There have been a couple of articles about how Christians use honorary degrees. The first article is found at
and talks about Ravi Zacharias and his organization’s use of the honorary degrees he has received. We are not going to talk about the right or wrongness of giving or being given honorary degrees as that is up the institutions and the individuals involved.
Their reasons for giving or receiving these honors are varied, with many legitimate and some…well you know. There are other reasons why these degrees are handed out. The same reasons apply to the secular academic institutions as well.
Up until earlier this year, the RZIM bio had not used the phrase “honorary doctorates;” instead, it had stated that Zacharias had been “honored with the conferring of six doctoral degrees.” The site also previously referred to him as “Dr. Zacharias” through 2014, as did multiple press releases, news features, and event postings.
Our topic is not about Mr. Zacharias’ use of his honorary degrees, it is about honesty. While Christians want to be seen as more credible, more legitimate and accepted more by their secular peers it seems that their credentials are inflated a bit and that is a problem.
“There’s a long and not very edifying tradition of Christian evangelists and speakers inflating their credentials,” said Stackhouse. (from the above link)
One does not lose credibility or legitimacy by being honest about their credentials or their courses of study. They do lose both when others uncover that certain facts have been over-stated or embellished. Also, ones’ Christian work can suffer or the church in general faces the fallout as unbelievers tend to hold everyone at fault when these issues take place.
“Ravi Zacharias is the biggest name in apologetics currently,” said Stackhouse. “As he goes, so goes apologetics so it’s really important that he be scrupulous in everything he does.”
Yes, Mr. Stackhouse is correct. One’s witness, testimony or apologetic presentation is called into question when embellishments are discovered. Then when caught in a lie, it does not help to try and lie your way out of the sticky situation.
Nor does it help to provide a weak defense. We know of one creationist who has done this and he is now only credible to a faithful few. But there are problems everywhere with the handing out of these degrees.
They are seen as rewards for stellar behavior, dedication to a cause or some other high achievement. Sadly, the lives of some who have received these honors failed to be as stellar and have caused some to call for the ceasing of these handouts.
But for Christians, the cost is much higher. They can lose souls over these mistakes. They can turn people permanently off the gospel and Christ when they are dishonest about the honors they are given.
Now most of us will not have to worry about this particular problem. Most of us are not in a position to receive honorary degrees as our work is not well-known, and so on. But we honesty s not limited to the use or reception of honorary degrees.
All believers have little areas in our lives where we need to be honest or our credibility, our legitimacy, our witness and so on is lost. It can be our behavior in athletic competition, taxes, lies to our children and on it goes.
We need to be honest because it is not just God who watches what we do. Even without knowing it we can turn someone off of Christ and the Christian faith. Because all our observers do not let us know they are evaluating our words and actions.
Sometimes those we have been in contact with in less than honest ways tell their friends and families who tell their friends and family and on it goes. The ripple e effect does take place.
BUT do not get into a tizzy or think you will have a nervous breakdown. There will always be people turned off of Christ no matter how honest or good we are. Plus, we believers will make mistakes. It happens. We are not going to be perfect.
The key is correct those mistakes properly and deal with the situation as God directs. One way to help cut down on these mistakes in honesty is to ask God to help you. It may mean a little less money, it may mean not getting everything you want but it is better to live the Christian life right than to gain those desires.
Of course, honesty begins with God and how we treat him, his instructions and commands. How can we be honest with the secular world if we are not honest with him, the author and finisher of our faith?
God is honest with us and keeps things simple. We need to return the favor and be honest with him.