Throwing in the Gown … PhD (barring a miracle)


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!


My PhD Student Status Update

I have just clarified my PhD student status update on my ‘About Me’ page. Check the bracketed clarification on my ‘about me’ page here. I am still in need of funds for the PhD program at SATS (which I have been accepted to); if you would like to sponsor me, please let me know via email (contact at: But yes, check out my update; I am unofficially-officially started 😉 .

PhD Sponsorship revisted

Over at my other blog, I cross-posted that post where I am requesting ‘sponsorship’ for the PhD work I would like to do. I had a guy named John respond like this:

I wish you all the best. Pursue your dreams! Your request for sponsorship brings up one thing I’ve always struggled with. It is when Christians ask others (family or not) to help pay their way through college, especially when people have taken out college loans and/or worked their way through. When people tie it to ministry, it seems like one justifying the request. I’m not trying to be negative, because I have an open mind and willing to change my view if convinced through God’s Word. Any help or thoughts on this topic? Thanks.

I have thought about this, I didn’t really think that I should provide an argument when I put this request out there; I think I could make a tenable theological and exegetical case for asking for support like this, but what do you think?

His response caught me off guard a bit. By the way, I have accrued thousdands of dollars of student loan debt (from undergrad and grad); and I actually worked my booty off throughout my prior education. Anyway, I might write up an argument for asking for support like this; if it seems necessary. But, again, what do you think about John’s question (it is definitely a legitmate one)? You can see how I briefly responded to him over there: here .

**PS. Many PhD’s, both international and domestic, are fully funded. Unfortunately given life circumstances, and other things, programs aren’t feasible for us right now. The program at SATS is perfect for us, and I believe the Lord will provide a way for us to get this funded . . .

PhD Sponsorship?

I have been accepted to a PhD program in systematic theology at South African Theological Seminary. I have been looking for a program like this for a long time. It can be done by “distance” (it is fully accredited) it is like any other international PhD — it is pure ‘research’ (or dissertation only), which makes it really ideal for family life and just the logistics of our current situation right now. My desire, and gifting, I believe, is to teach theology and Bible at a Bible College or Seminary; in fact this has been my “dream” for quite some time. Earning this PhD will open the doors to this possibility, and could lead to this “dream” becoming a reality — in fact earning a PhD is a necessary step in order for this to happen.

Of course, this program costs money, not exorbitant amounts (which has made other alternatives and programs prohibitive); but it is still money, money we don’t have. So I am just putting this out here, by faith, to see if any of you would be willing to sponsor me financially for the PhD? It is $2,400 per year, I am only looking for sponsorship for one year at a time — so $2,400 is the current goal (this will get me going and into the program). If you feel led to do something like this, that would be great!

I should say, I already have doctoral supervision lined up; my primary supervisor is theologian and scholar Dr. Myk Habets (he is a professor at Carey Baptist College in New Zealand, and directs their theological studies program — and he has already contracted with SATS to specifically be my supervisor), and then Dr. Sam Kunhiyop, who is the head of the post-graduate school at SATS and also is a contributor to the Africa Bible Commentary. My research will be on The Vicarious Humanity of Jesus Christ, with Special Attention to the Theology of Thomas Torrance (click on the linked “The Vicarious Humanity of Jesus Christ” in order to get an idea of what this is referencing — the link is to a paper given by Dr. Andrew Purves [a student of TF Torrance], and you will at least get a flavor for what I’m talking about, if unaware).

I/we (my wife and I) would really appreciate your partnering with us in this way for the advancement of the kingdom. My heart, is, and always has been to use my gifts as a ‘teacher’ to edify and challenge the body of Christ for the glory of God! If you would like to participate in this with us please send me an email (or comment here on this post) at:

Also, if you would prefer to just donate through paypal you can do that here (this is the same paypal account we had set up for my “cancer fund”):

Donation for Bobby’s PhD (our email address, if you chose to donate, is, which is what you will enter in order to direct your payment to our account)

I will be able to supply you with even more detail if necessary, or be able to answer any questions you might have about this; and our future plans, in regards to career and ministry goals. Thank you! 🙂

PS. I will keep everyone regularly updated, so you will know where we our at — in regards to reaching the $2,400 (USD) goal — and how much more we will need to reach that goal. Once we meet that, I will let you all know. Thank you!