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Doctor of Ministry Seminar
TH854: Marriage and Family Counseling

Course Description

This course provides a biblical overview of the unique challenges faced in marriage and family counseling focused on accurately and appropriately instructing families who are facing a variety of difficulties. Careful attention will be given to the theology of the family and to engendering heart change in family and marriage counseling. This course will focus on the biblical basis for marriage, the responsibilities of husbands, wives, and children, communication, and conflict resolution. 


Course Objectives

To complete this course successfully, students will accomplish the following objectives: 

  • Have an enriched and improved personal life and relationship with Christ.

  • To prepare students for a God-honoring marriage and family life, if that should be part of the will of God for them.

  • View all of life, including problem areas, as part of the worship process that takes place within the heart of man.

  • Understand the basic concepts and distinctive methods of biblical counseling.

  • Understand how and why biblical counseling methods differ from other types of counseling, especially in marriage and family counseling.

  • Have greater confidence in the sufficiency and superiority of Scripture for handling all the personal and interpersonal problems of life.

  • Have a practical framework for understanding the counseling process from a biblical perspective.

  • Understand why all effective counseling must focus on heart change.

Required Reading

Adams, Jay E. Solving Marriage Problems: Biblical Solutions for Christian Counselors. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1983.

Baker, Amy ed. Caring for the Souls of Children: A Biblical Counselor's Manual. Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2020. 

Brauns, Chris. Unpacking Forgiveness. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008.

Köstenberger, Andreas. God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation, 2nd ed. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2009.

Newheiser, Jim. Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage: Critical Questions and Answers. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub., 2017.

Scipione, George C. The Battle for the Biblical Family, 2nd ed. Pittsburgh, PA: Crown and Covenant Pub., 2018. 

Scott, Stuart. The Exemplary Husband. Bemidji, MN: Focus Publishing, 2002.

Tripp, Paul. Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016.

Tripp, Ted. Shepherding a Child's Heart, Rev. ed. Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press, 2005.

Wilson, Douglas. Reforming Marriage: Gospel Living for Couples, 2nd ed. Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2012.


1. Prepare a three-page evaluation on any three of the books in the required reading list. This evaluation should include points of agreement with the author, points of disagreement, and an overall evaluation. 

2. Read and prepare a five-page critical review of Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts (Chicago, IL: Northfield Pub., 2010). This review should summarize the author’s viewpoint and then evaluate the author’s arguments from a biblical perspective (including Scripture). What are the strengths and weaknesses of the book? 

3. Prepare a fifteen-page seminar paper on a topic relating to marriage and/or family issues you are currently addressing in your own ministry context.  Define the topic, identify the key elements involved, and address the appropriate Scriptures, highlighting their meaning and application to the Christian today with special emphasis (1/4 of the paper) on how to apply these principles in the counseling of individuals, married couples or families (as appropriate) within the church.  Include footnotes and a bibliography. 

4. Prepare a position paper on divorce and remarriage in which you briefly define the issue, identify the key argument(s) of each opposing position, state your position clearly (2-3 pages), and defend it using Scripture. Include footnotes and bibliography. Make sure that you state and defend a position clearly. While this may be a position you are not entirely sure of or may change in the future, you need to know where you stand now and be able to articulate it effectively. Good argumentation requires that you deal with the strongest argument(s) of the other positions, do not create straw men in order to make your position look stronger. There are good, biblical people that hold a variety of positions here.

5. Complete half of the ACBC theology exam required for ACBC certification. 

6. Prepare a twenty-minute audio or video presentation in which you present your seminar paper. Be sure to make this presentation accessible to your professor. 

Assignment Grading Weight

Reading 20%

Seminar Paper 20%

Seminar Presentation 10%

Position Paper 15%

Book Evaluations 10%

Critical Book Review 10%

ACBC Theology Exam 15%

* In accordance with FTS policy, students must receive a grade of "B" or higher to pass this course. 

Submission of Assignments

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