A Question I Was Asked:

“I am disgusted! There is a Christian counselling website out there, which is run by a lady, and she makes absured academic claims.....How can this be stopped?”

Here is a fuller version of this e mail:

I am disgusted! There is a Christian counselling website out there (details given), which is run by a lady, and she makes absurd academic claims. She has a particular page where one may find her “academic qualifications” listed. I was very suspicious when I read these claims some while back, since I myself have travelled a similar route, so a friend and myself did a little research. Having now done that research, we are quite convinced that – of a long list of claimed qualifications, amounting to around 20-25 different things - she only has about two of those - and possibly only one. How can people like that be stopped from making such exaggerated claims and from deceiving people?”

My Reply:

I do not know how they can be stopped. Unfortunately, such dishonesty runs throughout life. I know the website and know of the lady you refer to, information which, for the present, I am unable to divulge to others. I 'crossed swords' with this lady around 4-5 years ago. She had made friendly e mail contact with me, so I went and took a look at her website. I found an article there (as far as I can recall, not actually written by her), which was heavily erroneous. Since she had initially appeared friendly, I e-mailed her to offer our own article on the same subject if she wanted to use it. I was extremely gentle about doing this since I did not want to cause any offence. But I was amazed and staggered when she e-mailed me back a venomous, abusive and quite vicious e mail. I wondered whether those who considered her highly qualified in “Christian counselling” would ever believe that she could be so abusive. Her e mail had appeared almost semi-hysterical in anger and yet I had only wanted to help her. One is bound to wonder how a person who is apparently so temperamentally unstable can in any sense be suited or qualified for the services which she apparently offers.

I just recently checked out that page of claimed qualifications on that site and I have to agree that the list is very very suspicious – which could be putting it much too mildly. Her ministerial “degree”, by the way, is one of those that one just goes in and sits a brief examination of basic Christian teaching after which one is handed a “diploma” - I mean, it happens within a day! That is categorically not a ministerial degree in any meaningful sense. A bone fide ministerial degree is 3-4 years of very exhaustive work.

I hope our regular visitors will accept that I cannot present identify the ministry to which I refer for legal reasons. But let me just say that people should be highly suspicious, perhaps, when finding academic accreditations which are much too grand to be true, and which – if true – would require perhaps 20-30 years of work to achieve. Most of us get along just fine with only one degree. I just have a Bachelor of Divinity theology degree; of course, it is made up of many modules and exams had to be passed for every module, but it is just one degree and one qualification. I see no point in dishonestly claiming a long list of degrees, diplomas, 'awards' and qualifications, but some like to do that. I think it is very sad. But I find that when websites claim things like that, a good look around the site plus reading a few things on the site will very often reveal whether or not such a person is likely to be highly qualified or not.

Robin A. Brace, 2006.