Question: My church seems to believe that one must be a “scholar” or a “theologian” to be a pastor or Bible teacher. It even seems to be implied that those without such degrees are not competent to question what those holding theological and psychological degrees teach from the Bible. What is your opinion?
Response: No degree spiritually qualifies the one to whose name it is attached. Yet that is the mentality today. Some pastors, authors, and conference speakers are going to diploma mills to purchase a “Dr.” to put in front of their names! Just those two letters seem to elevate the individual to a newly perceived level of biblical understanding and spiritual authority.
The Bereans certainly had no theological degrees. Yet they checked out the great Apostle Paul’s preaching against scripture and were commended for doing so (Acts:17:11). Every Christian is both qualified and obligated to do the same with every Bible teacher and preacher, no matter how highly regarded or academically certified. No one is immune from error or correction.
Nor were the disciples “theologians” or “scholars.” Among them were fishermen, a tax gatherer, etc. The idea that those who have academic degrees from theological seminaries have thereby a monopoly on interpreting the Bible is both illogical and unscriptural. Such elitism is simply the Protestant version of Roman Catholicism’s claim that its hierarchy of bishops, cardinals, and popes alone can interpret Scripture. Christian leaders should be respected and honored, but this regard should not be based on degrees they may have acquired, but on the extent to which they demonstrate godly lives, biblically qualified and consistent leadership skills, and the teaching of sound doctrine based on their study of the Word.