Worst of the Anti-Mormon Web Special Edition:
Does James White Have a Genuine Doctorate?

Questionable doctorates--some out-and-out faked--turn out to be something of a standard fare among anti-Mormons. Neither Dee Jay Nelson nor Walter Martin had genuine doctorates. There is also reason to believe that John Ankerberg and John Weldon have fudged on their degrees. There is, it seems, something about the degree game that anti-Mormons seem to find almost irresistible.

A while back a friend brought to my attention James White's very interesting document discussing his own doctorate. White mentions not only that the institution granting his degree is unaccredited, but also that it is named Columbia Evangelical Seminary. Living near the Columbia river myself, I wondered if the seminary might be nearby. Indeed it was. I immediately sent away for the catalog and arranged to take a trip to the seminary.

So what kinds of courses would catch the eye of the average, everyday Latter-day Saint? The Columbia Evangelical Seminary Catalog lists some interesting courses including AP-301 Cults which "examines and critiques various non-Christian cults in light of God's Word, to include [surprise!] Mormonism . . ." or AP-302 Mormonism which is "an in depth [sic.] examination of the Mormon cult . . ." and the textbook is—surprise again—The Maze of Mormonism, by none other than "Dr." Walter Martin. If you are thinking that two courses out of a couple of hundred is no big deal you can also take AP-508/708 Cults—same textbook, of course—and study "the Apologetics of ["Dr." Walter] Martin" (AP-606/806) or TH-216/416 Cults using "Dr." Walter Martin's The Kingdom of the Cults. So of course with quality textbooks in hand the quality of your education is assured.

Now "Dr." White would like you to believe that CES is merely "too young to be 'accredited.'" But the simple truth of the matter is that CES probably could not be accredited by a regular, recognized accrediting institution. (To its credit, CES is very open and up-front about its lack of accreditation.) One reason among many is that CES allows students to write their own syllabi. All of the class work is done off-campus (there is no campus—click here for a quick photographic tour of Columbia Evangelical Seminary) and the curriculum seems to be designed without the benefit of regular curriculum committees and reviews. Hence there are no fixed course competencies such as one would find in a traditional school.

During my trip to Columbia Evangelical Seminary (July 20, 1998) and a half-hour interview with the Seminary's president, I discovered the following things:

Does James White have a genuine doctorate? Here is what we know. The degree is granted by an unaccredited correspondence school. There are no set course syllabi; students write their own syllabi. CES has no library, student services or bookstore. The school has no curriculum committees and no course review procedures. There appears to have been no committee and no thesis or dissertation defense; the only signature in James White's Masters Thesis is that of CES president, Rick Walston. White's "contract" was also with Rick Walston. Does James White have a genuine doctorate? What do you think?

What Does it Take to Get a Real Degree?
Read the correspondence with "Dr." White
Of James White and the Salt River
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