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Thursday, June 12, 2008

SBC President Johnny Hunt's Diploma Mill Doctorate

Robert Parham, Executive-Director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, says newly elected SBC President Johnny Hunt has a "credibility problem."

Parham writes:
Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., identifies himself with the title "Dr." and lists two accredited educational institutions on his personal Web site from which he did not receive a doctorate. Yet he is often identified publicly as having degrees—degrees that come from two diploma mills.

On his personal Web site, It's A New Day Ministries, the "internet home of the preaching ministry of Dr. Johnny Hunt," his educational credentials are Gardner-Webb College and the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. No reference is made to the terminal or honorary degree which affords him the prestigious title of "Dr. Johnny Hunt."
You really gotta read the entire article here.

When Hunt speaks at evangelism conferences (including the 2008 Pastor's Conference) across the nation, he is introduced as having received a "Doctorate of Divinity from Immanuel Baptist Theological Seminary" and a "Doctorate of Sacred Laws and Letters from Covington Theological Seminary." But Hunt does not mention these schools on his websites. Why??

Both Covington and Immanuel are both diploma mills.

Parham continues:
One of Hunt's own "sons in the ministry" was forced to resign from the prominent First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach, Fla., in part because of his diploma mill degrees.

Highly recommended to the church by Hunt, Steven Flockhart was forced out "over a controversy involving fabricated education credentials," reported Baptist Press, which noted that the Palm Beach Post had discovered that Flockhart had obtained correspondence degrees from Covington Theological Seminary, "a Georgia school not accredited by any recognized accrediting agency."
I guess FBC Woodstock doesn't care. Even after the Flockhart debacle, Hunt continues to list himself as "Dr. Johnny Hunt" on both FBC Woodstock's website and his own personal website.

Parham concludes:
Two dubious institutions gave the new SBC president a title that he proudly bears. By identifying himself with the "Dr." title, Hunt legitimizes these diploma mills and encourages by example other ministers to take educational shortcuts—shortcuts which deceive churches about the real quality of the academic training of their clergy.

That places the question mark of integrity over the SBC.
Maybe at least a few Southern Baptists out there will take notice of Parham's fine reporting. Instead of attacking the messenger, perhaps those in the SBC and in the Southern Baptist blogosphere (especially the bloggers with real doctorates) will begin to refer to their President as simply Rev. Hunt or Pastor Hunt. With Hunt in the spotlight as President, integrity would demand that Southern Baptists not intentionally deceive the world concerning Hunt's academic credentials. There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. And those shortcuts tend to have consequences. See what happened to Flockhart.



Blogger Crayzee Joe said...

You can call him Dr.
I just call him pastor
tell me what it is
that you haters are after?

You findin' a new way
to attack another man?
Attackin' his integrity?
Better find another man

Maybe they don't list it
and you find it appalling
I ain't worried about that paper
Cuz it's more about his Calling!

You can strip away the titles
Just take 'em if you want
Get back to just callin' him
plain old Johnny Hunt

But I know that wouldn't phase him
He'd still keep his focus locked
Do more that all the "Doctors"
to share Jesus on the block

Put missionaries Out
Around the world to spread the Word
A little squabble over paper, man?
Don't you find it quite absurd?

Has anybody called him?
Has anybody asked?
Or do people just jump up
at the chance just to attack?

Take time to clarify it, homie,
At least give it a try
How you pullin' out that sawdust
with that plank up in your eye?

I ain't sayin' that integrity
shouldn't be up in the light
But if you got a question
He got the digits at his site

So you can use your Sprint,
AT&T or your Verizon
Call & ask him straight
That's all that I'm advisin'

Before you say it's pride
& think this man is braggin'
Get on the phone & ask him, bro
& off the hate bandwagon.

5:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah Big Daddy I see Joe came by to see you also.

Joe can't tell me why it's okay to lie.
Hardly a squabble over a piece of paper.

Is Mr. Hunt's Tennessee Temple honourary degree real or fake?


Bene D

11:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Johnny Hunt (Pastor, Rev., or Dr.) is the real deal. Regardless of whether one likes the institutions from which he received the degrees - it doesn't changed that he did receive them.

Let's move past petty arguments, rid ourselves of bitterness and hypocrisy, move past arrogant assumptions and join hands for the glory of God and the good of others.

4:09 AM

Blogger Crayzee Joe said...

Wow, Bene D - Where do I say it's okay to lie? Hmmmm...Can't find that anywhere.

Gotta run to work now.

4:15 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For over 30 years this bitterness has been held, passed on and lifted up. What a shame! This world has dire need to hear the gospel and see it lived out in our lives. Unforgiving division does not portray the gospel and that is what satan would have us spend our time doing.....talking about the failings of man instead of talking about the glories of Jesus and His transforming love. What is the purpose of the blog? Mom2

6:35 AM

Blogger Cat's Dad said...

Big Daddy,

Would that you, Parham, and others would scrutinize Jimmy Carter's theological credentials for leading a Baptist movement--the New Baptist Covenant--with half the ferocity you've given Johnny Hunt's resume.

Carter makes reported pluralistic comments regarding Mormonism and Judaism right after calling for the NBC, and not a question is raised by any of you.

Where's the objectivity?

12:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Padding a resume is dishonest.

Accepting and profiting from degrees from diploma mills is dishonest.

It is not about hate and bitterness. It is about honesty and openness.

I see a direct connection between the resume scandal and the unwillingness of the SBC to have a sexual predator database.

Jimmy Carter doesn't call himself Dr. based on phony credentials from a diploma mill. Hate his theology, fine but don't attack his integrity.

Hunt's problem isn't theological, it is ethical. Not that thousands of other ministers have done the same thing. (myself included years ago)

This doesn't make Hunt a bad man or unfit for the ministry. Just own up to the issue, confess it, forsake it, learn from it.......move on.

4:28 PM

Blogger Cat's Dad said...


In the case of Jimmy Carter, leading a new covenant movement purporting to offer an "authentic Baptist witness" and to uphold traditional Baptist values while telling a reporter a Mormon is a Christian, and a rabbi that Judaism is a legitimate path to God, isn't the height of ethics and honesty, though it's the impact of the cause of the gospel that I'm concerned with.

And, what is your "direct connection" between a resume "scandal" and the SBC's stand on whether to have a sexual predator data base?

10:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jimmy Carter has done nothing unethical. You may not like his doctrine but he hasn't deceived anyone about what he believes. He may not be "your" type of Baptist......but he is mine.

Connection between resume issue and sex abuser database? Openness, honesty, transparency. Lacking in both and as such as see them connected. Johnny Hunt needs to own up to the resume issue and the Convention needs to own up to their deep rooted sexual abuse problem. Hiding behind local church autonomy is nothing more than an attempt to avoid responsibility.

11:25 AM

Blogger Cat's Dad said...


I agree that hiding behind local church autonomy is an attempt to avoid responsibility.

However, it's more often the tactic of liberal Baptists' efforts to legitimize their non-Baptistic doctrine and practice than it is a tactic of the SBC.

Liberal Baptists selectively accuse the SBC of ignoring church autonomy--and now, of hiding behind it.

8:32 PM

Anonymous Chris said...

So everyone can know, the bio on Johnny Hunt's website has been updated and mentions his honorary doctorates. I personally updated the bio and the fact that they were not there to begin with had nothing to do with a cover up or trying to "lie." It was clearly an oversight and I apologize for all of you who were led astray. Regardless of whether you like Johnny or not, he was not elected President of the SBC because of the "Dr." before his name.

1:58 PM

Blogger Norman said...

The people most upset about Hunt's willingness to be called "Doctor" when he has not "earned" the title through academic rigor, are those who have done the academic rigor and feel the small reward for their work...those few letters before their name...has been diluted. For more: http://journal.biblicalrecorder.org/br/ej/entry/hunt_using_dr_not_integrity

6:26 PM

Blogger Norman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In regards to Norman's comment, that sounds a little bit like jealousy among people that should have better things on their minds. Whose work is the gospel and whose glory should be exalted? Mom2

6:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would anyone be jealous of a degree from a diploma mill? The only reason people get a degree from a diploma mill is appearance. There is little or no work done. Send money....get diploma. It is resume fodder.

Christ's work is not exalted when men concern themselves more with the letters before or after their name than they do the work they have been called to.

The two degrees from the diploma mills........how did they help prepare Johnny Hunt for the work of the ministry?

Diploma mills are a blight and we legitimize them when we give credibility to the degrees they sell. (by listing them on our resume, using the titles they confer)

7:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My point is, if they mean nothing, why get excited about the issue. I pay no attention to that kind of thing. I'm more interested in what they believe and what they preach. The attention being paid to this is what is questionable in my mind. Mom2

8:03 AM

Anonymous Chris said...

I have been reading over all the blogs for the pas day regarding Johnny Hunt's Diplomas. I love how he has been accused of "padding" his resume when no one has actually displayed his resume. Everyone refers to a very brief bio on his ministry website... hardly counts for a resume.

Give me a break. BD and many of the other bloggers just keep quoting Parham which provides no real information regarding the accusations being made against Hunt and misrepresents several facts (you can read my posy over at http://www.benedictionblogson.com/2008/06/12/new-sbc-president-johnny-hunt-and-his-diploma-mill-doctorates/ for further explanation).

I have noticed how many people have referred to themselves or others as real doctors. I know several M.D.'s that only believe that they are real doctors.

And when has Hunt lied? That is a very strong accusation that must have some substance behind it. Any amount of research would have shown that Hunt's doctorate's where honorary. A fact that he has never tried to hide or deny.

And can someone provide an ethical guideline for when it is OK to use Dr. before your name. I have searched and can not find any professional standard that permits/prohibits someone with and honorary doctorate from using "Dr.".

9:06 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...



Earn it. Use it.

Honorary. List it but don't use it.

Diploma Mill, honorary or not. Don't list it. Don't use it. And probably expose the diploma mill for their unethical acts.

It is lying when we use Dr. and it comes from a Diploma mill. (an issue you seem to not be willing to address is that diploma mills are scams and unethical)It is sleight of hand when Dr. is used and it is honorary.

People ASSUME when someone has Dr. before their name that they did the work to get it. Most pew sitters don't know the politics and "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" stuff that goes on when people get honorary degrees.

Johnny Hunt should remove the diploma mill degrees from his resume. Any other honorary degrees from accredited institutions should be listed as honorary. Hunt should not use Dr. in front of his name because he has not earned it. (especially since they are from known diploma mills)

I do not know Johnny Hunt and I am not a Southern Baptist. Not relevant. The issue is the infatuation of Evangelicalism with degrees and titles. So much so that we will take unethical paths to get them.

In the Independent Baptist circles I used to run in I doubt that 10% of the Dr's were earned. Most of them came from diploma mills or were awarded for being "a good buddy" of the institution.

I think I have exhausted my argument on this. Those who don't see this.......ain't gonna see it :)

9:33 AM

Anonymous Chris said...


I agree the use of diploma mills raises an ethical questions, but it is not lying to obtain a degree from an institution and then use a title that goes along with that degree. When someone has a Dr before their name I always ask where did they receive it... I don't assume anything (and nobody should, I am sure you have heard what ASSUME can mean).

Most pew sitters don't care what your title is... I have friends that worked from they day they graduated high school on getting a doctorate. They tried to get ministry positions but all they had to offer was a degree and that didn't cut it. Now they are out teaching and they can only teach what they learned and have no practical application for their knowledge. They earned it but have no idea what to do with it.

I honestly "see" your point but what I don't get is the fact that people are willing to spear a man over it. You accused him of "padding" his resume but it is a statement that you cannot back up. That is what bothers me.

I noticed in your profile that you label yourself a "liberal Christian." I would like to inquire as to what you mean by such a statement. I don't think this is the forum for that discussion so would you please respond to me at christopherallenlee@mac.com.

Thanks again for your time.

10:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sent you an email Chris.

By padding I meant the adding of fluff. i.e Degrees from diploma mills. That this has become accepted practice doesn't make it right.

I don't think this disqualifies Johnny Hunt as a pastor or as President of the SBC. I would like him to remove any connection with the diploma mills and, perhaps pursue a legitimate doctorate if he is interested. I doubt it will make him a better preacher if he does, but if the Dr. is important......then do the work.

IMO I would like to see preachers stop using ALL titles including Rev. How about Bruce, Johnny, pr Chris?


10:40 AM

Anonymous Terry R. Tuley said...

Dr. Johnny Hunt is my pastor and I know Steve Flockhart well. He was a part of the City of Refuge. Steve has truly repented of lying and has gone through the program here and has started a church in the Marietta area of Georgia.
Flockhart stood before the entire congregation and Brother Johnny told the congregation that Steve made some bad choices. He said the church he pastored needed to forgive him in the spirit of Christ.

Steve is a fine young man and loves Jesus and has a sweet family. My friend, you need to be like the publican and say, "God be merciful to me a sinner."

I have an earned degree from The southern Baptist Theological Seminary under Dr. Mohler. I am not offended that my pastor uses the name "Dr." He has paid the price through the years and has been obedient and faithful to the Lord.
The Seminaries simply recognized him for his many years of successful work in the Kingdom.

I am 51 years old. I have pastored for over 30 years. I do not believe I deserve an honorary doctorate because I have not stayed in one place and paid the price like Dr. Hunt.

Terry R. Tuley
Woodstock, Georgia

10:20 PM

Blogger Colvin5776 said...

Well I am not going to comment much on eather steve or Johnny. I will say that I have heard steve at a revival in Tn and it was great. As far as Johnny Hunt I listen to him when I get a chance and think that he is a good preacher.

I personaly think that far to many churches look at the degree instead of the calling. There are churches that will not even look at you if you do not have the "right type of Degree". I find this very wrong, the call should be first! I am not saying that a pastor should not be educated, however I do not think that you have to go to a college to get educated. Here are some problems as I see it.

1. Some of the "good Colleges and Seminary's" have compromised there stance on the bible in order to make others welcome...why would I pay a large amount of money to get trained in a college that has failed to hold to the Word of God?

2. Most pastors make far less then those who you are speaking about. My father was a pastor, and never had a full time position at a church. He always had another job to make ends meet...I ask you does it show good stewardship to go to a college and pay a tution that when you get out you may or may not make up?

3. There are those who God has called and the pastor can not go to a seminary. Perhaps its because he has a family, or perhaps he is being used where he is. A courspondence Course is right up the ally for that person.

4. I hear the term "diploma Mill" being used. However I used to work at Vanderbuilt University, and that is as much of a "Diploma Mill" as the next place. I am not saying that every one at the University got a degree handed to them, however you would be surpised how much is done under the table...now the degree is "accepted" yet the student never really earned it. Most of what you get in much of these colleges is a force fed education, study to get the right answers on the test and don't think for your self. Bottom Line...a college or university, (Degree mill or not) is only as good as the person who is earning it.

5. I could care less as a pastor about taking English, or Math or any other subject...What I want and what I need as a Pastor is a course on the things of God. If this is what I am after then I am not concerned with the 4 goverment institutions that say if my seminary is a good one or not.

6. I will say that pastors can get into a trap of using titles. The best thing you could call me is Bro.

11:03 AM


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