The Viva is Over … The PhD has been Awarded!

On Tuesday this week I was in Lampeter at the University of Wales Trinity St David. I was there to have my viva where I had to defend my dissertation “Reformed Thought and the Free Offer of the Gospel: With Special Reference to  The Westminster Confession of Faith and James Durham (1622-1658)”.  The outcome was the award of the PhD with no changes to the dissertation other than the  correction of typos- the end of 6 years hard study and writing! Soli Deo gloria!

The viva itself was a good experience.  I had been well prepared by my supervisor (Dr. Gwyn Davies) but he constantly emphasized you can never tell where the challenges are going to come from! In the event questions focused on:

  • How did the 17th C Reformed theologians make the case that a well meant gospel offer was consistent with a particularist soteriology?
  • Did they really in practice preach a well-meant gospel offer?
  • Why did I chose the three later controversies over the free offer that I did as evidence of “ongoing” disputes over the free offer? (I looked at the Marrow Controversy, the credal revision controversy in America leading up to the 1903 revisions to the Westminster Confession and the disputes over the “three points of common grace” in the Christian Reformed Church.)
  • Was James Durham’s theology sufficiently Trinitarian? Was it as Trinitarian as I claimed?
  • Had I given enough time to, and treated fairly enough, those who deny the Reformed tradition has held to a well-meant gospel offer?
  • What are the implications of a well-meant gospel offer for the doctrine of God?

But overall the conclusion of the viva was that the dissertation made its case in a convincing manner and was therefore passed. The external examiner was Rev. Professor Andrew McGowan and the internal examiner was Professor Densil Morgan. Thanks are due to both men for their challenges to, and engagement with the dissertation, but most especially to Professor McGowan as the expert in the area.

Well, now that the PhD is over … I have some articles I can finally get round to writing 🙂

12 Responses to “The Viva is Over … The PhD has been Awarded!”

  1. gospelcentral Says:

    Hey Donald John,

    That’s wonderful news brother! Congratulations indeed. Hope you’re well.


    • Donald John MacLean Says:

      Hi Marty

      Great to hear from you! Yes, we are all doing well thanks.

      Hope you are also doing well. It was great to hear of your own successful completion of your PhD last year! Can we look forward to publication of the thesis? I’m looking forward to reading it!


      • Marty Says:

        Hey DJ,

        Yes, I’m having a think about publication at the moment. I’ll let you know more as things unfold.

        How about you? Any thoughts of publication? I can’t wait to read it.



  2. drs. A.J.T. Ruis Says:

    Hello Donald John,

    Congratulations! Is your thesis to be published / available? I am really interested in it!

    Kind regards,

    drs. A.J.T. Ruis, Damwoude, Netherlands

    • Donald John MacLean Says:


      Thanks for your interest! Yes, hopefully the dissertation will be published. I have one potential option but am exploring others as well before settling on what to do.

      Are you doing doctoral studies at the moment yourself?


  3. Tony Says:

    Congratulations, Donald! Like Marty and others, I would certainly like to read it as soon as possible! 🙂

  4. Donald John MacLean Says:

    Hi Marty and Tony

    Yes – hopefully publication will follow. I have one option but would like to consider a couple of other publishers before finally committing!

    The internal and external readers made some helpful suggestions so there are a few things I’d like to tighten up prior to publication.


  5. Mark Jones Says:

    Congrats. Good work, Dr. Donald John MacLean.

  6. Donald John MacLean Says:

    Thanks Mark! Looking forward to your book of antinomianism .- it is much needed.

  7. reformedcovenanter Says:

    Congratulations; look forward to seeing the monograph!



  8. R. Scott Clark Says:

    Congratulations! Look forward to reading the thesis in publication.

  9. Donald John MacLean Says:

    Thanks Dr Clark. And thank you for continuing to articulate the historic Reformed doctrine of the free offer!

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