The website, Faith in Scholarship, recently published an article entitled, “Why do a PhD? The Place of Christians in the Academy.” For those of us working in academia, it is usually fairly obvious to us why doing a PhD is a good thing for Christians. At the same time, academia can be overwhelming, and in those moments a reminder of the good of a PhD is helpful. Such a reminder is also good for those who have chosen a path outside of academia, and so I’m sharing some quotes of the article here and encourage you to read all of the brief article.
The article looks at the three criteria for doing a PhD that Nicholas Wolterstorff gives: “Do you love it? Are you good at it? And is it worthwhile?”
As for the love, the author (Anthony Smith) notes that “you do need to be at least slightly obsessed with your subject if you are going to devote your whole life to it, I would suggest.” In my humble opinion, those are wise words, not only for those of us wanting to do PhDs but also for all of us interacting with other academics .We do have to have a bit of tolerance and appreciation for the slight obsession to our discipline that overflows into all of our life and many of our conversations.
As for it being worthwhile, Smith notes how worthwhile it is for Christians to be in academia: “Most of tomorrow’s leaders will spend some of their most formative years at university, and most of the big ideas shaping our culture have been gestated within the academic world. If we are praying that God’s will would be done on earth, and if God is giving us the opportunity to shape the world around us by pursuing an academic vocation, then why would we not take that opportunity?”