Saturday, 3 June 2006

Doctor Bob

According to the latest Journal, Bob Thiel (PhD) has expanded his website to include a section on the Early Church in an effort "to portray Church of God history in a more documented and detailed light." Intrigued, as this is a particular interest I share with Bob, I clicked across to see what he had on offer.

What I found were scores of articles of - and this is my personal and somewhat biased assessment - dubious value and apologetic intent. But what really amazed me was that Doctor Bob was unable to provide a credible bibliography for any of it. No references (except for copious links to his other pages.) I don't claim to have seen everything he's written, so maybe there's an occasional mention of Dugger & Dodd or an online edition of the Catholic Enyclopedia somewhere, but overwhelmingly this is the sole work of one enthusiastic amateur with no specialist training in the field and little evidence of genuine research. But you can judge for yourself

Of course, I'm all for enthusiastic amateurs. Home gardeners for example, and an army of bloggers. But if you're going to set yourself up as an authority on early Christianity, let alone a prolific one, then you need to establish some basic credibility first. At a bare minimum you need to be well read on the subject; at least familiar with the state of the play. Simply regurgitating your own sectarian sources just doesn't cut it.

My challenge to Bob is to provide a bibliography for his site. Books he has actually read and consulted. Then we'll all be in a better position to discuss his ideas.


Felix Taylor, Jr. said...

((My challenge to Bob is to provide a bibliography for his site. Books he has actually read and consulted. Then we'll all be in a better position to discuss his ideas.))

Well as you know Bob doesn't work that way. He resorts to personal attacks to those who challenge his "works". He is not (and never will) be interested in a serious debate.

Anonymous said...


As I recall, Bob does not have a PhD. He is a dentist, so that means he likely only possesses a DDS. Being a Doctor of Dentistry is a far cry from being a PhD.

Jordan Potter said...

Yes, Bob Thiel does have a PhD, though it's not in any branch of history. At his website, he says, "A doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree was earned from the Union Institute and University where I studied various biological sciences and research methodologies."

So, apparently his PhD is in some sort of biological science.

By the way, the Union Institute and University is primarily a correspondence course university. Although it wasn't that way at first, at this time they do have students who live on campus. However, most of their students are doing their degree work through the mail.

Gavin said...

As well as the PhD Bob practices as a doctor of naturopathy, and has written a book called "Combining Old And New: Naturopathy For The 21st Century" which you can track down on Amazon (and yes, he mentions Herb several times as a health authority!) Fringe medicine and fringe religion seem to go together.

E_S_Gardner said...

"Simply regurgitating your own sectarian sources just doesn't cut it."

So how did Joe Tkach, with an unaccredited B.A., obtain his D.Min doctoral degree from Azusa in 2000? His doctorate was awarded three years AFTER he first published his 1997 version of "Transformed by Truth", a substantially similar work to his doctoral thesis. As you previously reported in Ambassador Watch, Ambassador Center at Azusa was established in 1997 when thousands of dollars were transferred by Tkach to Azusa and for scholarships to deserving WCG students when AU was shut down.
As listed on the front page, Mike Feazell was Tkach's doctoral thesis Reader. Fuller's Eddie Gibbs served on Tkach's doctoral committee. Eddie Gibbs gets frequent play in WCG media as a sort of expert on emergent church growth (Gibb's Emerging Churches available at Amazon).

If you would like to see an incredible bibliography, take a look at Tkach's bibliography for his doctoral thesis. Very few outside theological reference works or theological treatises cited at all. Mostly selective quotations from old WCG magazine articles or booklets.