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Publication Date

Winter 2-2019


This study explores the spiritual transformation of anger as a starting point for personal and ecclesiastical renewal and reconciliation. Dr. Dallas Willard writes, “To cut the root of anger is to wither the tree of human evil.” This is an extraordinary claim which suggests anger is a primary human sin, and a catalyst for many other sins and social problems. The implications of anger reach deep into one’s personal life and relationships and threaten the unity and witness of the Church. The transcendent problem of anger, according to Willard, is why Jesus addresses it before lust, divorce, retaliation, and loving enemies in the Sermon on the Mount. The transformation of anger has profound implications for individuals, relationships, the Church, and the culture.

The first section of this thesis examines the epidemic of anger in the culture and in the Church. Getting one’s way, and what one wants, is considered an inalienable right in today’s culture. Defensiveness, unforgiveness, road rage, political antagonism, and old-fashioned fist fights are manifestations of the growing problem of anger. Faith in God, devotion to Jesus, and participation in a local church, often make little difference in how anger is used to advance personal agendas. The Church has a prime opportunity to pursue its missional calling through the ministry of reconciliation with a commitment to gentleness and civility. The Church, however, is too often defined by the opponents it angrily fights.

The second section of this thesis explores various perspectives on anger including those of philosophers, psychologists, and theologians. In addition, a practical theology of anger is developed based on various biblical narratives and teachings. Jesus’ unique role in God’s revelation provides the ultimate means for evaluating anger. Given the volatility of the current culture, the defense of “righteous anger” is challenged throughout this dissertation.

The last section of this thesis explores various individual and communal disciplines and practices for transforming anger. Authentic change requires intentional effort in cooperation with the work of God’s Spirit. The hope in this final section is to provide realistic means to personally and ecclesiastically transform anger into gentleness and grace.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Gary Black Jr.

Document Type





Anger, Transformation, Spiritual formation, Dallas Willard, Disciplines, Practices


Christianity | Practical Theology | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


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