I noticed that someone had left me a message on my cell phone. I recognized the name. He was one of my favorite kids from my days in the youth department of my church, now no longer a kid but a fully functioning, employed citizen making his way quite successfully in the world. He was very agitated, practically shouted his message at me, demanding that I…write a blog at once about something that had just happened at our church. So, I suppose from here on out I shall refer to him as my source.
Apparently, on Friday February the 7th at Grove Avenue Baptist church there was an all day event sponsored by the Words of Victory Television ministry, Liberty Online University and something called the King Is Coming College. It was an Old Testament survey course which featured 8 thirty minute lectures by a Dr. Ed Hindson who was described as one of America’s leading Bible scholars. I didn’t attend the event. In fact, in doing research for this blog I had to rely upon the church’s website. So far, nothing was amiss. This type of event is what church’s do, you know, teaching about scripture and such.
But then I saw the one sentence in the course description that had my source positively apoplectic with rage. This $98, 8 hour lecture is advertised thusly:
This is a diploma course, or you can earn up to 6 college credits.
My source’s best friend attended the event, sat through all 8 lectures and found them to be quite informative. At the end of the day he was given a diploma and told he had earned 3 college credits. The only trouble was, he had taken no test, and wasn’t required to demonstrate that he had mastered any of the material. In other words it was, “Here’s your certificate and your 3 credit hours. Thanks for coming.” My source could hardly contain his outrage. Each 3 hour course he took over 4 years at Virginia Tech were both expensive and demanding, requiring him hours of mostly late night cramming, one test after another, and hours and hours of study. When he recently looked into taking a night class at VCU to brush up on his Spanish he was told that the 3 hour credit class would set him back $1800 and require an entire semester’s worth of work. But at our church, one only has to cough up a hundred bucks, listen to some guy lecture for 8 hours and BAMM, 3 college credits, plus they throw in a boxed lunch!
“This is embarrassing,” my source intoned. “Don’t they see how this sort of thing plays in to the stereotype of Christians being anti-intellectual? It’s a slap in the face to anyone who has ever had to work their butts off to get an education when our church is throwing around college credit hours like candy.”
My wife pointed out that the two courses she has to take every five years to validate her teaching license cost her over $800 and although they are online classes, they require weeks of work, testing and study to pass. “What about the Liberty University students who took an Old Testament survey course on the campus in Lynchburg,” she asked. “Were they charged $98 and not required to pass an exam?”
So, there you have it. My opinion? There’s nothing wrong with this event that eliminating the granting of college credits wouldn’t solve. Absolutely nothing wrong with listening to one of America’s leading Bible scholars talk about the Old Testament all day. But college credits are a valuable and hard fought commodity, and this sort of thing cheapens them.
This reporter was able to discover that next month's video travelogue presentation about the Holy Land trip would not include an honorary doctorate for all attendees.