Some considerable time has passed since I completed writing my PhD thesis. Friday night saw me formally defend it in an oral exam known as a viva voce. In its most hoped for form, ‘the viva’ is a kind of friendly inquisition which involves a richly-rewarding conversation with two (or more) very qualified examiners, both of whom are encouraging and constructive in their comments, deeply perceptive in their questions, who assess a solid piece of work fairly and without unduly pushing personal agendas, and who pass the thesis without qualification or any further editing required. Mine was just such an experience with Tom Smail and Ivor Davidson.
For those who may be interested, here’s an abstract of my essay:
‘This essay explores whether the notion of “hallowing” provides a profitable lens through which to read and evaluate the soteriology of British theologian P.T. Forsyth, and it suggests that the hallowing of God’s name is, for Forsyth, the way whereby God both justifies himself and claims creation for divine service. It proposes that reading Forsyth’s corpus as essentially an exposition of the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer is an invitation to better comprehend not only his soteriology but also, by extension, his broader theological vision and interests. Chapters One and Two are concerned with questions of methodology, and with placing Forsyth in the social context of his day, with introducing the theological landscape and grammar from which he expounds his notion of reality as fundamentally moral, and with identifying some of the key but neglected voices that inform such a vision. Chapter Three explores the principal locale wherein the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer is answered: in Jesus Christ, whose confession of holiness ‘from sin’s side’ justifies God, destroys sin and creates a new humanity. Chapter Four examines Forsyth’s moral anthropology – specifically, the self-recovery of holiness in the human conscience – and considers holiness’ shape in the life of faith. Chapter Five inquires whether Forsyth’s theology of hallowing finally requires him to embrace dogmatic universalism, and identifies what problems might attend his failure to so do and consequently threaten to undermine his soteriological program’.