Dr title for pastoral types

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by bing, Oct 6, 2005.

  1. bing

    bing New Member

    Likes Received:
    I was looking up John Hagee the other day and see/hear that he goes by "Dr. Hagee". When I looked him up I see that he has no earned doctorate. Instead, he has an honorary doctor degree from Oral Roberts, and another one from Netanya.

    Do pastoral people always use the doctor title, even if it is honorary? Maybe it is just this guy. The pastor of my church is a PhD from George Mason but I never even knew it until just recently. He just goes by Steve, or Pastor Steve.
  2. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Likes Received:
    perpetual grad student; sometime ranch hand; somet
    Ottawa County, Ohio
    Sometimes, preachers style themselves as "doctor" regardless of whether they have the earned doctorate. This is used as a term of respect because "doctor" is Latin for "teacher" which is "rabbi" in Hebrew. This, I seem to remember being told, is particularly true of black churches.
    Referring to onesself as "doctor" because of an honorary doctorate is perfectly legitimate, so long as one notes the honorary nature of the degree on resumes or on flyleafs of one's book, etc.


    PhD (Hon.), Oral Roberts University

    "Dr. So and So has an honorary doctorate from Such and Such Seminary."
  3. Howard

    Howard New Member

    Likes Received:
    professional counselor
    I would probably faint if I heard a member of my church refer to me as "Dr." From the age of being able to communicate to the age of senility they call me Howard. In a meeting of presbytery one minister said to me "did that child just call you Howard?" to which I answered, "Yes, I have a really good relationship with our youth and they feel comfortable calling me Howard." He, to this day, insists that it is disrespectful and everyone in the church should refer to me either as "Dr., Rev., Pastor, or Bro.", none of which really appeal to me.

    About the only time I am referred to as Dr. is if the accrediting body for hospitals is present and I am introduced to a member of the committee or if I am introduced to a member of SACS when they visit the community college where I am adjunct faculty.
  4. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    Likes Received:
    neither a jot nor a title

    Yeah. I'm with Howard (minus the doc). It cracks me up when clergy sit around playing catch with their own titles. Honorific self-abuse, IMHO.

    My parishioners mostly use title and last name with me. A few just call me Janko. For no particular reason, I just hate "Pastor Janko" (pietist-style) and dislike "Father Janko" (sehr alt altlutherisch style). Pastor or Father alone don't bug me at all. Go figure.

    I don't use titles in vocally addressing fellow WELS clergy.

    I do use them scrupulously with clergy and other notables from other religions. (Except Friends, of course.)

    Fraternal courtesy in the first case (except in jest, would you call your blood brother for example Brother Ovidiu or Brother Traian?); professional courtesy in the second (sociological respect is different from acceptance of truth claims or ecclesiastical legitimacy).

    One wonders what Doc Martin--or Finis Ewing--would think of these Titelfresser.
    No, actually, I think I pretty well know.
  5. boydston

    boydston New Member

    Likes Received:
    Laveen, Arizona
    The first time someone introduced me as Dr Boydston was at Dallas Theological Seminary where I was doing a guest lecture -- and I totally cracked up because everyone pretty much simply refers to me as "Brad" (rarely "Pastor" -- hardly ever "Reverend") -- it caught me way off guard. It wouldn't throw me as much now but really I don't use it. It just seems inappropriate, unnecessary, and ostentatious.

    Occasionally the "Dr" appears in some literature we put out. That appeases the older generation which seems to be more into titles. Such was also the case in Texas where it seemed to matter to people a whole lot more. In their minds it somehow added credibility to the church (and when you're doing a church plant credibility can be a big thing). So there are probably regional and cultural differences to take into account.

    I believe it was Mark Twain who said something to the effect (anything clever gets attributed to him at some point), "an honorary doctorate is like silk underwear -- nice to wear but you wouldn't want to put it on display." I think that in most contexts that would apply to all doctorates -- or perhaps even college degrees in general. Sure, put it on the resume -- but if we're flaunting what we have we're taking ourselves way too seriously.

    There are places where it might be appropriate and might actually help the cause. But generally speaking to attribute a title to self -- earned or honorary -- seems tacky.
  6. badproduce

    badproduce New Member

    Likes Received:
    Produce Clerk
    Re: neither a jot nor a title

    I agree with your take. I myself have served as a minister/youth pastor in
    a small church plant.I wouldn't
    dream of anyone calling me anything
    but "Sean".(I can tolerate Pastor Sean,as I call my own Pastors Pastor
    Mark,Lawrence,or Phil as a sign of

    The only time I use my ordained title is
    when filling out official paperwork.
  7. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly

    Likes Received:
    This and that on the Internet
    Northern Virginia & Dominica, West Indies
    My sister is a Methodist minister, and senior pastor at her church. I've seen her referred to exclusively as "Pastor Abi" since she got out of seminary with her MDiv. I've never seen her referred to in print or person as "Doctor".

  8. Guest

    Guest Guest

    When I function professionally as a clergyperson, I am referred to as "Chaplain" and occasionally as "Father". The only time someone uses "Dr." is when the refer to me in a letter/e-mail or on other correspondence. In my secular job, my superior began to call me "Dr." or "Doc" but it did not fit and I discouraged it. Using that title would have to be a formal setting where others were being called "Mr." or "Ms".

    As for honorary degrees, I dislike the use of the term "Dr." when they have a D.D (Doctor of Divinity). One Canon of the church jokily called the DD (he had been given one) Donated Dignity.

    It is a stylistic thing. Some denominations preach in their academic robes and use those titles. Also, frequently among mainline denominations (UMC, S. Baptists) in order to get the large churches you must have an earned doctorate (PhD, DMin). My opinion is that this is as much as desire of the local church boards to have the prestige of having a pastor who is "Dr. Smith". This is a case where I have seen the pastor referred to as "Dr." by members of the congregation and in written literature. In my expereince this is very common among S.Baptist (First Baptist) and UMC congregations. Frankly some people (not always the pastor) want the feeling that comes with knowing their pastor is a "Dr." and that they know him. Similar reason that Steve Levicoff's doorman refused to call him Steve. He wanted to know a "Dr.".

    North (just call me your emminence.......every year I get more so...pound by pound :)
  9. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Using academic nomenclature in the parish setting is really a matter of preference. Although I earned the degrees, I never introduce myself as "Dr." or sign my name with the title, however, in professional correspondence, academic settings and church publications the title is included in the printed sig line and bio information. Nor do I use the title of "Reverend." Parishioners address me as either "Pastor," some use "Dr.," or Russell.

    IMHO, the use of the title "Dr." by those who hold honorary doctorates, without designating the "certificate of appreciation" as such is somewhat questionable--even unethical. Politicians, entertainers, sports figures, scientists, etc., receive honorary doctorates every year. None of these individuals begin to refer to themselves as "Dr." after being awarded this "certificate of appreciation." The same protocol should be followed among clergypersons.

    I received an award from the Governor of North Carolina several years ago for driving a school bus (fortunately it was only for one year) for the local elementary school. This was done to defray the cost of my doctoral studies. At the top of the paper it reads, "Certificate of Appreciation." IMHO, this honorary award is the equivalent of an honorary doctorate, i.e., both are honorary awards. Should I begin to include this in my sig line, church publications, etc., and refer to myself as "CoA Russell?" ;)
  10. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member

    Likes Received:
    Perhaps in a few years I will get over my vanity. But for now in some social circles which are ecclesiastical and/or educational I do not at all mind being called "Dr." --in fact, God forgive me, it sounds good.

    Of course, in contexts where the title is less meaningful , I see no need for it.

    I don't perceive why being called "Dr" because I have a Theological doctorate is inappropriate if we call those who have that qualification in other disciplines "Dr."
  11. Guest

    Guest Guest

    But this sounds so much more dignified, North:

    Distuinguised Graduate with Highest Honors North. :D
  12. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Nor do I Bill, if the credential is earned.......

Share This Page