What Does A "D. D." Mean?
The Baptist World Magazine, 1909
An Illinois correspondent asks The Congregationalist to state what the title, Doctor of Divinity, means, and implies a contempt for ministers who attach to their names the letters, D.D., "because of their meaningless value." This title was formerly conferred almost exclusively on men who had shown distinguished ability as teachers of theology. It was given by educational institutions authorized to do this by charter received from the state in which they are incorporated. When thus given, it is a distinction as worthily bestowed as any other academic honors. In this country, however, many institutions have received authority from the state to confer degrees whose trustees have abused the privilege. Some have given them as favors to friends, either for themselves or at request of others. Some have sold the degree, secretly or openly, being no more qualified to appreciate its meaning than those who received it. A Congregational minister, defending in an English court his right to the title, S. T. D., on being asked to explain what the Latin words are for which these initials stand, explained that they stand for the "Sacred Theology of a Doctor." A Negro school in a Southern state, duly authorized by law, has given to several persons the right to add D.D. to their names for twenty-five dollars. Being rather hard pushed for money, its managers awhile ago issued a circular offering the honor "half price to ministers."
The title has come to mean, therefore, a good many things, from a five dollar bill up to the capacity to teach effectively the doctrines of the Christian religion.
The Congregationalist, Boston.
[From The Baptist World Magazine, July 1, 1909, p. 3; via Baylor U. digital documents. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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