I have desired to earn a PhD in Christian Theology for many years, probably ever since I was in undergrad back in 1998. A PhD is obviously and usually considered what is called a terminal degree, since it represents the pinnacle of academic learning and resource. After undergrad I went on to pursue an MA in Biblical Studies at Multnomah Biblical Seminary (the same institute where I earned my BA in Theology and Biblical Studies), I actually was going to do an MA in Philosophy of Religion at Talbot School of Theology (we had moved back to my homeland–at that point to do so–but because of finances that door closed–I think the MA in Philosophy of Religion would have served me much better professionally than did the degree in Biblical Studies from Multnomah). Anyway, we went back to Portland, and I did indeed earn that MA in Bib Studies (with a thesis written and defended on I Corinthians 1:17-25). After this, we needed a break from academics (not just me, but my family), and so we kind of stumbled around the West Coast (of America) looking for teaching jobs for me (like High School Bible), or pastoral positions. I was actually hired to be a youth pastor back in 2003-4, but this fell through for some unfortunate reasons; and then I was actually hired in 2004 to teach high school Bible at a school in Vista, California (but the pay was an insult and not sustainable for me and my family). So we came back, once again to the Pacific Northwest. I worked for a few professors for awhile back at Multnomah (was considered adjunct faculty at that point), and then moved on to various jobs, which is the position I am in now.
Anyway, through all of this my desire to earn a PhD has never waned. So after dealing with some health issues (which many of you know about), I applied to a school in South Africa called South African Theological Seminary to their PhD program in Theology which can be done totally by distance. Myk Habets graciously contracted with them to be my primary adviser, and so I was very excited about this (this is all back in 2010)! But the years have gone by since then, and the funding I need to do this program is nowhere available. We aren’t going to take out anymore student loans (we already have massive, and I mean massive amounts of those from undergrad between my wife and myself, and then my seminary degree), and so we have come to a dead end, really. Not only that, but getting a degree from a South African school is not going to set me up well for acquiring a teaching position at a Bible College or Seminary in the States. So these two forces and realities together seems to mitigate my motivation to pursue this degree, at least from South African Theological Seminary. If I am going to spend that kind of time, and money, then I need to get a degree that will at least make me competitive for getting in the door at some American school. Furthermore, having this dangling desire for getting this PhD done, has been a nagging distraction for me. Either I am going to do it, or I am not. And barring any kind of miracle, it does appear that I am not; which is a very very sad realization that has only recently been setting in on me (among some other disappointments—but I’m alive 😉 !). In a way though, I do feel more free by not having this kind of carrot out in front of me. I feel more free to focus on others, and to think about other ministry opportunities (even though to be honest those aren’t really forthcoming either).
Anyway, just venting, and letting you all know where I am at in this process. This is still a dream of mine, but I’m afraid it will only and always remain such. But I do realize that there is nothing too difficult for the LORD!