My Current Research

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isaachunter
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My Current Research

Post #1

Post by isaachunter »

I'm currently enrolled in a Doctor of Theology program (ThD), doing research in Christian Philosophy, Philosophy of Death, and Persecution Theology. I will be posting regular updates on this forum about my progress as I work through the program.

I had my admission interview last week and asked one of the professors to be my Advisor for my dissertation and he accepted.

I'm currently working through preliminary materials, such as these books:

Surviving and Thriving in Seminary
Writing a Proposal for Your Dissertation
From Student to Scholar
Various Youtube Videos on Dissertation Writing/Defense & Seminary Life

I'm simultaneously working on a Concept Paper that will be combined with several other separate components (Annotated Bibliograophies, Comprehensive Dissertation Outline) which will serve as my Official Proposal that I will submit hopefully by the end of December.

Through the process, I hope to write up 3 articles (future dissertation chapters) that I will submit for publication in academic journals (fingers crossed).

If anyone has any questions please don't hesitate to ask.

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Re: My Current Research

Post #2

Post by Overcomer »

Are you doing this on-campus, online or as a hybrid program, Isaac?

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Re: My Current Research

Post #3

Post by isaachunter »

[Replying to Overcomer in post #2]

Fully online program.

I stopped attending on-campus courses back in 1997 after I finished my first semester at the local community college. Once I discovered online courses (they were just getting started at that point) I withdrew from all my classes and re-enrolled at the neighboring school, 100% online.

My BA and MA were both completed online as well. Doing so allows me to remain in my current location (I own a home, have an established job, etc), but the real reason is I do not enjoy the in-class format at all. I've always done much better and been more comfortable in an asynchronous approach.

Though, I will say I spent a few years in the military and that time was very similar to a seminary or monastic lifestyle. Several other single soldiers sharing the barracks were also Christians, so we would spend a great deal of time reading and discussing the Bible and theology with each other. It was a unique experience and very beneficial since I was at that time a new believer and laying a firm foundation for my faith.

IH

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Re: My Current Research

Post #4

Post by Overcomer »

May I ask what school you are doing your degree with? If I ever do a doctorate, I will have to do so online as well.

I appreciate both online and classroom learning for different reasons. Obviously, with the online courses, it's cheaper to do them here in my own home and fit them into my schedule. And I enjoy writing so, for me, it's fun to create the posts to share with others.

I do enjoy the camaraderie of being right there in the room with classmates, however. And I enjoy the live and lively discussions that take place.

As a doctoral student, do you get a change to connect with other students for courses? Or are you strictly doing a thesis with no courses involved?

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Re: My Current Research

Post #5

Post by isaachunter »

[Replying to Overcomer in post #4]

I'm doing my ThD at FTS. I looked at a lot of grad schools and seminaries this last year and, at the last minute, someone online referred me to FTS. Most schools either immediately priced me out of admission or were so compromised theologically I could not in good conscience attend. Of the handful of non-accredited seminaries I found that were reasonably priced, all of them seemed rather shady. FTS was the only school that was neither compromised culturally/theologically nor fiscally.

I originally planned to get a PhD at Liberty. But by the time I finished my MTS and I needed to shell out the cash for the PhD tuition ($14k), I got cold feet. Advanced degrees in any field let alone theological education these days are just so risky. The job market in academia is abysmal, with no real path to becoming a professor (even part time). I then had to be honest and ask myself if teaching was really what I wanted to do? Given the progressive nature of most seminaries these days, I realized it was not.

FTS offers no cost + a dissertation only ThD + a mentorship model. It's one of the few seminaries, at least for my specific situation, that has a positive ROI. The degree is not portable for employment, but neither will degrees from accredited Christian seminaries if their accreditation is pulled in the future (which is already being talked about in the new administration).

This specific program is dissertation only, requiring no formal courses, though, I've added several preliminary books and online lectures for my own edification. There is no interaction with other students, which I actually prefer. I don't prefer group work or in-person discussion; I prefer asynchronous learning. While I enjoy the academic rigor and the personal challenge of schooling, I do not share your appreciation for live learning and interaction with other students especially in actual brick and mortar classrooms.

So, FTS was the perfect fit for me. No real downsides to speak of, no financial compromises. No theological compromises. Plus, it offers the flexibility I need to pursue my research interests.

IH

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Re: My Current Research

Post #6

Post by Overcomer »

Thanks for sharing that link. I'm interesting in continuing to pursue apologetics and didn't see that listed as one of their fields. I looked at Liberty when hunting for a school to pursue a Master's in apologetics and noted their doctoral program at that time. Yes, it's expensive. But it does have a good reputation.

It will be several years before I complete what I'm working on now, but I will keep Forge in mind. Thank you, Isaac!

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Re: My Current Research

Post #7

Post by isaachunter »

[Replying to Overcomer in post #6]

Their ThD and DMin programs are both dissertation only so the coursework is focused entirely on your own research. Since it is highly flexible and student-driven/designed, I can't imagine any reason you could not pursue Apologetics. There are even faculty on staff at FTS with degrees in Apologetics so it could be a good fit when selecting an advisor.

Liberty's PhD program was initially of interest because of both price and it's online format. But, it's reputation is slipping lately with all the scandals, not to mention signs that it's joining other prominent seminaries in their backslide toward liberal theology. Liberty is by far the cheapest regionally accredited school with a PhD program. I was able to get the overall price under $14k, but it would require some extreme mental gymnastics and rushing through courses just to bring the cost down. I really felt uneasy about this. Not only did I not want to be under financial pressure, but I also didn't want artificial limitations like semester restrictions or prerequisites getting in the way. There seems to be this idea in academia (and all of education) that seat time is more important than the research itself. Most of my courses in undergrad and grad school have felt like distractions whereas now I'm able to focus solely on the subject areas that really interest me.

Likewise, with the Liberty degree, I had to wrestle with the idea of legitimacy. Yes, they have a good reputation among Christian schools. But a degree from their school has little chance against Yale or Harvard or any prominent State or regional school. Additionally, the social hostility evident in most seminaries today (where I would want to teach) really preclude me from pursuing an advanced degree for employment purposes. I already have the perfect job that affords me plenty of free time to pursue my research avocationally, so bills are paid with money to spare and there's no reason to jump into a cesspool and fight just to survive when I can relax and follow the research wherever it takes me.

FTS is the perfect fit for my needs, but this is completely subjective. There are some important downsides depending on what the ultimate goal is.

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Re: My Current Research

Post #8

Post by Overcomer »

I didn't realize that Liberty was slipping towards liberalism. I wonder why. A change in leadership? A desire to garner more students?

Being Canadian, I also have to consider the exchange rate on my money if I want to pursue a degree at an American school. Interestingly, I know of pastors here in Canada who have chosen to get a doctorate in theology from the University of South Africa.

Ultimately, as you say, it all depends on the individual. I'm just glad there are good options from which to choose.

I probably won't be back here until after Christmas. I pray you have a blessed one, Isaac.

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Re: My Current Research

Post #9

Post by isaachunter »

Overcomer wrote: Thu Dec 24, 2020 4:01 pm I didn't realize that Liberty was slipping towards liberalism. I wonder why. A change in leadership? A desire to garner more students?
There was definitely a change in leadership recently with Jerry Farwell Jr stepping down after his scandals. But this was merely an opportunity for those already entrenched in the school to start flexing their liberal agenda. They are showing the first signs of what the other seminaries have already gone through. It won't be long before their is a full takeover. From what I understand these large seminaries are prime targets to be hijacked for their substantial endowments. Liberals want to leverage that money to push their agenda. They appear to be succeeding.
Overcomer wrote: Thu Dec 24, 2020 4:01 pm Being Canadian, I also have to consider the exchange rate on my money if I want to pursue a degree at an American school. Interestingly, I know of pastors here in Canada who have chosen to get a doctorate in theology from the University of South Africa.
This is a very popular option in America as well. For whatever reason South African seminaries have a very good reputation and can be much less expensive than US schools. I looked at a few of them, but they made me nervous. They were about half the price of Liberty, but I'm still not convinced a regionally accredited school or mainline seminary will take a degree from a South African school when the candidate pool has applicants with degrees from mainline seminaries in the US. There is simply a lot of competition in this industry. Too much, actually. I know James White received his ThD from a non-accredited seminary several years ago, but he got so much criticism for it that he later opted to get a PhD in South Africa.

IH

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