Megachurch pastor and televangelist T.D. Jakes announced the launch of Jakes Divinity School, a new venture that will begin enrolling students in January 2020. But some in academia are already criticizing the online program.
Jakes, senior pastor of The Potter’s House megachurch in Dallas, Texas, will serve as chancellor while Antipas Harris, a Yale trained theologian and Regent professor, has been named as president. The online divinity school will grant accredited degrees through partnerships with Vanguard University of Southern California and North Central University, a Christian school in Minnesota.
“As the potter forms the clay into a vessel of purpose, the vision at JDS is to form leaders for ministry in the church and society. Throughout more than 40 years of ministry, Bishop TD Jakes, our founder and chancellor, has poured of himself into millions of people around the world. He has a passion for equipping others to do the same,” Harris said in an announcement shared on Instagram Saturday.
“There remains much more mission work, pastoral care, leadership and thought leading to be done. The moral decay of our world is leading a generation on a spiritual search. The Holy Spirit sends out a clarion call for us to study deeper, understand more, bear witness greater, lead better and go further. For theological education and spiritual formation, we can meet the complexities of ministry for the 21st century,” he added.
According to the school’s website, JDS will prepare Christian leaders for the future through academic rigor with experiential-learning, spiritual formation, and creative innovation necessary to minister in the church and society.
“Our curriculum, under the stewardship of Bishop T.D. Jakes, senior pastor of The Potter’s House in Dallas, TX, incorporates an emphasis on: effective preaching, vibrant worship, biblical thought, tacit knowledge, and quality instruction,” the school notes.
The school’s online divinity degree, diploma, and certificate programs will also “relate to the multidimensional foci of Bishop T.D. Jakes’ life and ministry, including: the art of presentation, leadership, entrepreneurship, global humanitarianism, entertainment and media.”
Advanced degrees programs up to the Ph.D. level are also offered.
While the launch of the JDS was welcome by some in academia. Some raised questions about the effort by Jakes.
“I have ONE question … who is their accreditation with? I looked and did not see one!! ***All right, y’all can enroll in this school if you want to, invest all that money in a degree for it not to count for anything, other than you went to Jakes Divinity School! Lastly, as a person who graduated from two accredited theological schools, Candler School of Theology (Emory University) and Chicago Theological Seminary, I have serious concerns about their curriculum,” wrote Quincy James Rineheart, a theologian and historian of African American religion.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair