Congratulations to Dr. Preston Mayes. Dr. Mayes successfully defended his dissertation and has been awarded his Ph.D. in Old Testament. His dissertation was “The Resident Alien, the Fatherless, and the Widow in Deuteronomy: the Priority of Relationship with Israel’s God for Social Benevolence.”
Dr. Mayes’ completion of his PhD means that every faculty member at Maranatha Baptist Seminary now has an earned doctorate. And all but one of our adjunct faculty (and that one is in the process of writing his dissertation) have earned doctorates, as well.
People often ask, “Why is there such an emphasis on getting a doctorate?” Does it make someone smarter? Yes – but usually in a very narrow field of study. As far as teaching at the college or seminary level, the MDiv is a more practical degree. Does it make someone a better teacher? Not necessarily, although PhD students often have the privilege to sit in classes with some of the best teachers (and sometimes some great writers who are not such great teachers). The doctoral process itself, however, has the potential of negatively impacting a person’s teaching. Does it make them more valuable to the institution? Yes. The world places great value of “credentials.” Maranatha is pleased to meet the world’s expectations, not because we seek the praise of men, but because we seek to positively reflect the high regard we have for God, His Word, and His work. Maranatha has no desire to “get by,” to do God’s work in any way that reflects a poor testimony before the lost.
So what is the value of a PhD or similar doctoral degree? First is the academic value. To earn a PhD, Dr. Mayes had to do two things. He had to master a narrow subject thoroughly. While his PhD is in the Old Testament, in reality it was in a narrow area of the Old Testament. His focus was on the Pentateuch. This mastery entails massive reading in the subject, numerous graduate level classes with significant writing projects in each class, and the mastery of a generally acceptable body of knowledge.
Second, he had to expand the body of knowledge, writing his dissertation on something no one has addressed or approaching a topic in a new way. The typical theological dissertation is about 300 pages in length. Second is the personal value. The PhD is a lengthy process of classwork, reading, research, and writing, spread over several years. It demands significant self discipline. There is personal and family sacrifice. So we not only congratulate Dr. Mayes, but also commend his wife and children, who joined him in his sacrifice and work. Much of the “normal life” is set aside for years of work. The PhD is the ultimate academic demonstration of commitment. Commitment is a biblical concept. Christianity, at its core, is a commitment to God and His Word. Many people, who never get a PhD, demonstrate their commitment in a wide variety of ways. Whether it’s a PhD, a lifetime of pastoral ministry, a long teaching career with junior high students, or dedication to the church nursery, cleaning the church, mowing the yard, or passing out bulletins, commitment to serving God brings great rewards, sometimes in this life, sometimes in the life to come.
Congratulations, Dr. Mayes!