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Should a Pastor Get a PhD?

Discerning your role as a local, popular, or ecclesial pastor theologian.

Should a Pastor Get a PhD?

The topic of the pastor theologian became a bit of a thing in 2015. There were a couple of new books, a spate of online essays, and a conference—all dedicated to defining the identity and practicality of the pastor theologian. Indeed, the pastor theologian even made Collin Hansen's top ten list of theology stories in 2015—right along with gay marriage and global terror! This highlights how much attention the idea of the pastor theologian has captured the attention of the evangelical community. One of the questions that often comes up in these conversations is the issue of training, namely whether or not a pastor, especially the sort of pastor who aspires to be a pastor theologian, should pursue a PhD. If one answers yes, a follow up question quickly presents itself: what kind of PhD—full time or part time? My short answer to these twin questions is, maybe, and it depends.

But such definitive counsel requires a bit of context. In our recent book, The Pastor Theologian: ...

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Displaying 1–4 of 4 comments

christoph

February 08, 2016  9:50am

Before talk about "when" we should ask "should a Pastor". Many "pastors" are educated as theologians with all systematic theology, languages etc. But very few are equipped in teaching. One seminary required its MDiv students take a grand total of 1 course from the Christian Ed department. no wonder so many "sermons" are more like theological lectures. A PH.D. would enforce that attitude. The Bible speaks of Pastot/shepherd, not Pastor/theologian. North American churches have a new god. It is called "education".

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Michael Herzog

February 06, 2016  9:58am

Gerald, I have been encouraged by a fellow colleague in ministry to consider pursuing more education. The challenge has been. Do I have the time, the patience, and the means to fulfill such exhaustive work. At this point my mind is considering a Th.M. to unearth if I have the means to go further. With an M.Div complete I have the study capacities for graduate work but don't know if I have the patience. I am considering the Th.M to see do I have what it takes to accomplish the research and the skills to write extensively. I appreciate your perspective in this article. I was just at the Desiring God, pastor's conference and picked up your book, The Pastor Theologian. I navigated through a couple dozen pages and have found it a good work. Thanks for your excellence in writing. Some day when I am down visiting with my folks I would love to share a lunch with you to catch up on life.

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Ray

February 05, 2016  10:47pm

I'd love to see a list of PhD programs for the working pastor. Any suggestions for affordable, accredited programs?

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Galen hiestand

February 05, 2016  9:43pm

I believe the D-Min is a great choice for the local pastor-theologican and a reasonable option for the popular pastor-theologian. I am completing my D-min and highly value it both for pastoral ministry and academic understanding.

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