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Accreditation Is Important

August 23, 2010

Several weeks back Avalos and West argued as to whether biblical studies was overly theistic or a-theistic. My thoughts on that ‘friendly’ conversation are here.

They went back at it again.

Their last dispute involved accreditation.

First Jim asserted that the institution of accreditation was nothing more than a scam declaring, ““accreditation” has become a huge industry and a huge instrument of control, dictation, and manipulation.” Avalos responded here, “A “doctoral” degree in biblical/religious studies is meant to represent a level of competence that should be valued and cannot be simply self-proclaimed. We owe this not only to students who pay their tuition dollars but to employers who don’t want to waste time with unqualified candidates.”

Any system can be abused. In fact with human beings involved every system will be abused! Do we throw the baby out with the bathwater? I would suggest not. Of course, there are fake institutions and bad teachers and students; do we then stop trying any measures to ensure that the majority are ‘good’. I suppose my real question is: there will be a system of some sort, so what is really a viable alternative to try and keep measures, checks, and balances on the academic machine?

Ultimately, though me and Jim are friends, I find myself in agreement with Avalos more than West concerning this issue. I could write lots of reasons why, I mean, would you rather learn from Dr. VanderKam, Dr. Flint, or Dr. Nickelsburg; or from “Dr.” Creflo Dollar?

Instead here is video proof that accreditation is important. Very important. The institution may need some rehabilitation, but I’m not sure blowing it up is called for.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2010 12:07 pm

    suggesting that the accreditation industry and the fringe loons are the same topic is simply a sidestepping of the issue, scott. the mention of dollar and his ilk simply serves to distract people from the real issue, which you don’t address at all except to say that the accrediting industry needs reform.

    but why reform it at all if you’ve already implied that unaccredited people are all like dollar? it doesn’t need reform then- it only needs greater application.

    • August 23, 2010 2:05 pm

      I’m not suggesting that all unaccredited people are like Dollar. The world would be a horrible place if that was the case! Likewise, to suggest accreditation stop because there are a few abuses would be equally unfair.

      Ultimately, I would suggest that what academics do takes a great amount of time, practice, and guidance. For an example of what our discipline looks like without proper mentoring and guidance re-read that chapter from Martin Vining you posted last year, or listen to anything Barfield says about the copper scroll.

      I have gone to school with students whose critical thinking skills were one-step above a three-toed tree sloth, and have met laypersons who were extremely sharp and asked decent questions of the text. One, no amount of schooling could help, and the other would very likely thrive in a good scholarly environment.

      In the end however I would suggest that accredited Universities, for the most part, turn out good thinkers who have practiced their processes for a long time and are better than joe blow walking the street. I suppose the real issue, again, is that there will be some sort of system, so if not accreditation, then what? I think for the most part the current system works (though as a student I certainly wish things were cheaper) but as with any system it can be abused and can always be made better.

  2. August 23, 2010 12:11 pm

    and yes, most importantly, we are – and will remain – friends. even if we disagree from time to time.

  3. August 23, 2010 1:46 pm

    Bravo, Scott, Bravo. Could not agree more.

  4. August 23, 2010 1:48 pm

    Oral Roberts University. Just saying.

    • August 23, 2010 2:06 pm

      A perfect example of where reform must start!

  5. August 23, 2010 2:11 pm

    I see both sides on this issue, it’s a tricky one. Particularly for theological studies, accreditation is more tricky, at least for folks seeking to go into ministry rather than the academy. But I would also have to err on some kind of accreditation process at least, even if it would need radical reform.

  6. August 24, 2010 6:17 pm

    people are stupid

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