Most of you have never had the opportunity to sit in on a PhD oral exam/dissertation defense. The experience is loads of fun…for everyone except the student. Faculty members grill the student for two hours over his work.
Recently I sat in on a PhD Preaching oral exam for a student at SWBTS. The entire preaching faculty was in attendance. I thought some of you might be interested in hearing the student’s responses to some of the questions from the notes I took during the meeting.
One question had to do with assessing the preaching of some of the “old preachers” in the Southern Baptist Convention. I found the student’s answers quite insightful.
When asked to assess Dr. Jerry Vines’ book “Power in the Pulpit,” he responded: “It appears to have been written by a novice. Pedestrian. I doubt Jerry Vines could preach his way out of a wet paper bag.” The committee nodded in agreement.
When asked his assessment of the preaching of O. S. Hawkins, President of Southern Baptists’ Guidestone Financial Resources, he said: “Puerile and unrefined. Lots of repetition of Jerry Vines’ material. I bet back in the day when Hawkins was a pastor, his church members found a sure-fire cure for insomnia listening to him.”
The student was then asked his assessment of the preaching of Dr. Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, TX. He responded: “Jack Graham’s preaching is definitely superior to Jerry Vines and O. S. Hawkins. Graham appears to have been tutored by Dr. Allen.”
When asked to name one of his favorite preachers and why, the student named Mac Brunson, pastor of FBC Jacksonville, FL. Why Brunson? The student said: “His sermons are always expository since he pays Dr. Allen to write them for him.” The committee agreed.
Finally, the student was asked to assess the preaching style of Dr. Paige Patterson, President of SWBTS. He responded: “Dr. Patterson’s style is greatly enhanced by his sesquipedalian vocabulary, the ‘chicken wing’ gesture, and that fake Yankee accent. However, if he were to eliminate the fake accent and speak with a sophisticated and melodious accent like Dr. Allen, he would be even more effective.”
The student was dismissed from the room and after a brief deliberation by the preaching faculty at SWBTS, the student passed.
Notes taken and respectfully submitted by Dr. David L. Allen