Thursday, April 25, 2013

Who Is David Virtue? -- IV

There's another question nobody's asked since about 2005: how does the guy get to call himself "D.D"? There's an instructive comment thread (scroll way down) on the issue here. Some worthwhile excerpts:
I've noticed that Virtue sometimes signs his name "D.D." or "D.D. (Alexandria)." Knowing that the Doctor of Divinity is almost never an earned degree these days (it's generally the honorary degree awarded to bishops by their alma maters, among other things; the post-M.Div. doctorate is now the D.Min.), I was curious as to who had awarded Virtue an honorary doctorate, and/or where he had found one of the very few remaining earned D.D. programs in existence.

According to a buddy of mine, Virtue's bio used to say that the D.D. is from one Palm Harbor University. The only Palm Harbor University I'm familiar with is Palm Harbor University High School in Florida, which obviously isn't in the business of awarding degrees. So I'm curious: Where did Virtue get the thing? (Anyone can buy one from the Universal Life Church for five bucks, but I'm assuming that's not where he got his.)

* * *

I co-wrote heaps of books on education, but I can't name a single accredited school, off the top of my head, that offers the Doctor of Divinity as an earned degree. It has been replaced by the Th.D., S.T.D., and D.Min., and is now known pretty much exclusively as an honorary degree. So the four options that come to mind are:

(a) He earned the D.D. from a legitimate school (probably one in eastern Europe, where there are still a few seminaries that offer it), through a program I've never heard of.

(b) The degree was awarded on an honorary basis by a legitimate school, which most likely would have asked him to deliver a commencement address to graduating students.

(c) He bought one. This is a pretty serious accusation, and I don't feel comfortable making it until I know the name of the school.

In addition, while there's no listing of his educational credentials in his bio at Virtue Online, they're listed at this site:
David Virtue, M.C.S., DD., was educated at Scots College [a private secondary school] in Wellington, New Zealand. He studied English Literature and Philosophy at Victoria University in Wellington before going on to London Bible College, London, England where he completed his Diploma in Theology. He continued his theological studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. and completed his Master's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at Regent College, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada with a dissertation on the Idea of Man in the writings of Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, Victoria University may not be that big a deal:

For New Zealand residents entry to most courses is open, with a few exceptions. Performance Music requires an audition. There is selection for entry into the second year in degrees such as the LLB, BArch and BDes. BA in criminology and creative writing is also based on selection.
In other words, unlike Harvard in the US, say, Victoria University will take you as a first-year student irrespective of your grades and SATs, but it looks like you've got to measure up to move on there, and perhaps to get a degree. So Virtue went to London Bible College to finish his studies. Web references suggest this place specializes in "distance learning", which is another way of saying you can get a mail-order degree there.

According to Wikipedia, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, a large evangelical seminary, issues the MDiv as its most popular degree, but Virtue says only that he continued his studies there, not that he received a degree -- but then he went on to get a Master's in an unrelated field. I got a Master's in English myself (a real department, not "interdisciplinary studies"), but I call myself neither an ordained minister nor a DD. A DD, honorary or not, ought to be the culmination of the man's academic achievement, wouldn't you think, and shouldn't the source be listed? Nope. Beyond that, he gives himself an "M.C.S." along with his "D.D.", but the only degree I can find corresponding to "M.C.S." is Master of Computer Science -- which you presumably don't get by writing dissertations on the Idea of Man in Solzhenitsyn. So things here are very puzzling indeed.

UPDATE: According to Wikipedia, Regent College at the University of British Columbia, founded in 1968, began offering a Master of Christian Studies degree in 1970. However, the school was not accredited until 1985, and the MCS degree is intended for the laity, separate from an MDiv degree intended for ordained clergy.

Like so many "orthodox" Anglicans, there are lots of questions about the guy, starting with whether he's actually an Anglican, but proceeding to his educational qualifications. The guy's a phony, as far as I can see. Shouldn't more people be calling him on this? As usual, I will greatly appreciate any supplementary information, sources held in complete confidence.