Wednesday, September 12, 2012
The Greatest Minds Did Not All Possess the Highest Academic Degrees
In a recent journal article by Dr. Paul J. Grime from Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, the professor notes that the great musical master Johann Sebastian Bach "never had the benefit of a university education" (CTQ, January/April 2012, 4-5). This sent me searching elsewhere for more information on Bach's formal education. At the Bach Cantatas Website I further learned that his "formal education ended at what we would consider High-School level." Now I note all this not in any way to disparage the great composer. My point here concerns a personal issue with the value and necessity of advanced degrees with regard to the mastery of skills and knowledge in a given field. Last year I posted an article entitled "Theologians Without Doctorates." In it I noted some great minds that never achieved the terminal degree for which so many strive, and yet their achievements outweigh those with far higher credentials. Again, I do not wish to disparage any who have worked to achieve such academic accomplishments. They are to be lauded. However, it is easy, as well, to become so enamored by these credentials that we can conclude that nothing worth studying or reading comes from any without these degrees. Admittedly I have taken issue with many televangelists in our time who amass great flocks and write numerous best-sellers and yet have no real formal theological education (like Joel Osteen) or a meager one at best. While the degree itself is never a guarantee of mastery, one can also tell if a person has attempted mastery without it. Bach demonstrates an amazing brilliance, one that was fed at the feet of other masters. So the degree is not the critical issue here, but rather the drive to learn, to achieve, to master.