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Guidelines for Dissertation Preparation

Doctoral Dissertation (8-15 credits – $100 per credit)

This is required for Doctor of Divinity (D.Div.), Doctor of Christian Philosophy (D.C.Phil.) and Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) degrees, and optional for other doctoral degrees. Length: 100-200 pages typed and single-spaced (maximum 12-point font).

General Guidelines

Make your dissertation true to life, relevant, practical, meaningful and anointed by the Holy Spirit. Follow the leading of God in your heart.

In what area does God want to grant you revelatory insight? How does He want it organized? This dissertation is about your personal growth and maturity in God in a specific area in which He is calling you to develop.

First Timothy 1:5 declares that the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. These are the same heart attitudes which give us access to the throne of God (Heb. 10:22). Clearly, God’s goal for learning (and therefore, CLU’s) is that we be molded into those people who have free access into God’s presence, where we then receive all things from our Almighty Father. All other goals seem as straw when compared with this. We echo the founders of Harvard, who stated: “Let every scholar be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life, John 17:3, ‘therefore, [we] lay Christ at the bottom as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning….’”

Learning Process

As you develop your dissertation, utilize all six pillars of the “Leader’s Paradigm for Discovering Truth” as building blocks for the discovery process. Describe in detail how you have used all six pillars, and how each has contributed to your ultimate findings and revelations from Almighty God. (The Leader’s Paradigm is further discussed in Dr. Mark Virkler’s book, Wading Deeper Into the River of God.)

Presentation Form

Present the dissertation in a form that ministers maximum spiritual life to the reader. God did this with His Word, and His approach cannot be improved upon. The Bible follows the Hebrew method of teaching and learning, which is mainly with narrative. The Greek (and western) approach is more commonly systematic, although innovative educators are changing that. Life itself is narrative, not systematic. The best-selling books with the most powerful impact are usually narrative rather than systematic. Discoveries generally come from the events of life, as chance ideas and accidental experiences, rather than as the result of a systematic approach. Even the scientific method, the grandfather of all “systems,” is not the way new discoveries are usually made.

Consider the reflections of Albert Einstein concerning how he arrived at his great discoveries. 

  • “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
  • “I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.”
  • “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
  • “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
  • “I want to know God’s thoughts. The rest are details.”
  • It is interesting to note that Albert Einstein came up with the theory of relativity by using the same four keys to hearing God’s voice that Habakkuk and John used (Hab. 2:1,2; Rev. 1:9-11 – stillness, vision, spontaneity and journaling). Einstein was lying on his back on a grassy slope (stillness), gazing through half-closed eyelids, wondering what it would be like to ride on a ray of sunlight (vision), and intuitively the theory of relativity came to him (spontaneity). He went back to his office to prove it with mathematical formulas (journaling). Check out this Albert Einstein website.

So the “narrative” approach is the approach of life, of the discovery process, and of the most powerful communication. It is recommended you use it in the final version of your dissertation. Tell the story of how God has intersected your life, led you through the discovery process and brought you to new revelation truths. Tell it in a way that captures the heart of the reader. Then your revelation, as unfolded in your dissertation, can be powerfully passed on and have a significant impact upon the world.

A book that introduces the concept of narrative theology is Theology and Narrative: A Critical Introduction by Michael Goldberg (Abingdon). An example of presenting a revelation in narrative form is the above-mentioned book, Wading Deeper Into the River of God.


Specific Steps for Dissertation Development

    1. Seek God diligently about what area He wants to instruct you in. State it clearly as your Dissertation Objective.
    2. Delineate details of the discovery steps and resources you will utilize for arriving at this objective. The discovery process must include the “Leader’s Paradigm”. Tell what you will do to fulfill the requirements of each of the six pillars.
    3. Submit the above (1 & 2) to your dissertation coordinator for his input, suggestions and confirmation before you continue.
    4. Complete the discovery process as agreed upon with your dissertation coordinator. If you get stuck or need input, communicate with your dissertation coordinator.
    5. Once your discovery process is complete, submit in outline form a brief overview of the results with your dissertation coordinator for his evaluation and input.
    6. Incorporate his suggestions.
    7. Write your dissertation and submit it to your dissertation coordinator.

Dissertations by other CLU students are available for free downloading here.