“Dr. Stephen Boyce” and the Problem of the Pseudo-Credentialed Apologist – Guest Post by Chrissy Hansen

Readers of my blog know my disdain for those who either misrepresent scholars or misrepresent themselves so as to appear to be a scholar. Apologists like SJ Thomason and Robert Clifton Robinson are prime examples of this. Another problematic category are those who purport to have doctoral degrees and yet either do not possess them or acquired them by going to what amounts to a diploma mill. In the post below, Chrissy Hansen (who has written guest posts here before) looks at an example in the form of apologist Stephen Boyce. In it, she discusses the issues with his so-called doctoral degree(s) as well as his rampant transphobia. As always, Hansen is lively and thorough and will surely enrage conservative Christians. Enjoy!

“Dr. Stephen Boyce” and the Problem of the Pseudo-Credentialed Apologist

By Chrissy M. E. Hansen

[Update 3 May 2023]: Stephen contacted me and we had a long conversation. The rather harsh comments he made, particularly the transphobic ones, he has apologized for and I accept that apology. I do keep the section here. However, I have gone through and edited down some of my more harsh language. The general content and criticisms of this piece remain untouched. Just know that Stephen does and has taken accountability for these things, and I am willing to work with him in the future.

Christian Apologists have a serious problem. Well, they have several problems. Like they do not lack a dearth of issues, especially where academic and intellectual honesty is concerned. I think, though, one of the most interesting cases of rampant intellectual dishonesty in apologetics circles is regarding credentials.

In his essay “The Cave Who Never Was” (2012), Joseph A. P. Wilson discussed the phenomenon of “outsider archaeology,” which describes the rather vast amount of literature which spans outside of the confines and purview of academia. As Wilson relays, “It is the project of amateur enthusiasts and the rare academic-in-exile.”[1] One of the rather noteworthy traits, which I think has wide application with regard to apologetic cultural spheres, is the inconsistent (nigh on self-contradictory) stance that they take with regard to biblical studies. Outsider archaeologists are:

Engaged in a perpetual quixotic battle with disinterested mainstream scholars, these outsiders vacillate between ignoring and seeking the approbation of credentialed scholars. This creates a paradox whereby mainstream archaeology is dismissed, denigrated, and scorned, while simultaneously applauded, placed on a pedestal and coveted.[2]

I think we can all point to examples of this. In the mythicist debate, for instance, apologists are well-known for their vacillating, especially wishing to affirm the consensus positions of academia, since those adhere to their own convictions on Jesus’ existence.[3] This consensus is asserted as authoritative and assured. On the converse, however, that consensus becomes faulty, worthless, or worse when it comes to other issues regarding biblical historicity. We are all familiar now with the pseudo-intellectual screeds of Lydia and Tim McGrew, and their anti-criteriological approach to the gospels.[4]

Apologists are a part of a wider phenomenon of “outsider biblical studies,” which often exists playing by their own rules and methods, and put little to no stock in standard or innovative approaches to studying the gospels. In all things, the gospels must come out being sui generis (species unique).

Where am I going with this?

Well, this “quixotic battle” is seen specifically in cases like the McGrews, but also others, who simply lack even remotely basic credibility in the field, and whose ideas have made exactly no impact in the mainstream. This of course leads to general scorn toward mainstream academic practices and theories regarding the gospels. Dennis MacDonald, Robyn Faith Walsh, and other innovative scholars in the field are relegated to the “silly” position by such outsiders as Jonathan McLatchie, who regularly opines on a field he has not a single credible opinion. For instance, we receive these following gems:

This should automatically clue you in to the world of the apologist. They must simultaneously praise “good solid scholarship,” in order to create a sense of their own credibility, while opining academic work from mainstream or innovative academics who are actually relevant to the field (i.e., not the McGrews, whom McLatchie valorizes almost as much as he does Jesus himself).

Part of attempting to assemble this narrative of credibility, of course, is also using those titles of “Dr.” and “PhD” next to their names, even when they are in irrelevant or adjacent fields, to boost their credibility. McLatchie, as a case in point, does not have a singular relevant degree to biblical studies. He has a PhD in Evolutionary Biology, and is a fellow for the pseudointellectual think tank Discovery Institute (which pushes “Intelligent Design” pseudoscience). I think we can all list a bunch of other such figures: S. J. Thomason, David A. Falk, Timothy and Lydia McGrew, William Lane Craig, and more. None of them have any relevant credentials in biblical studies at all, but they build up massive careers in apologetics circles promoting their ideas about biblical studies. Notably, their ideas have virtually no impact on most mainstream scholarship though. I have already discussed at length David A. Falk (a hack whose special talents include knowing how to use vanity presses, dismissing women for what he perceives as immodesty, and proving his mediocre Hebrew skills to the world by reading the wrong words in passages and then expositing on them incorrectly), so check that out.[5] These people do have legitimate PhDs, but they are in adjacent or rather irrelevant fields, which require little to no specialization in biblical studies. In fact, most of them lack any competent understanding of the requisite ancient languages, and you can go through their “research” and find they are typically outdated, ill-read, and sophomoric.[6]

Another strategy of trying to fabricate a narrative of credibility is that of faking credentials entirely. I did partially cover this with David Falk, who used a vanity press to publish his “monograph” and ultimately has little to no pertinent scholarship at all, and has made no impact in the field whatsoever. He also did things like put his paid for coat-of-arms in his “awards, distinctions, and honors” section of his CV. It is embarrassing, but it is all in an attempt to boost his lacking credibility and present himself as distinctive and qualified. In reality, he lacks all of those things. Another method is being given an honorary doctorate from some shill Christian school and then using that to call oneself “Dr.” like Young Earth Creationist hack Grady McMurtry Jr. (the son of Grady Louis McMurtry, of Aleister Crowley fame).

However, the pinnacle, the coup de gras of this type of dishonest behavior is the shill apologist who seeks out unaccredited institutions to give them fake “doctorates” so that they can then put “Dr.” in front of their name and proclaim themselves experts. We are all aware of one of these, the butt of all jokes, and current favorite of the prison industrial complex: “Dr.” Kent Hovind, who obtained two “doctorates” from unaccredited degree mills. He obtained two “doctorates” from Patriot Bible University, which is a degree mill in Del Norte, Colorado which, for just $2000, will give you your very own D.Min or PhD! Kent Hovind evidently spent the money, which included then writing a “dissertation” on Evolution, which included such highlights as the world’s most incompetent poetry. I will give just a sample here:

            Two blind men argued well into the night

            about the great question, “Is there really sight?”

            Said one to the other (and quite fervently)

            “There cannot be colors or else we could see!”[7]

As someone who got her Bachelor of Arts from Saginaw Valley State University in Creative Writing, and who specialized in Fiction and Poetry, I can say right now that this is one of the absolute worst poems imaginable and it only goes downhill from there. The dissertation is complete with rants about Stalin, the new world order, and more.

I can think of a few others in the Young Earth Creationist/Intelligent Design sphere who likewise have these same fake degrees. Carl Baugh is one such case, claiming multiple fake credentials for himself from degree mills like California Graduate School of Theology, Pacific International University (which he is the president of), and Louisiana Baptist University.

Stephen Boyce and the Problem of Non-Credentials

Which leads me to an emblematic case for biblical studies of someone who lacks any credentials, publication record: Stephen Boyce. Stephen Boyce, for those unaware, is the co-founder of Explore Christianity.net, an apologetics ministry which (according to the website), seeks “to bridge the gap between academia and the church.”[8] The ministry hosts, “seminars, debates, and conferences at churches and universities.” Wonderful, bringing academics to the masses is what we need. Unfortunately, it looks like the person who they have doing this, Stephen Boyce, does not have the credentials they claim he does.

Update [3 May 2023]: I want to make it known Stephen’s situation is more complicated. He relayed to me that the degrees he received from these institutions were primarily the result of him being pressured into doing these programs from churches he pastored, and as a result getting roped into the situation. Notably, at Louisiana Baptist University (discussed below) he did insist on having accredited and notable academics actually oversee his work there, to try and ensure he was living up to other standards. Having seen his work, I can say that (assuredly) it is far more impressive than you will find from any other apologist who has ever gone to one of these degree mills. Stephen has also made it known to me that he actively has dissuaded and encouraged people to reject/leave these unaccredited institutions and go to legitimate ones instead, knowing full well the virulent problems that exist in them first hand. As such, I wish to give him some more leeway than I initially did here.

Stephen Boyce has three claimed degrees that I am aware of, all according to his Academia.edu profile and his public Facebook profile as of 2 May 2023:

Now all three are unaccredited nonsense degrees. The “PhD in Theology with a concentration in Canonicity and Textual Criticism” is from the aforementioned degree mill Louisiana Baptist University, which, as noted before, gave Young Earth Creationist grifter Carl Baugh a similar doctorate. I went and looked up what the qualifications for such doctorates are at this “university” and the requirements are poor.[9] Notably, Stephen evidently recognized this and, according to himself in a phone conversation with me (3 May 2023), he sought outside professionals to help bring him up to scratch with the field more. I can personally verify his work is certainly beyond anything that this “university” would have had him do without such advising. 

According to their website, the “PhD in Theology” requires the following classes:

Now going to their course catalog, what do things like “Greek or Hebrew” actually look like? They offer only two doctoral level Greek classes at Louisiana Baptist University, the first of which is described like this:

Got it, this is the equivalent Greek training of a first-year undergrad at a secular and accredited school. And I must emphasize that these are the only two Greek classes they offer. The MA level classes have the exact same description! Well maybe it is not all bad. What do other classes there at Louisiana Baptist University look like? Maybe they will surprise us.

This is perhaps the most hilarious thing I have ever seen in my life. The Tim LaHaye Study Bible? Wow, people, wow. Really speaking miles to the credibility of this place.

So yeah, this place has no accreditation, and is just a shill organization meant to handhold you into a “doctorate.” This is specifically where I start having issues with Boyce putting “Dr.” in front of his name, as is on the Explore Christianity website:

But what about the other two degrees? He says he has a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies from Bethany Divinity College and Seminary. Well, this place is interesting. So their website does claim to have accreditation now.[10] But… there is a story there. They are “accredited” by the American Association for Higher Education and Accreditation (AAHEA). This organization (AAHEA) is a parasitic non-governmental agency that was started after the 140 year long running American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) hit financial difficulties. Unable to mount any defensive measures, the AAHEA like a parasitic host took over, stripping them even of their original phone number and then claiming themselves to be the “successors” and started “accrediting” other institutions. The AAHEA is a hack “accrediting” scam run by Stephen Barnhart, who uses it to pal up with other crank institutions and “accredit” them to give them the veneer of credibility. Bethany Divinity College and Seminary is, thus, one of those getting fake accreditation through this leech “accreditation” agency.[11]

Okay so, the MA and that PhD in Theology are not particularly noteworthy.

It appears that Boyce has another “doctorate” from other means in the past. According to one of his Academia.edu profiles, he was at Andersonville Theological Seminary, and reportedly got a doctorate or some other degree there.[12] Wait… Andersonville Theological Seminary. Where have I heard that name before?

Oh yeah, that is the hack institution that will give you a doctorate in biblical studies for just a few thousand bucks, which noted transphobe and hack Jim West got his “doctorate” from and then faked being “Dr.” Jim West for years with.[13]  Jim West is the whole package by the way, vanity press publications, works at an unaccredited degree mill himself, fake credentials, the whole nine-yards.

[Update 3 May 2023] Boyce has told me he despises Andersonville and no longer associates himself with that at all on his active accounts. It appears I found an old and inactive Academia.edu page.

My issue with Stephen, now that I have had a phone conversation, is not necessarily that he does not know his material or anything similar. But, instead, that he uses these titles “Dr.” and “PhD” which came from unaccredited institution, and he does so in a community which has (as I pointed out above) a sincere problem with pseudo-credentialism, i.e., inventing for themselves fake credentials and passing themselves off as scholars on that basis. Louisiana Baptist University and Andersonville are two such places that have done this and led to some rather significant issues for the general population being unable to tell the difference between qualified authorities and unqualified hacks. In Stephen’s case, he is certainly a well read and rather erudite person who has done a lot to try and hold himself accountable to higher standards than what was necessitated of him. But, and this is where I think he should do well to listen: he should sincerely think about removing those titles. Not only does it (A) demonstrate much more integrity to do so, but (B) also will let his work stand on its own instead. Instead of associating himself with titles garnered from these less than reputable institutions, he can let his work stand for itself and not get the reaction that I initially had of him. Unfortunately, for just about everyone, when we see an apologist with degrees from unaccredited institutions, there are only immediate connotations that come up: Kent Hovind kind of connotations. And that hurts both Stephen’s ministry, and also the ability for his work to stand up. Thus, I implore him to remove those. I myself do not use any such titles, I do not even particularly like it when I am called a “scholar” because I am, in my estimation, just a well-read hobbyist with a penchant for getting lucky at journals. I think it is important for us to be as clear and precise as possible with how we describe ourselves. It creates for a more open community, and also garners more trust among those peering in. I think that despite his other attempts to dissuade from these institutions and credibility problems, Stephen is incidentally still contributing to them.

How Not to Respond to Criticism

[Update 3 May 2023] I want to preface this first by saying that Stephen has since reached out to me and personally apologized for these comments, and he was extremely sincere about it. I welcome that taking accountability and he deleted the particularly egregious bits. I do accept his apology. But I am keeping this section very specifically because it is culturally relevant and I think it is important we note that what happened here is not out of the ordinary. This is something I consistently face from Christian communities as a trans woman.

Boyce, when I posted about this online, did not take kindly to having his credentials called into question. His response? Well, the first response was to basically do the whole “you just gonna dismiss my research and arguments based on this?” and then he blocked me before I could even request to see his work:

Part of also what contributed to this problem is that none of Boyce’s research was publicly available accept for one 2019 paper of Boyce’s which, he himself, no longer entirely agrees with either. Scanning it was not immediately impressive, unfortunately, as Dan describes aptly:

This is the only paper available as of 3 May 2023 on his Academia.edu pages. His supposed research on Codex H, the Gnostic gospels, canonicity, and beyond has yet to materialize, though apparently some dissertation exists, as his co-founder at Explore Christianity told me in conversation (his cofounder, Jon Beazley, has been exceptionally kind and is a pretty amiable person and I had a fine conversation with him, unlike Stephen who has refused all engagement on his credentials and research thus far).

So, I pushed a little further on Stephen on this point. Blocking me, not sharing your research you pushed for [Update 3 May 2023: Stephen has now shared much of it with me but did not initially], and also having no publication record do not impress on first glance. After more pushing, Stephen evidently decided to just go the standard Christian route: be a loving and kind person, showing the grace of Jesus. I’m kidding, he became transphobic and combative with everyone around him, including Ethan from Spartan Theology (and also a great individual and host on Apocalypse Here with Jon DePue and Dr. Laura Robinson[14]). Here are a few wonderful snippets from this truly noble and credible person (trigger warning, transphobia):

I want to thank Ethan for being great and immediately taking Stephen to task for his transphobia. Stephen went after me like this on Facebook and Twitter, but he has since apologized for this a lot. However, the comments do still stand and should still be taken into consideration here because these types of responses are things I receive frequently, and I mean very frequently. He is evidently immensely offended, and understandably (it is not easy to get this kind of targeted feedback on the level I often provide). You heard of the abominable snowman? I am the abominable trans woman!

In contrast to all of this, his cofounder Jon Beazley has been gendering me correctly and using my name, and has not resorted to any transphobia at all, and has offered to share Stephen’s dissertation with Dan McClellan:

Stephen has done none of this. Instead of defending his credentials, which should have been easy enough, he resorted to being bigoted. This is a result of what is often just acceptable and promoted in Christian spaces. Not saying Stephen endorses them, but Stephen evidently has not challenged the precepts and behaviors that have been instilled in Christian communities to deal with Transgender critics, at least, not interrogated them enough. Thus, when put into an emotional situation or feeling backed up, bigotry came loose. And that is a sign of things needing to desperately change in these communities. When you want to reach people and bring them to Christ, one cannot allow this type of behavior to have any place. Stephen has since apologized for this behavior, but I want to hold this and note that this is stuff I deal with almost daily from Christians. I was not particularly offended, I am so use to it at this point that it was pretty humorous to me. But I am offended when I think that this could have been someone else who, like me, took legitimate umbrage with credibility issues in apologetics and criticized specific apologists. I hope that apology from Stephen means legitimate change for the future.

Conclusions: Apologetic Circles Have Honesty Problems

Apologists have some serious honesty problems. Stephen Boyce has unfortunately been one of those, I feel, contributing to a problem of the manufacturing of faux authority. As I noted above, apologists of all sorts are use to this sort of faux authority posturing. Tim and Lydia McGrew, William Lane Craig, Stephen Boyce, Jonathan McLatchie, Sean McDowell (PhD in Apologetics, not biblical studies), Gary Habermas, Carl Baugh, Kent Hovind, and so on and so forth all posture themselves as authorities on the bible and biblical history and exegesis, and meanwhile they are all false authorities, peddling in fake credentials, or experts in adjacent or unrelated fields. None of them have particularly credible publication records in the field of biblical studies (Sean McDowell and Gary Habermas are the only exceptions on this note; Craig has one article in New Testament Studies from nearly four decades ago), none of them are actually bible scholars, and to my knowledge, none of them have doctoral level understandings of any of the requisite languages or historical backgrounds of the bible. Boyce’s work is impressive by contrast, but I think this is where it gets dangerous. Boyce positioning himself as “Dr.” Stephen Boyce, even with his more credible work, I think sets a dangerous precedent. While he has dissuaded people from using these fake institutions like Louisiana Baptist University, others may (and will) look at him and decide to go to them, and also use this to create for themselves faux authority. And I think Stephen should seriously remove those titles and consider what precedent he wants to set for apologetics circles. Because faux authority posturing runs rampant.

Yet, this is all seen as acceptable in apologetics circles. Why? Well it is because apologists need to build up this sense of faux credibility. They have been steadily watching as their footing in academia has been lost, and mainstream scholars consistently reject their work. There are some fully accredited Christian apologists in the field (Mike Licona, for instance), but what apologists have increasingly noticed is that these people are being paid less and less attention. How much of an impact in academia did Licona’s resurrection dissertation published with InterVarsity Press make? Well, basically none in the mainstream from what I can tell. Lydia McGrew has had two publications in the Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism (her only two relevant publications in the field), and several random books with non-academic publishers. How much of an impact have those made? Absolutely none. I cannot find a single academic review of her work in a leading journal. Even more respected conservative scholars like Craig A. Evans have recently been coming under fire for the absolutely ridiculous things they have been claiming regarding the fabricated Dead Sea Scrolls fragments, which Kipp Davis has been spearheading.[15] And then there are others like Dan Wallace, Dr. “First Century Mark” himself, whose reputation has been rather tainted by his involvement in propagating the “First Century Mark” scam originating from Dirk Obbink.[16] I could also mention those like Michael S. Heiser, but what impact has his work really made in academia? Not a whole lot. It certainly has not changed mainstream positions on polytheism in the Hebrew Bible, I can say that for sure.

So, apologists really have no footing. They are being excised bit by bit from the academy, and they realize this. And because of this, they need to create some sense of faux credibility. Just as Young Earth Creationists needed this, because they have no academic standing whatsoever, so do the bible history apologists. Which leads us back to Wilson’s work I mentioned above. This is “outsider bible scholarship,” by people who both spurn and desperately seek the approval of the academy. And so they create fake credentials or pass themselves off as “Dr.” in fields they have no relevance in, in an attempt to grab just a little bit of that academic respectability. At the same time, they must eschew real scholarship, though, because they know it does not and will never support their conclusions. They are being left behind in the mud. Thus, they fake it till they make it. This is why you find the McGrews and others pushing for their own methodologies like “Undesigned coincidences” and other pseudointellectual guff. They want to play by their own rules, because they know that apologetic understandings of the bible do not stand up to actual academic scrutiny.

This kind of intellectual dishonesty that is rampant in apologetics circles is the last resort of a corrupt outsider discipline, which knows that it is being left behind bit by bit. They cling to conservative “academic” institutions that will give them even a hint of credibility (like the Evangelical Theological Society and its journal), get degrees in adjacent fields which will not challenge their faith and instead allow them to tout themselves as “Dr.” while talking on fields they don’t specialize in (Dr. S. J. Thomason is a business scholar; McLatchie is a biologist; the McGrews, Craig, and Habermas are philosophers), or they will just falsely call themselves “Dr.” with no credible doctorates whatsoever, using whatever excuse (honorary doctorate awards or degree mill diplomas) they can, as long as they can peddle the veneer of authority.

And all of this hurts Christians. Not the apologists making money off this faux authority sham, but the impressionable audiences who are desperately seeking answers for their faith. I have, in all honesty, considered for a while wanting to go back to church and engage with Christianity again. But every time I do, I find these faux credential pundits and others and I am reminded of one reason why I left: corruption and dishonesty rampant in Christian institutions. It is nothing short of dishonest to peddle yourself as “Dr.” on the basis of diploma mill degrees. But audiences who have no background in academia do not know any better. They seek answers from these people, but in reality are looking to false authorities who have no specialization in these subjects whatsoever, but have peddled themselves as knowledgeable or even as experts… and make money while doing it.

Dishonesty in the name of Jesus is alive and well in apologetics circles. And apologists really need to get on policing their turf. You want to be taken credibly? Make your circles credible then.

Until then, don’t be surprised when even those sympathetic to Christianity are afraid to come near it. You have allowed your spaces to be overrun with corruption and hate. So don’t expect these rising new generations of people, who are becoming acutely aware of this abuse, to take it lying down or to accept your faith when this is what they now expect. These aren’t the only reasons I stay away… I am a trans woman in a country that has decided that I should be the target of harassment, violence, and oppression. Christians have collectively decided that I shouldn’t be allowed near my sister’s children, my nephews, because my mere existence poses some existential threat to them thanks to the political sphere today. So now I can’t see my own family. And if all that violence me and my family now suffer from was not enough, I am also faced with the fact that modern Christians have fostered themselves communities of dishonest shills, grifters, and hacks, profiting off the backs of those seeking answers and posing as authorities. They are succeeding in spiritually and physically isolating me. And they’ve done so in no small part because they created pseudo-credibility by faking themselves into being taken seriously, to the point that now they dominate.

And so I want to ask Stephen, legitimately… do you want to incidentally lend your name to these practices? Because this is, whether you like it or not, what is being fostered and you stand in a unique position to make a firm and quite notable stand by refusing to use these titles, and holding yourself to a standard, once again, that others in this community will not and setting an example for people to follow. One that will resonate a lot. The converse is that, you intentionally or not, will contribute to a problem which pervades apologetics circles, and, in my view, has greatly hampered any credibility they have.


Stephen posted this. Frankly, Stephen you have not been lied about. You should not be calling yourself “Dr.” or similar in my estimation, as none of those degrees are accredited and would not be accepted at other institutions. This does not mean your work is invalid, but I think titles like these are important due to the weight they carry and we all need to respect that. I am also not an atheist.


[1] Joseph A. P. Wilson, “The Cave Who Never Was: Outsider Archaeology and Failed Collaboration in the USA,” Public Archaeology 11, no. 2 (2012): 73–95 (74) DOI 10.1179/1465518712Z.0000000007

[2] Wilson, “The Cave Who Never Was,” 74.

[3] Case in point:

[4] I would suggest looking through Matthew Hartke’s excellent work on his account debunking this ludicrous work (@MatthewHartke)

[5] https://amateurexegete.com/2023/01/26/the-falks-misogyny-and-solidarity-a-recap-guest-post-by-chrissy-h/.

[6] For example, in one of Lydia McGrew’s only relevant publications in biblical studies, “Truth, Historiography, and the Gospels’ Genre: Classical and Patristic Considerations,” Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism 17 (2021): 88–117 you will find the following qualifiers of its “excellence”:

(1) It lacks any interaction with foreign language scholarship. No German, Spanish, French, Italian, nothing. This is all English language work.

(2) Most of all the research cited is from Christian academics, and generally is all outdated. McGrew cites only 10 works published from 2010 onward (1 from Craig Keener and Edward Wright, 2 from Mike Licona, 1 from Craig Evans, 1 from just Keener, 2 from McGrew herself, 2 from Stanley Porter, 1 from Richard Bauckham), the rest is all before. She clearly has no idea of what current scholarship looks like and is generally so outdated as to have no relevance to current scholarship.

(3) She clearly has no understanding of the requisite ancient languages, relying on public domain outdated translations of the Church Fathers and others for her quotations (such as page 114). 

This kind of general illiteracy in the field is exhibited throughout apologetics circles, which quite often also worship at the feet of the Criteria of Authenticity, seemingly unaware of how mainstream scholarship has abandoned authenticity in light of the numerous failings of the “quest” for the authentic Jesus.

[7] Kent Hovind’s dissertation is available via the magic of wikileaks here: https://wikileaks.org/wiki/Young-earth_creationist_Kent_Hovind%27s_doctoral_dissertation

[8] https://www.explorechristianity.net/vision.

[9] The course catalog and requirements are listed here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.cloversites.com/8e/8e1c9917-216a-4a35-a9c5-be9372201d70/documents/2023_Catalog.pdf and here: https://lbu.edu/seminary/theological-seminary.

[10] https://www.bethanybc.edu/accreditation/.

[11] For a rundown of all this, see https://www.degreeinfo.com/index.php?threads/bethany-divinity-college-now-boasting-aahea-accreditation.43755/.

[12] This was further discussed here: https://purebibleforum.com/index.php?threads/stephen-boyce-doctorate.1533/.

[13] I went into his crap here: https://twitter.com/DepthsofTime97/status/1638700735046057984.

[14] She has a real doctorate, from Duke University.

[15] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRZDDzPw80E&t=3s.

[16] For a start of the recap, see Brent Nongbri’s website and posts, such as https://brentnongbri.com/2018/06/12/first-century-mark-and-second-century-romans/.

9 thoughts on ““Dr. Stephen Boyce” and the Problem of the Pseudo-Credentialed Apologist – Guest Post by Chrissy Hansen

  1. I dispute one of the premises assumed here: that only Bible scholars have any “right” to seriously discuss the contents of the Bible. C. S. Lewis is considered the greatest Christian apologist of the 20th century. He was an English professor. G. K. Chesterton was the most highly regarded apologist before Lewis, and he had no degree at all, but was a brilliant intellect. Peter Kreeft is a superb apologist of our time. He is a philosophy professor. Etc.

    None of these men were or are intellectually dishonest or pretentious. Lydia McGrew (whom I know) is doing the same thing they did. Craig and Habermas are philosophers who deal with philosophy of religion, which is sort of a half-sister of apologetics, so they talk about the Bible at times. There is nothing whatsoever wrong or dishonest about that, as long as it’s clear where their credentials are. I’m a lay Catholic / general Christian apologist with a BA degree in sociology. I have never pretended to be otherwise. There is nothing wrong with lay apologetics, and it is wholeheartedly accepted and encouraged in the Catholic Church.

    I myself have pointed out, however, that Craig is a Monothelite heretic according to historic Christology. And I have long since written about Reformed Baptist (anti-Catholic) apologist James White’s bogus “doctorate” from an unaccredited university.

    I just wrote a book about biblical archaeology. Is it fundamentally dishonest to do that? No; not at all. I always cite actual archaeologists and historians to make my arguments (393 footnotes). In the few arguments that are semi-original, I cite scholars to back me up. So for one to quibble with my book would require grappling with my arguments, backed-up by scholars, not merely ad hominem name-calling (which is also the genetic fallacy in these instances).

    St. John Henry Cardinal Newman noted how lay apologists actually dominated the field in the early Church, and also continued to be prominent in his own 19th century:

    “Theologians inculcate the matter, and determine the details of that Revelation; they view it from within; philosophers view it from without, and this external view may be called the Philosophy of Religion, and the office of delineating it externally is most gracefully performed by laymen. In the first age laymen were most commonly the Apologists. Such were Justin, Tatian, Athenagoras, Aristides, Hermias, Minucius Felix, Arnobius, and Lactantius. In like manner in this age some of the most prominent defences of the Church are from laymen: as De Maistre, Chateaubriand, Nicolas, Montalembert, and others.” (The Idea of a University, Part II, ch. 4, sec. 4: “General Religious Knowledge,” 1856)

    Some other examples of prominent lay apologists are Antoine-Frédéric Ozanam (1813-1853), Guy Lefèvre de la Boderie (1541-1598), and Justus Baronius Calvinus (1570- after 1606), as well as, more recently, Arnold Lunn (1888-1974), Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966), and Catholic historian / apologists, such as Christopher Dawson (1889-1970) and Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953).


    1. Chrissy Hansen 17 May 2023 — 2:01 pm

      If you think I assumed or argued that only Bible scholars can seriously engage this topic… then you really know nothing about me or did not pay attention to what I was arguing. I never once argued that scholars (or even amateurs like myself) cannot seriously engage with the Bible and produce scholarship.

      I never said it was dishonest to contribute to the field. I said it was dishonest for people who are not experts to pass themselves off as authorities in the field, especially when they are doing so in apologetic aims that work to dismantle trust in that field. But please… do continue with this irrelevant tangent.


  2. I see that at a Humanities Commons page, you describe yourself as “a nerdy amateur who throws articles at journals and see what sticks. . . . I have no singular field” and that you have a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and a Minor in Philosophy.

    Please explain how this is different from several of the folks you critique? For example, Lydia McGrew has Ph.D. in English. She’s entitled to write about philosophy or theology just as much as you are to write about NT issues, theology, and Christian and secular history. She was able to be published in peer-reviewed journals just as you have been able (and kudos, by the way; I admire that).

    It seems like it simply boils down to the fact that you don’t LIKE what these people are writing about and contending for, and so you are trying to discredit them on the basis of their credentials (and by extension, virtually all of Christian apologetics, or so it seems), rather than the arguments they make.

    What am I missing? I’d gladly listen to what you see as the difference between you and us lowly, despised Christian apologists (I have been one full-time for 20 years, with 51 published books).


    1. Chrissy Hansen 17 May 2023 — 2:02 pm

      I don’t pretend to be an expert. That’s the difference. My problem is not that they contribute, my problem is that they position themselves as faux authorities when they are not.

      You evidently did not understand even remotely what the point of this article is and are just whinging like a wounded animal.


    2. Chrissy Hansen 17 May 2023 — 2:03 pm

      Stop whinging and stop dishonestly misrepresenting my work. I argued the problem is that she positions herself as an authority in a field she is not. I did not ever argue she cannot contribute. I don’t pretend to be an authority. Hence my point.


  3. All that said, I do reiterate that I totally agree with you that folks who obtained a “doctorate” from unaccredited schools ought not call themselves “Dr.” My disagreement is with your running down people like Craig, Habermas, McGrew, McDowell when they write about things that aren’t directly connected with their area of doctoral study.

    People do this all the time. Your entire article is in fact doing the same thing, since you are not a scholar (and you freely admit that); yet you are commenting rather dogmatically about academia and its relationship to Christian apologetics, and you publish articles having nothing to do with your own credentials (creative writing).

    Are you not aware of this obvious internal inconsistency in your overall critique?


    1. Biblical scholar, here. Of course, McGrew can publish whatever she wants, but my problem is when she makes false, inaccurate, and badly outdated assertions about the Bible and history, and then complains about actual scholarship in the field. I don’t tell philosophers how the ought to be doing their jobs, and I don’t think it is too much to expect the same in return.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You mentioned exactly two of Dr. Lydia McGrew’s publications. Excluding those, this is her complete list, which is quite impressive (feel free to note which of these journals isn’t peer-reviewed):

    “Is Jesus John’s Mouthpiece? Reconsidering Johannine Idiom,” Conspectus 32:43-57 (October, 2021). Available here.

    “Confirmation, Coincidence, and Contradiction,” Synthese, 2021, Online First 3/14/21, DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-021-03102-x. Author’s Accepted Manuscript archived by permission here.

    “Undesigned Coincidences and Coherence for an Hypothesis,” Erkenntnis, 85 (4) (2020), pp. 801-828. On-Line First, August 6, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10670-018-0050-4 Author’s accepted manuscript version archived here.

    “Finessing Independent Attestation: A Study in Interdisciplinary Biblical Criticism,” Themelios 44.1, pp. 89-102 (April, 2019)

    “Of Generic Gods and Generic Men: The Limits of Armchair Philosophy of Religion.” The Journal of Analytic Theism 6 (2018):183-203 (Available as open access: https://doi.org/10.12978/jat.2018-6.112400120222a)

    “The World, the Deceiver, and The Face in the Frost,” Quaestiones Disputatae, 7:2 (2017, volume appeared in print fall, 2018), 112-146. Draft version archived by permission here.

    “Bayes’ Theorem,” entry in Dictionary of Christianity and Science. Edited by Paul Copan and Tremper Longman III. Zondervan, 2017.

    “Accounting for Dependence: Relative Consilience as a Correction Factor in Cumulative Case Arguments,” Australasian Journal of Philosophy. 95:3 (2017), 560-572, DOI 10.1080/00048402.2016.1219753.

    “Bayes Factors All the Way: Toward a New View of Coherence and Truth,” Theoria (2016) 82:329-350. DOI 10.1111/theo.12102.

    “Evidential Diversity and the Negation of H: A Probabilistic Account of the Value of Varied Evidence,” Ergo 3:10 (2016), available here.

    “Four (Or So) New Fine-Tuning Arguments,” European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 8:2 (Summer, 2016):85-106.

    “Why Bayesian Coherentism Isn’t Coherentism,” European Journal of Analytic Philosophy, Vol. 11:1 (2015):37-55, published online, May 10, 2016. Available here.

    “Before the Mountains Were Brought Forth: A Defense of Divine Timelessness,” Christendom Review 6:1 (Summer, 2014).

    “On Not Counting the Cost: Ad Hocness and Disconfirmation,” Acta Analytica 29 (2014):491-505. DOI 10.1007/s12136014-0225-9.

    “Jeffrey Conditioning, Rigidity, and the Defeasible Red Jelly Bean,” Philosophical Studies (2014) 168:569-82. Published online May 17, 2013, via On-Line First. DOI # 10.1007/s11098-013-0145-3. Per copyright agreement with Philosophical Studies, I am permitted to link and archive an author-prepared version of the article here.

    “Probabilistic Issues Concerning Jesus of Nazareth and Messianic Death Prophecies,” Philosophia Christi 15:3 (2013), pp. 311-28.

    “Tall Tales and Testimony to The Miraculous,” European Journal of Analytic Philosophy. 8.2 (2012):39-55.

    “Historical Inquiry,” In The Routledge Companion to Theism, ed. Victoria Harrison, Stewart Goetz, and Charles Taliaferro. (New York: Routledge. Official publication date on copyright page, 2013; became available fall 2012), pp. 281-293.

    “The Reliability of Witnesses and Testimony to the Miraculous.” With Timothy McGrew. In Probability in the Philosophy of Religion, ed. Jake Chandler and Victoria Harrison (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 46-63.

    “Probability Kinematics and Probability Dynamics,” Journal of Philosophical Research 35 (2010):89-105.

    “The Argument from Miracles: A Cumulative Case for the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.” With Timothy McGrew. In The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, edited by W. L. Craig and J. P. Moreland (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), pp. 593-662. Preprint version (without Blackwell page numbers or copy editing, posted with publisher’s permission) here.

    “The Irrational Faith of the Naked Public Square,” The Christendom Review 1:1 (December, 2008).

    “Foundationalism, Probability, and Mutual Support,” With Timothy McGrew, Erkenntnis 68 (2008):55-77.

    “On the Historical Argument: A Rejoinder to Plantinga,” With Timothy McGrew, Philosophia Christi 8 (2006):23-38.

    “Likelihoods, Multiple Universes, and Epistemic Context.” Philosophia Christi 7 (2005): 475-81.

    “A Response to Robin Collins and Alexander R. Pruss.” With Timothy McGrew. Philosophia Christi 7 (2005): 425-43.

    “Testability, Likelihoods, and Design.” Philo 7:1 (Spring-Summer 2004):5-21.

    “Foundationalism,” entry in ISCID Encyclopedia of Science and Philosophy, June, 2003.

    “Agency and the Metalottery Fallacy.” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 80:4 (December, 2002):440-464.

    “Probabilities and the Fine Tuning Argument: A Sceptical View.” With Timothy McGrew and Eric Vestrup. Mind 110 (October, 2001): 1027-37. Anthologized in God and Design, ed. Neil A. Manson (London and New York: Routledge, 2003), pp. 200-208.

    “What’s Wrong with Epistemic Circularity.” With Timothy McGrew. Dialogue 39 (2000): 219-39.

    “Blaming the Designer.” Origins and Design 20:1 (Spring 2000): 9-10.

    “Foundationalism, Transitivity and Confirmation.” With Timothy McGrew. Journal of Philosophical Research 25 (2000): 47-66.

    “Blaming the Handyman.” Origins and Design 19:2 (Winter 1999): 8.

    “Psychology for Armchair Philosophers.” With Timothy McGrew. Idealistic Studies 28 (1998): 147-57.

    “Internalism and the Collapse of the Gettier Problem.” With Timothy McGrew. Journal of Philosophical Research 23 (1998): 239-56.

    “Level Connections in Epistemology.” With Timothy McGrew. American Philosophical Quarterly 34 (1997): 85-94.

    “Reason, Rhetoric, and the Price of Linguistic Revision.” Public Affairs Quarterly 11:3 (July, 1997): 255-79.


    1. Chrissy Hansen 17 May 2023 — 2:05 pm

      Funny to me that… none of those are in a decent biblical studies journal. Again, she has no relevant publication record. She is a nobody amateur, who has no relevant academic publications in the field, and here you are defending her.

      I listed the only relevant publications that she has to her entire name in this field. It should say enough that she pretends to have expertise in this field, on the basis of virtually nothing. And reading those papers does not instill confidence. She doesn’t cite any up-to-date research indicating that she has little actual knowledge of this field.


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