Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Remarkable Story of The Mysterious ThD and Subtle Deceptions of Bob Thiel

The late Gavin Rumney has several expose's of Bob Thiel's ever-changing story on his site.  This by far is the best rundown on the subtle deceptions Thiel uses to impress the world and his African members.

From: Ambassador Watch


The story of Bob's acquisition of a Doctor of Theology degree was a major source of curiosity on AW back in 2009. Bob has since gone on to assert further remarkable personal claims. Perhaps we can gauge how seriously we can take these by Bob's ThD track record. Here's how it unfolded.

25 September: Bob's been busy

Not only in writing books but now articles for examiner.com. Here's the bio:
Dr. Bob Thiel has studied theology and prophecy for decades, and possesses a Ph.D. (UIU) and a Th.D. (TCU). He has also traveled extensively, and has visited sites of religious interest in Rome, Greece, Central Europe, Asia Minor, Cappadocia, Constantinople (Istanbul), Africa, Asia, North America, and Latin America.
Bob has a ThD from Texas Christian University? When did that happen? Bob doesn't mention it in his COGwriter bio.

26 September: Bob's ThD

What do we make of the claim that Bob Thiel holds a ThD from TCU? ... Inquiries have been made by concerned AW readers. Leonardo is one:


...in the endeavor to "prove all things" I called the Registrar's Office (817-257-7825) of Texas Christian University located in Ft. Worth, Texas – and talked to one Kristi Harrison at the Registrar’s Office. She informed me of the following facts: First of all, Texas Christian University does NOT have a doctorate of theology (ThD) program. They do have a Masters of Theological Studies program, a Master of Divinity program, and a Master of Theology program – but not a ThD program. And second, the name of Bob (or Robert) Thiel does NOT show up on ANY student listing the university has. They have a computerized file dating from 1984 forward – and Thiel is NOT on this one. And they have a microfiche file for students who attended before 1984 – and Thiel doesn’t show up on this one either.  

I've always found Bob a scrupulously honest person, so it will be intriguing to follow this as it develops.

26 September (2): Bob's ThD... revised edition
Just a few hours ago Bob had this to say on his website:
...I have studied graduate level Early Church History from Fuller Theological Seminary and other schools. A doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree was earned from the Union Institute and University where I studied various biological sciences and research methodologies. I also have other degrees/training, and have studied theology, both formally and informally.
Now there's a new, edited version:
...I have studied graduate level Early Church History from Fuller Theological Seminary and other schools in and out of the USA like T of CU, where a Th.D. in Early Christianity was earned). A doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree was earned from the Union Institute and University where I studied various biological sciences and research methodologies. I also have other degrees/training, and have studied theology, both formally and informally.
Uh... T of CU? Anyone have any idea what this means? TCU seems to know nothing about Bob (see previous posts.) And, accepting what Bob now says on face value, fancy him forgetting to mention his excellent doctorate in theology till now...

11 October: Doctor of Thielology

The Last Great Day has been and gone, and thousands of Feast-goers are toddling their weary way home. The "best Feast ever"? Well, maybe.

I'm looking forward to Bob Thiel at last having time to share the details on his acquisition of the Th.D which suddenly appeared on his resumé, so to speak, just days before the Feast. This may seem a bit obsessive, but I think it's important that we all can feel Bob's honesty is not in question here. We may disagree with Bob, but nobody has had reason to question his sincerity and integrity before.

As late as March last year Bob didn't seem to know about his own Th.D. Here's what he wrote in answer to a critic on another blog (you can read the whole rebuttal here):

I do have a Ph.D. and it is from the Union Institute & University. And Union is regionally accredited (the highest accepted accrediting standard in the United States for universities and colleges). I also have a Master of Science degree from the University of Southern California (which, of course, is also regionally accredited).
I believe Bob unreservedly, and these qualifications are not in question. But note, no mention of a Th.D from TCU (or anywhere else.) Has Bob acquired his prestigious doctorate in theology since then? If so, how? If Bob wants to continue to be regarded as credible, he needs to come clean on this, and sooner rather than later.

23 October: A Case of Beams and Splinters

Over at COGwriter, Bob Thiel is busy nuking some guy called James Malm. It's completely justified, as Malm has been slagging off Thiel. Never a dull moment in the sandpit.

What this clearly demonstrates is that Bob is quite capable of standing up for himself, and assuming a posture of peevish outrage. The current entry is entitled "James Malm Continues to Mislead."
Instead of repenting for being a false accuser of me, James Malm remains an accuser (cf. Revelation 12:10) as he continues to attempt to mislead people about me and my writings... The Apostle Paul faced false accusers as well who could not prove their false accusations (Acts 24:13).
Well, bully for Bob. But isn't it interesting that Bob has still failed to respond to questions about the legitimacy of a claimed Th.D from TCU. These claims are in his bio at Examiner.com, and on his own website. Hardly a good look to accuse someone else of misleading while being unable to provide the most rudimentary documentation for one's own claims. A case of beams and splinters? 

The thing is, Bob gets a lot of traffic on his site, but where does it come from? Have a look at this breakdown from Alexa.com.

Sweet mystery of life, nearly 15% of Bob's click-through traffic comes from - gasp! - AW! No other source, search engines Google and Yahoo excluded, sends more visitors through for a dose of Bob's "Th.D" fueled Biblical expertise... Most of those would go directly to the COGwriter "news" page, while most of the search engine hits would go to one of the countless ratbag pages of opinion Bob has up on things like "Catholic prophecies," Mayan calendars, and whether Barack Obama is the Antichrist. If that's the case, most of Bob's upstream traffic would come from curious and confused nutcases outside the COG fold, which means the news blog - the part of Bob's site most of us are familiar with - has been hugely overrated in its influence.


Yes brethren, I'm very tempted to rain on Bob's parade by withdrawing all links to his site... after all he doesn't link here. But that would be boorish and small-minded, so I guess he can continue to hang out in the apologists' section of the side bar.

But there'll be no more direct links from blog entries until Bob explains that alleged Th.D.

Question: Exactly which institution issued the Th.D? Full name required, as the obvious candidate for "TCU" is Texas Christian University, and they don't seem to know anything about it.

24 October: In Search of... Bob's ThD

The mystery of Bob Thiel's Th.D may be solved, and it's a pretty strange tale.

Bob may have acquired a mail order degree from Trinity School of Apologetics & Theology in Kochi.

Kochi?

TRINITY??

Following up on an anonymous tip in the previous comments section, a web search revealed that Trinity is a fundamentalist institution in India which has a Calvinist orientation, and offers "Free Apologetics/Theology Graduate Distance Programs." It's listed in places like Conservapedia and Creationwiki, and is sited next to Cochin University, but from what I can tell is definitely not part of that institution (although to read the Trinity website you might assume it was!) T of CU would then mean Trinity of Cochin University, which seems to be a clear misrepresentation.

Here's what Walston's Guide to Christian Distance Learning has to say about this institution (see graphic).

Not exactly positive.

And lo and behold, there is a Bob Thiel listed under "graduation news" on the Trinity site.

Now let's recap.

(1) If this is the source of Bob's Th.D, one can only wonder at his choice of an institution which wears its trinitarianism on its sleeve.

(2) To all intents and purposes, the accreditation that this institution claims is highly dubious.

(3) Bob has misrepresented it by calling it TCU. The correct acronym is TGSAT. The impression that he has graduated from Texas Christian is highly misleading. The impression that TGSAT is part of Cochin University is also misleading.

It appears that Bob's Th.D - if this is its source - isn't worth the paper it's printed on. No wonder Bob has been less than forthcoming about its provenance: it's a huge embarrassment.

However, on the positive side, Bob was being at least partially truthful. He does have a piece of paper with a recently minted Th.D., the quality of which is fully commensurate with the quality of his scholarship.

16 November: The disappearing ThD

Bob Thiel seems to have expunged mention of any Th.D from his bio page. No explanation given, but I guess it amounts to a concession to his critics. Here then are the three versions of his qualifications that Bob has promoted this year.


Version 1: ...I have studied graduate level Early Church History from Fuller Theological Seminary and other schools. A doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree was earned from the Union Institute and University where I studied various biological sciences and research methodologies. I also have other degrees/training, and have studied theology, both formally and informally.
Version 2: ...I have studied graduate level Early Church History from Fuller Theological Seminary and other schools in and out of the USA like T of CU, where a Th.D. in Early Christianity was earned). A doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree was earned from the Union Institute and University where I studied various biological sciences and research methodologies. I also have other degrees/training, and have studied theology, both formally and informally.
Version 3: ...I have studied graduate level Early Church History from Fuller Theological Seminary and other schools in and out of the USA). A doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree was earned from the Union Institute and University where I studied various biological sciences and research methodologies. I also have other degrees/training, and have studied theology, both formally and informally.

Now you see it, now you don't. It remains to be seen whether Bob has done irreparable damage to his credibility by fudging on this issue. 

2016 Postscript. Bob's alma mater admits that it is indeed not accredited, no big surprise, so it seems his PhD is indeed only a pretty piece of paper, a vanity qualification. Vanity is one of the seven deadly sins, isn't it?

As late as September last year Bob could write: "And, yes, I have a Ph.D. and Th.D. among other degrees. The Th.D. is in Christian Apologetics, with a speciality of Early Church History." [source] On his website he now states: "I have studied graduate level Early Church History from Fuller Theological Seminary [no details] and other schools in and out of the USA [no details], and after a lot of writing, was granted a foreign Th.D. in early Christianity [no details]." Apparently that's as much a concession as we're likely to get.

Would you buy a used car from this man?

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is Thiel's Ph.D. any less obnoxious than the M.A. degrees in Theology earned by Living Church of God ministers so they could teach at Living University? Thiel purchased his Ph.D. from a school that let him write his dissertation without serious faculty oversight. Several LCG pastors, by contrast, went to schools like Jerry Falwell's Liberty University ( LU ! ) where they were required to learn and parrot the Protestant approach to Christian theology, which may explain why so many have noticed a marked slide toward Protestantism in LCG ever since Charles Bryce was forced out as CAD Director.

Anonymous said...

Comment was made saying: "...2016 Postscript. Bob's alma mater admits that it is indeed not accredited, no big surprise, so it seems his PhD is indeed only a pretty piece of paper, a vanity qualification. Vanity is one of the seven deadly sins, isn't it?..."

According to the Bible on vanity and sin we may read the following:

"Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:" Isa 5:18

And vanity, according to Strong's Concordance, is described as:

07723 \^awv\^ shav’ shawv or
\^wv\^ shav shav

from the same as 07722 in the sense of desolating; n m; [BDB-996a] {See TWOT on 2338 @@ "2338a"}

AV-vain 22, vanity 22, false 5, lying 2, falsely 1, lies 1; 53

1) emptiness, vanity, falsehood
1a) emptiness, nothingness, vanity
1b) emptiness of speech, lying
1c) worthlessness (of conduct)

So, what would a vanity qualification be? Sin? No, but emptiness, falsehood, nothingness, etc.? Possibly.

But, then again, what is the creation all about?

"For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected [the same] in hope," Romans 8:20

And vanity, via Strong's Concordance, means what?

3153 ματαιότης mataiotes mat-ah-yot’-ace

from 3152; n f; TDNT-4:523,571; {See TDNT 471}

AV-vanity 3; 3

1) what is devoid of truth and appropriateness
2) perverseness, depravity
3) frailty, want of vigour

Could Bob T's PhD be devoid of truth, appropriateness, etc.? Bob T best stop boasting about his credentials before he gets a "3rd degree," but again...

Time will tell...

John

Anonymous said...

Gee John, lighten up!

Richard Head said...

In all fairness
is banned going to respond to this?

Anonymous said...

"We may disagree with Bob, but nobody has had reason to question his sincerity and integrity before."

Gavin said this in 2016? Really? All due respect to Gavin, his blog, and his memory, but this entails bending so far back to try to be generous that it requires a trip to the spine doctor afterwards.

All other frauds Bob has a history of with respect to his "health" related "businesses" notwithstanding, let's not forget that Bob left LCG and set up CCOG on December 28, 2012 upon fraudulent and patently absurd claims about his being a "true prophet," and by 2016 had already embarked upon his Elijah nonsense to boot.

Seriously, Bob was already well into his career claiming to be a guy foretold in the bible by that time, so, yeah, I don't think Bob had anything close to what most reasonable people would consider "integrity" to even still need reasons to "question" its existence by 2016.

2016 is kind of late to be starting to question an integrity that I'm not sure Bob ever even had to start with. But better late than never.

Is generosity that's dishonest really generosity, or is it just being complicit in Bob's frauds by trying to prop up his reputation? No matter how well intended, I think it's wrong to mislead people by vouching for the integrity of hucksters and frauds.

Sorry, I know Gavin did a lot of good work too, and I don't want to sully his memory, but this was not Gavin's high water mark. Gavin was still only human, of course, so, all things in perspective.

Richard Tater said...

"Dick" Head at 12:43 PM wondered about Bob's latest posting in butt-hurt response to Banned.

Notice that it took Bitter Bwana Bob fewer than 50 words to discuss his legitimate accredited degrees. It took him another 200 words to refute Gary's apparent mistake (or was it just a typo?) confusing Bob's Ph.D. and Th.D.

It then took Bob more than 1,000 more words to weasel around the circumstances of his shady diploma mill Protestant Th.D.

The volume of words alone should tell us as much as the words themselves.

Tonto said...

So Bobby Thiel went to the same school of "higher education" that also advertises stuff like ---

"Can You Draw Tippy the Turtle?"

OR

Winky the Deer, or Reggie the Raccoon, or Spunky the Donkey.??

Sounds like Thiel's TCU credits were similar, or the equivalent of a correspondence course found on a Matchbook cover.

My "TRUCK MASTERS SCHOOL OF TRUCKING" certificate is more valid for theological discussion and credibility than Thiel's IMHO!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Gee John, lighten up!
December 1, 2019 at 10:41 AM

Come on 10:41, don't be so rough on the Apostle John.

He loves to come here and diatribe and pontificate his nonsense to us lowly creatures.

Apparently, he cannot restrain himself from bloviating, even after he knows no one here can stand his schtick.

And, as he says,


"time will tell", but things over time begin to SMELL.

Hoss said...

I'm not doubting that Bob has legitimate PhD and ThD degrees. Just wondering why he affixes PhD after his name on CCOG literature and not ThD? Or both? Wouldn't one expect a religious author to use his doctorate in Theology rather than one in Science?

I don't recall any WCG minister using academic titles in their by-lines in church literature. I remember Rod Meredith, in an FOT sermon, said he didn't care if he was called Dr or Mr Meredith. A few years later, in a WN article, it was claimed Rod decided using Doctor was vain, and from then on he was to be addressed as Mr Meredith...

Anonymous said...

Hoss said... “I remember Rod Meredith, in an FOT sermon, said he didn't care if he was called Dr or Mr Meredith. A few years later, in a WN article, it was claimed Rod decided using Doctor was vain, and from then on he was to be addressed as Mr Meredith...”

So RCM basically gave his followers the choice to call him doctor or master. How about the choice to call him by his first name or brother? Did he even have qualifications to be titled Dr in the first place? And if not then he shouldn’t be called Dr. And re Mr I think our real Master had some words about using such a title among the Christian brotherhood...

Anonymous said...

well it looks like Dr. Bob has cleaned your plow in his latest post concerning his degrees.....

I have no doubt that he is an intelligent man and he has a tremendous amount of very good material on his site, but I don't believe for a minute that he's a prophet...that whole scenario was inflated if you ask me.

his writing style comes off as "high schoolish".... not at all like other PhDs I've read, but maybe he does that on purpose.

Anonymous said...

his writing style comes off as "high schoolish".... not at all like other PhDs I've read, but maybe he does that on purpose.

As many who have met Bob in person will tell you, he is dogged and determined more than he is bright. When he is cornered in a dispute, he will try to wear you down with a barrage of self-justifying words rather than with a few carefully chosen and convincing words. As the poster up-thread noted, just look at Bob's response to Gary's attack on his education. It took Bob no more than 50 words to deal with his actual accredited degrees, and another 200 words to skewer Gary for confusing his Ph.D. and Th.D. But then, Bob went on for more than 1,000 additional words trying to explain away the sketchiness of his Th.D.

If there were not something sketchy about Bob's pursuit of the degree, all he needed to write was: "Dr. Winnail approved of my idea to enhance my usefulness to Living University by earning a Th.D. from a university that made study feasible for a busy naturopath." Less than 50 words. The fact that Bob instead groans on for more than 1,000 words, winding back and forth about all sorts of trivia, tells us what we need to know, that even the Bitter Bwana himself is privately embarrassed that the whole enterprise was more than a bit of a scam, even if he is psychologically unable to admit that embarrassment to himself.

TL;DR: Bob uses words like a battering ram, not a scalpel.

Anonymous said...

Bob went on for more than 1,000 additional words...

"...for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking" [Mt 6:7 KJV]

Bob's postings are way too lengthy, often with embedded links to other articles, and end in dozens of links yet more articles. This reminds me of old WCG booklets and reprints that told you to send for other booklets and reprints which in turn told you to send for more.

DennisCDiehl said...

I don't believe anyone can question nor need to Bob's credentials for his chosen profession. It's the ministry, prophet and theologian credentials that are at question if he is going to list or claim them.

When debating Art Mokarrow a few years back in Tyler, Texas in front of the church, he brought a second person up on the stage he did not tell me about. No biggy but he was introduced as "An Oxford Trained Theologian". Hmmm, well that's not a problem either because if so he would agree more with me than the COGs as to Biblical origins and problems etc. However he began by speaking of Adam and Eve as if they were really our first parents etc which seemed odd if not incredible for an Oxford theologian. A tap on the leg and a 3x5 card came next in my lap which clarified it. "Oxford, Tennessee". The hayseed theology I was hearing now matched the source it seemed.

Credentials can be dicey when one insists on being a theologian of sorts.

Hoss said...

"Oxford, Tennessee"

According to Jed Clampett, his nephew Jethro Bodine went to school in Oxford Tennessee, but only for a few years of elementary school. As for theology, Granny said they were "Golden Rule People".

nck said...

"Oxford Tennessee"

Would they yield their opinions to a scholar from "Jerusalem" (Yates County NY)?

Nck

Anonymous said...

There was a fellow in LCG-Los Angeles who called all the elders "Mr". This was seen by the congregation as disrespectful, because of Dr. Fall, Dr. Roach, Dr. Pace, and Dr. Meredith. As far as I know, the elders themselves had no problem being called "Mr", but the membership thought it was intentionally disrespectful.

Anonymous said...

He is a scam he never attend Ambassador College!