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Spirituality, Bowen … and God: Bowen Theory in Dialogue with Tillich’s Theology


Murray Bowen and Paul Tillich were great systematic thinkers of the 20th century. Both utilized cultural reidentification through the use of language to redefine their disciplines, mental health and theology respectively. Bowen Theory examines human to human relationships while Tillich’s theology extends the human experience towards the human and divine relationship. Both men recognized their systems could be modified or extended. Bowen suggested that factual data from the emotional system or differentiation of self might modify or extend Bowen Theory. This paper explores the similarities of Bowen Theory’s differentiation of self and the existential possibilities found within the theology of Paul Tillich. This introductory work begins a dialogue for future research extending understandings of Bowen Theory, science, spirituality, and theology towards a more unified concept of humanity. Bill presented this paper in 2006 at the Center for Family Consultation.