How David Barton ‘Earned’ His Doctorate

Last month, we noted that right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton, in an effort to boost his credibility, had begun insisting that he had earned a Ph.D., despite having repeatedly admitted that he does not have a doctorate of any sort. Barton eventually responded by posting a snarky video accusing his critics of carelessly throwing around false claims about his academic credentials and insisting that he does, in fact, have an “earned doctorate.”

As evidence, Barton pointed to three framed degrees in the background, two of which were nothing more than honorary doctorates, while the third was conveniently obscured, making it difficult to determine where it came from or what it said. Nonetheless, Warren Throckmorton, one of Barton’s most consistent and effective critics, managed to deduce that the third degree came from Life Christian University (LCU), an unaccredited Christian institution in Florida.

When critics started raising questions about the validity of this “earned doctorate,” Barton removed his video and has since refused to comment on the issue. But LCU’s president, Douglas Wingate, has been far less reticent to discuss the university’s practice of handing out doctoral degrees to influential Christian leaders who have never taken a single class at LCU.

As Wingate explained in a statement obtained by Throckmorton, LCU examines the academic records and published works of such “distinguished” individuals and then concludes whether those works qualify for enough credit to earn a degree from the university.

In the case of Barton, Wingate says that LCU determined that his work in “Christian American History” was sufficient to earn him enough credits in Modern Church History to qualify for a doctorate … and that those who question Barton’s credentials or LCU’s policy are “spiritually ignorant” and, perhaps, even under “demon possession”:

As with any regularly enrolled student, when we do an assessment on the former education that a student desires to transfer into LCU, we consider any former Bible School credit, liberal arts school credit, Bible School teaching credit and Published Works credit. It is a common practice for even secular liberal arts institutions to offer Life Experience credit.

When a minister has enough credit beyond their customary transfer credit, LCU is able to matriculate degrees for each of the various levels of credit. The first degree is the Bachelors degree, then the Masters degree, then the Doctor of Ministry degree and finally the Ph.D. The necessary credit hours of study that match these degrees is 120 credits of undergraduate study for the Bachelors degree, 36 credit hours of graduate study for the Masters degree, 15 hours of post-graduate study plus a 30 credit dissertation for the D.Min. and 15 hours of post-graduate study plus a 30 credit dissertation for the Ph.D. Again, these degrees may consist of transfer credit, and previously published works. This work, of course, must be for that which falls into the disciplines traditionally offered by the university, but an exception can be made for some work that is outside of, but related to those disciplines. One such discipline would be in Christian American History, which falls into the category of Modern Church History. All of the candidates work is thoroughly examined before credit is awarded and it is clearly identified on their transcript. That is certainly the case with Dr. David Barton, whose work in comparison to the revisionist historians, make them look completely foolish.

Some unsaved liberal academics are drastically opposed to our methods of assessment for earned degree credit, but they need only to concern themselves with their own anti-Christian and often Anti-Christ secular schools, which LCU has nothing in common with. Unfortunately in America, many of these institutions were founded as colonial seminaries, and early American seminaries. It is a tremendous blight on our nation that these secular education institutions have fallen so far from the grace of God, and are now tools of the enemies of God. The pendulum seems to have swung from godliness all the way to demon possession.

When critics complain about the independent, non-government accreditation that we have obtained, as opposed to secular government accreditation, my question is, “Why should the ministry education institutions subject themselves to unbelievers for academic oversight about education that they are absolutely ignorant of?” You wouldn’t ask a prostitute for their opinion on whether or not a virgin should remain pure until she is married. Neither should we subject ourselves to the scrutiny of the spiritually ignorant.