See also the
I just thought I would give a little update on what I am up to these days. I thought I would answer nine frequently asked questions.
1. Where are you in the Th.D. program? Preliminary exams. I am doing preliminary exams from October 22nd through November 11th. What does that mean? I am starting my fourth year of the Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) program at Duke Divinity School at Duke University. The first two years I did coursework (12 courses total) then last year I passed my language exams (Spanish and German). What are preliminary exams? They are four exams on 50-75 books over a three week period: a 4 hour written exam on my primary concentration called "Theological Ethics" but more specifically "Church, Ministry, Evangelism, and Mission"); a 3 hour written exam on my secondary concentration "New Testament" but more specifically "New Testament Ecclesiology"; a 3 hour written exam on my dissertation area "The Formation of New Ecclesial Communities"; and an oral defense with the members of my committee. Who is on your committee? Curtis Freeman (chair), Richard Hays, Stanley Hauerwas and Laceye Warner. What are you reading? Download Andy Rowell - Reading list for Preliminary Exams What are the types of questions you will be asked? Download Andy Rowell - Questions for Preliminary Exams
2. Are you searching for a faculty position yet? Yes. I plan to be done with the dissertation and ready to teach in the the fall of 2012 though I'm inquiring about a few positions that are due to start in the Fall of 2011. I would be grateful to learn about searches for faculty positions in Christian ministry at Christian colleges and seminaries. My CV is on my About page. I would also be glad to hear about dissertation fellowships. Email Me
3. Are you teaching? I am a preceptor (teaching assistant) for two sections (15 students each) of Geoffrey Wainwright's Christian Theology course at Duke Divinity School. There are 156 students in the course. The Duke Divinity fall 2010 courses and book list are at the Duke Divinity Course Schedule page.
4. How can we keep up with you besides the blog? I continue to use my Twitter account of @andyrowell to record little thoughts and insights. (The same content is at my Twitter account's RSS feed). If I see an article I like or a quote or some piece of news, I usually put it there. I think of my Facebook account: andy.rowell as more personal and light-hearted stuff (e.g. stuff my kids say) with Twitter being more substantive in terms of church leadership and theology content. Therefore, I have kept my Facebook account for just people I know in real life like people from high school and college but I am starting to cave in and "be friends" with people beyond that.
5. Are you traveling this fall? Yes, I'm going to the Evangelical Theological Society, Institute for Biblical Research, and Society of Biblical Literature back-to-back meetings in November in Atlanta. I am presenting a paper at the Gospel in our Culture Network session at SBL entitled:John Howard Yoder’s Missional Exiles and Jeremiah 29: A Case Study for Missional Hermeneutics. I can't go to the American Academy of Religion meeting because it occurs during my prelims.
6. What are you getting for your birthday? My mom and wife are giving me Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics 31 volume Study Edition from Christianbook.com for my birthday this Thursday, September 9th. The Latin, French and Greek translations are a huge help in this new 2009 Study Edition. But there are quite a few typos and the prefaces are missing. The small print and big print distinction are great because they are not distinguished when reading online at the Karl Barth Digital Library (Link for Duke students). But the search capability and the availability of the German editions of the KBDL are awesome.
7. How do you like Duke's Th.D. program? Duke's Th.D. program continues to be great. I refer people who inquire about it to my post Advice about Duke Th.D. and Ph.D programs in theology (which is a bit dated now--March 6, 2009) as a decent place to start. I also often refer people to Advice about moving to Durham, North Carolina and my website TheologicalGerman.com: Theological German Advice and Resources.
8. How's church? Amy continues to work 20 hours a week as Director of Children's Ministry (Elementary) at Blacknall Memorial Presbyterian Church. Most of our social life is around church events, meals with church friends, small group, Sunday school, and mildly chaotic get-togethers with other families with small children from church. There are lots of connections with Duke at Blacknall as well. I recently tallied 17 of us who attend Blacknall who are Th.D. and Ph.D. students in religion at Duke.
9. How are the kids? Being a parent is a joy and a challenge! (Our Rowell Kids blog contains a bit of my ruminations on parenting). Ryan, 5, started kindergarten this week at a local public elementary school and is newly riding bike and swimming. He likes Legos and is on his first soccer team. Jacob will be 3 on September 16th. He loves his Hot Wheels cars and also likes beach balls, hitting off the tee, books, dancing, and wrestling. Allie is four months old today and is rolling over and talking lots of gibberish and sleeping well. There is no shortage of moments when we delight in them and no shortage of moments when we are appalled by what they do. God help us and them!
Here is a picture of the kids on Ryan's first day of kindergarten August 31st.
Thanks for your interest in me.
Grace and peace,
Here are the theology and biblical studies journals I practiced translating when preparing for my Spanish reading exam for the Duke Th.D. (Doctor of Theology) program.
They are available through ATLA. (ATLA link for Duke students). Many people have free online access to these journals through ATLA or EbscoHost or Academic Search Premier through their public library. Just go to the "Research" or "Magazines" or "Journals" page of your local county or city library. You will probably have to put in your library card number. Or call the library and get help from a librarian.
I have also read some homilies from the martyred Oscar Romero, liberation theology from Gustavo Gutiérrez, and some theology by evangelicals Samuel Escobar and René Padilla.
I practiced with English and Spanish versions of books:
See my comments and advice about theological language reading exams at my website www.theologicalgerman.com. My advice is about German but much of it would be applicable to learning Spanish. See especially Tips for German Reading Exams. See also the Duke Th.D. program language exam requirements as a sample of what Ph.D. theological exams are like.
All is well with me. Here is what I have been up to in July and August 2009.
1. I have been formulating preliminary exam questions and booklist with Richard Hays--my primary adviser--for my Th.D. program. I am happy to have your input.
I have finished my twelve courses:
2. I am beginning to get more specific regarding my dissertation.
Tonight I am processing Nijay Gupta's thoughts on dissertations from October 2008: Notes on PhD Thesis Writing I just need to get together with some more faculty and hear their advice on a draft of what I am thinking.
3. I have been reading theology in German--enjoying Barth and Bonhoeffer that way. See my Theological German website.
4. I am scanning the blogs. A couple people have discussed the life of the theological student recently: Ben Myers's sarcastic post from January 2009 Advice for theological students: ten steps to a brilliant career and Carl Trueman's article Minority Report A Question of Accountability. A couple things I haven't read yet but look forward to reading: Rob Wegner, Tony Morgan, and Kevin Miller blogged about Willow Creek's Leadership Summit. Josh Rowley has been reflecting on statistics regarding Mainline Decline.
5. I am trying to read through the Bible in a year but it will probably be more like 2 or 3 years! I have loved Proverbs and James. Here are a few favorites: "Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor" (Proverbs 12:24). "All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty" (Proverbs 14:22). "Mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:13).
7. I have read a couple of books on holiday and on sabbath: both of which I give 4 1/2 of 5 stars.
A little slow but beautifully written with good theology. It had been recommended to me as a "must read for pastors." It made me reflect on parenting a lot. It is a Pulitizer Prize winner.
Wonderful to learn more about these two fascinating men. John Wilson of Books & Culture also liked it.
I have been enjoying omelets (with tomatoes) and oatmeal (with banana and peanut butter) for breakfast and more string cheese, yogurt, almonds, and vegetables than I used to eat. The internet is great for help finding ways to cook veggies that taste good and for help with substitutions and recipe instructions. Who is going to let me borrow their P90X DVD workouts?
9. I am enjoying my kids (Ryan 4 and Jacob almost 2) as they swim, play t-ball, soccer, ride bikes, and enjoy books. I blog a little about them at our Rowell Kids blog.
10. Amazon Associates has indeed dropped me forever because North Carolina passed a new tax law that would tax all Amazon.com North Carolina customers a sales tax if Amazon had any business operations in the state. See Final N.C. budget bill has 'Amazon tax'. I had made a couple hundred dollars per year through that, so that is too bad.
With regard to all of this . . . "But he gives us more grace" (James 4:6).
Warm greetings to all,
If you are interested in learning theological German because you want to get into Ph.D. programs or because you need to pass a Ph.D. program language exam, I have created a new website where all of the resources are in one place.
Theological German: Advice and Resources
I am through with my coursework for the Th.D. (Doctor of Theology) program (except for two papers I need to finish--hopefully in May). Then I need to complete my German and Spanish language exams--hopefully in June and July respectively. Then I take preliminary exams hopefully in November 2009. I take 3 exams: one in my primary concentration (The Practice of Leading Christian Communities and Institutions), one in my secondary concentration (New Testament), and one in my dissertation area. In the spring of 2010, I try to get my dissertation proposal approved. Then I hope to finish the dissertation by spring 2011 and could if I am amazingly fast--at this point, why not be optimistic? That would be finishing everything in 4 years--the length of the funding for the Th.D.. (The Ph.D. Graduate Program in Religion average is 5.8 years but they get 5 years of funding).
Here is today's draft of what my "project is about"--what my dissertation proposal might look like a year from now--though it will likely be revised and narrowed (or gutted) in the next six months. But it gives you a basic idea of what I am interested in.
Focal Research Interest: I have been exploring four New Testament church practices in the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and John Howard Yoder: (1) listening to the apostle's teaching, (2) participating in the Lord's Supper and baptism, (3) following Jesus Christ, and (4) proclaiming the gospel. Both Bonhoeffer and Yoder explore ethics, emphasize insights from the New Testament, and were significantly influenced by their time with Karl Barth. I argue that church leadership rightly understood will predominantly focus on attempting to participate with the Holy Spirit in facilitating these four practices as a sign, foretaste, and instrument of God's reign.
My preliminary examination committee of 3-5 people is still evolving. There is a wealth of riches at Duke Divinity School whom I have dialogued with at one level or another about mission, New Testament, church, Yoder, Bonhoeffer and Barth including: Richard Hays, Laceye Warner, Stanley Hauerwas, Greg Jones, Sam Wells, Curtis Freeman, Geoffrey Wainwright, Douglas Campbell, Kavin Rowe, Susan Eastman, Allen Verhey, J. Kameron Carter, Willie Jennings, Stephen Gunter, Mark Chaves, Ken Carder, and Richard Lischer.
I have written extensively about the Th.D. program, the application process, language exams, job prospects, the Ph.D. program, etc. at:
Advice about Duke Th.D. and Ph.D programs in theology
Here are my answers to the Frequently Asked Questions I get about doing a doctorate in theology. In this post, I address the difference between the Duke Th.D and. Ph.D. programs, discuss financial stipends, dissertations, the application process, job prospects, and some thoughts on the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree offered at some theological schools.
I am doing my Th.D. at Duke and wrote this in my second year of the program. I am happy to be corrected by emails to me or comments below. I get lots of emails from people about the Th.D. program at Duke and so I thought I would just try to put this information in a blog post to be helpful. This information should not be taken as absolutely correct but rather can serve as an introduction to the issues so that you can ask good questions to faculty and program directors who know what they are talking about.
What is the difference between the Duke Th.D. and Ph.D. program in theology?
My understanding is that Duke's Graduate Program in Religion Ph.D. program takes about one student per year for each of its 11 fields.
1. Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
2. New Testament
3. Early Christianity
4. European Christianity
5. American Religion
6. History of Judaism
7. Islamic Studies
8. Christian Theological Studies
9. Religion and Modernity
10. Asian Religions
11. Religion and Modernity
What kind of work/ministry do Th.D/Ph.D. students hope to do in the future?
Finish your degree in less time with Indiana Wesleyan Online while continuing to work professionally.
Do you have access to all the incredible faculty at the Duke Divinity School and Duke University? Is that through coursework, or just as advisers?
Did your seminary work adequately prepare you for doctoral work?
Do you have any advice for me on applying to the Th.D./Ph.D. program?
To get into a first-tier program that provides a stipend, you must be special in some way and you must be adequate in most every area.
I would visit on your own dime all the schools you want to go to. Get familiar with the work of 4-5 professors who you like from the school. Then visit and meet with the professors—one-on-one appointments for 15 minutes each all in one day; plus one with the Th.D./Ph.D. program director. You want to be able to name why the school is the best possible place for you to study because your interests coincide with A, B, C and D professors and that they could uniquely prepare you in your areas of interest. (See also Maria's comment below that she didn't visit and still got in to the Ph.D. program).
I think it is pretty hard to get into a school without the inside knowledge of how to get in (whether that be an acquaintance who is there who gives you the scoop or a professor who wants you.) I don't mean to paint it too scary but I did not get in anywhere in my first round of applications (0 for 5 the first year) and then got in at 3 out of the 5 places I applied the second year after talking to people. (Details in the comments below). Get your friends and others (at the school ideally) to help you with your statement and sample writing.
Basically, you have a better chance of getting more scholarship money and a better chance at getting a job at "first-tier" schools. (See Stackhouse and Gupta links below). Duke professors seem to have strong relationships with Yale University, Emory University, Princeton Theological Seminary, University of Chicago, and Notre Dame so one hears a lot about these schools at Duke but it depends on the field what schools are first tier institutions. A professor or author you respect can easily tell you their opinion of what schools to consider and you can weigh their opinion.
What's the big deal about dissertations? What will your dissertation be about?
First a couple comments about dissertations.
(a) It is difficult to finish one. It is long solitary work on some piece of obscure scholarship. Therefore people say things like, "A finished dissertation is a good dissertation." "Write for your adviser not the whole world." "Unleash all your creativity and genius in your second book--not your dissertation." "Limit its scope. Write the __________ topic in the writing of __________ scholar." "Let each of your 12 seminar papers be dissertation chapters if possible." "Remember that everything one writes is in some sense unfinished." I recommend How to Write a Lot by Paul J. Silvia for advice about churning out lots of written work--everyone should read it.
(b) You can get hired before your dissertation is completed and be ABD (All But Dissertation) but then you carry the heavy burden of trying to finish this obscure piece of scholarship while you are preparing lectures for introductory courses to undergraduates and grading their papers. These are two very different ends of the academic spectrum and therefore one should try very hard to finish the dissertation before starting work as a professor. For balancing teaching and writing, I highly recommend Advice for New Faculty Members by Robert Boice.
Note the similar advice of Steven Cahn from a review of his book From Student to Scholar: A Candid Guide to Becoming a Professor (Columbia University Press, 2008). JAMES M. LANG, "'From Student to Scholar': A senior professor writes a new guide for graduate students on pursuing a faculty career," February 3, 2009, Chronicle of Higher Education.
In the conclusion to his first chapter, "Graduate School," Cahn asks, and answers, a question in a way that I think most graduate students need to hear: "What is the most important ingredient for success in graduate school? Many might answer 'brilliance.' I, however, would choose 'resiliency.'" As he points out, most students who are admitted into graduate schools are capable of handling the work on an intellectual level. Many students who end their graduate careers prematurely do so because they have become discouraged by the endless series of tasks and obstacles that lie in the way of the degree — not because they have been unable to hack the academic work. Thus, when he sees students walk across the stage to receive their Ph.D.'s, he writes, "I'm not convinced that all the recipients possess remarkable intellectual talents. I am certain, though, that every one has demonstrated the power to persevere." On the time needed to complete a dissertation, Cahn's advice is equally brisk and demanding: "Any time beyond two years is excessive. Indeed, I would expect the task to be completed in 12 to 18 months." That advice might sound hard to graduate students in the midst of dissertation projects that seem to stretch out endlessly before them. But projects that run far beyond the normal time frame often do so because the students want to produce that perfect book, and so they bog themselves down in revisions — hoping to pre-empt their mentors — and turn in a near-finished product. In the end, as Cahn points out, "no one will ask you whether your dissertation was passed with major or minor revisions. All that matters is that you have fulfilled every requirement for the degree."
My dissertation is still being developed--that is more of a third year thing and I am in the second year--but my paper on John Howard Yoder on my blog is probably the best thing to see the direction I am interested in: leadership, ecclesiology, mission, church planting, evangelism—the church functioning at its best. I’m interested in questions like: What is the theological basis of the church? What are the dangers the church faces today theologically given an array of sociological data? What should new and innovative churches focus on theologically? What should established churches focus on? I would love to tease out these themes in the form of a commentary on 1 Corinthians—but I think that is too ambitious. I have put a list of Eight Important Theological Books to me on my blog. Update May 3, 2009: I have given you the latest draft of my research topic at: My Th.D. program progress update
Is the Th.D. a "practical theology" degree?
No. "Practical theology" does not have the best reputation everywhere because it has a reputation for being associated with liberal theology and liberation theology in particular—partly because it was Schleiermacher’s idea. This is not altogether fair—see Practical Theology: An Introduction by Richard Osmer at Princeton Theological Seminary and The Shape of Practical Theology: Empowering Ministry With Theological Praxis by Ray Anderson at Fuller Theological Seminary—both people I like very much. In evangelical settings, the term may not be related to any of these prior meanings; rather it just means "theological reflection on Christian ministry" or "practical ministry skills."
What do you personally want to do with your Th.D. degree when you finish?
I want to teach church leadership at a seminary but I might pastor again. We'll see what kind of offers I get and my wife's dreams—it is her turn next.
If the Th.D. is an academic degree, why is your blog written at a more popular level for church leaders rather than for academics?
First, I want to teach at a seminary and I was a pastor and so I am interested in church leadership issues. Second, it is a way for me to keep a foot in the practical while I have a foot in the academy. Third, I am doing my academic work precisely so that I can help others more wisely address ordinary church issues—this is a chance to keep testing that out. Fourth, I realize that many of my blog entries are long and not easy for everyone to read and thus not as accessible as they could be! Partly, I write long stuff because I assume some level of theological education. But the other issue is that everything written on my blog could be written better! My attitude toward the blog is to "write something—even imperfectly—because if I don't now, I may never return to addressing it and it is something I want to put out there because it might help someone."
What do you think of the D.Min.?
I like them. Pastors usually do a Doctor of Ministry degree part-time while they are doing ministry. It gives them a chance to reflect, read, and write in a disciplined way with insightful colleagues and advisers. Yeah! I think churches should encourage pastors to do the D.Min. work and pay a portion of each class they complete—perhaps 2/3 of the tuition. It is good for pastors and churches to have reflective pastors.
Pretty much everyone says that the D.Min. degrees vary in quality—some are easier than others. Of course that is not unique to D.Min. programs—ask people about MBA programs or law schools and how they vary.
Duke Divinity School does not offer a D.Min. I hear people recommending those at Fuller Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary--though there are many other excellent programs.
The real issue people need to know about the D.Min. is that academic institutions like colleges, universities and seminaries will not see them as an academic doctorate—therefore someone with a D.Min. will not be considered to have a terminal degree—the highest academic qualifications for a position. For example, a school looking for a preaching professor will put the Ph.D. and Th.D. resumes to the top of the pile whereas the D.Min. applications will be mixed in with the MDiv applications. This does not mean that they will not end up hiring someone with a D.Min. but they will hire that person for their other credentials—they have written 10 books and pastored a church of 2,000 for 30 years—not because they have a D.Min.. Again, I love D.Min’s and I think people who do them should be compensated for their efforts and praised and encouraged. But it is understandable that an institution will value a D.Min. differently from a Ph.D./Th.D. which was earned with 3-7 years of full-time study when a D.Min. was earned part-time over three years. Again, 90% of the time the person with the D.Min. has better ministry skills and pastoral sensibilities than the Ph.D./Th.D. graduate! But the Ph.D./Th.D. graduate has demonstrated a degree of academic perseverance that the D.Min. person has not (unless they have written a few books).
I don't know the answer to this but I will give you some leads.
For UK programs see page 92 of Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2008: December 2008 (PDF) (ranking 61): Theology, Divinity and Religious Studies.
Someone else wrote me:
London School of Theology has a strong reputation internationally, but isn't as well known here. They have a relationship with Asbury. Asbury also has a relationship with University of Manchester / Nazarene Theological Seminary. The University of Wales - Lampeter has a relationship with Vancouver School of Theology. All of these allow for part-time PhD studies with one trip overseas. Of course Durham allows for two trips each year for part-timers . . . By the way Exeter in the UK allows for one trip over per year and usually four months residency over the course of the programme. Birmingham is the same, but "normally" the student is expected to reside in Birmingham for six months. There might be some flexibility in the six months, but I'm not sure. Exeter and Birmingham supposedly have reduced costs for split-site students. So far, I don't think Durham has any reduction in costs, which is surprising - you get the same level of supervision (they say) but you are not using their research facilities. I'm not sure, but I think the PhD's awarded by the London School of Theology are through Manchester or Brunel. I would prefer Durham I think, but the costs are significant and there are not many financial aid options for part-timers.
See also Russ Veldman exploring South African schools.
For other related posts about the Th.D. program and seminaries, you can try my categories:
See also my post:
I am placing online the major paper I wrote this summer: The Ecclesiology of John Howard Yoder: Scripture, Five Practices of the Christian Community, and Mission.
It is 96 pages and I don't expect many to read it but it might be helpful for someone.
Here are my casual blogpost-informal introductory comments; you can read my academic phrasing in the paper.
I find Yoder's writings on the church to be enormously inspiring. Some people caricature Yoder as a "bury your head in the sand" "come out from them and be separate" sectarian who supports Christians huddling together as the world goes to hell in a handbasket. (That's a lot of cliches). His point of view is much better summarized as: "let's walk our talk"--Why do we expect people to want to become Christians if we don't live as Jesus did? This seems to me to be basic Christianity. (Make disciples . . . Matt 28:18-20). Yoder writes a book called For the Nations in 1997, while Stanley Hauerwas wrote Against the Nations in 1992--note well the difference in emphasis. Not only is this missionary emphasis explicit in his later writing, Yoder's emphasis on the importance of the church being missional is found in his 1967 essay "A People in the World" in The Royal Priesthood and greatly resembles the paradigmatic missional theologian Lesslie Newbigin's understanding of the church as missional. (See page 70 of my paper. By the way, Newbigin drew upon Yoder regularly in his writings and did not caricature Yoder).
Similarly, in the last 17 years of his life (1980-1997), there is very little emphasis in Yoder's writings on pacifism which is what he is most famous / infamous for. He deliberately tried in these later years to show that his ecclesiology was much more multifaceted and fruitful than this emphasis. The idea that Yoder = pacifism is another caricature that must be debunked.
Still, I do offer some critiques of Yoder's ecclesiology in my paper. I argue that the five practices that he presents in Body Politics (as well as in various other places) do not adequately represent the main practices of the early church. As he admits, they are "sample" practices--not necessarily the most central ones (and I argue they are of particular interest to him as an ethicist interested in moral discourse)--but the casual reader could easily get the idea that these are the main practices that characterize the New Testament church. (See pages 13-15 of my paper). I argue for example that the Acts 2:42-47 arguably better represent the early church's life than the five practices Yoder draws out of the New Testament.
Along these same lines, I also think he does not adequately capture the importance of leaders (specifically the apostles in the New Testament) and teaching. By his emphasis on the multiplicity of gifts and the open meeting, he gives the impression that we do not need leaders, nor someone to show up at the open meeting adequately prepared to present something that edifies the community. Though I am a huge fan of interacting with the congregation in preaching, shared leadership, and gift-based ministry, I think Yoder does not adequately address the central importance in the New Testament of someone like the apostle Paul. There is no place in Yoder's ecclesiology for someone doing the kind of leading and teaching that Paul did and my sense is that this leading and teaching function need to be taken up somehow in all Christian communities. I am making quite a pedestrian boring point here I think--churches are not wrong in thinking that often there will be a very good Bible teacher in the community who will also exercise leadership in shaping the direction of the community--Yoder does not want to say this because he is trying to emphasize the priesthood of all believers. Again, you will need to read the whole paper to see my full arguments on these points.
Therefore, here is my advice for people who are Yoder fans. If you liked his Body Politics, you need to see how you can incorporate those excellent practices in your church but at the same time, you may need to keep other good practices like the practice of teaching Scripture.
If you think the church is a boring, bureaucratic sleepy organization where mediocre people dutifully show up to pay their dues, then Yoder is what you need. For Yoder, the church is the means by which God intends to change the world. It is a laboratory run by revolutionaries who intend to undermine all that is wrong with the world by the way they love one another. Amen to that.
See my posts:
Based on Yoder's five practices: Everything I needed to know about the church I learned at Taylor University.
John Howard Yoder on Voting
I recommended Yoder's Body Politics at my post: Best book on ecclesiology I read this year.
See also my major paper: The Missional Ecclesiology of Rowan Williams.
Books mentioned in this post:
Today is my birthday--a special day but I am thankful for every day for three reasons: I am thankful for my doctoral studies, for spending time with my kids, and for my wife's work at our church. I have given updates below on all three plus my updated social networking information.
1. I am thoroughy enjoying the Th.D. (Doctor of Theology) program at Duke Divinity School.
I have the opportunity to read great books on the church, mission and New Testament and converse with great colleagues and professors. I finished my first year's coursework in which I did a lot of work in New Testament with Richard Hays, as well as significant reflection on the practices of the church in the writings of Rowan Williams and John Howard Yoder. Now I have another year of coursework including German and Spanish language exams to do. Next year (year 3) I will be doing preliminary / comprehensive exams in my two concentrations (The Practice of Leading Christian Communities and Institutions and New Testament) and working through my dissertation proposal. Then the fourth year I will be writing the dissertation.
This fall I am taking three courses:
CHURMIN 399:THEOLOGY OF PASTORAL MINISTRY with Ken Carder. Carder is a retired bishop of the United Methodist Church. I am also serving as a preceptor for his course CHURMIN 110: Introduction to Christian Ministry. I have posted the books for that course in the right column. Carder has also done quite a bit of writing for the Lilly Endowment Inc. Sustaining Pastoral Excellence program at Duke Divinity School. In this course, I will begin by reading Gregory the Great's Pastoral Care and Richard John Neuhaus's Freedom for Ministry.
NEWTEST 399: MISSION & CHURCH IN PAUL with Douglas Campbell. Campbell is a New Testament professor with significant interests in theology and ecclesiology.
AMXTIAN 294: SOCIAL ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN RELIGION with Mark Chaves. Chaves oversees the National Congregations Study, the most comprehensive survey of American congregations. Chaves wrote a book on the 1998 data called Congregations in America (Harvard University Press, 2004). The data for the 2006 study is beginning to be published. Chaves has a joint appointment in the Department of Sociology at Duke as well as Duke Divinity School.
2. I am enjoying spending time with our two boys.
Ryan is three and Jacob will turn one on September 16. I get to watch the boys Tuesdays, Thursdays, and parts of Saturdays and Sundays while Amy works (see below). I have a separate blog where I am jotting down the funny things they say and do and basic developmental milestones. Rowell Kids: Chronicling the lives of our kids. The boys are a delight. I am trying to instill three things in the boys: Bible, books, and balls! I am also often conscious that our kids will learn most from the kind of people we are. In college, I want my kids to be able to say about me: my dad loves people. What a challenge!
3. I am thankful that my wife Amy is serving at Blacknall Memorial Presbyterian Church.
She is the Director of the Children's Ministry--Elementary age. I have blogged about the church before at this post. Amy continues to care for volunteers, to find where people are gifted, and to discern direction for the ministry. I am thankful that she can do work she feels fulfilled doing and that we can survive financially with her 20 hrs per week salary and my stipend (which I am deeply grateful for) from the Foundation for Evangelism.
Other news about Blacknall:
Other social networking (Twitter, Facebook and Blogs I'm Following):
or "follow me".
I have also been changing my status a bit at Facebook account:
I basically keep my Facebook friends to people I know.
Below are the 160 blogs I follow on Google Reader.
A few of you have emailed to ask about the delay in posts. My family and I are well! I am loving my doctoral work here at Duke! All is well.
Two excuses about blogging:
(1) Blogging about politics and abortion will definitely make blogging feel like a burden! (See my last post and comments). The topics in this post are much lighter!
(2) I have so many things I want to blog about that are related to church leadership but I just haven't found the time. I think my coursework and family should get priority and the blog comes sometime later as I know you all agree!
In the meantime, here are some updates.
My courses this semester are:
I have also updated the books I am reading this semester in the right column.
I am preaching at:
At both places my title is "Good News: Jesus is Enough" from Colossians 1:22-23 and Acts 11:17-18.
My wife Amy is speaking at the Granville Chapel Women's Retreat April 17-20 and then preaching at Granville Chapel April 27th.
I will also be at the "Jürgen Moltmann Conference" - the Society for Pentecostal Studies and the Wesleyan Theological Society Joint Meeting, hosted at Duke, March 13-15, 2008. Calvin's James K. A. Smith will also be here.
Being a professor at Taylor University the last couple of years, I have been on Facebook for a while. I recommend it as a way to connect with high school and college friends. I don't use it for much else though you can spend lots of time on it! I recommend just putting up a profile and then waiting for friends to find you! Facebook can produce a lot of emails unless you limit it to just Friend requests. You have to join Facebook to see my full profile. See my Facebook profile at this link. My profile is a good example of a pretty basic one.
I am also on LinkedIn which is a networking site. My LinkedIn profile is at this link.
My favorite podcasts are (in alphabetical order):
These links will only work if you have iTunes installed (which is a free program). I have explained podcasts before at this link.
I am loving using Pandora for internet radio. Free!
If you are an Internet Explorer person, I would encourage you to try Mozilla Firefox which is very similar to Internet Explorer but I find it much faster in opening. It is a free download.
Home Page - iGoogle and Gmail
My home page tabs are iGoogle and Gmail. I am enjoying them both.
I also have a new photo on my blog biography page.
[I have revised this post].
At the last minute I was asked to be ready to present my paper on Bonhoeffer and Emerging Church movement at the Academy
for Evangelism in Theological Education meeting. But as it turned out, they didn't need me as all four presenters showed up. The AETE met this year in Ashland,
The paper I was going to present was the one I wrote for my Duke Th.D. application. It has been on my blog for six months and I have made the changes people suggested there. You can see it at: Bonhoeffer and the Emerging Church: Ph.D. Application Paper
"Who is the Academy for Evangelism in Theological Education?", you
might ask. The professors on the board are United Methodist, Cooperative Baptist
Fellowship, evangelical Anglican and Southern Baptist. The theme of this annual meeting was "engaging the
emerging church." (Download AETE
The presenters this year were:
Bob Whitesel - who is a church consultant, author, adjunct professor at Indiana Wesleyan University, and is finishing his Ph.D. at the School for Intercultural Studies at Fuller Seminary. Bob tried to describe the way organic / emerging / missional church leaders think. He tries to help older church leaders understand this mindset.
Paul Chilcote - who is a visiting professor of evangelism at Duke Divinity School shared a paper comparing various positive aspects of the emerging church movement to the work of John Wesley.
Bryan Stone - who is a E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at the School of Theology at Boston University, pointed out that though the emerging church may appear at first glance disgusted by the institutional church, it is deeply focused on seeing people connected into community.
Len Sweet - who is E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University also presented comments about the emerging church movement.
There were also a couple of papers presented by Southern Baptist pastors, Adam Greenway and William Henard. Henard is an adjunct professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY and Greenway is a Ph.D. student. They both have concerns with Brian McLaren's view of Scripture, doctrine, atonement, evangelism, and ethics.
The United Methodist E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism from various United Methodist seminaries sometimes attend this meeting and then meet afterward together. The Foundation For Evangelism which funds the E. Stanley Jones professors of evangelism are also funding my doctoral program.
I thought I would post some initial papers I have been writing for one of my classes.
I had the late Stanley Grenz for Pastoral Ethics and Systematic Theology C while I was at Regent College. For Grenz's Systematic Theology C course, we needed to take a stand on a number of controversial issues. We wrote papers on the role of the Holy Spirit for today, the marks of the church, and an aspect of eschatology. He would say, "Turn your paper in on time. This is not your final word for all time on the subject. All of our writing is provisional. What you turn in will be your opinion on that day based on the time you were able to put in toward looking at this issue."
So here are my initial papers. They are what they are. They are three page papers which were the best I could do with the time that I had on the day they were due. I have given you the amazon link to the book my paper critically reflects on and then a link to the pdf document of the paper I wrote.
One of my collegues in the Th.D. program Sameer Yadav also blogged about this book.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my first two weeks in the Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) program at Duke Divinity School. I am taking three classes and auditing one. I have described a little about the classes below and then have written a little personal update. At the end of that, I have placed links to the books we are reading this semester.
Here are the books we are reading this semester. They are in order by first name of the author.
June 3, 2007 (See updates to this post farther down in the post).
Sorry for not blogging much recently but we are busy preparing to move from Upland, Indiana to Duke, North Carolina. I am going to be doing my Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) at Duke Divinity School. The full update about that is at my post Starting Doctor of Theology (Th.D) at Duke Divinity School in the fall.
Here is our upcoming schedule if you want to keep track of us or meet up with us.
New email address
I have also updated my email address. My primary address will be andy.rowell@ gmail.com (There is no space). I don't plan on ever posting that one on the web in its entirety to try to keep away the spam. I have another one listed on this website rowell.andy@ gmail.com. That one will be forwarded to the main account.
I also have a Duke email address but since it is limited to 100 MB and gmail gives you 2860 MB I am just going to go with the gmail one. If you are curious, it is andy.rowell@ duke.edu (there is no space) - that will also be forwarded to the main account. Perhaps if I am writing any serious proposals, I will use the duke address but the practical aspects of the gmail one are strong!
I can send you a gmail invitation so you can get gmail if you email me and ask. LATER NOTE: Anyone can now sign up for gmail. No invitations are needed.
My wife Amy's new email address is rowell.amy@ gmail.com (no spaces). Her website is http://www.amyrowell.net/
I used How to Import Archived Outlook Email Into GMail Using GML - wikiHow to import our Taylor University email messages into gmail.
I will blog again soon. Until then, there are lots of other good things to read and listen to. See my:
I have also been reading Christianity Today's new LiveBlog.
Grace and peace,
Update July 9, 2007:
We have arrived in Durham and are getting settled. The photo below was taken July 1st in front of Duke Chapel.
Update July 19, 2007
I have finished 10 of the 30 days of German Quickly: A Grammar for Reading German by April Wilson. I have made and used German Quickly flashcards on Flashcard Exchange. (You can use them online for free or pay $20 for a lifetime membership for access to printing them. I used this site when I studied for the GRE last year. See my post about the GRE here).
July 21, 2007
I send out an email yesterday to friends and family with our new phone numbers and address. If I didn't email you and you are a friend, I don't have your email address!
Update: see my March 2009 post: Advice about Duke Th.D. and Ph.D programs in theology
Lots of news: This fall I am starting Duke Divinity School's Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) program. We bought a house today in Durham, NC. And we are having baby 2 in September!
Below I have answered the basic questions.
Update: please see my March 06, 2009 post Advice about Duke Th.D. and Ph.D programs in theology
Original December 2006 post:
I am applying to Ph.D. programs in Practical Theology for next fall. Most applications are due December 31st.
I'm applying at the following schools (in no particular order):
Each program is excellent and I am excited about them for different reasons. In my area only 1-3 students is accepted per year at each school. Anything can happen in the admissions process. It is very competitive. In the broader pool, you are competing with all of the church history, systematic theology, ethics, New Testament, and Old Testament applicants. Some of them have never left the library and done a practical thing in their life and therefore look pretty darn good on paper. In this pool about 20 are accepted for 150 spots. That is about average for these schools. And even fewer get funding. Did I mention that it is competitive?
Everyone asks me what my top choice is. I would like to be accepted to all five programs and then have the happy problem of having to choose where do go based on what they offer me and a zillion other factors . . . but did I mention that they are competitive and that therefore this is unlikely?
These programs all weigh heavily your GRE score (which I take December 15), your foreign languages, your references, your grades, where you went to school, your personal statement, and your writing sample. See my comments on taking the GRE here.
Perhaps some of you didn't know that I don't have a Ph.D. I'm 31 years old and I have only have my MDiv. Amy and I are teaching at Taylor University in our second year of 1 year contracts. We were able to slip in without the typical Ph.D. because there was a one year position that needed to be filled. Surprisingly, another one year gap presented itself this year. We are enjoying teaching. Amy and I share 26 credits. (One full-time load is 24 credits). We teach different courses and share the parenting load. It is great.
I'm very excited about doing my Ph.D. in order to deepen and learn and prepare myself for further leading, teaching, writing and ministry. I look forward to continuing to serve the church by equipping pastors and young people in the seminary and university.
Amy and I also have a deep love for the local church. It would not be surprising if we ended up spending more time in leadership of a local church. Amy misses church leadership greatly. She would likely serve as an associate pastor part-time while I worked on my Ph.D and we would continue to coparent.
My interests in studying include:
I would appreciate your prayers in the next month as I contact references, finish my sample paper, and take the GRE. (And grade papers, teach classes, get transcripts . . . You'll also hopefully understand if the blog gets neglected a little.
Grace and peace to you.
Give me feedback on my Ph.D. sample paper here.
Other recommended links about the Ph.D. Application Process:
T Brookins on
Getting Accepted to the Ph.D: Preface
Saturday, March 29, 2008
July 4, 2008
Sean Michael Lucas, Chief Academic Officer and Associate Professor of Church History at Covenant Theological Seminary, has written a post about the phenomenon of seminarians getting sick of the church and falling in love with their professors and becoming infatuated with getting their Ph.D. He tries to set them straight:Ministerial Students, Calling, and PhD Studies
There is a sober and comprehensive description of the New Testament Ph.D. process by Nijay Gupta, a Ph.D. student at Durham University: Interested in a NT PhD?
There are also a lot of links at Durham Ph.D. student Ben Blackwell's blog:
Durham Ph.D. student Kevin Bywater's Why a PhD?
The GRE is a standarized test like the SAT or ACT you took in high school. You take it on a computer. You can basically take it anytime you want as long as there are spots at the test center near you (universities, etc.). It is wise to sign up a month ahead of time to make sure you don't have a problem getting in.
You have to take it to get in to most Ph.D. programs in the United States. It is usually not required in the UK. You may also take it to get into competitive masters programs. (Seminaries don't require it for Master degrees or DMin programs). Of course, anyone may read this but I am specifically writing for those like me and my friends who went to seminary and then decided to apply to Ph.D. programs in Religion (like Systematic Theology, Old Testament, New Testament, Church History, Practical Theology and Philosophy). See my category Ph.D. for my full Ph.D. journey.
Here is my advice regarding studying for the GRE. You should read the official info about the test at the ETS website.
I took it last December and am taking it again December 15.
My friends who got into Ph.D. programs in Religion (at Harvard University, Baylor University and University of Chicago) had both Math and Verbal scores over 700. (Perfect is 800 and 800). They had writing scores of 5.5 (out of a perfect 6.0).
There are also a few other statistics about the GRE:
This test is not all about intelligence. It is a lot about how much you study.
If you are not trying to get into some prestigious program, don't stress about this test.
If you are, do pay attention. If you do well, you get paid to do your graduate work. If you don't, you may not get in to that prestigious program that awards fellowships (grants, scholarships, $). You don't have to believe me. But ask other students, professors you are interested in studying with, Ph.D. studies offices, and see how your prospective school weighs your GRE score. Sadly, many weigh it highly. They also seriously take into account your grades, references, personal essay, personal visit, writing sample and foreign languages.
It is not unreasonable to start studying for the GRE 9 months in advance. But if you have two weeks, you will only have time to familiarize yourself with the test and take a couple practice tests. Definitely do that.
There are computer practice tests that you can take from ETS for free with your GRE registration. The Kaplan and Barron's books also provide them.
From my experience, it is the best prep book. Kaplan's GRE Premier Program is good too and perhaps more accessible. But Barron's is more comprehensive.
Study the words for as many months as you can. Figure out a system of going through them.
Make flashcards of the ones you don't know. I don't think you can buy flashcards of the whole Barron's list right now. The Kaplan GRE Exam Vocabulary Flashcards Flip-o-matic is a Flipbook not flashcards and is not as helpful as real flashcards. There are many online free vocab games. There are also some you can download for free to do on your computer. But I like to walk around and study words and not be tied to my computer.
I used http://www.flashcardexchange.com/ It was ok. There is no way to rate how good the lists are which is a huge problem. At flashcardexchange, I recommend the 20 part Barron's list from 2004 that someone took the trouble to type in. You can use flashcardexchange for free if you just want to do online quizzing (but that is a waste because there are better sites). It costs $20 for a lifetime membership of printing and using the site to its fullest.
Believe it or not, I printed off the Barron's list. Lots of flashcards. I used 24 point font for words ("questions") and 18 point font for definitions ("answers"). It worked ok. It was a place to start and better than doing it myself. It took some serious paper and ink cartridges though.
The Barron's list has about 3,500 words. You will know 75% of them probably already. I did 90 words a day six days a week. I should have done 100 words a day 5 days a week and then reviewed on Saturdays. Take Sunday off.
Use Google News to search for the ways a word is used today in news. (I just searched news in the United States by picking that in Advanced New Search). This will help you remember it. I also searched at nytimes.com how words were used.
I also liked looking up words at dictionary.com. At dictionary.com, my favorite dictionary was WordNet and Word of the Day.
I wrote hints from this info on the back of cards I had printed out (by the definitions).
Whew. We'll see how I do. I have a lot of reviewing to do in the next two weeks.
You also need to learn to read fast. But this is tough to teach I think. I have been listening to Nature and Scientific American podcasts to help get me thinking like a scientist. (Some of the readings are from science journals that I never typically read).
You need to practice the specific kind of questions on the test.
Get a tutor. I hired a sophomore secondary education Math major and met three times a week. I paid her $10 an hour.
Use the Barron's book.
Do lots of problems.
Use a pencil and blank paper in practice. No automatic pencils. Before last year's test day, I hadn't held a #2 pencil in five years.
Princeton Theological Seminary has told me they don't care about your math score. But all the other schools apologize that it matters to them but they still admit that it does.
You will have to learn to do questions quickly or skip them.
A lot of engineers take this test and get perfect 800.
You can pay $10 to get your essays graded to see how you are doing. "ScoreItNow! Online Writing Practice"
I was only able to get 5.0 on these ScoreItNow! tests in three tries but it was excellent practice.
I hope this has been helpful.
I did my GRE December 15th.
690 Verbal, 96% scored below
700 Quantitative, 70% scored below
5.5 on writing, 87% scored below
I knew every single vocabulary word which was great but many of the analogies were still difficult and I took too much time on them. What killed me was one particularly brutal reading comprehension section with like 5 questions on something scientific. Therefore, I barely improved after all of my efforts studying for the verbal. I was bummed to miss 700 by 1 notch but 96% below is still pretty good.
The quantitative is a bit humorous. I tried to work out as many questions as possible (about the first 20) and the last 8 I guessed in the last 30 seconds.
No regrets on the writing.
Postscript: March 2009
I did get into Duke Divinity School's Th.D. program and have written all about the Ph.D. / Th.D. application process at