Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

KJV Only Doctorates and Loving Jesus

Much has been written about Acts 4:13.  Some contend that Acts 4:13 is proof that we don’t need seminary education to accomplish the work of the Lord.  I would agree.  Men such as A.W. Tozer did much for the kingdom of God without ever attending Bible colleges.  On the other hand, we mustn’t down play the fact that the disciples walked with Jesus for three years.  Nicodemus called Jesus a rabbi in John 3:2 and so we must conclude that Jesus taught His disciples (Luke 11:1).  Jesus would have been the greatest teacher in the history of humanity as He was God manifested in the flesh (John 1:14).  Jesus would have been able to speak of the things of God with authority and not as the scribes or Pharisees (Matthew 7:28-29).  To sit at the feet of Jesus would have been greater than any seminary teaching ever.  So we must not downplay the education that the Twelve received from Jesus.  They had earned their degrees at the feet of the Lord.

In our day it is amusing to see men and women gloating over their education.  I too have been there.  When I was fresh out of college, I thought I was the gift of God to the world.  I saw myself as a reformational teacher who would change the church for the better.  I entered into my first ministry experience and quickly realized that no one cared what the Greek says, no one cared that I could biblically explain this or that, and no one cared that I had a degree in Bible.  My first experience with a fellow pastor was dismal.  He had grown so weary with ministry that the often preached sermons that he received “from the Spirit” that were poorly put together and often read into the Bible what was not there.  When I confronted him with my sound exegesis skills, he mocked me and said that he was hearing the Spirit and I was not.  He pointed to Acts 4:13 and claimed that the Spirit taught the disciples and He would teach us.  I saw him as an ignorant soul who would fail.

My point here is that education can cut us both ways.  We can become prideful because of our learning.  However, we can also be prideful for our lack of education.  We must guard against both.  Knowledge can puff up (1 Corinthians 8:1).  Knowledge can become an idol.  The lack of education while serving the Lord can also become an idol.  I have known a street preacher who boasted about his “service” to God while having no college degree.  He boasts that he is doing more than college grads are for the kingdom.  Perhaps but he is also full of pride.

In KJV only churches, I have found over the years many who call themselves “Doctor” so and so while having no true degree.  Many of them are given doctorate degrees from unapproved “Bible colleges” that are found in church basements or meeting in Sunday school rooms.  There are a few independent fundamentalists who do have true doctorate degrees from recognized seminaries but many are from unknown sources.

Let me offer a few examples.  Dr. Gail Riplinger is a prominent KJV only advocate.  She has written a book that has been the basis for many KJV only disciples called, New Age Bible Versions.  The doctorate that Riplinger has was conferred on her by a local church.  It is not an earned Ph.D.  She has not attended any prominent seminaries.  Her doctorate is simply a title that was given to her by First Baptist Church of Hammond, IN.  

First Baptist was pastored by the late Dr. Jack Hyles.  Much has been made known about this man since his death including his sexual immorality.  Dr. Jack Hyles did not have an earned doctorate either.  He was conferred the doctorate by Midwestern Bible College that was started by one of his followers.

There are others as well.  Dr. Oliver Greene.  Dr. Harold Sightler.  Dr. Larry Brown.  Dr. Joe Arthur.

Let me state here with what I began with, a degree does not prove nor disprove anything.  A.W. Tozer was known as “Dr. A.W. Tozer” because he was awarded a doctorate by a legitimate seminary (Wheaton Seminary).  Tozer did not prefer this title and did not use it.  Others called him Dr. Tozer but he always preferred to be known as A.W. Tozer.  He was not against a degree but Tozer understood that he did not earn that degree.  It was awarded to him.

Degrees do not prove that we are either serving God nor do they prove we are truly educated.  I once heard a doctor preach who had earned his degree but he was not a good preacher.  He had the education but lacked the knowledge to preach a simple Bible teaching.  On the other hand, I have heard godly men preach who had not even set foot in a Bible college but they had studied the Word for hours and the were truly taught by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13).  After hours in their prayer closets with the Lord and after hours of studying from their Bibles, they had heard from heaven and were used by God for His glory.

Education should not be looked down upon nor used to exalt flesh.  Our biblical education should draw us closer to Jesus.  However, I am troubled that many in the KJV only camp use “Doctor” titles while not truly earning them.   Many of the “doctors” I have heard over the years from KJV only preaching offer nothing theologically to us.  They claim to be “evangelists” and some of them have medium-sized churches (in the traditional sense) but again, offer nothing theologically to show why they deserve an unearned doctorate.

My advice to us all is this: press into Jesus.  Make the gospel your passion.  Jesus, the Person, and not facts about Jesus is who saves us.  Jesus is very much real.  He is very much a real person who lives forever (1 Corinthians 15:3-9).  Jesus is our salvation.  Not facts about Him found in a book.  Jesus is the One that I worship and adore.  Not my education or lack thereof.  I want to know Christ (Philippians 3:8-11).  I pray that is the heart of you who read this and of the KJV only proponents as well.  May we love Jesus and who He is.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/07/2013 at 10:12 AM

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