Facing Legal Proceedings, Paul Charles Works to Clear His Name

Paul Charles, who for several months has been denying charges of fraud concerning his academic qualifications (earned degrees), has reported to his superiors that he has completed a Bachelor of Theology degree from the South African Theological Seminary (SATS) in less than six months. According to the seminary, which provides degrees exclusively online, the BTh program normally takes anywhere from three to seven years to complete. Charles serves as Director of Communication and Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division of Seventh-day Adventists (SID).

In a letter to SID President Solomon Maphosa, Charles credited divine blessing for his ability to complete his BTh degree in less than six months while serving as director of several departments and traveling for speaking engagements and meetings:

Dear Pastor Maphosa (SID EXCOM Chairperson)

Greetings in Jesus’ name.

Please receive the attached official letter from the South African Theological Seminary which confirms that I have completed ALL requirements for my BTh. degree and will graduate at their next graduation date.

The question was raised before (with reference to me) as to how a person could complete their qualifications in a such a short space of time? I believe that the fact that I completed ALL the requirements for this Accredited BTh in less than 6 months (through the grace of God) instead of 1 year (as I asserted) or two years (as others thought) should provide proof in favour of my integrity that I can support what I claim. I want to humbly state again that my others degrees are not illegal and I have not done any illegal or unethical acts to acquire them.

Please note that I state the above, not as a matter of pride or arrogance, but as relief that there is tangible, verifiable, current evidence about the gift of learning that God has blessed me with and that while others may not believe that a person can do two years work in less than 6 months or acquire a Masters degree in one year or PhD degree in less than 3 years - it is possible! What is impossible with man is possible with God.

To view the Accreditation status of the Institution, please visit: www.sats.edu.za

At this point I wish to place on record that I have, by God’s grace served His church faithfully for the past 16 years (in full time employment) and having preached the gospel and the three angels’ message, in the Adventist church, for the past 29 years, since the age of 14 - my faith in the church is unshaken. I believe that this is God’s church and we will be triumphant, in the strength of Christ, our Supreme leader. I wish to now concentrate ALL my energies and gifts in the work of Lord, and hopefully, without hindrance or attempts to negate, nullify, or belittle my calling.

God bless, Maranatha.

Paul Charles

A letter from SATS dated 21 October, 2016, states that “Dr Paul Charles...has completed all requirements for the Bachelor of Theology (360 credits). Dr Charles’ degree will be issued in April 2017.” The statement was signed by SATS registrar Mrs. Jane Meyer.

The SATS Bachelor of Theology program requires 360 credit hours for completion (30 courses of 12 credits each). SATS allows the transfer of credits from accredited and non-accredited institutions for a fee, and also provides “credits for life experience.” Charles would likely be able to transfer some credits for his brief time of study at what is now Spicer Adventist University and for his life experience as an administrator in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

An informational video linked from the SATS FAQ page provides timeframes for completing the BTh degree. The video states that the University of South Africa expects its students to take at least five courses a year. At that rate of study, students enrolled in the SATS BTh program should expect to receive their academic qualification (degree) in six years. A student studying at a full-time rate of ten courses a year could expect to complete a BTh in three years, the video says.

Paul Charles did not respond to request for comment on the specifics of his BTh coursework completion.

Longstanding Allegations of Academic Fraud
For many years, Charles has presented himself as the holder of a master’s degree and two doctoral degrees with a third doctorate in progress. However, after scrutiny from church members and media reports exposing the extraordinary nature of his claims and questioning the legitimacy of the qualifications, division leaders eventually required that Charles complete his bachelor’s degree and stop presenting himself as the holder of doctoral degrees.

During the SID mid-year executive committee meeting from May 13-17, 2016, an investigative committee was constituted to look into Paul Charles’ academic qualifications. The committee included SID executive committee members and independent legal investigators. The committee was given three months to investigate and bring recommendations back to the SID executive committee. The same was done for Division President Paul Ratsara, who was also accused of presenting a fraudulent doctoral qualification.

(SID initially responded to media reports that two leaders of the Adventist Church were being investigated for academic fraud with a strongly-worded defense of Charles and Ratsara, published on the SID website.)

An Emergency Meeting and Reversal
A change of course came at a hastily-convened “SID Extraordinary Executive Committee Meeting” held on May 24, a week after the regularly-scheduled executive committee meeting had finished. The emergency meeting was called by General Conference President Ted N. C. Wilson, and the agenda was addressing the findings of the committees that investigated Charles and Ratsara’s academic qualifications. Elder Wilson had been conducting a Total Member Involvement evangelistic series in Rwanda, which he left to convene the emergency SID meeting.

According to meeting minutes obtained by Spectrum, after a devotional by Elder Wilson, votes were taken to “to rescind the EXCOM Action (Action # 16-040 – Allegations on Paul Charles’s Qualifications)” and “to express the EXCOM’s displeasure to Paul Ratsara for the manner in which he acquired his ThD qualification.”

Executive Committee members in attendance have reported that a motion to call for Ratsara’s resignation was put forward during the meeting, then rescinded, and that Charles was instructed to complete his bachelor’s degree. Neither action showed up in the meeting minutes. Ratsara attempted to offer his resignation at the end of the meeting, but was told by Wilson to sleep on it and pray about it. Wilson purportedly said that the GC might not accept his resignation. One week later on May 31, Ratsara tendered his official resignation, which was accepted by the General Conference.

All statements pertaining to Paul Charles and Paul Ratsara’s academic qualifications have been removed from the SID website where they were initially released. The report on the Adventist News Network website of Paul Ratsara’s resignation has also been removed from that website.

Despite Paul Charles’ being required to complete his bachelor’s degree and stop presenting himself as holder of doctoral qualifications, in speaking appointments as recently as this month, he continues to be introduced as “Dr. Charles.” The letter from the SATS registrar also calls him “Dr. Paul Charles."

Revocation of Paul Charles’ Ordination
Pressure to deal with what many characterize as Paul Charles’ defiant dishonesty has also come from the Southern Africa Union Conference (SAU), where Paul Charles worked prior to his appointment to the division office, and where he was ordained in 2004.

The union created an ad-hoc committee to look into the matter of Paul Charles’ moral and ethical conduct because many union leaders perceived that Paul Charles gained employment and ordination based on deceit. After the union committee escalated its investigation to the SID for information-gathering purposes, union leaders placed the issue of Charles’ ordination on the agenda for a special SID Executive Committee meeting called to appoint a new division president after Paul Ratsara resigned. The June 21 meeting was chaired by Ted Wilson.

During that special SID Executive Committee meeting, Wilson quashed discussion of Paul Charles’ ordination and its revocation, according to sources in attendance. Wilson asserted that “ordination is in the hands of whoever currently manages the person’s credentials.” Because Charles was employed by the division, Wilson contended that the union, which ordained Charles, did not have the ability to revoke Charles’ ordination.

SAU leaders took the question of revoking an ordination to General Conference legal counsel in order to determine whether Elder Wilson was correct in his assertion that the union lacked jurisdiction concerning Paul Charles’ ordination.

A letter of response from General Conference legal counsel dated 27 June, 2016 pointed to General Conference Working Policy section L60 25, which dictates that credentials pertain to the organization that employs a worker, but ordination pertains to the entity that carried out the ordination. While only SID could nullify the credentials Charles currently holds, his ordination can be revoked by the union that ordained him, according to Working Policy.

Spectrum’s requests for comment from the office of the General Conference president have gone unanswered, as have requests for comment from the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division.

In early September, the union subcommittee that investigated Paul Charles’ conduct issued a report to the union administrative committee, which in turn approved a recommendation to the union executive committee: that the decision to ordain Paul Charles in 2004 be rescinded based on the fact that his ordination by the Southern Africa Union Conference was premised on fraud, deception and lies. Union leaders have reported significant pressure from leaders of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division not to take such an action. The union executive committee meets in two weeks for year-end meetings and is slated to vote on the recommendation from the administrative committee then.

Meanwhile, Paul Charles has used social media to hit back at those who have raised questions about his honesty and integrity. On July 19 Charles posted the following on Facebook along with a screenshot of the dictionary definition for “Kangaroo Court”:

Through the death of Christ - you hold a divine credential to heaven. No accusation of satan to diminish that credential is ever entertained without our advocate Christ defending us. Thank God that Christ is our Defender!

The next day, he posted an image with the text: “All the forces of darkness cannot stop what God has ordained. Isaiah 14:27”

Legal Proceedings Against Paul Charles
Lay members within SID have sent numerous requests to leaders of the division and of the General Conference for intervention. However, the many calls for accountability have been met with silence most of the time, and hostility at other times.

In the face of intransigence at the division and General Conference levels, some lay members have sought the interposition of civil authorities.

South African law makes academic fraud a criminal offense.

Dr. Shaheeda Essack, Director of Private Higher Education Institutions for the South African Department of Higher Education & Training, wrote a letter to church members in April 2016 addressing Paul Charles’ supposed doctorate from Freedom Institute (a degree-mill in India with no physical address). Dr. Essack noted that the South African government would not recognize the qualification, and anyone purporting to hold a fake doctoral qualification would be in violation of section 66(2) of the Higher Education Act (1997), which states:

Any person who pretends that a qualification has been awarded to him or her by a higher education institution, whereas in fact no such qualification has been so awarded, is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to a sentence which may be imposed for fraud.”

Charles is now under investigation by the South African Department of Higher Education and the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa for charges including “educational fraud, fraudulent utterances and one count of fraud for each month PQA was paid to Mr Charles amongst others for the last 16 years.”

General Conference legal counsel has been notified of the proceedings.

Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7713
1 Like

What remains a mystery is why Dr Maphosa, the new SID president who served under Pastor Ratsara and witnessed the latter’s dramatic fall from grace, still insists on shielding Mr Paul Charles! Could it be that President Maphosa himself has skeletons under the closet that Mr Charles knows about? Only time will tell and some of us hope that the truth comes out soon. Perhaps the ongoing investigation at UNISA about how Pastor Paul Ratsara obtained his PhD will reveal insights about the Charles-Maphosa toxic relationship. Who told these men of God that they needed PhDs (by hook or crook) to serve the church? Why has President Wilson acted in such irrational manner to protect Charles and Maphosa? Could it be the political support they give the GC in this part of the world to maintain the anti-women ordination position that Ted Wilson is so married to? The truth will emerge with time.


Is this South African Theological Seminary a “Degree Mill”?
It certainly sounds fishy to me.
If we will recall, it was Paul who sued the Church for discrimination toward him and FORCED the Church to hire him as a Pastor. And it did so based on those fraudulent degrees he was said to have earned.
Does Paul Charles have some Psychopathological, Sociopathological problems???
It also sounds like there are a whole LOT of Hidden problems in that Division that are being covered up all the way through the President of the GC and the Staff there.
And what is WORSE!! NOBODY seems to care!!

In the Michigan and Ohio Conference. We had that “Evangelist” who raped that woman in another Division. Came to America. Was RE-Baptized in Ohio. And is now on the Circuit again. Was NEVER De-frocked. All this is ACCEPTABLE behavior by our Church Administrations through our Conferences, Unions, Divisions, Silver Springs.
The Seventh day Adventist Church certainly has a LOT going on that could be talked about by Late-Night TV programs, SNL, and the grocery check-out tabloids.

Lisa – Paul’s behavior is certainly Irresponsible. It is certainly Irrational.
He certainly has NOT learned to live a very effective life in finding ways to fulfill his “needs”!!!
The continuing of demonstrating IRRESPONSIBLE BEHAVIOR is certainly JUST CAUSE to take away his Ordination and Pastoral Certificates. At least for the time being.
I was NOT citing a DSM–9. I WAS CITING A DYSFUNCTIONAL PERSON, who was demonstrating Irresponsible Behavior Patterns of Major Magnitude.
And, the very sad part about it, is that he is well aware that no body anywhere cares that he IS dysfunctional.


It’s very sad to see that our leaders only want to obey “some” policies, whichever are convenient and whichever they think will “unite” us. As you can see from this story, the ordination is in hands of unions. It has always been and it will always will be. That’s why we have the legal council @GC. They can explain the policies, not elder Wilson. Same goes for ordaining women as pastors. Since there was never a voted policy that women cannot be ordained, the vote at San Antonio didn’t change anything. Divisions (part of GC) cannot do it, because it’s not in their hands, it’s in the hands of unions. So it’s very said to see GC overstepping their power in unions. If anybody is confused about that, I would recommend to look in Adventist history and see why unions were established and what Ellen White has to say about that. But as we know, our president likes to quote sister (woman) White only on some issues, whichever are convenient to his politics.


“The Seventh day Adventist Church certainly has a LOT going on that could be talked about by Late-Night TV programs, SNL, and the grocery check-out tabloids.” And we’re crowing about the attention the movie Hacksaw Ridge will bring us. I hope we’re ready for it, because we won’t be able to “manage” it.


Thank you, SPECTRUM for another piece of investigative journalism that apparently is needed more than ever.

I am especially concerned about the “disappearance” of publications and statements on the issue, the “limitation” of minutes of proceedings to whatever seems “acceptable” to the powers to be. While it is fair for the church to protect its employees claims of fraud need to be investigated thoroughly and - by the very claim - transparently. This is definitely NOT the case here.

Furthermore the wrong policy information by TW is an embarrassment. He should have known better. He probably did. He obviously wanted to avoid a scandal - producing the far bigger one in the process. In internet times cover-ups have become a little more tricky. Perhaps someone should tell the president’s office.

Last but not least … from all universities I know, granting degrees requires a certain amount of studies at the institution, usually no less than 50%. A full time BTh - assuming it’s a three year degree - would thus require 1.5 years of full time study for a degree confered by that institution. It was my understanding that Charles studies “part time”. That’s probably why he only needed 6 months. :wink: Logic!

Oh - and of course - there will be very few pastors world wide -if any- who work at Division level without ANY degrees from an Adventist institution. Adventist theology? Well… we don’t want that anyway these days, it seems.


Thanks, Spectrum, for another thorough and enlightening report on this situation. I don’t think I need to weigh in with anything other than an expression of sadness/disappointment.



I wonder how many more “assertions” and “contentions” have our beloved GC president used as a foundation to formulate church policies and opinions during his term in office? Reminds me of that great hymn “Lead on, O King Eternal.”


The right of kings to reject policy when it suits him; or to enforce a policy as he wishes. As long as the people praise and accept the king’s decisions, the king wins. Who is well-known in in Adventist employment to “bell the cat” and defy the king?


Does Paul Charles have some Psychopathological, Sociopathological problems???

The media has recently reported on the American Psychiatric Association’s controversial
Goldwater rule which proscribes public comment on the mental health of public figures, particularly if they have not examined them. Example: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/16/health/analyzing-donald-trump-psychology.html

While the APA rule does not apply to the general public, I think we can provide a more accurate and damning critique by steering clear of such diagnoses. Not only do such diagnoses continue to stigmatize mental illness, they also provide an “excuse”, or a way out for behaviour that is simply unacceptable for ordinary healthy people (Although one would expect more rational behaviour even from somebody who suffers from some of these conditions!). Reverting to such diagnoses also opens us up to charges of ad hominum criticism. Our criticism is almost certainly stronger if we just say that it is plainly unacceptable and irrational and it needs to stop, or the church needs to be protected from it.

(Thinking out loud)


How ironic that a church that wants to add a new fundamental belief about education, FB29, balks at dealing with Charles’s fraudulent degrees and continues to protect him, a “church leader” who may be committing criminal fraud with his false claims of nearly 3 PhD’s much less a now-questioned bachelor’s degree.


Just say recent does not mean 6000 years as see what happens. TZ


The simple answer to this question is that you can’t. It is incredible that Mr. Charles thinks he is fooling anyone with this purported degree. It isn’t worth the paper it is printed on.


Several weeks ago, an African academic who has served in two of the African Divisions of the denomination responded to my inquiry about Paul Charles

“Paul Charles, a fraudster of the highest level, I don’t know why the church is still holding on to him. It has been proved he is fake. Many people have concluded that the guy might be harbouring big people’s secrets! Haha haha. But they have set a very bad precedent. I don’t know and I don’t understand.”

My friend continued the commentary about Paul Ratsara.

“Ratsara, it is clear, plagiarised. That is a crime… [and] not clever!.. The other thing is that the GC president did not help the situation by taking sides before digging deeper. As a result he has lost respect from some of us in Africa.”


Unfortunately for him, he plagiarized a hundred and fifty years too late.:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


For some reason unbeknown to me, Ted Wilson keeps trying to cover up for individuals who have broken the Chutch’s trust by acting literally criminally according to the civil laws of the territory where they live.

All this AcademicGate, or PhDGate, or MastersGate, or BachelorGate - WOW! You name it - is nothing but a fiasco perpetuated by a TW administration that, for unknown reasons, couldn’t care less. So “strict” on women aspiring the ministry and so lax on men who are an embarrassment to the Church. Go figure!

It is also mind boggling that Ted Wilson would make a statement the his own legal counsel would clearly contradict.

And the worst is still to come, since there is the need to again replace the recently elected SID President because of the same PhDGate scandal. It appears that soon the newspapers in Africa will publish proof (emails) showing that Mr. Map host knew about it all way before being chosen for the position early on this year.

Geeeesh, what is happening to my Church?
This administration “is a disaster, believe me, believe me!”

The hypocrisy running rampant in our Church is just disgusting and totally unacceptable. The attempts to cover up academic crimes is inexplicable and unjustifiable. Those doing such obnoxious things should be immediately fired no matter how “sanctified” they believe they are!!!

@harrpa @Clint @elmer_cupino @ageis711Oxyain @hopeful

PS - This issue needs/deserves a deep discussion. Since this is prohibited to discuss it here, those interested in continuing the interaction please go to the LONGgate.


It is quiet clear that it is impossible to have done in less than six months what would take at least two years to do. Something is either very wrong with the claim or unbelievably and amazingly right. Paul Charles is either a genius or the biggest con ever. One thing will happen - this will make the esteemed brethren very e-steamed, I bet. And how can the Union sentence a man without a fair trial and SID keep quiet?. Maybe the SID asked the union officers to do what they cannot do.

If Paul Charles really did in six months what would take 2 years to do (and the letter from SATS confirms it) then he is a rare breed and a valuable asset.


In case some are wondering why it is important that this issue be resolved, here is why. This whole issue has to do with ethical conduct/behaviour and honesty on the part of all believers, including leaders. This has nothing to do with whether Paul Charles has a degree or not. We have many pastors in the world church who have no university degrees. The problem is the false claims to have qualifications. In 1995 to1997: Paul Charles registered for a Bachelor’s degree at Spicer College in India. He never completed his studies. In 2000, he produced a Masters and Doctoral degree in Theology from the “Freedom Insitute of Theological Research” in India. His MDiv degree indicated that he completed it in December 1997 and he had done 5 courses in year 1 and another 5 courses in year 2 of his Masters studies. If he completed in Dec 1997, that means his first year was 1995/1996 and second year 1996/1997. That was exactly the time he as supposed to be doing a Bachelor’s degree at Spicer. How did he get access to “Freedom Institute” without a Bachelor’s degree? How did he do both under- and postgrad studies at the same time? He then came to the SAU (KZNFS) in 2000 and claims to have these advanced degrees and “demands” a job as a pastor. It is unfortunate that the SAU did not verify his degrees then. If they had done, they would not have been blackmailed (under threat) to employ him. Around 2011 he claims to have a second PhD and goes around preaching that he has 2 PhD degrees. And now, he “has” a BTh after only 6 months of study. The BTh degree studies require one to do 30 courses and if one does it fulltime it would take 3 years. This is the crux of the matter. It has nothing to do with having a degree from an unaccredited university. The fact that he “registered and did a MDiv without a Bachelor’s degree and at the same time he was supposed to be doing a Bachelor’s degree” makes all these activities fraudulent. The story of Paul Charles and his academic degrees makes him unsuitable to serve in the capacity he does. By the way, there is documentary evidence and proof to all this. I rest my case.


A bachelor degree in 6 months? The man is a genius!


Adventist Troublemaker
1.Mr Charles sounds like a con man. In his own defense he comes up with yet another degree in 6 months. Two doctorates before a Bachelors. How absurd. His mental health has been questioned by a Spectrum poster. What is clear is that Mr Charles is a ‘troubled’ man CAUSING A LOT OF TROUBLE.

2.What I find confusing is that no one in South Africa can come up with a good reason as to why this is being allowed to happen. Surely somebody has to know what the real story is. Someone must know someone who knows why fraud and deceit is being tolerated by Solomon Maphosa and Ted Wilson. Both leaders are exposing the Church to ridicule. WHY is this being allowed to happen?

3.If Mr Charles is not blackmailing the Church what other possible reason would Church leaders have to collude in this outrageous behavior. I cannot believe nobody knows. Best Wishes, Edgar