Christianity / Faith / Religion

Do I have to have a Doctorate to read God’s Word?

I can't I don't have my doctorate yet...

I can’t I don’t have my doctorate yet…

I have been having conversations with someone who has been telling me that because I don’t attend a church right now that I have no authority to study God’s Word. She asks me what degree I have and with how much command I understand greek and hebrew. To me it’s such a petty argument. Yeah, I have a degree in theology, but I don’t believe that God requires us to have a doctorate or any degree to be led by the Spirit while reading God’s Word. However, I am always up for a little research and the truth is I don’t know everything (or I’d be God) so let’s look into this.

When I was in school we learned about when Christ died as the time when we became responsible for our own spiritual learning. The curtain in the temple tore from the top down and gave us what we call the priesthood of the believers. We could encounter God for ourselves now. Obviously, I was raised baptist as this doctrine is seen as predominately baptist. But is it Biblical?

1 Peter 2:5-9 is where we originally see the idea and terminology priesthood of the believers. In this passage, a chosen people are mentioned. They are raised out of darkness and into the light. This is what the baptist church teaches happens to believers. We are raised out of the darkness of sin and into God’s light. This passage also says that believers spiritual sacrifice is acceptable to God through Jesus. This is why we no longer offer animal sacrifices, because Jesus’ sacrifice was the last blood sacrifice and is wholly sufficient. Anyway, the chosen people in this passage (believers) are built up as a spiritual house, a holy priesthood. Priests used to be the only ones who were allowed to be the ones to offer up the sacrifices of the people in the holy of holies, but now we are all asked to offer up sacrifices and thus we are all priests.

Matthew 27:51  The holy of Holies was the area in the temple where only the high priest could enter once a year (Yom Kippur) and encounter God on behalf of the people. In the Old Testament, this is where God resided. When the curtain in the temple tore from the top to the bottom it opened the Holy of Holies and symbolically represented that now anyone can approach God. You no longer need an intermediary because Christ is our intercessor. Hebrews 4:14-16The Holy Spirit now resides within the believers and we need no priest to interact for us with God. We are privileged to have a personal relationship with God.

251px-TheologiaOf course this is all from the perspective of my particular faith tradition and other sects of Christianity believe differently. Me personally, I believe that God would not require us to receive doctorate degrees or specialize in greek to be able to understand God’s word. Even the fact that it was written in koine greek rather than classic greek shows us that it was intended for the common man. Jesus wasn’t palling around with the scribes, Pharisees and such. he built his base of followers from everyday people. Kind of like the whole Joe the plumber thing. Acts 4:13 said that people took notice of that. They saw that Peter and John were “bold, unlearned and ignorant” and then verse 14 goes on to say that they could say nothing against them seeing what miracles they had just seen.

It is my opinion that this is God. God is in the muck of it, struggling with, talking with, and conferring with us; the little people, the nobodies. God is not playing a game with our souls. God is not trying to keep secrets from us. God gave us truth and God wants everyone to seek and find it.

I don’t think God demands I learn greek and hebrew to study God’s Word and build my faith on it. I think God demands that I remain teachable. That I seek God.

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17 thoughts on “Do I have to have a Doctorate to read God’s Word?

  1. I’m right with you SS. If we want to understand certain aspects of the Bible, we need to study or read others who have, but if we want to read the Bible to learn how to obey God, then we surely don’t – the Holy Spirit will teach us. People too often value knowledge about the Bible over actually obeying it.

    • Uh. That last phrase is something I’ve been trying hard to find he words for, for so long. Like the political beliefs that are somehow how Christian but not really Biblical or Christ-like. You’re way is so much better for phrasing it.

  2. English translations today, if not most, are fairly reliable and accurate, and most give note of variant readings in the original texts. And while knowing Greek and Hebrew can add some nuance, that’s by no means necessary for understanding the message. Neither the first Christians nor the Apostles nor the Prophets had doctorates in anything.

  3. RIght there with Joseph, except perhaps Paul who was highly educated, having a teachable heart is more in line with God’s wisdom on learning. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God , that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5

  4. Yeah, theological studies help tremendously, but they aren’t necessary, or nobody could read the Bible and we’d be at the mercy of the informed. You know, like Gnosticism! To me, their degree doesn’t matter as long as they’re right. Heck, I’ve heard four-year-old spout better truth than forty-year-olds.

    • It’s their incredibly pure minds. A pure mind sees purity. They see the tensions and problems that we’ve been programmed to overlook, and overlook the nuances that can hold us back. Man I’m excited to have kids. Side note!

  5. The reason I learned Greek was not to understand God better (I agree, being teachable is much more important) but so that I could fight back better to people who think that you do have to have degrees to understand God.

  6. I don’t have a degree in Greek, or theology, but I do have a Bible minor and three semesters of Koine Greek from the private Christian university I attended as an undergrad. I’m planning on brushing up on Greek as my foreign language for my PhD. I’m not all that great at nuance right now – I’ve been slacking on my Greek readings during my masters – but I would still love to chat about it. I have a number of books to turn too from my Koine Greek classes, as well as hopefully a lot more learning to come.

  7. I wouldn’t depend to much on learning Greek I did formal theological study many years ago, and passed an exam in Greek, but it was pretty much useless. The exam was mostly translation of New Testament passages out of Greek into English, a task that tested vocabulary and memory of the passages in English, but did little to test the finer points of meaning of Greek grammatical constructions. Far better would have been to give us a Greek-English lectionary and then ask us questions about the grammar and meaning.

    I think better for most of us is to learn the Greek alphabet, buy a Greek-English Concordance like Strong’s that facilitates use by a non-Greek speaker, and rely for the rest on commentaries, prayer and the Holy Spirit. Just my 2c worth.

  8. >> I don’t think God demands I learn greek and hebrew to study God’s Word and build my faith on it. I think God demands that I remain teachable. That I seek God.

    Yes. Jesus was quite clear on what is required to find God: “Seek and ye shall find; knock and the door shall be opened unto you.”

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