Here's a small sampling of the number of credit hours required for some professional degrees.
- Masters in Culinary Arts (Chef Degree) - 40 Credit Hours
- Master of Business Administration (MBA) - 60 Credit Hours
- Physical Therapist - 90 Credit Hours
- Juris Doctor (Lawyer) - 90 Credit Hours
- PhD in Engineering, History, or Philosophy - 90 post-bachelorate Credit Hours (includes dissertation)
Can you guess how many for a Master of Divinity (MDiv), the degree typically required to be licensed as a minister or reverend in most denominations?
Now classrooms and books aren't everything. There's the need for practical experience, practicums, in/externships, apprenticeships, etc. (which any graduate program worth its snuff has integrated into their degree).
But if we had to list people who are highly trained and skilled in what they do, I (selfishly, I admit!) think it's unfortunate that pastors usually don't show up in that list. And that's despite the fact that an MDiv is among one of the most rigorous and lengthy graduate programs you can sign up for. MDiv students study 2-3 ancient languages; theology; biblical studies; public speaking; philosophy; liturgy; history; sociology; non-profit leadership; counseling; comparative religion; and more.
Does someone having an MDiv mean you should automatically believe what they say? Of course not, no more than you would automatically trust every lawyer, every doctor, every academic professional.
But it does at least mean that they have worked hard to come to their understandings. They have done so not in a vacuum of their own opinions, but in a classroom where their opinions are challenged, pushed back against, and brought into conversation with Christian consensus and peculiarities.