Doctor of Ministry

Year Approved


First Advisor

Mateer, Josh


In the New Testament, there are several passages that illustrate the way in which Christians are to interact with each other. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-26, Romans 12:3-5, and Ephesians 4:4-5 the apostle Paul describes the connection Christians have with one another as being like a body. Through Jesus Christ, Christians are all connected in this body, the body of Christ. The apostle Paul writes, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Cor. 12:26). Between 1950 and 1960, Murray Bowen began to develop an integrative theory of the family which he called “family systems theory” (FST). FST describes the family as one emotional unit rather than a collection of autonomous people. The theory describes humans as living in relationships with emotional connections and these connections pass the anxiety of family members to each member of the family system along interconnected pathways. This idea was a departure from the linear causation theories espoused at the time Bowen proposed his theory. Bowen described anxiety—defined in this project as a reaction to a threat that is real or imagined—as existing in two foundational forms, chronic and acute. Chronic anxiety can be passed through family generations and often shows up in recurring generational patterns and similarities. Although family systems theory was developed based on the assumption that humans are a product of evolution, this project has shown the connection between FST and biblical doctrines and theology. This project has shown that FST can be a valuable tool for Pastors and parents as they observe their congregation or family’s emotional reactivity. It has also shown that through a better understanding of the doctrine of sanctification and the body of Christ, they will improve their own family’s emotional connections and bring about a healthier family system.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

Document Type

Doctoral thesis