Th.D., Ph.D., S.T.D., Rel.D., D.Th.P., D.Ed., D.R.E., S.M.D., D.C.M. What next?

D.Mn.! This new way for a seminary Student to get the coveted title “doctor” comes from the University of Chicago Divinity School.

The seminaries’ current din about doctorates stems basically from the irksome fact that the minister normally becomes a mere “bachelor” alter three years of graduate toil. At about the same time, his liberal arts colleague becomes “doctor.” Chicago and the (Methodist) School of Theology at Claremont, California, provide the most radical solution: discard the Bachelor of Divinity altogether.

Jesse H. Ziegler, associate director of the American Association of Theological Schools, says Chicago’s plan is “out of line with AATS standards.” He expects “very little support” for the scheme within AATS, which accredits North America’s seminaries.

Proliferating doctorates are “a major source of debate,” Ziegler said, and will be a top topic next June at the biennial meeting in Alexandria, Virginia.

Chicago makes no pretense of being different. A press release last month, elaborating on the program that began in September, said dissertations and foreign-language requirements were dropped because “the faculty feel that adding such requirements simply to make the program resemble some other doctoral programs would be inappropriate.”

Advertising posters sent to 500 colleges and prospective students use an angel sporting dark glasses (see below) to stress the in-ness of the ministry course. The text proclaims: “It is an honest-to-goodness professional doctoral program.… It is not the last word in theological education, it is only one of the first.”

Chicago also reverses the usual seminary pattern by covering culture and theology-in-culture ...

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