Episode 21: Long Lost Friends: Faith & Human Development | James W. Fowler's Stages of Faith
How does our view of God & His love for us change as we grow from childhood into adulthood? Looking at how our faith develops over the span of human development, using James W. Fowler's Stages of Faith. We talk a lot of attachment theory, and how we have frozen in different developmental stages in a few ways.
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A Chart comparing Fowler's Stages of Faith with M. Scott Peck (see ep 15-18 of the Desire Line)
Information on this episode was taken from this article by Rose Anne Karesh (Thank you, Rose Anne!):
From the article:
James Fowler's Stages of Faith
(3 to 7 years ) Intuitive–Projective stage in which children are beginning to be able to use symbols and their imaginations. However children in this stage are very self-focused and inclined to take very literally (and self-referentially) ideas about evil, the devil or other negative aspects of religion. The ability to sort out reality from fantasy is not well developed.
(6-12 years, school age) Mythic–Literal stage in which information is organized into stories. These stories, along with moral rules, are understood literally and concretely. There is little ability to step back from the story and formulate an overarching meaning. Justice and fairness are seen as reciprocal. A few people remain in this stage throughout their lives.
(adolescence to early adulthood, some people remain permanently in this stage) Synthetic–Conventional stage in which people believe without having critically examined their beliefs. Their beliefs are in what they have been taught and in what they see “everyone else” as believing too. There is a strong sense of identity with the group. People in this stage are not very open to questions because questions are frightening at this point of development. People in this stage place a large amount of trust in external authority figures and tend not to recognize that they are within a belief system “box” as their beliefs are internalized but have not been examined.
(the earlier in adulthood the easier on the person) Individuative-Reflective stage in which a person begins to recognize they are in a “box” and look outside it. People in this stage ask questions and see the contradictions or problems in their beliefs. This can be a very painful stage as old ideas are now modified and sometimes rejected altogether. Some people give up on faith altogether at this point but faith can be strengthened in this stage as beliefs become explicitly, personally held. There is a strong reliance on the logic, rational mind and the self.
(usually not before mid-life) Conjunctive stage in which a person who has gone through the deconstruction of the Individuative-Reflective stage begins to let go of some of the reliance on their own rational mind and recognize that some experiences are not logical or easily understood at all. The move here is from either/or to both/and; complexity and paradox are embraced. People in this stage are more willing to dialogue with people of other faiths, seeking further information and correction to their own beliefs, and are able to do this without letting go of their own faith.
Universalizing stage. Very few people reach this stage, which is characterized by seeing all of humanity as one brotherhood and taking profound, self-sacrificing action to care for all humanity because of this view.