PhDs. Prior to that, all doctorates were professional. In fact, the earliest doctorates were awarded by universities like Oxford to professionals who excelled in their fields. Outside of the U.S., degrees, titles, and university positions continue to follow very different rules. It's ridiculous that tenured European professors often cannot have their titles recognized here if they have the "wrong doctorate."

Second: Medical doctors have professional degrees. No one seems to care when they go by "Dr."

Third: Teachers with "D.Ed" degrees routinely go by "Dr." now. That degree is absolutely positively equivalent to a D.Min. degree.

Fourth: I recently researched the technical difference between the Doctoral Thesis require by D. Min degrees vs. the Doctoral Dissertation required by other doctorates. There is none. (D.Ed degrees vary on which terminology they use.) There is a distinction between qualitative research vs. quantitative research, but since most social science and humanities degrees use qualitative, as does the D.Min program, I see nothing unique about the D.Min program in that regard.

As others have pointed out, the letters should only be used on resumes and business cards. That said, I get sick of people 'dissing our degrees.

Anonymous said...

There is a substantial volume of incorrect information on this blog, way more than I have time to address. But given that I foolishly allowed myself to respond back in the 1940s when this post originated, I guess I am trapped and will continue from time to time...

Some quick notes of fact regarding multiple posts:

1. David Jeremiah does not have an earned doctorate, though he uses the title extensively in print and person. Sad, isn't it? A large gathering of wanna-bes in ministry refer to themselves as doctor. That is sad, too. For a list, email me, and expect to be shocked.

2. An M.D. degree is a four year vocational degree with most medical schools mandating no requirements for the student to have earned a bachelor's degree prior to acceptance, or during the program (Refer to the admissions page of Emory University or Harvard University for starters). For physicians to refer to themselves as doctor is without merit, as the degree is at the undergraduate level, at best, and in reality, the technical school level as they receive training, not education. Even the American Medical Association states such. Thus, an MD holder is not a doctor, unless they hold an earned PhD, as well, despite what your physician would have you believe. Sad, isn't it?

3. The holder of an earned DMin is not a doctor, unless they too hold a PhD, ThD, or EdD. Sorry if that offends, but it is the truth. That said, the DMin holder typically has a strong education, especially when compared to an MD, who has some training and very little education.

4. Doctor is an earned academic title, not a profession. Sorry.

5. Doctorates (PhDs) have never been awarded as professional degrees or for professional work, not even during the earliest of times.

6. I have reviewed the DMin projects completed by multiple students to the exent I can find them (as they are not published bc they are not research), and as the holder of a BS, two master's degrees, one with a research thesis, and two doctorates, both with (research) dissertations, of course, I can emphatically state that these writings are not scientific research. If however, you consider your DMin project a dissertation equivalent to a doctoral dissertation, i.e. scientific research, please email it to me. I would love to review it.

7. Many posters here completely misuse the term research, similarly to one of the last few posters. As such, it is extremely telling that you do not have an earned doctorate with a completed RESEARCH dissertation. If you had ever conducted research, you would know what it is and how to use the term. Sad, isn't it?

8. If you DMins want to tell everyone you are a doctor, go ahead. Know however,if you preach in a church with a well educated population that many of the pewsitters know you are not. Sad, isn't it?

8. Unlike grace, the title of doctor is earned. Of course, many believe otherwise. Sad, isn't it?

9. If you do not have an earned PhD or DMin, your opinion matters little to none on this blog... Sad, isn't it? :-)

Dr. Dr. Herbert Barber

Unknown said...

Dr. Barber, What is your email address? I agree with you, BTW that honorary doctorates, such as that awarded to David Jeremiah, do not entitle someone to use the title.

I have to disagree, however, on your insistence that other earned doctorates, especially but not limited to MDs, are somehow inferior to research degrees. Even if they are, in some substantial way inferior, they carry "doctor" in the titles and therefore entitle the earners to be referred to as such. If not, then the institutions and accrediting boards would/should require removal of such from the degree titles.

Such institutions normally make a clear distinction between earned and unearned, but not, as you do between various types of earned degrees.

You lost some credibility when you lumped MDs into the group for which you disapprove use of the title. Titles are approbations given by those doing the honoring and MDs have been entitled to that, by nearly universal consent, for nearly 200 years.

Despite the fact that you state your opinions and assertions as unassailable facts, they are, upon analysis, just your opinions. I'm old enough to remember that, for years, MDs refused to acknowledge DCs (Chiropractic Physicians) as "doctors," because their training was different. But different does not necessarily mean "inferior." Even when or if it does, both degrees are still accredited doctorates. So your beef should be with the accreditors not the people who earned and use the title.

And just how is it that you think you are the arbiter of whose opinions matter on this blog? That's a bit arrogant isn't it?

In the final analysis neither of our opinions carry much cache, as David Jeremiah is one of the most widely respected leaders in Christendom and both of us think he should not be using the doctoral title.

For transparency: I am not now, nor have I ever been a member of the communist party, nor have I ever used the title "doctor." Although I've pastored growing, evangelistic ministries for almost 40 years I'm not even personally fond of the title "pastor." But that's just me.

Anonymous said...

Feel free to contact me through LinkedIn…

I do not know whether you have an earned doctorate, DMin, MD, or none of these. However, if you do not, to use your words, you have no “credibility” here. You have no standing. How can one offer insight into something they, themselves, do not understand? They cannot. Unlike grace, education is earned.

Notice the topic is whether DMins should use the title of doctor. Thus, even the blog’s title suggests that the opinions of posters without a DMin or doctorate is without merit. To take this to an extreme, my so-called area of expertise involves the development of quantitative econometric models for understanding causal relationships between financial “investment” and economic output as it relates to large endeavors in industry and infrastructure. I know, who cares. However, if one has little to no understanding into the application of advanced quantitative techniques in these areas, why would one deem anything they post noteworthy? Of course, they post, nonetheless… Recall, however, I know not whether you have an earned doctorate, DMin, etc., but having such is indeed germane to any posts being taken seriously.

Additionally, if you do not believe I can speak as an authority on doctoral level education, no worries on my part. But if you think not, you have proven my point above. However, I presume you can speak as an authority of earned doctoral education?? By posting, you did just that. Call me arrogant. Where did you earn your doctorate? Just curious. And do I think the DMin or MD is inferior to a doctorate. Of course I do. It is. Every university in the country states such.

More specific to your comments regarding MDs’ use of the academic title, doctor, you are, in fact, without reservation, wrong. Flatly wrong. You stated, “Titles are approbations given by those doing the honoring and MDs have been entitled to that, by nearly universal consent, for nearly 200 years.” Seriously? Then allow me to use that same rationale with sin. Mankind has “been sinning” since Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, correct? Then using your rationale, that means that sin is universally acceptable, or universally correct and without error? Hardly.

And did you really say, “200 years?” Really? If I recall correctly, because I am way too lazy to look it up in a reputable (refereed) scholarly journal or the like, the first PhD was awarded in 1150 AD, a couple years past the 200 years you noted. But even that does not make it a doctorate. However, I have gone to great lengths on this blog to delineate the differences between a doctorate and DMin, MD, etc, and I will not further distinguish between the two. Assuming you are an authority of doctoral level education, you know the blaring differences.

I am not going to argue this point further. If you have a DMin, MD (or an MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery, which is the international equivalent to the US MD)), and refer to yourself as doctor, go for it. After all, you don’t answer to me.

Take care. And, again, you can reach me over LinkedIn. Through a message there I will give you an email address so you can forward your DMin project, or “dissertation” or whatever other materials, questions, comments, etc you desire. Or you can yell at me, call me a dummy, or whatever. LOL I can take it. I'm tough. You have to be to walk in my shoes.


Kargoforth said...

I agree with the poster who stated that he can remember referring to those with an earned degree in ministry at doctoral level being referred to as Dr. so and so, as I, too, remember. This should be in contextual settings, though. It is true that in many seminaries not only is there an element of a "project" but a strong research/dissertation also. In fact, it seems that adding the project on top of the research is at times, more difficult than what other doctoral level degrees require. For whatever, to demean and demote the DMin to a lower level than a PhD, is an affront to those who sacrificed much time and energy and family time, to grow in faith and practice, and contribute to the on-going discussion dealing with ministry issues. Ministers should not "lord" their degrees and accomplishments over others. In fact, it simply shows how much they care to grow in order to more broadly reach people. Give honor to whom honor is due!

John Roland said...

I wrote an article which I believe relevant to the discussion. It is titled, "So you just want to be called Doctor? 5 reasons why Ministers/Clergy should pursue an MBA instead of DMin."


Anonymous said...

If a Pastor doctors to the need of the people and helps them to get delivered from their sickness; one may call them Doctor, Reverend, Pastor it doesn't make a difference as long as God's will is being met in and through them.

NovemberGold said...

I am not one to care much about titles personally, but it is appropriate to call an MD, DC, OD, DO, D. Min., Ed.D., etc a Doctor. All of these degrees require dissertation-level work. The only time "Dr." is inappropriate is when that type of work does not occur. The JD is a prime example. I am in the process of getting my D. Min. I don't expect that anyone will call me "Dr." just as I prefer not to be called Pastor currently.

Real deal said...

Seeing how the author of this blog does not even hold a Masters degree I find this whole thing comical. Secondly, I find those without a DMIN or MDiv will mock those who do. Now there is nothing wrong with the author only holding a bachelors degree. Nothing at all wrong with that. An DMin seems to piss off those who do not hold one for some reason. So much so we have a ton of mills operating in our country that hand out DMin for a few dollars lol. To correct a comment I saw in this thread, Luther Rice is in no way a degree mill, it holds two forms of accreditation. Andersonville Theological Seminary is though, big difference as one is accredited and one is not. Andersonville hands out thousands of fake DMins and MDivs a year along with many other unaccredited schools.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Dr. Herbert Barber,

Yes people he really does refer to himself online as this (Dr.Dr.) as he does everywhere online (Had to check if this was a joke)


This guy writes two Dr.'s in front of his name is trashing DMins and mocks us for using the title Dr. once.

You seem to troll DMin blogs a lot, as a simple google search shows you have a level of dislike for the DMin that boarders on hatred.

just thinking said...

To an earlier comment made regarding M. Div. degrees not requiring a bachelor degree for admission. If you want to pursue this degree at an accredited school you better already have a bachelor degree...and from an accredited school at that or be ready to repeat many of your classes.

"To discuss the question of whether or not one could/should use Dr. with their name we would be negligent if we did not take a look at its historical creation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_(title) has a lot of information - in short, the Latin verb docēre ('to teach') was first used in the 13th century when the first doctorates were awarded at the University of Bologna and the University of Paris as a license to teach. Its roots can be traced to the early church when the term "doctor" referred to the Apostles, church fathers and other Christian authorities who taught and interpreted the Bible. The right to grant a licentia docendi was originally reserved to the church which required the applicant to pass a test, take an Oath of allegiance and pay a fee.

The earliest doctoral degrees (theology, law, and medicine) reflected the historical separation of all university study into these three fields. Over time the D.D. has gradually become less common and studies outside theology, law, and medicine have become more common (such studies were then called "philosophy", but are now classified as sciences and humanities – however this usage survives in the degree of Doctor of Philosophy)."

The Ph.D. was originally a degree granted by a university to learned individuals who had achieved the approval of their peers and who had demonstrated a long and productive career in the field of philosophy (in the broad sense of the term, meaning the pursuit of knowledge). The appellation of "Doctor" (from Latin: teacher) was usually AWARDED ONLY WHEN the individual was in middle age. It indicated a life dedicated to learning, knowledge, and the spread of knowledge. The Ph.D. entered widespread use in the 19th century at Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin as a degree to be granted to someone who had undertaken original research in the sciences or humanities. Prior to the formal degree, the contemporary doctorate (PhD), arguably, arose in Leipzig as a successor to the Master's (MA) degree in 1652 (Dr. habil)."

So, in the truest and original intent of the word, even medical practitioners should not be called "doctor" unless they are teaching and then only when they are teaching.


..But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. 6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’
Mathew 23:5-7

My name is David, I live in Guatemala, Central America, a third world country, we have been blessed by God because we have at least 40 thousand churches in a place like 1/4 one quarter of Minnesota and four times it´s population. Unfortunately here, our pentecostal friends have taken the "Degrees" way beyond, in Guatemala, every church which has more than 100 people can ask the government to be recognized as a "Civil Society", something like "inc." in USA, the thing is that each group of people that gets its own registry can also open it´s own seminary and every seminary can issue bacherlor, master and doctoral degrees.

One day, a great group of pastors realized that they were all "doctors" or "masters" or "licenciados" as we call "bachelors, and one of them, 20 or 30 years ago decided that he was going to be "apostle"; and now we have about 300 "apostles" here in Guatemala!!

I don´t know if cry or hide my face when I find one of these "apostles". What´s next? An evangelical Pope?

All this talk is about one thing: Pride, human pride that also is a sin.

Years ago I went to this university to get a master degree, I needed because without one, experience alone can not get you a job. One my best teachers was an old lady, she had gone to USA and graduated from a PhD from Harvard or one of that Ivy universities, when we learned that we started calling her "Dr"; but she stopped us and said: "Look, my ID still says "Jackeline..." I am not a better person because a piece of paper.

We always will respect her for that, doing that, showing us humility did more for us to respect her than calling her "Doctor". One piece of paper can not change the heart of a person.

Xicon Economics said...

If you want to be the big man and criticize me, at least have the courage to sign your name, sport. What a joke.

DR. DR. Herbert Barber

Xicon Economics said...

Funny how many people are posting as "Anonymous." What cowards.

DR. DR. Herbert Barber

Xicon Economics said...

You know, Mr. ANONYMOUS, as a point in fact, i have never even seen a DMin blog except this one. A Google search? You are a liar. And a coward.

DR. DR. Barber

Xicon Economics said...

You could not be more wrong regarding your comments about dissertations.

SO many people are responding here who, quite frankly, have NO understanding of what doctoral (PhD) education is about, at all.

Dr. Dr. Herbert Barber

Anonymous said...

Re: "If however, you consider your DMin project a dissertation equivalent to a doctoral dissertation, i.e. scientific research, please email it to me. I would love to review it."

www.denverseminary.edu requires a 200 page dissertation with scientific research.

Xicon Economics said...

You people just will not give up to the truth....

Fact 1: The chancellor of Denver Seminary does not even have an earned doctorate! Hahahahahahaha


Fact 2: Denver Seminary's DMin program neither offers, nor requires, the student to complete a single research methodology course, research design course, measurement course, measurement theory course, elementary statistics course, advanced statistics course, advanced linear and non-linear modeling course, linear algebra course, or modeling course...or publish a single research study in a single referred journal. How could the student ever be expected to conduct scientific research? Hahahahahahaha


Fact 3: Denver Seminary's DMin student DOES NOT conduct research at all....NO dissertation at all....merely a DMin project. Hahahahabahaha


Sign your name "Anonymous," and stop lying.

Dr. Dr. Barber

Unknown said...

Dr. Dr. Really? How very sanctimonious of you. Do you really expect anyone to take your opinion seriously? First, your degrees have nothing to do with ministry so you have no qualifications as to speak to what is, or is not, an adequate program. You seem to think that only science based degrees which feature empirical research methods are worthy of consideration, but you assert such opinions without any support whatsoever. Secondly, I have read some of your book and find your opinions so far off base from Christian worldview, that I have no problem saying that you sir, are no Christian. Even your comments in this thread show a complete lack of humility, grace, and/or love. Finally, I do not find it surprising that your contract with Jacksonville was terminated for reasons stated. What I do find surprising is that they would have hired you in the first place. It appears that maybe they were backed into a corner so to speak for lack of choices. In any case, it appears that even your extensive education credentials could not qualify you to remain as an advisor in the profession in which you trained to work. In summary, the only titles I feel to which you ARE qualified to speak, are not proper for me to mention in a thread for Christians.

Xicon Economics said...

I am sorry you are intimidated, Jimmy.


Xicon Economics said...

Oh, one more thing smart guy. The topic is about DOCTORAL LEVEL EDUCATION. Suffice it to say, I think I can speak to this topic. Thanks for ur deep intellectual input though, smart guy.

Xicon Economics said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Over the years I used to think that those whom had doctoral degrees were just wanting the title. However, I have pursued the the D.Min. and now working towards a Th.D. I didn't do these to be called "doctor," but rather to fulfill the calling in my life to be one who studies to better present the gospel. Sure there are scammers in every field, but that shouldn't sway the reality.

I have been called doctor by many, but most just call me Adrian. However, the amount of work put into my degree, despite the Ph.D/Th.D. or the D.Min., is commendable and does deserve respect.

In academia it is often a sign of respect and in some churches some parishioners enjoy referring to their pastors as doctor because they celebrate the effort along with their pastor's hard work to accomplish such a degree. There is a false humility when many try to argue that some not even call them "pastor"--then step down! It is a calling of the Lord and should not be diminished. Leave it up to them to call you what they want, but a professional degree (D.Min.) is and accomplished degree just like the academic (Th.D. and or Ph.D.), and in many schools now a D.Min. student is required to submit a dissertation; the M.D. does not require this. Therefore, the D.Min., and Th.D. and or Ph.D. are equivalent degrees. So, let's get past the false humility and consider that there are those who think one way--and that's fine, and there are those who think another way--and that's fine as well, regarding degrees, and let those whom want to call you doctor do so. Stop with the false humility and the following of a few that "think" they shouldn't be called doctor. Things change. And although there are valid points made, most do not obtain such high degrees.

Adrian A. Bernal, D.Min.

Anonymous said...

Agree. Great point, and one needing to be said.

Adrian A. Bernal, D.Min.

Anonymous said...

Excellent response, Georg. However, I do disagree on one point: non-accredited degrees. There are bogus schools and there are quality schools that fall under this assumption. If one receives his/her D.Min. degree or Th.D. from a traditional, non-accredited seminary that is one of quality in professorship with a minimum of 90% having their highest degrees from accredited schools, then by all means it is an earned degree. Especially if that degree program is as vigorous or harder than the accredited school. I've seen bogus accreditation and I've seen accredited schools that I would never get a degree from. Being accredited doesn't always mean quality. So, each school should have a rigorous program, regardless of accreditation, but both are considered earned degrees. Yes, the bogus schools have ruined it but the standard shouldn't be accreditation but rather quality of programs offered and your goals as far as a profession. For example, if one wants to be an M.D. a non-accredited school will not work; however, a pastor with a small budget who attends a quality, non-accredited school with a great program without his denomination requiring an accredited degree is fine as well. There is no requirement from many denominations for their ministers to posswas more than an M.Div. So, take each school as,it comes and place,it under a microscope and examine if it is,one if reputation and quality, not necessarily accredited.

Adrian A. Bernal, D.Min.

Anonymous said...

Adrian, you are completely wrong. A DMin is NOT equivalent to a PhD. What a joke.

Let us see if this is posted, because my last 2 posts have mot beem posted.

Dr. Dr. Herbert Barber

Anonymous said...

I have an earned bachelor of science degree, a law degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, three masters degrees, an earned PhD and am finishing a DMin. All accredited at the highest levels of federally recognized accreditation including WASC, ABA and ATS. Moreover, I have been a professor for over 20 years. I also spent 20 years in the pastorate, and have been ordained by a major denomination since 1989.

I have never had anyone call me "Doctor" while pastoring but do once in a great while at the University. Generally, among my peers in a highly formal academic setting which is completely appropriate. Do I feel proud, puffed up, or superior to others? Hardly. In fact quite the opposite.

Anyone who has gone through the academic rigor of the education process knows that it is a humbling experience and challenging to the extreme. It's usually the ones who have unaccredited diploma mill type "doctorates" who demand the title. By the way I don't like the title "Reverend" either. It makes me nauseous. I'm not against those who go buy this title but when they insist on it that's where I have a problem. If anyone has the goods away of academic acumen I do. But I don't use it to assert myself as better than others, much less the ones whom I am called to serve. Just my two cents.

--"Dr." E

Unknown said...

What Jesus taught His followers in Matthew 23:8 may have application with this discussion. "But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers." Maybe no Christian leader should call himself by any academic title...just "brother."

Mike Brooks said...

Dr. Frank Tupper at SBTS told us in a D.Min. seminar: "Guys, let your church call you 'doctor' one time, then get over it." Wise advice!

Unknown said...

I believe an earned, accredited doctorate at a recognized university qualifies one to have the title of 'Dr.' Ministers have had their names on the church billboards with "Dr." when all they had was a DMin from an unaccredited institution. A true Doctorate is bestowed from a research university and Pastors only bring disrepute to the church when using inflated degrees. A respectable way of presenting credentials would be, "Bob Evans Ph.D., Ph.D." if one has two earned doctorates (my pastor did). It is also a slap in the face for those who went through the rigor of obtaining an earned doctorate. Also, honorary doctorates should never be used as an excuse to put Dr. before a name. A well-known evangelist and apologist found this out the hard way. This mistake harmed his ministry and discredited him in the eyes of atheistic philosophers he debated. The trouble was that this minister was bright, educated, accomplished and just as smart as some of the intellectuals he debated. Pastors, please do not use "doctorate" unless you truly earned it.

Alex Ellis said...

Sounds like haterade to me hahahaha!!! All I hear is a bunch of whining and babbling about how someone who worked just as hard as any other person getting a PhD or Doctoral degree only in a theological based education. So medieval and early modern tradition recognized only three professions: divinity, medicine, and law the so-called "learned professions. As we know there are more these days, but that doesn't give this clown the right to complain about who gets called what, Just let people do what they do and you do whatever it is you do...oh wait you like to hate on people for earning a doctoral degree. For most of those in the realm of theological education it's really all about growth not hatery.

Unknown said...

I have no problem calling a D. Min. graduate Dr...... I will add that all doctorate degrees are not equal even when it comes to PhD degrees. I realize some degrees are design for teaching in an institution (i.e. PhD) and some are more practical for the local church (i.e. D. Min). Both are the highest degrees in their purpose. Some say that those who can't do... teach which in the church means, those who can't pastor/preach, teach. There are a few exceptions along the way.

DrLobo said...

An M.Div. is an equivalent to a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) not a D.Min.. A D.Min. is the academic equivalent to a post J.D. L.L.M.. Don't ask me why the law community decided to go that route. An M.D. or D.O. can be accomplished in eight years whereas a D.Min. is typically 10-13 minimimum depending if the seminary requires a three year pre-D.Min. academic break prior to starting the three year program. An M.D. is a professional degree, whereas the academic degree in the field of biology is a Ph.D.. We call M.D.s/MDs "Doctor." I find it absurd that some PhDs are less than 60 semester units post undergraduate education, yet a D.Min. with 72-96 semester units of graduate and 30-36 of post graduate work "shouldn't" be referred to as "Dr.". Pompus academic aristocracy if you ask me! Do the math, people.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps my perspective is different because I engage with the academic work of both DMin and PhD students in my job. For the most part, what passes for a DMin makes me surprised the DMin is even allowed to be called a doctorate. Of course, there are exceptions, but the difference in the level of difficulty is astounding. PhDs definitely deserve the title. From my perspective, I cannot say the same for DMins.

Anonymous said...

Wade, Unfortunately you probably get "please retract" messages too often. Fortunately you have not posted mine. Maybe you realized what I should have. It is simply too harsh regarding those who have earned the DMin. My frustration with this topic showed through too much. The irony is that I have no real stake in this argument, as I have not earned either! So, I am doubly at fault and thank you for your good judgment in not posting it.

William Hooper said...

Using the logic of many respondents, why do we call physicians"Dr?" The MD or DO degree is not an academic research degree, yet we call them "doctor." How many respondents have examined what is required of an DMin degree? It is not ice cream and cake. My pastor has a DMin and his culminating project in counseling was as rigorous as any PhD dissertation. Many years ago at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary I was on DMin committees and taught a research course required of DMin candidates, so l know a little about it. I have a PhD from Vanderbilt/Peabody and I don't give a fig whether you call me "doctor" or not. I tell people to doctor me if they think I am sick!

Stan said...

Wow! I just received my DMin back in October. I did not realize that this kind of debate existed about the DMIN and the PHD. Members of the Church that I belong to have been addressing me as Dr. It has been a little hard to get used to. Because education in this country is valued, I don't see a problem with being addressed as Dr., especially since it's implied in the title, Doctor of Ministry. Sure, educational achievements, as with any other achievements, should not cause us to become arrogant or cause us to think that we're better than anyone else. I pursued my DMIN to be more of a blessing to our Church. Hats of to those that pursue this level of education. Many have much to say about this. Few have achieved it.

Anonymous said...

It depends on context. People should only refer to themselves as doctor in academia or when they're working in their specialized craft. That said, all doctorate degrees from accredited colleges and seminaries deserve the doctorate title. Obviously an academic Ph.D. in Theology is more scholarly than a professional D.Min. in Christian Leadership. But you can be admitted to a Ph.D. program with a 30 hour M.A. degree and zero real world professional experience. But it takes a 90 hour M.Div. and three years real world professional experience post M.Div. to be admitted to a D.Min. program. So both degrees deserve the doctor title in their own way.

Unknown said...

A person that has earned a Doctorate of anything should be called a Doctor when you're referring to them in their professional capacities period. In the same way that one would call a medical doctor or a philosopher, or a psychiatrist, "Doctor" out of respect, even when they're off, is the same level of respect that a Theologian who has studied pass that level of a Masters degree should be afforded. People always want to take liberties with religious protocols and methods. And the reason is because they don't respect the institution(s) the clergy or anything related to God. It's a way to disparage, demean, and disrespect. I know people that are no longer practicing medicine and they're still called Doctors. Why? Respect for the "knowledge", experience, and conviction of the practitioner. Have the same respect for the men and women of God that have completed levels of learning and educations echelons above undergraduate and Master level curriculums. Dr. Luke did not go through half of the process of most of us that have earned these multiple degrees and we still call him Dr. Luke to this day. One should not be forced to call anyone doctor outside of their professional capacities however when we're referring to a person within their professional capacities it is totally proper. So if you're talking to a Minister, Pastor, Bishop etc. within their job duties or place of worship, that has completed a Dmin or Ph.D. it is totally proper to call them Doctor. Respectfully submitted. God bless. ~ Apostle Dr. Larry Birchett, Jr.

Unknown said...

I finished my DMin from Gordon-Conwell in January of 2020. I am under no illusions that it is anywhere near the level of a Ph.D. But I that's not important to me. I have been chaplain for almost 20 years in the military and hospital settings. My title was "chaplain" before I graduated and is still "chaplain" even though I have "DMin" after my signature line. No one cares. We have nurses who have earned Doctor of Nursing degrees and many throughout our hospital are PhDs. To avoid any confusion, just the MDs are called "Doctor," which is wise.

Larry walker said...

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Unknown said...

In most fields a four year bachelor's and three years grad studies and they call you doctor. The ministry adds on at least another year or more to earn the title. Many degrees have a dissertation and it is common to have a working knowledge of a couple extra languages. Eight years plus of school so call yourself anything you want.

Gerald said...

I taught at a university in one of the top programs in America. All of the people had come from the professional world and they were some of the best who were not far from retirement. They were people who had various levels of education in the academic world. All of us called each other by their first name and all of the students called us by our first name. That is the first time I had ever seen that and so I wondered what that was going to be like. It did not take very long and I came to the conclusion that I would never change that. It created a better relationship with students it also prepared them for the real world where degrees do not matter in relationships.

Many years ago I visited Finland for a summer and got to talk with several teachers. Finland had the number one school system in the world. I realized when I was in a conversation that the students called their teachers by their first name.

I would suggest that there are many in academics and among pastors who have never made one disciple and they are teaching people. James 1:22 declares who those people are.

Unknown said...

After several years of life happening moments I completed the Doctor of Ministry degree. The degree was the logical next step after the Master of Divinity degree. The reason for the pursuit was not to gain recognition or a title but to acquire the knowledge to further edify the Body of Christ which I embrace as my life purpose. My mum died and I quit my full time secular employment to return to seminary and complete the degree. Such was my commitment to God and my mum. Grief was tucked away as I worked a rigorous workload in order to graduate. Covid-19 hit compounding the issue but God was my constant help. I finished and graduated. I had not yet left Seminary when a friend hit me with the news that my degree would not be respected or honored. I can only identify the feeling as one of shame. Something that I sacrificed for with the single intent of glorifying God is denigrated to nothing. Upon returning to my church, my Pastor immediately addressed me as Dr. and others in the congregation followed suit. Many still addressed me as Rev. because of ordination and still there are those who use my first name which I prefer. To me context is very important. I do not see a problem if someone refers to me as Dr. in the church. I do not insist on it. The degree is an earned Doctor of Ministry. I have more than 30 years in ministry in the church. I preach, teach, listen, embrace, pray for and intercede for others both in the church and community. The heart of ministry is service in humility of heart and posture that glorifies God and edifies the Body of Christ.
In Christ's Service