- structural-developmental model of faith proposed by James W. Fowler
- Developmental Psychology: Transcendental Method
- Faith is a developmental process
- we can distinguish faith from religion ---- Faith understood generically as a human universal includes, but is not limited to or identical with, religion. One can have faith that is not religious faith. Common examples include communism and what some fundamentalists call “secular humanism.” Fowler, J. W. (1991). Stages in faith consciousness
- belief and faith are not the same, Belief is one of the important ways of expressing and communicating faith. Faith is deeper than belief. Ideally, our beliefs are congruent with and expressive of our faith. But faith is deeper and involves unconscious motivations as well as those that we are conscious of in our beliefs and in our action. Fowler, J. W. (1991). Stages in faith consciousness
- Faith is a way of knowing
- "Faith" is distinguished from both belief and religion and is broadly defined as the "quest for meaning."
- faith as a generic feature of human lives--as a universal quality of human meaning making; Fowler, J. W. (1991). Stages in faith consciousness
- faith as relational, convictional, and epistemological. That is, faith is a way of being, of doing, and of knowing. As relational, faith is a triadic pattern between self, others, and shared centers of value and power. As convictional, faith is the person's manner of aligning will, loyalty, and trust. As epistemological, faith is an imaginative, comprehensive knowledge of the ultimates of existence. Thus, the person's relationships, loyalties, and metaphors form life images which Fowler defines as faith.
- Faith is People's evolved and evolving ways of experiencing self, others, and world (as they construct them) as related to and affected by the ultimate conditions of existence (as they construct them) and of shaping their lives' purposes and meanings, trusts and loyalties, in light of the character of being, value and power determining the ultimate conditions of existence(as grasped in their operative images-conscious and unconscious-of them). Fowler, Stages of Faith, pp. 92-93
- faith is a dynamic pattern of personal trust in and loyalty to a center or centers of value. What do I mean by this term “center of value”? We rest our hearts, we focus our lives in persons, causes, ideals, or institutions that have great worth to us. Fowler, J. W. (1991). Stages in faith consciousness
- faith is trust in and loyalty to images and realities of power. We are finite creatures who live in a dangerous world. We and those persons and causes we love are vulnerable to arbitrary power and destruction in this world. How in such a world do we align ourselves so as to feel sustained in life and in death? “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.“ That is a statement about alignment with power and the placement of our reliance on security.---The question of how we align ourselves with power to sustain us in life and death is an important question of faith. Fowler, J. W. (1991). Stages in faith consciousness
- While chronological age plays a role in faith development, the stages are not age specific.
- faith is trust in and loyalty to a shared master story or core story. Fowler, J. W. (1991). Stages in faith consciousness
- Faith is covenantal in structure. We are not alone or solitary in our faith. Faith involves [rust in and loyalty to other persons. But that trust and loyalty with others is confirmed and deepened by our shared trust and loyalties to centers of value, images of power, and stones that transcend us as individuals and bind us together with others. This is what we mean by covenant. Covenant is trust and loyalty, a commitment between persons and within groups that is ratified and deepened by our shared trust in and loyalty to something, someone, reality, God, or some set of values that transcends us. Faith always has this triadic, convenantal structure. Fowler, J. W. (1991). Stages in faith consciousness
- Faith development theory and research have focused on a generic understanding of faith that sees it as foundational to social relations, to personal identity, and to the making of personal and cultural meanings
- Rather than identifying faith with religion or belief, Fowler regards faith as a matter of universal human concern which is prior to our being religious or irreligious - for all people are concerned with how to live with purpose in a way which makes sense to them
- James Fowler (1981) has defined faith development as a sequence of stages by which persons shape their relatedness to a transcendent center or centers of value. This identification of faith with meaning-making
- Stages of Selfhood and Faith Development (James Fowler) Fowler, J.W. (1981). Stages of Faith
- faith begins with basic trust, as the child forms bonds with the mother and other intimate caregivers. As the child matures, physically and emotionally, faith accommodates the development of an expanding range of object relations, and exposure to religious symbols and practices may nurture a sense of relatedness to the transcendent
- faith may be characterized as an integral, centering process, underlying the formation of the beliefs, values, and meanings that: 1. Give coherence and direction to persons’ lives; 2. Link them in shared trusts and loyalties with others; 3. Ground their personal stances and communal loyalties in a sense of relatedness to a larger frame of reference; and 4. Enable them to face and deal with the challenges of human life and death, relying on that which has the quality of ultimacy in their lives. Faith, taken in this broad sense, is a common feature of human beings.
- Faith, according to Fowler, also always implies a relationship. Human beings trust in people or things, and they are committed to them, when they declare their faith.
- these stages indicate that there is an underlying system of transformations by which the self is constituted as it responds to questions of ultimate meaning.
- the role of developmental psychology in religious development
- In no way does Fowler suggest that a person characterized by one of the less developed stages is any less a person than one described by a more developed stage
- Fowler’s account of faith development emerges within the context of developmental psychology
- His theory is strongly influenced by the theories of Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson, and Lawrence Kohlberg.
- Faith, for Fowler, is deeper and more personal than religion. It is the most fundamental category in the human quest for relations to transcendence.
- faith as a universal human concern
- faith development across the lifespan
- Fowler sees faith as both relational and a way of knowing
- Fowler is using the term ‘faith’ in a wide, generic sense
- faith is an almost universal element of the human condition in that everyone ‘believes in’ something or someone.
- Faith Development Theory focuses on the human dimension of faith
- Faith becomes almost synonymous with meaning-making. It is a way to see oneself in relation to others in a background of shared meaning and purpose.
- an individual’s answer to fundamental questions: “What is life all about? Who is in charge over my life? How do I make life worthwhile? What goals do I pursue to give meaning to my life?”
- its concern is with understanding the phenomenology of how people develop ways of relating to their world and themselves in light of their understandings of ultimate reality (ps: The theological criticisms have centred on the contention that, from an orthodox Christian viewpoint, ‘faith’ is understood as a human response to God’s grace and as a gift from God)
- Fowler’s assumption that ‘faith’ is a component of every religion
- from a psychological perspective concerns --- Fowler's faith development focused on the development of meaning,
- Fowler’s (1981) work on faith development. Fowler argues that faith is a “dynamic and generic human experience” (1991, p. 31) that is not necessarily linked to religious traditions, communities, and beliefs. Rather, he states that faith refers to persons’ centers of value, images of power and master stories that guide their lives.
- seven stages of faith that humans may pass through as their ways of meaning-making and relating become more complex and comprehensive.
- faith as a universal human activity of meaning-making
- faith is grounded in certain structures that shape how humans construe their world and interact with self and others.
- structural–developmental logic of development
- faith development for Fowler is a progressive unfolding or maturation of faith.
- FDT is a multileveled description of various patterns by which humans make sense of and commit to transcendent values and reality, or what Fowler (1981) termed one’s “ultimate environment” (p. 24), as one progresses through the life span.
- Fowler found faith a more encompassing term than religion. His distinction between faith and religion mirrors other contemporary distinctions between religion and spirituality (e.g., Frame, 2003; Griffith & Griffith, 2002). Thus, although there is a relationship between faith and religion, faith (like spirituality) is the more inclusive term.
- Religious faith is only one species of human faith; it is faith directed to religious things, in particular to a transcendent God or gods. But everyone has their ‘gods’, in the wider sense of realities and ideas that they value highly and to which they are committed: including their health, wealth, security, family, ideologies, and their own pleasure.
- For Fowler, the opposite of faith is not doubt, but ‘nihilism . . . and despair about the possibility of even negative meaning’ (Fowler, 1981, p. 31); he therefore writes that ‘anyone not about to kill himself lives by faith’ (Fowler & Keen, 1978, p. 1). The human heart always rests somewhere.
- faith is an appropriate word for labelling a fundamental human category that is not restricted to religious people. Generic human faith may be regarded as a useful way of conceptualizing much of human spirituality, particularly when this is understood quite generally at what we may call a ‘human-horizontal’ level, as comprising those attitudes, values, beliefs and practices that ‘animate people’s lives’
- Like spirituality, an individual’s faith is understood here as having at its core a disposition or stance that informs his or her behaviour. It is ‘a way of moving into and giving form and coherence to life’ (Fowler & Keen, 1978, p. 24), affecting how people lean into, meet and shape their experience of life. Faith is thus an activity, something that people do, rather than something that simply happens to them. Although grammatically a noun, faith has the logic of a verb; so that we may properly speak of human ‘faithing’ (Fowler, 1981, p. 16).
- For Fowler, therefore, faith is essentially about ‘the making, maintenance, and transformation of human meaning’ (Fowler, 1986, p. 15). It is the ‘generic consequence of the universal human burden of finding and making meaning’ (Fowler, 1981, p. 33). Because of his focus on psychology, Fowler often expresses this in constructivist terminology, in terms of human meaning making
- On Fowler’s account, we may say that everybody creates and finds meaning in their lives as they know, value and relate to that which they take to be ultimately meaningful, in commitment and trust. In summary, faith is to be understood as: the composing or interpreting of an ultimate environment and as a way-of-being-in-relation to it. [It] must be seen as a central aspect of a person’s life orientation. . . . It plays a central role in shaping the responses a person will make in and against the force-field of his or her life. Faith, then, is a core element in one’s character or personality. (Fowler & Keen, 1978, p. 25)
- Although most of Fowler’s writings are concerned with changes in the form or structure of this faith, he also recognizes that over a lifetime important changes in its contents frequently take place.--Fowler’s view, it is possible to change the content of our faith while retaining its structural form. We may therefore be converted to Islam, Mahayana Buddhism or atheism, by coming to believe in different things, and yet we might still understand and relate to these new values and ultimate realities in the same way as we did within our previous commitment
- Fowler analyses the content (objects) of faith into three categories (1981, pp. 276–277).
- Faith gives shape to how people both construe and relate to the world, other people and whatever they take to be of ultimate value. Thus ‘to “have faith” is to be related to someone or something in such a way that the heart is invested, our caring is committed, our hope is focused on the other’ (Fowler & Keen,
- For Fowler: Belief is Assenting intellectually to concepts or propositions as set forth in religious doctrines and creeds; Faith is A quality of the person, not of the system, an orientation of the total person giving purpose and goals to one’s hopes and strivings, thoughts and actions. While beliefs divide, faith unites.
- For Fowler: Erik Erikson, Lawrence Kohlberg, and Jean Piaget were most influential
- faith development theory is not concerned with the construction of knowledge but with the construction of meaning
- Faith development theory has a strong Piagetian and Kohlbergian, that means, cognitive foundation. the priority of the cognitive component as “motor” of faith development hasbeen subject to criticisms (cf. Streib, 2001a; 2003b), and there are efforts to include the affective
- component of faith development (Fowler, 1996; Miller, 2000; Streib, 2001a).
The Structures of Faith
structuring aspects of faith
seven dimensions or aspects of faith, which he calls ‘windows or apertures into the structures underlying faith
seven aspects of faith which are evaluated in order to determine a person's faith development stage. Each aspect has six levels of development which correlate with the faith stages.
In order to determine an individual's faith stage, each of these aspects are evaluated from the research interview. The person may be living in different stages in each of the seven aspects. Then the stages are averaged in order to make a composite estimate of the individual's level of faith development.
- like the windows of a house, each aspect gives only a restricted view of what lies within, and all of them together may not disclose everything about the house’s furniture and occupants.
- Although these seven aspects may lead us to focus on certain parts of faith at the expense of the whole, Fowler contends that faith is ‘an orientation of the total person’
- Fowler’s aspects do seem to reflect the bias of his theory towards construing faith primarily as a way of knowing, thinking and judging.
- Fowler (1981) distinguished these structures (e.g., cognitive development, level of moral reasoning, locus of authority) from the contents of faith. that is, faith is not so much a set of beliefs as a way of knowing
- for Fowler (1981), it is one’s way of constructing experiences in the world through structuresof faith, rather than the contents of faith, that determine one’s faith stage
- This consisted originally of seven dimensions or perspectives, later extended to eight (see Moseley, Jarvis, & Fowler, 1993),Moseley, R. M., Jarvis, D., & Fowler, J. W. (1993). 1993 manual for faith development research. Atlanta, GA: Center for Research in Faith and Moral Development.
- According to Fowler (1981), it is differences in the levels of these structures that allow one to describe and ascertain the various faith stages, not the content of one’s faith. That is, faith stages are related to complexity of structures, not complexity of beliefs.
- Fowler (1976) arrived at these structures through reflections on the various “modes of thinking and valuing” (p. 186) associated with constructing and interacting with the world. He was seeking to identify the underlying patterns that give rise to a capacity to understand.
- Fowler (1981) also argued that there is an interactive complementarity among all these structures, so that faith cannot be thought of as reducible to any single structure (such as moral development). The structural integrity or wholeness of these seven structures is Fowler’s (1981) way of pointing to the multifaceted nature of faith and is designed to acknowledge the cognitive, affective, and relational aspects of faith. Stage progression, when and if it occurs, involves movement toward greater complexity and comprehensiveness in each of these structural aspects.
eg., for social perspective taking, a person is in which stage? from 0 to 6 stages
- form of logic or cognitive development (drawn from Piaget): One’s form of logic. This structure refers to Piaget’s (1970) levels of cognitive development; one moves from a sort of prelogic to more abstract, hypothetical logic along a four-stage trajectory outlined by Piaget.This aspect describes the characteristic pattern of thought that a person employs in making sense of the world. This aspect describes the characteristic patterns of mental operations the person employs in thinking about the object world. The aspect is based on Piaget's analysis of the development of logical thinking. "form of logic," is tied to Piaget's cognitive development theory. Faith development is highly correlated with capacity for increasing reasoning skills
- Social Perspective Taking, the development of the capacity to take the perspectives of others: One’s form of perspective taking. The capacity to take the perspective of others or to see oneself as the object of another's perception, which we have called social perspective taking.This structure builds on Selman’s (1976) distinctions between singular and multiple frames of perspective. One progresses from single frames of reference (one’s own) to the ability to take multiple perspectives toward various situations.This aspect is concerned with how each of us constructs the inner life of another person, seen in relation to knowledge of one’s own self. As people develop they slowly become better at taking the perspective of a wider range of increasingly different people. This aspect describes the way in which the person constructs the self, the other, and the relationship between them. It looks at how the person is constructing the interiority of another person. It also looks at how the individual is thinking and feeling, and how this relates to the person's knowledge of his or her own internal states. the capacity to assume the other's perspective. This aspect is adopted from Robert Selman's research at Harvard. The dimensions of perspective taking begin with egocentrism and move toward fully mutual world perspectives.
- Form of Moral Judgment, the development of moral judgment/reasoning (from Kohlberg): One’s form of moral reasoning. This structure incorporates Kohlberg’s (1976) various stages of moral reasoning. Movement is toward more complex and principled ways of sorting right from wrong as outlined by Kohlberg’s stages.his aspect is concerned with how a person thinks about morality and how he or she makes moral decisions. Fowler’s account broadly follows the stages postulated in the work of Lawrence Kohlberg (cf. Kohlberg, 1969, 1986). In assessing the form of moral judgment, we are looking at the patterns of a person's thinking about issues of moral significance, including how the person defines what is to be taken as a moral issue and how the person answers the question of why be moral. derived from Kohlberg's seminal research. This continuum of development begins with a punishment-reward mode and moves toward loyalty to being decision-making. While the three preceding aspects of faith development reflect Fowler's reliance on others' research, the next four aspects flow more from Fowler's own unique vision.
- Bounds of Social Awareness. the recognition of others as belonging to one’s faith community: This structure refers to whom one includes or excludes in one’s meaning-making. Movement is in the direction of being more inclusive as one matures. Faith is usually a shared activity, and this aspect captures the way in which, and the extent to which, an individual recognizes others as belonging to his or her own ‘faith community’. As faith develops, the boundaries of this ‘faith church’ widen. This aspect has several dimensions. The mode of a person's group identification is a central one. It answers the question of how the person is viewing or constructing the group of which he or she is a member. It also includes how the person relates to the group to which he or she belongs. In addition, this aspect answers the question of how wide or inclusive is the social world to which a person will respond. Who is the person willing to include in his or her thinking and who remains alien? This aspect will also show the differences in how persons and groups are treated within a given individual's structure of meaning making. refers to the persons, groups, and classes involved in the person's formulation of images and meanings. The continuum here is between absorption in the family and identification with the species.
- Locus of Authority. the selection of authorities for meaning-making: One’s locus of authority. This structure specifies whether one looks inwardly or outwardly for determining whether one’s beliefs and actions are right or wrong. Movement is from the latter to the former.This aspect describes how authorities are selected and how the person in faith relates to them: in particular, the authorities for this person’s meaning-making. The aspect, locus of authority, looks at three factors: how authorities are selected, how authorities are held in relationship to the individual, and whether the person responds primarily to internal or external authority. A statement may be coded under Locus of Authority if it answers any of the following questions: Does the person locate authority internally or externally? To whom or what does the person look for guidance or approval? To whom or what does the person hold himself or herself responsible? How does the person identify authority? examines the criteria used for the approval and sanction of values. The boundaries of this dimension begin with attachment-dependence relationships and move toward a personal decision purified of ego desire and linked intuitively to the principle of being.
- Form of World Coherence. or the development of approaches for ‘unifying meanings’ (from Erikson’s and Levinson’s lifespan developmental theories): One’s form of world coherence. This structure refers to how explicitly one makes sense of one’s world. Movement is from tacitly held ways of making sense of the world to more intentional and reflective descriptions. This aspect describes how a person constructs his or her world, especially their ‘ultimate environment’. How do people hold together the different elements of their experience and the different things in which they believe, so as to form one coherent worldview? This aspect describes how a person constructs the object world, including the sense of the ultimate environment. It answers the questions, "How do things make sense?" or, "How do the various elements of my experience fit together?" The form of world coherence is a type of cosmology, whether explicit or tacit. It includes the person's worldview, but is not limited to that. It also includes the principles by which this worldview is constructed, the logical relations by which elements of the world are held together. Strictly speaking, the form of world coherence can include the individual's construction of the social world. represents the pattern of meaning by which a person images the world. Is the pattern reflective and consistent? The dimensions of this variable begin with episodic patterns and move to a felt and active unity with "the One beyond the many."
- Symbolic Function. the understanding of symbols and of stages of self (from Kegan): The role of symbolic function. This structure refers to how and what symbols one uses to refer to transcendent values and experience. Movement is toward more complex forms of symbolic usage (e.g., God might initially be symbolized as a giant Santa Claus–like figure, but as one develops, this symbol and its potential referents become more sophisticated).This aspect relates to how we understand and use symbols. This aspect of faith is concerned with how the person understands, appropriates, and utilizes symbols and other aspects of language in the process of meaning-making and locating his or her centers of value and images of power. Any passage which reveals how a person interprets symbolic material, particularly those symbols which are important to the individual, can be coded under this aspect. inquires into both the content of images and metaphors and their interpreted meaning. The parameters of the aspect of development are magicalnuminous experience and allowing symbols to unify reality between symbol and self.
According to Fowler, this develops from regarding – and delighting in – symbols as sources of magical power at Stage 1, through a literal interpretation at Stage 2, to a ‘demythologizing’ of symbols into concepts that are subjected to criticism at Stage 4. A further development is possible to a post-critical ‘second naiveté’ at Stage 5, in which symbols regain something of their earlier power.
- Those that have attracted most attention in commentaries are the perspectives on the development of logical thinking, moral judgment/reasoning and ways of unifying meanings.
- These perspectives were applied to data generated from lengthy, structured interviews (‘Faith Development Interviews’) with people of different ages and from different religious traditions, focused on significant life experiences and the meanings attributed to them (such as evil and suffering; the limits of knowledge; death and afterlife; the purpose of life).
- respondents answer questions about their relationships, experiences, significant commitments and beliefs; discuss what makes life meaningful and how they make important decisions; and give their views on the purpose of life and the meaning of death, as well as their religious views. The resulting transcripts have been analyzed in the light of Fowler’s preconceptions about the structure of faith, and a developmental hypothesis framed in dialogue with these data about the manner in which faith might change over a person’s life.
- some of the questions in the schedule for the faith development interview are specifically religious, including references to the interviewee’s beliefs about the effect of ‘a power or powers beyond our control’, this dimension of faith is more consistently represented in the more neutral and widely applicable vocabulary of Fowler’s category of a ‘big picture’ or an ‘ultimate environment’ (Fowler, 1981, pp. 29–30). This is Fowler’s terminology for whatever set of highly valued, indeed ultimately significant, objects – within this world or beyond it – functions as the target for a particular individual’s faith, alongside the people who share that faith and to whom she is also committed in faith. These are the things, people, causes, ideals and values that give our lives meaning.
- Through this, Fowler identified seven stages of faith development stretching across the lifespan. Faith Development Theory is thus located within the category of structural stage theories of development, the classic example of which is Piaget’s theory of cognitive development; the other major theories upon which Fowler drew also shared a stage structure (although Levinson, 1978, referred to ‘eras’ rather than stages).
- Using the presence and level of these structures, Fowler (1981) described seven stages of faith development over the life span. Fowler (1981) verified the presence of the structures and the various stages through a series of empirical studies based on interview data. Further empirical work on Fowler’s (1981) stages supports the broad claims of his model (Parker, 2006, in press; Streib, 2003, 2005).
- Stage theories (cl)aim to identify and explicate fundamental underlying structures that shape development and that are universal and independent of culture. Such theories assume that development unfolds in sequential and invariant stages, defined by Fowler (1986, p. 27) in his theory as ‘the deeper structural operations of knowing and valuing which underlie, ground, and organize the thematic content’ of a person’s faith.
stages of faith development: the universal nature of stages
- Fowler believed that people developed through these stages in accordance with their own individual life circumstances.
- Fowler's (1981, 1991) theory of faith development conceived of spiritual development in adulthood as having three stages: stage 4, 5, 6
- all stages but the first include both adaptive and potentially maladaptive qualities
- Although faith stage development, when present, follows an identifiable sequential pattern, progression through the stages is not automatic or inevitable.
- Working within the theoretical paradigm of cognitive developmental psychology, Fowler postulated a sequence of discrete stages that progressively built on earlier stages. On this account of things a stage is an integrated system of mental operations (‘structures’) of thinking and valuing; in Fowler’s case this is made up of the seven component aspects. These stages of relative stability or ‘equilibration’ are said to alternate with periods of transition during which one or more of the faith aspects shifts in its form, until the whole structure (that is, all the aspects) changes and faith is restructured into a new, stable stage. This process may be thought of as losing (one way of being in) faith in order to gain (another way of) faith. Fowler writes that ‘to be “in” a given stage of faith means to have a characteristic way of finding and giving meaning to everyday life’. It is to have a worldview, ‘with a particular “take” on things’ (Fowler, 1996, p. 68).
- While Fowler regards the sequence of stages as hierarchical (with each stage building on its predecessor) and invariant (one cannot ‘miss out’ a stage), not everyone moves through all the stages.
- Fowler’s Faith Stages 1 to 4 follow Piaget’s account of a developmental movement from chaotic thinking to abstract ordered logic, by way of concrete inferential reasoning (see Piaget, 1967; Astley & Kay, 1998). Stages 1 through 4 follow Piaget's analysis quite closely.
- Stage 5 thinking is more dialectical. Stage 5, however, employs a dialectical form of reasoning. Dialectical reasoning can be thought of as a qualitative change in the way formal operations are employed.
- (0-3 years)., (birth - 2 ), Primal Faith (Infancy to Age 2)
- early learning of the safety of their environment
- Builds on Erikson’s trust vs. mistrust concept
- prestage (Stage 0) that occurs in the 1st preverbal year of life. It can be thought of as providing more of a foundation of basic trust or mistrust on which all later faith builds rather than as a stage in its own right. Fowler (1981) acknowledged an indebtedness to Erikson (1968) in his formulation of this stage.
- A trusting attachment to caretakers essentially constitutes faith in another person
- Our first pre-images of God have their origins here
- Gesell and others have found that often a child’s image of God is similar to the image they have of their parents (i.e., loving, forgiving, punitive, etc.)
- Typical of infants and toddlers
- (circa 0–4 years). The foundations of faith are laid down at this pre-stage, in which the child’s ultimate environment is represented by her primary carer and immediate environment. In this context, faith begins with a disposition to trust, and our first ‘pre-images of God’ are mediated through ‘recognizing eyes and confirming smiles’ (Fowler, 1981, p. 121). (Clearly, this is not a stage that can be identified by formal interviews.)
- Attachment between the infant and her or his parent/caregiver is a process with important implications for the child’s future relationships. In Erikson’s framework, the developmental task of this time period is characterized as the development of a sense of basic trust
- prelanguage disposition of trust forms in the mutuality of one’s relationships with parents and other caregivers.
- Stage 0, is the era when seeds oftrust, hope, and mutuality are sown. The development of rational logic and language at the sign level enables transition to the next stage.
- an early learning of the safety of their environment (i.e. warm, safe and secure vs. hurt, neglect and abuse). If consistent nurturance is experienced, one will develop a sense of trust and safety about the universe and the divine. Conversely, negative experiences will cause one to develop distrust with the universe and the divine. Transition to the next stage begins with integration of thought and languages which facilitates the use of symbols in speech and play.
- We all start as infants, and much that is important for our lives of faith occurs in utero and in the very first months of life. We describe the form of faith that begins in infancy as Primal faith. This first stage is a prelanguage disposition (a total emotional orientation of trust offsetting mistrust), which takes form in the mutuality of one's relationship with parents and others. This rudimentary faith enables us to overcome or offset the anxiety resulting from separations that occur during infant development. Piaget has helped us understand infant development as a succession of cognitive and emotional separations in the process of differentiation from those who provide initial care. Earliest faith is what enables us to undergo these separations without undue experiences of anxiety or fear of the loss of self. Primal faith forms before there is language. It forms in the basic rituals of care and interchange and mutuality. And, while it does not determine the course of our later faith, it lays the foundation on which later faith is built. One can readily see how important the family is in the nurturing and incubation of this first stage of Primal faith
- In utero, Infancy through first two years of life
- Pre-language sense of trust and loyalty with the environment
- Pre-images of powerful and trustworthy ultimacy
- Trust vs. mistrust (Erikson)
- No distinction between self and environment; self and those providing primary care
- With time, able to sense the caregiver will return without undue anxiety
- The culture of “mothering”….if not met, child is serious emotional risk
- (circa 4-7 years), (ages 3-7), 3-7, Toddlerhood and Early Childhood)
- Magical, illogical, imaginative
- psyche's unprotected exposure to the Unconscious
- Fantasies, especially about the power of God
- Typical of children ages 3 to 7
- first stage of faith development occurred in the childhood years which Fowler termed “intuitive-projective” faith as an individual took on the faith of one’s parents and loved ones as one’s own without distinction of one’s personal uniqueness, etc
- characterized by fantasy and imitative play. Meaning is intuitively grasped and thus feelings and images from this era carry profound impact into the future. The emergence of concrete operational thinking and the resolution of the Oedipal period are key factors for the transition into the next era.
- This is a fantasy-filled, imitative stage. The child is powerfully and permanently influenced by examples of visible faith of parents. There is a fluidity of thought patterns, no stable operations of knowing. Imagination is unrestrained, with little constraint by logic. This stage is productive of long lasting symbols. The strengths of this stage are the birth of imagination and the creation of imaginative synthesis. Powerful symbols form through imaginative stories. Dangers arise from being 'possessed' by images of terror and fear which may be exploited by others. The main factor in the transition to the next stage is emergence of concrete Perational thinking and the ability to distinguish between truth and falsity.
- Childhood–Intuitive–projective faith adopting the faith of one’s parents
- the psyche’s unprotected exposure to the Unconscious. Intuitive images of good and evil. fantasy and reality are the same
- Fowler (1981) described intuitive-projective faith as a way of expressing faith characterized by the episodic and intuitive way that children see their world. It is mostly found in children ages 2 to 6 years. Faith takes on the same qualities of life at this stage; that is, it is full of powerful images drawn from stories and relationships. In addition, cause and effect are poorly understood because what is real and what is fantasy tend to interpenetrate each other
- (circa 3–7 years). This stage is characterized by the great influence of images and symbols, which are viewed magically and form a chaotic collage that makes up the child’s ultimate environment. Thinking is intuitive, rather than discursive, and it is episodic – yielding an impressionistic scrap-book of thoughts, not an ordered pattern. The lack of control on the imagination makes faith at this stage very fertile, but sometimes dangerous.
- First awareness of self – egocentric; hard to see other perspectives
- Birth of Imagination, unrestrained by logical thought
- Highly imitative stage where children can be powerfully and
- permanently influenced by examples, moods, actions and stories of the visible faith of primally related adults (parents, etc.)
- Experiences of power and powerlessness orient children to a frequently deep existential concern about questions of security, safety, and the power of those on whom they rely for protection.
- Owing to naive cognitive egocentrism, children do not consistently differentiate their perspectives from those of others. Lacking simple perspective taking and the ability to reverse operations, young children may not understand cause-and-effect relations well.
- They construct and reconstruct events in episodic fashion. Fantasy and make believe are not distinguished from factuality.
- Constructions of faith are drawn to symbols and images of visible power and size. Stories that represent the powers of good and evil in unambiguous fashion are prized; they make it possible for children to symbolize and acknowledge the threatening urges and impulses that both fascinate and disturb them, while providing an identification with the vicarious triumphs of good over evil that such stories as fairy tales can provide
- Programs that use wonder & imagination (like Godly Play or Catechesis of the Good Shepherd) are very successful with this age
- Imagination, not yet disciplined by consistent logical operations, responds to story, symbol, dream, and experience
- Adaptive Feature: Birth of imagination (use of powerful and inspiring images to make sense of world)
- Maladaptive Feature: Potential of some images to terrify and paralyze
- Nature of Transcendent Reality (the Ultimate Environment): Populated by a being or beings with great powers not unlike Superman
- Transitions to next stage: emergence of concrete operational thinking.
- For Erikson, the fundamental issue of this stage is autonomy versus shame and doubt, and, if all goes well, the desired outcomes are the positive qualities of self-control and willpower
- Imagination, stimulated by stories, gestures, and symbols, and not yet controlled by logical thinking, combines with perception and feelings to create long-lasting images
- Logic at Stage 1 is what Piaget termed "pre-operational." This means that the person at Stage 1 is not yet able to "operate" on his or her environment in a logical manner, and that the logical connections between events and perceptions will not be present in Stage 1 interview statements. The absence of logical operations, and the intuitive trust in one's perceptions combine to give thought at Stage 1 a "freewheeling" character. Thinking and the use of language at Stage 1 tend to be "monological" rather than "dialogical." The person at Stage 1 does not carry on conversations proper, nor does s/he construct spatio-temporally coherent narratives, rather, they tend to include others in an ongoing monologue.
- Fowler’s Faith Stages 1 to 4 follow Piaget’s account of a developmental movement from chaotic thinking to abstract ordered logic, by way of concrete inferential reasoning (see Piaget, 1967; Astley & Kay, 1998). Stages 1 through 4 follow Piaget's analysis quite closely.
- This style of faith emerges in early childhood with the acquisition of language. Here, imagination, stimulated by stories, gestures, and symbols but not yet controlled by logical thinking, combines with perception and feelings to create long-lasting faith images. These images represent both the protective and threatening powers surrounding one's life. This stage corresponds with the awakening of moral emotions and standards in the second year of life. It corresponds as well with the awareness of taboos and the sacred, and with the struggle for a balance of autonomy and will with shame and constriction in the child's forming self. Representations of God take conscious form in this period and draw, for good or ill, on children's experiences of their parents or other adults to whom they were emotionally attached in the first years of life
- Imagination, stimulated by stories, gestures, and symbols, and not yet controlled by logical thinking, combines with perception and feelings to create long-lasting images that represent both the protective and threatening powers surrounding one’s life. The penumbra of mystery invades the child’s life. Fantasy and make belief and not readily distinguished from reality.
- (circa 7-11 years), (mostly in school children), 6-12, Middle Childhood and Beyond; mostly in school children
- Individual takes stories of religion literally
- Believes simplistically in power of symbols
- Involves reciprocity – God sees to it that those who follow his laws are rewarded and those who do not are punished
- Typical of middle childhood and adulthood
- School years–Mythic-Literal Faith associated with stories making personal what is heard;
- the school age child uses a literal interpretation of narrative, drama, and myth to ordere existence. Adults in this stage are caught in the literal story and perceive symbols as one dimensional. The transition to the next stage is dependent upon the emergence of formal operational thinking and the capacity to reflect upon relationships and upon conflicting interpretations of existence.
- stage two persons have a strong belief in the justice and reciprocity of the universe, and their deities are almost always anthropomorphic. Literal interpretation of religious stories. God is like a parent figure
- strong belief in the justiceand reciprocity of the universe, and their deitiesare almost always anthropomorphic
- Mythic-literal faith is especially characterized by the use of concrete logic in making sense of the world. For instance, morals are appropriated with very literal interpretations (e.g., an eye for an eye) and rest on rules of simple fairness and reciprocity. The ability to imagine and construct the interiority of others is not fully developed; thus, one may show limited understanding of another person’s motives when judging human actions. This type of faith is generally found in children ages 7 years to early adolescence, although it may occasionally be present in adults.
- (circa 6–12). At this stage the child develops real skills of reasoning that enables him to order his experience so as to distinguish between true stories and fictions. Children at this stage thrive on stories and for them ‘the narrative structuring of experience . . . provides a central way of establishing identity’, through learning the stories of one’s own community (Fowler, 1987, p. 61). However, the child – who is here reasoning at a concrete level – can become trapped in a story and in his literal, one-dimensional view of symbols.
- Transition to this stage happens as the child becomes more capable of concrete operational thinking
- the child, adolescent, or adult does not yet construct the interiority—the feelings, attitudes, and internal guiding processes—of the self or others
- At this stage the individual takes on stories, beliefs, and observances that symbolize belonging to a particular community. Beliefs, rules, and attitudes are appropriated with literal interpretations. Faith symbols are one-dimensional and literal. Meaning is both carried and trapped in narrative with little or no reflective conceptual meanings. The new strengths of this stage are the rise of narrative , drarna, and myth as ways of finding and giving coherence to personal experience. The weaknesses involve the limitations of literalness and a reliance on reciprocity which can lead to 'works righteousness' or to the opposite - a self-abasement in an environment of mistreatment. The transition to stage 3 is initiated by clashes or contradictions in stories and authorities. This leads to reflections on meanings allowing for a breakdown in literalism and the emergence of mutual interpersonal perspective taking.
- The emergence of Mythic-Literal faith is during our elementary school years and beyond. Here, concrete-operational thinking, the developing ability to think logically, emerges to help us order the world with categories of causality, space, time, and number. This means we can sort out the real from the make-believe, the actual from the fantasy. It becomes a time when we can enter into the perspectives of others, and when we become capable of capturing life and meanings in narrative and stories.
- this stage typically structures the ultimate environment—the cosmic pattern of God’s rule or control of the universe—along the lines of simple fairness and moral reciprocity. God is often constructed on the model of a consistent and caring, but just, ruler or parent. In this stage one often sees a sense of cosmic fairness at work: The child believes that goodness is rewarded and badness is punished.
- Can use logic to justify thoughts, but not yet able to think abstractly
- Fascination with private worlds of fantasy and wonder (ie – Narnia, Harry Potter, etc.) although in the perception of this stage, symbols are one-dimensional and must refer to something specific
- Story, drama & myth help give coherence to experience – telling their “story” helps discover sense of self and place in the community
- World based on reciprocal fairness and immanent justice
- Adaptive Feature: Emergence of new cognitive abilities (i.e., Piaget’s, 1970, concrete operations); Narrative as a way to structure meaning (able to put what happens to one into a story that makes sense and allows one to cope)
- Maladaptive Feature: Limits of concrete thinking; Excessive reliance on simple fairness and reciprocity as a way to construe ultimate environment leads to disappointment
- Nature of Transcendent Reality (the Ultimate Environment): Operates to guarantee order and simple fairness (e.g., like a judge who rewards good and punishes evil)
- Transitions to next stage: - clash or contradictions in stories that leads to reflection on meanings. - disillusionment teachers and teachings
- The developing ability to think logically helps one order the world with categories of causality, space and time, using narrative; one can enter into the perspectives of others; and capture life meaning in stories; symbols are perceived literally and as one-dimensional.
- Logic at Stage 2 is characterized by the emergence of concrete operations. The constancy of objects and the categories of language, which emerged at Stage 1 and gave the developing individual the ability to organize experience into meaning units, are now augmented by the logical operations of causality, reversibility, conservation, seriation and the ability to construct the categories of space and time. the logical ligatures with which to connect the meaning units are now in place; This gives the person at Stage 2 the ability to give order to much of the experience that appeared inchoate at Stage 1. In addition, increasing sophistication in the use of language gives the person at Stage 2 access to an even wider range of ready-made categories and schemata with which to order experience.
- The developing ability to think logically helps one order the world with categories of causality, space, and time; to enter into the perspectives of others; and to capture life meaning in stories. One sees the world through the structures of one’s needs, interests, and wishes. The Imperial self longs for independence rooted in self confidence and self-esteem.
Stage 3: synthetic-conventional faith
- (circa 11/12-17/18 years, although this is held to last potentially into middle age and possibly into late adulthood); 12+, (arising in adolescence); Adolescence and Beyond; (arising in adolescence)
- characterized by conformity. More abstract thoughts.
- According to Fowler’s structural developmental approach to faith development, faith unfolds across the life span in six possible stages, although adults may never develop beyond Stage 3, or stage 4
- in which they create a worldview consisting of unquestioned beliefs and values accepted from others
- conformity, ideology with lack of awareness of being
- Nonintellectual acceptance of religious values in context of interpersonal relationships
- Coordinates an individual’s involvements in a complex social world
- Provides a sense of identity and adds significance to life
- “Conformist” stage of faith – concerned about other people and “what feels right” more than what makes intellectual sense
- Transition often comes when children notice contradictions in stories (ie – Genesis creation vs. evolution) leading to questions/reflection
- Experience of the world extends beyond family
- Many things compete for attention: family, peers, school, media, etc.
- Faith must help them synthesize values and conventions – to provide a coherent orientation in the midst of competing ideals
- Faith as a vehicle for creating a sense of identity and values
- Many adults get stuck here
- The central characteristic of the synthetic-conventional faith stage is its focus on the interpersonal. With the emerging ability to understand another person’s perspective comes the ability to judge the other’s actions on the basis of the other person’s motives. In synthetic-conventional faith, relationships become critical to identity and meaning making; as a result, personal worth is determined by the approval of significant others. Beliefs and values are deeply held at this stage but have not been subjected to critical reflection. When present, this stage emerges during adolescence and may remain into adulthood.
- (circa 11–18, and many adults). The person at this stage (usually an adolescent) can now think abstractly and reflectively, and has a new capacity for perspective-taking that leads her to conform to a group of significant others. It is out of the convictions and values of these other people that the person at Stage 3 ‘welds together’ (synthesizes) a form of second-hand faith: that is, a heteronomous, conformist and conventional worldview. At this stage, however, the person is not yet aware that she has a worldview, or where it comes from. ‘In this stage one is embedded in his or her faith outlook’ (Fowler & Osmer, 1985, p. 184).
- At this stage personal horizons begin to extend beyond the family to include school, peers, media. Faith must now provide a coherent orientation within this complexity. It must synthesize values and information. It does this by adopting a 'conformist' stance, highly attuned to others' expectations. Beliefs are now deeply felt and consistently clustered but they are not objectified or examined systematically. Authority tends to find its focus in the community either through encumbents or in consensus. Significantly, symbols cannot be conceptually separated from the symbolized. The emergent strength of this stage is the forming of a personal myth or story which incorporates identity, faith, past, and future. The dangers are excessive internalization of others' expectations with loss of personal autonomy and a possible nihilism through a personal betrayal of authority figure. There may be a compensatory intimacy with God unrelated to real life. The factors leading to transition are serious clashes between valued authorities or marked changes in group practices, sanctioned by authorities or encounters with other perspectives and beliefs.
- Adolescence–Synthetic-Conventual faith–faith derived from the group one belongs to and conformity to the norms and views of the groups;
- will formulate a personal myth out of an awareness of complex relationships, tacit values, and forming identity. Meaning is generated through a synthesis of many perspectives and yields a viable perception of life. According to Fowler's research interviews, a large portion of American adults appear to reach equilibrium in this stage or in the transition to the next period. This transition is characterized by the initial stirrings of critical reflection upon competing authorities and by leaving home emotionally and/or physically.
- A coherent identity is formed within a group, integrating diverse images of self into a coherent identity. A personal faith is formed from conventional elements, the meanings of symbols are implicit, rich and powerful, supporting identity and enabling one to unite in emotional solidarity with others.
- Adaptive Feature: Emergence of the interpersonal as a way to construe the world (a way of being connected to important groups and causes; provides a sense of calling)
- Maladaptive Feature: Overinternalizing the judgments of others; The interpersonal character of this stage may lead to an overfamiliarity with the Divine or, conversely, cause a sense of betrayal when relationships with religious leaders go awry
- Nature of Transcendent Reality (the Ultimate Environment): Imagined to have interpersonal qualities (e.g., like a friend who understands one like no other)
- Transitions to next stage: unavoidable tensions:individuality versus being defined by a group; critical reflection on how one's beliefs and values have formed, changed, and on how "relative" they are to one's particular group
- This stage characteristically begins to take form in early adolescence. The emergence of formal operational thinking opens the way for reliance on abstract ideas and concepts for making sense of one’s world. The person can now reflect on past experiences and examine them for meaning and pattern. At the same time, concerns about one’s personal future, one’s identity, one’s work, career, or vocation, and one’s personal relationships become important. These new cognitive abilities make possible mutual, interpersonal perspective taking. Here, in friendship
- or in the first intimacy of “puppy love,” we begin to be aware of the mirroring of self provided by the responses of others whose feelings about us matter. “I see you seeing me: I see the me I think you see.” As we begin to have the burden and the possibility of seeing ourselves as others see us, and as we confront the task of integrating these multiple experiences of self brought by our relationships with different persons, we face in conscious ways the struggle for identity. At the same time we begin to construct an awareness of our interiority and that of others. We are newly and deeply interested in ”personality.” New steps toward interpersonal intimacy and relationship result.
- These newly personal relations with significant others correlate with a hunger for a personal relationship to God in which we feel ourselves to be known and loved in deep and comprehensive ways. Roger’s story reflects this hunger when at seventeen he found a church community that invited him to share in this kind of personal relationship to God, and he began to experience the “friendship” of God. In this respect Marie’s account of her early adolescent relationship with God seems even more profound. Apparently, her experience of God at the campfire, and in other contexts during her adolescence, led to a deep integration of God into her personality, so that for years after she “seemed to know just what to say to help [her] friends.“ It was, she said, “like God was in me, a part of me.”
- Parallel with the task of integrating a set of images of the self into a sense of identity, the person forming Synthetic-Conventional faith must form a set of beliefs, values, and commitments that provides orientation and courage for living. This shaping of a worldview and its values proceeds as adolescents encounter persons and contexts that offer stories, ideals, belief systems, rituals, disciplines, and role models that can capture and fund their imaginations and hunger for adult truth. A culture is in deep jeopardy when it no longer can provide encounters for young people with persons and communities who can satisfy the need for role models committed to lives of truth. Synthetic-conventional faith, in such a culture, risks becoming a tacit amalgamation of values, commended subliminally by the advertising industry and coupled with an unthinking allegiance to the empty dogma that all values are individual choices and are therefore relative. Every adolescent deserves a viable and vital Synthetic-Conventional ethos for the formation of faith.
This was a watershed in faith development for Fowler: young person uses logic and hypothetical thinking to construct and evaluate ideas. New cognitive abilities make mutual perspective-taking possible and enable one to integrate diverse self-images into a coherent identity. A persona and largely unreflective synthesis of beliefs and values evolves to support identity and to unite one in emotional solidarity with others.
- (the early twenties, thirties or forties), Late Teen-Early Adult
- (mid-twenties to late thirties – but some adults never construct – or occurs in 40’s & 50s)
- (usually mid-twenties to late thirties)
- a stage of angst and struggle. The individual takes personal responsibility for their beliefs and feelings. For the first time, individuals are capable of taking full reposnibil;ity for their religious beliefs. In deoth exproration of one’s values and religious beliefs is carruied out.
- in which they critically reflect upon themselves and their ideologies but fail to discover what Fowler calls a “more dialectical and multileveled approach to truth” (1981, p. 183).
- which could begin in the early 20s, in which the self begins to turn away from external sources of spiritual authority toward the development of an internal moral and spiritual orientation that has meaning for the individual
- Intellectual detachment from values of culture and from approval of significant other people
- Could perhaps be best characterized as “having your faith tested”
- Often involves an unexpected experience in adulthood (e.g., divorce, loss of job, death of a child)
- Now a person begins to take seriously the burden of responsibility for his or her own beliefs, lifestyles, and commitments. He or she begins to face unavoidable tensions, for example, between the individual and the grouP, between subjectivity and the demands for objectivity, between selffulfillment and service, or between relativity and the absolute. One may begin to define one's own identity, not by reference to group membership but to an explicit reflective value system. Symbols are now translated into conceptual meanings. The process of demythologization begins. The strengths of this stage are a capacity for critical reflection on identity and outlook. The dangers are an excessive confidence in its strengths, a lack of attention to 'unconscious' factors influencing judgments and an overassimilation of reality to one's own world view. The transition to stage 5 is initiated by a gnawing sense of sterility. This may be coupled with an inbreaking of symbols and myths from the past, from one's own or other traditions. These symbols and myths unsettle the neatness of one's system, leaving one disillusioned with the logic of clear distinctions and abstract concepts.
- the process of making faith one’s own by applying critical thinking and exploring the paradoxes which arise
- angst and struggle. The individual takes personal responsibility for theirbeliefs and feelings
- aware of itself as a "world view." Self (identity) and outlook (world view) are differentiated from those of others and become acknowledged factors in the reactions, interpretations and judgments one makes
- angst and struggle. The individual takes personal responsibility for theirbeliefs and feelings
- aware of itself as a "world view." Self (identity) and outlook (world view) are differentiated from those of others and become acknowledged factors in the reactions, interpretations and judgments one makes on the actions of the self and others: demythologizing
- Transition often comes with “leaving home” – emotionally, physically or both – causing us to examine self, background & values
- Understand and accept a higher level of commitment to ideals and responsibilities – Intrinsic responsibility (not enforced by others)
- High degree of self consciousness
- Sense of self develops outside of specific roles
- Conceptual meanings transcend Symbols – “demythologizing stage”
- Capacity for critical reflection on identity
- Active commitment to life goal and lifestyle that differs from that of many other people
- Individuative-reflective faith is characterized by two essential features: (a) a critical distancing
- from one’s previously assumed value system and (b) the emergence of what Fowler (1981) called an “executive ego” (p. 179). The ability to step back and critically distance oneself from one’s previously assumed values emerges as one develops awareness that beliefs and ideologies have a particular history and that various worldviews have grown out of the life experiences of those adopting those views. The executive ego refers to taking explicit responsibility for one’s beliefs and lifestyle. One further understands that social relations involve social systems. In addition, the meanings that one attaches to symbols are seen as separable from the symbols that mediate them (e.g., the therapeutic “couch” as a symbol of a safe place in which to “lie open” before another). If this stage emerges, it occurs during young adulthood and may continue throughout life.
- (from circa 17 or 18 onwards, or from one’s thirties or forties onwards). When the adult can no longer tolerate the diversity of views and roles that make up Stage 3 faithing, individuals may truly become individuals by detaching from the defining group and (metaphorically or literally) ‘leaving home’, enabling them to decide for themselves what it is they believe. At this stage one’s faith can really be said to be an owned faith, as heteronomy gives way to autonomy. The transition to Stage 4 is frequently marked by some form of struggle, and a vertiginous recognition of the variety of possible worldviews. (Sharon Parks distinguishes two distinct stages within Fowler’s Stage 4, the first being a post-adolescent, young adult stage of wary and tentative ‘probing commitment’ before adulthood is reached: Parks, 1986, p. 76.) The new capacity and impulse to judge for one’s self, and to justify one’s own truth, may make some who are at this stage unwilling to recognize the value of other voices, and rather over-reliant on their own reasoning powers.
- Two significant indicators mark the individuative-reflective stage. First, one must develop the ability to reflect critically on the values, beliefs, and commitments one subscribed to as part of constructing the previous stage, the synthetic-conventional. This reexamination of deeply held beliefs can be a painful process. Second, one must struggle with developing a self-identity and self-worth capable of independent judgment in relation to the individuals, institutions, and worldview that anchored one’s sense of being up until that time. Questions representative of this stage include: Who am I when I am not defined primarily as someone’s daughter, son, or spouse? Who am I apart from my educational, occupational, or professional identity? Who am I beyond my circle of friends or familiar community? In constructing the individuative-reflective position, inherited or familiar symbols, creeds, beliefs, traditions, and religious trappings are scrutinized, and those of other faiths and traditions may be evaluated for what they might have to offer. This testing applies, as well, to secular value systems, worldviews, and the circles that espouse them. In the end, the familiar and traditional beliefs and practices may not be rejected or discarded, but if they are retained, they are held with more self-aware clarity and intentional choice
- Critical reflection upon one's beliefs and values and their meaning; an ability to see oneself with the eyes of another; understanding of the self and others as part of a social system; the internalisation of authority and the assumption of responsibility for making explicit choices of ideology and lifestyle open the way for critically self-aware commitments in relationships and vocation.
- Adaptive Feature: Emergence of critical reflection on self and world (can deconstruct symbols); Ability to take personal responsibility for beliefs and lifestyle
- Maladaptive Feature: Overreliance on the rational mind to resolve untidy cognitive and relational issues; Separation of symbol from symbolized without recognition of any loss
- Nature of Transcendent Reality (the Ultimate Environment): Embodies principles of truth, love, justice, and so on
- Transitions to next stage: Disillusionment with one's compromises and recognition that life is more complex than Stage 4's logic of clear distinctions and abstract concepts can comprehend
- Fowler’s Faith Stages 1 to 4 follow Piaget’s account of a developmental movement from chaotic thinking to abstract ordered logic, by way of concrete inferential reasoning (see Piaget, 1967; Astley & Kay, 1998). Stages 1 through 4 follow Piaget's analysis quite closely.
- centers upon mediating tensions such as individual versus group and self-fulfillment versus service. Both tacit values and motivating symbols are made explicit through critical reflection. Personal commitments, lifestyle, and beliefs are examined in light of the struggle between relative and absolute values. The following transition period is characterized by responsiveness to the person's inner and unconscious voices so that myths and symbols can be personally reshaped.
- To reach this stage, two important movements of self have to occur. First, we have to question, examine, and reconstitute the values and beliefs that we have formed to that point in our lives. They become explicit commitments, rather than tacit commitments. ”Tacit” means unconsidered, unexamined, uncritically approved. “Explicit” means consciously chosen and critically supported commitments
- This process of making our commitments explicit usually involves a “demythologization.” In a way that parallels the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, we engage in critical analysis and reflection upon the symbols, rituals, myths, and beliefs that mediate and express our traditions of faith. Through such analysis we interrogate their meanings and try to translate them into conceptual formulations. In doing so, we gain clarity about our faith we gain precision in our understanding and its articulation. At the same time, however, we lose our availability to some of the power of symbol, myth, and ritual mediating our relations to the holy.
- This critical and reflective examination of our faith heritages does not mean that one must give up being an Episcopal Christian, or an Orthodox Jew, or a Sunni Muslim. But it does mean that now one maintains that commitment and identity by choice and explicit assent rather than by fate or tacit commitment. In John Westerhoff’s (1976) adaptation of faith development theory he names this dynamic of the Individuative-Reflective stage “owned faith.”
- the Individuative-Reflective stage requires us to claim what I call an “executive ego.” In the previous stage of Synthetic-Conventional faith, we can say that a person’s identity is largely shaped by her or his roles and relationships. In that stage, “I am my roles and relationships.” My “I” is defined by the composite of the roles I play and the relations in which I derive and maintain my identity. In moving to the Individuative-Reflective stage, I have to face and answer such questions as, Who am I when I am not defined by being my parents’ son or daughter? Who am I when I am not defined by being so-and-so’s spouse? Who am I when I am not defined by the work I do? Who is the “1” that has those roles and relations but is not fully expressed by any one of them?
- The task of the Individuative-Reflective stage is to put in place an executive ego, the “I” who manages and “has” all these roles and relations, yet is not identical with any one of them. The task is thus to take charge of one’s own life. It means claiming a new quality of autonomy and responsibility. This does not necessarily mean “individualism,” though in this country it is often interpreted in individualistic ways. It does mean the exercise of responsibility and choice in regard to the communities to which we belong. In making choices, we also exclude other options. There is a dichotomizing, either/or quality to the commitments of this stage.
Stage 5: conjunctive faith (when the Piagetian development of logical thought is said to give way to relational and contextual reasoning; this is held to be rarely seen before the age of 30, more usually developing in midlife and beyond, if at all)
Stage 6: universalising faith
- Adult 30+
- (mid-life crisis) acknowledges paradox and transcendence
- mid-life crisis
- acknowledges paradox and transcendence relating reality behind the symbols
- of inherited systems. becoming more open to paradox and opposing viewpoints.
- The discovery that one can hold opposites in creative tension—life and death, immanence and transcendence—emerges as the individual moves into Stage 5, Conjunctive Faith, which usually occurs in midlife.
- At stage 5, the meaning-making activity of faith is extended to dialectical thinking
- relating reality behind the symbols of inherited systems; integration into self and outlook of much that was suppressed or unrecognized in the interest of Stage 4's self-certainty and conscious cognitive and affective adaptation to reality.
- The conjunctive stage is characteristic of a reflective adult thinker who recognizes that truths of all kinds can be approached from multiple perspectives and that faith must balance and maintain the tensions between those multiple perspectives. This stage makes sense out of paradoxes. In Christianity, for instance, God is seen as all-powerful and yet God limits the divine expression of power in granting humans agency and freedom. And though the sovereign of history, God took on the humble and lowly form of a human man who permitted himself to be put to death at the hands of other humans. This knowledge and faith build on necessary paradox and tensional, complex trust and commitment.
- Individuals in the conjunctive stage express a principled interest in and openness to truths of other cultural and religious traditions, and believe that dialogue with those different others may lead to deepened understandings and new insights into their own traditions and beliefs. Other paradoxes that are dealt with in this stage include the realities that one is both old and young, with both masculine and feminine qualities, conscious and unconscious, and intentionally constructive and well meaning while at the same time being unintentionally destructive in some aspects of life and community membership. One is both singular and individuated, yet has an increased awareness of being dependent on and in interdependent solidarity with both friends and strangers. This results in the desire for new ways to relate to God, others, and self (Fowler, 1981, 1987).
- ability to be comfortable with mystery and unanswered questions
- the period when ironic imagination unifies life's opposites and reunites symbols with their deeper meanings. One's past is reworked in light of the "deeper self' as it impacts and is impacted by one's social environment. Fowler's research indicates that this stage is very rare prior to mid-life. When the person begins to find meaning through transforming life's paradoxes toward actualizing their unity, then the shift to the final era is underway.
- Polarities are embraced; there is alertness to paradox and the need for multiple interpretations of reality. Symbol and story, metaphor and myth are newly appreciated as irreducible vehicles for expressing truth. There is openness to the traditions of others and an interest in the unconscious processes of the self.
- beginning in midlife or later and involving acceptance of paradox and ambiguity, a deepening sense of understanding, disillusionment with the overreliance on logic and rational thought typical in the individual-reflective stage, and a more open attitude toward religious traditions other than one's own
- Truth is discovered from a variety of viewpoints
- Second naiveté – symbols regain their power; can appreciate myth, story, ritual (own and others) because they have grasped, in some measure, the depth of reality to which they refer
- Reclaiming & Reworking one’s past
- Commitment to justice; oriented towards others
- Incorporates both powerful unconscious ideas (e.g. power of prayer) and rational, conscious values (e.g., the worth of life compared with that of property)
- Characterized by a willingness to accept contradictions
- Conjuctive faith moves beyond the dichotomizing logic of the previous stage’s explicitly chosen either–or categories. It is characterized by a distrust of the separation of the symbol from what it symbolizes. Individuals in this stage sense that there is an interconnectedness
- between the symbol and the symbolized that is lost when one reduces symbols to the propositions or concepts so necessary to the meaning making involved in individuative-reflective faith. With conjunctive faith, one desires to allow symbols their own initiative. For instance, one might deconstruct the therapeutic symbol of the couch in ways that divest it of psychoanalytic connections, yet those who actually have received therapy this way note that the couch has its own power (Shinder, 2000; cf. Gaylin, 2000). In addition, at this stage, there is a reclamation and reworking of one’s past as well as an openness to the voices of the “deeper self.” That is, one becomes aware of deep social influences that shape the self (e.g., myths, ideal images, prejudices that grow out of one’s nurturing by a particular group). Fowler (1981) stated that this stage includes a kind of dialectical knowing that recognizes and appreciates the power of both rational and intuitive ways of knowing. If present, this stage emerges only in midlife.
- (This is rare before age 30 – only 7% of Fowler’s total sample are at this stage, although another 8% are in transition towards it.) What Stage 4 ‘struggled to bring under consciousness and control’, Stage 5 ‘must allow to become porous and permeable’ (Fowler, 1986, p. 30). There is now a new openness to the interpretations of others and a new willingness to live with truths in tension, including the paradoxes and ambiguities of the mature life of faith (Fowler, 1984, p. 65). This is not, however, the easy relativism that claims that ‘all voices are true’ (which is more characteristic of Stage 3, cf. Astley, 2000b), but a confidence in their own viewpoint that allows some people humbly to recognize both the multidimensionality of truth and that reason cannot decide everything on its own.
- Adaptive Feature: Ability to embrace paradox and “mystery”; Ability to contribute to betterment of world without demanding preconceived responses
- Maladaptive Feature: Potential for withdrawal, passivity, or cynicism in the face of relativism
- Nature of Transcendent Reality (the Ultimate Environment): Experienced as both continuous with (immanent/familiar) and different from humans (transcendent/“other”)
- Stage 5 thinking is more dialectical. Stage 5, however, employs a dialectical form of reasoning. Dialectical reasoning can be thought of as a qualitative change in the way formal operations are employed.
- Transitions to next stage: lives and acts between an untransformed world and a transforming vision; in some few cases yields to the call of radical actualization that we call Stage 6.
- This involves a reintegration of previously suppressed or unrecognized aspects of self and reality. One develops what Paul Riceour calls a 'second naivete,' a post-critical remythologization where symbolic power is reunited with conceptual meaning. The boundaries established in the previous stage become porous and permeable. The Person becomes alive
- to paradox and truth in contradictions. One strives to unify opposites in mind and experience. One may envisage a universal justice but one is caught by one's own need to preserve well-being. The strength of this stage is the capacity to be immersed in meanings while grasping their relativity. The danger lies in a paralyzing passivity or inaction which can lead to cynicism and a withdrawal from action. The movement to stage 6 is then initiated by a call for radical actualization of universal vision.
- This stage involves the embrace and integration of opposites or polarities in our lives. Now what does this abstract language mean? It means realizing in our late thirties, forties, or beyond that each of us is both young and old, and that youngness and oldness are held together in the same life. It means recognizing that we are both masculine and feminine, with all of the meanings those characterizations have in the particular culture of which we are a part. It means a reintegration of our masculine and feminine modalities. It means coming to terms with the fact that we are both constructive people and, inadvertently or intentionally, destructive people. The apostle Paul captured this in Rom. 7:18-20: “The good I would do I do not do; the evil I would not do I find myself doing. Who will save me from this body of death?”
Stage 6: universalising faith
- ‘universalising faith’ (which is believed to be rarely attained but is specified largely to demonstrate the terminus ad quem of his notion of development).
- This stage overcomes the paradoxes of stage 5 through a moral and ascetic actualization of universalizing apprehensions present in the previous stage. The model, for Fowler, is the disciplined activist incarnate, captured by a willingness to be spent for the sake of justice. such faith is contagious. It creates 'zones of liberation' for others and is often seen as subversive of social and political structures in the radicalness of its demands for lustice.
- Fowler notes, it is my conviction that persons who come to embody Universalizing Faith are drawn into the patterns of commitment and leadership by the providence of God and the exigencies of history.
- Deep consistent faith which recognizes that all is derived from one’s intimate relationship with the transcendent
- a way of experiencing life which is acutely in tune with .transcendent intentionality and seeks to incarnate absolute love and justice. The person is interested in transforming the present into "transcendent actuality." Fowler argues that universalizing faith is best imaged by the Judeo-Christian symbol "the Kingdom of God." His research has found very few persons functioning at this level of faith, but Gandhi, Thomas Merton, and Martin Luther King, Jr. provide illustrations of this faith stage.
- Transcending beief systems to achieve a sense of oneness with all being.. Conflictual events are no longer viewed as paradoces.
- The end point of Fowler’s notion of faith development is rarely reached and entails a Universalizing Faith, which involves a decentration from self and a resulting all-encompassing ability to care for others.
- become incarnators and actualizers of the spirit of an inclusive and fulfilled human community.
- universalizing faith, occurring in later life and involving a rare willingness to give up oneself and one's life to make spiritual values a reality in the social world. Fowler felt that most people never progress beyond individual-reflective faith, even in very old age.
- "Universalizing" faith, or what some might call "enlightenment". The individual would treat any person with compassion as he or she views people as from a universal community, and should be treated with universal principles of love and justice.
- Put own personal welfare aside and be willing to sacrifice own life in order to enunciate universal values
- Very few people ever reach this stage (text gave Moses as an example)
- So fundamental that none of us can live for long without it, so universal that when we move beneath the symbols, rituals and ethical patterns that express it, faith is recognizably the same phenomenon in Christians, Marxists, Hindus and Dinka, yet it is so infinitely varied that each person’s faith is unique.
- selfless faith, relinquishing and transcending of the self
- In this review of faith stages, we note that the circle of “people who count” has in each stage expanded, so that by the time one reaches the universalizing stage, one is concerned about creation and being as a whole, regardless of nationality, social class, gender, age, race, political ideology, and religious tradition. In this ultimate stage of faith, the self is drawn out of its own self-limits into a groundedness and participation in one’s understanding of the Holy. Those once seen as enemies may be understood also to be children of God and deserving of unconditional love. Evil of all kinds is opposed nonviolently, leading to activism that attempts to change adverse social conditions as an expression of that universal regard for all life that emanates from God’s love and justice.
- While persons of universalizing faith continue to be human, with common shortcomings and inconsistencies, they are exceptional in the strength of their passion that all creation should manifest God’s goodness and that all humanity be one in peace. In their boldness to live out the convictions of their faith, they are both freeing and threatening to the rest of us. Relatively few individuals claim this level of vision and faith-related action. Among those exceptional figures most would agree manifested or manifest the universalizing stage are Mohandas Gandhi, Mother Teresa, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and, perhaps some would say, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and anti–death penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean (Fowler, 1981, 1987).
- Paradox and polarities dissolve in a oneness with the power of being; vision and commitment free one for a passionate, yet detached spending of the self in love. An ability to overcome division, oppression and violence and co-operation in God's commonwealth of love and justice.
- This stage is rarely achieved
- Person becomes totally altruistic – incarnation of the principles of love and justice (like Ghandi, Jesus, Mother Teresa, etc.)
- Feel an integral part of an all-inclusive sense of being.
- Often more honored or revered after their death
- characterized by an “inclusiveness of all being” (Fowler, 1981, p. 200) while maintaining commitments to values such as universal justice and love. Because this stage is empirically rare (he reported only one example in his sample of 359),
- (This is a very rare stage, represented by only 0.3% of Fowler’s sample; its characteristics are usually only shown by those who are advanced in years.) Essentially an extrapolation from Stage 5, this form of faith involves a relinquishing and transcending of the self, and discovers a new simplicity at the other side of complexity. In Stage 6, ‘a person more and more becomes herself as she increasingly widens her circle of concern and truth-finding’ (Astley, 1991, p. 35).
- Beyond paradox and polarities, persons in this stage are grounded in a oneness with the power of being or God. Their visions and commitments seem to free them for a passionate, yet detached, spending of the self in love. Such persons are devoted to overcoming division, oppression, and violence, and they live in effective anticipatory response to the felt reality of an inbreaking commonwealth of love and justice.
- the Universalizing stage of faith represents the completion of a process of decentration from self that begins with the emergence of simple perspective taking in the Mythic-Literal stage. Gradually, across the stages, there has been a widening of that process of taking the perspectives of others until, finally, those persons who can be described by the Universalizing stage have completed the process of decentration. In a real sense we could say that they have identified with or they participate in the perspective of God. They begin to see and value through God rather than -from the self. This does not mean that the self is not valued: The self is included in God’s loving and valuing of all creation. But the self is no longer the center from which one’s valuing is done. It is done from an identification with the transcendent or with God. This decentration from self-a genuine participation in the quality of a divine being and love-leads to a transvaluation of a person’s valuing and to a universalization of her or his capacity for care, for love, and forjustice. Gandhi (Easwaran, 1978, p. 121) once wrote, “There comes a time when an individual becomes irresistible and his action becomes all-pervasive in its effect. This comes when he reduces himself to zero.” And then, quoting from the last verses of the second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Gandhi said, “One is forever free who has broken out of the ego-cage of I and mine to be united with the Lord of Love. This is the supreme state. Attain thou this and pass from death to immortality” (Easwaran, 1978, p. 122).
- a faith outlook that was both consistent and comfortable with the unanswerable questions of life since the emphasis rests solely on one’s relationship with the transcendent.
- The persons whom we identify as representing this stage demonstrate
- that quality of universalizing and inclusive commitment to love and justice in a sustained way. They live as though a commonwealth of love and justice were already reality among us. They create zones of liberation for the rest of us, and we experience them as both liberating and as threatening. Many of these persons do not die natural deaths because they engage in the dangerous occupation of confronting us with our involvement in and attachments to dehumanizing structures of opposition to the commonwealth of love and justice.
- Aspect A: Form of Logic--The person at Stage 6 is able to use the logical forms of all previous stages, but will not necessarily be limited to any one of them. One might expect statements at stage 6 to display a functional ordering of logical forms; that is, the use of the logic that the individual considers most appropriate to the subject matter involved. Beyond this, however, one would also expect to see the ability to reason "synthetically." This form of reasoning would transcend or resolve the paradoxes and dialectical tensions of stage 5, not through suppression of paradox and difference, but by the apprehension of hidden principles of unity which underlie paradoxes; Logic at stage 6 will show the ability to reason synthetically: to find unities beyond diversity and to resolve paradox by finding a deeper level of analysis. Often these instances of synthetic reasoning will display novelty and originality. 2. Logic at stage 6 should evidence an awareness of paradox and dichotomy and be able to resolve these tensions without ignoring or collapsing one pole of the dilemma.
- Aspect B: Social Perspective Taking---Social perspective taking at stage 6 is in mutuality with the Commonwealth of being. It is important that this quality be more than an abstract tenet. It should be a concrete ability to take the perspective of an actual other, regardless of differences from or similarities to the self. The interviewer/coder may discover in stage 6 responses a radical identification with the perspective of the other and a valuing of the other for his or her role in realizing the potential of being; 1. Perspective taking at stage 6 will be concrete. When interviewing, it is wise to probe for concrete examples of the person's ability to understand and identify with others' perspectives. Exclude statements that do not contain concrete examples or that were not probed. If concrete examples of stage 6 perspective taking are found, then the excluded statements can be re-evaluated in light of these responses during the second reading of the interview. 2. Perspective taking at stage 6 can also be expressed as a "felt sense" of solidarity with others--both with individuals and groups--provided that the concreteness criterion (1) above is met. 3. The notion of the "absoluteness of the particular" applies well to perspective taking at stage 6. At this stage persons often identify with the perspective of the other because the perspective of that other is representative of a larger group or of the whole. 4. The felt sense of solidarity or identification with the perspective of others (criterion #2, above) should not be confused with the fusion which can occur at other stages. In order for a statement or an interview to be coded as stage 6, a sense of individual identity should be present. Often this can be established by a review of the interview as a whole.
- Aspect C: Form of Moral Judgment---Moral judgments at stage 6 are principled and universal. Equal regard is extended to all persons in a moral situation and loyalty to the principle of being is used to adjudicate competing claims. Stage six also holds forth the possibility of a "higher morality" which includes the sacrifice of self in the service of humanity or of a vision of human futurity. At this stage particularly, faith development theory diverges from Kohlberg's characterization of moral judgment. 1. The criterion of concreteness applies to moral judgments as well. Be sure to probe for specific examples of how a universalizing moral perspective is or has been enacted in the person's life. 2. Several universalizable moral principles can serve as the formal legitimation of moral judgments at stage 6. In coding, pay particular attention to how inclusive the application of the principle actually is.
- Aspect D: Bounds of Social Awareness---The bounds of social awareness at stage 6 are universal. Here loyalty to the principle of being, the central structural feature of this stage, receives its concrete expression in one's identification with the totality of the human species. Each particular individual is cherished as a vessel for, an expression of, the universal principle of being. The person at stage 6 is able to enter into dialogue with persons at any other faith stage. In addition, the person at stage 6 excludes no one from consideration. The ability to take a universal perspective, however, does not mean that the person at stage 6 cannot make distinctions. Rather, he or she is fully able to exercise critical judgment. The equal regard accorded each human being takes place at a level of universal concern which is beyond that of critical judgment and appraisal. Jesus' injunction to love one's enemies and the ethic of ahimsa or harmlessness to all being in the Hindu religion are both examples of this universal concern. 1. Examples of a universalizing social awareness will be concrete. Possible examples should be probed during the interview. If there is evidence of systematic exclusion of any classes of persons, stage 6 coding regarding this aspect is questionable. 2. The person at stage 6 does not need to hold his or her perspective in suspension in order to evaluate the perspective of the other. Rather, both are ordered and brought into relationship by one's central loyalty to being itself. (cf. aspect C).
- Aspect E: Locus of Authority--- At stage 6, authority is internalized and resides in personal judgment; this judgment, however, will often have a transcendent reference. The person at stage 6 will make decisions based upon his or her intuitions of the principle of being. There is a purity of heart present here, in that one's own interests are also ordered by one's intuitions of the universal. 1. Statements displaying stage 6 locus of authority may appeal to a principle (such as ahimsa or neighbor-love), a personal experience or intuition, scripture or the writings of others. It is important in analyzing a potentially stage 6 interview to assess how these appeals are being made. For example, is scripture the authority or is it being used to illustrate a principle derived in some other way? In order to be coded stage 6, the response should reflect authority as residing in a personal judgment based on a direct and disciplined intuition of the universal. Persons at stage 6 will often display a commitment to humility in this regard; they will engage in "reality testing" of their intuitions and will not have the self-certitude of those at stage 4. 2. Statements that reflect stage 6 will display an internal locus of authority, and often this will challenge conventional authority. One should look for such challenging of convention during the interview, and then weigh this against the life history of the individual, in order to determine, if possible, what type of experience or thought process is behind this challenge to convention. These challenges are, in the person at stage 6, usually balanced by a profound respect for the proper use and function of conventional authority. 3. It is difficult to distinguish stage 6 from stage 5 on this aspect because stage 5 authority may also appeal to universal or transcendent principles. Authority at both stages resides in a personal judgment. Distinctive to persons at stage 6 is their greater inclusiveness and the way they position the self with respect to the universal principle. At stage 5 one would expect some tension between loyalty to self and loyalty to one's construction of the relationship to the principle of being. At stage 6, however, this tension has been transcended and the self too is brought within the all-inclusive loyalty of this relationship.
- Aspect F: Form of World Coherence---The form of world coherence at stage 6 is difficult to describe succinctly because there is a sense in which it apprehends what is beyond language, that to which language (to paraphrase Wittgenstein) can only point the way. Thus it is appropriate to speak of world coherence at stage 6 as a construction of--or "felt sense" of--participation in and loyalty to the principle of being. Metaphor is the usual language in which this felt-sense can be expressed, and the person at stage 6 will often attempt to express his or her universalizing apprehensions in story, parable and poem, as well as by example. 1. Statements that display stage 6 world coherence are both universalizing and have a depth dimension. They are attempts to express a felt-sense of the unity of being beyond the diversity of forms. Although they are metaphoric statements that are sometimes simple, sometimes perplexing, they reflect a simplicity that "comes from the other side of complexity." Though statements at stage 6 seek to express a "felt-sense" of world coherence, care should be taken not to confuse these statements with the "tacit system" statements of stage 3. The primary way to distinguish between the two is that stage 6 statements show greater depth and multiplicity of meaning, whereas statements at stage 3 will be one-dimensional. 2. Statements at stage 6 can also be confused with system or "world view" statements that are usually stage 4 because many world view systems contain a normative or teleological image of the goal of human life that is something like that of stage 6. The interviewer/coder must distinguish between these two stages by how the beliefs, attitudes or convictions are held. Generally, stage 6 statements have some experiential basis, above and beyond being part of a system or world view. One should examine the way in which the statements have been arrived at in the respondent's life history. By taking this factor into account, the coder should be able to make an informed judgment about whether an interview statement is possibly stage 6.
- Aspect G: Symbolic Function---Metaphor and symbol become the natural mode of expression of stage 6 consciousness. At stage 6, the generative power of symbols is realized, as it was at stage 5. However, at stage 6 there is the additional sense that the symbol or the reality towards which it points may be actualized. Symbols here are the doorways into a transcendent realm. They are the bearers of the image of human futurity toward which the person at stage 6 is inclined. Additionally, the person at stage 6 is able to use symbols in all of the senses indicated in previous stages when appropriate. 1. Use of symbols at stage 6 can take many forms. There is often a sense of authority behind the stage 6 use of symbol: that symbol and reality are not and need not be separate. It is important in analyzing symbolic function to look for signs of conscious and disciplined mediation of symbolic realities. Stage 6 persons display "simplicity on the other side of complexity." One should not confuse this "mediated" simplicity with the fusion of symbol and reality that occurs at stage 1 or the literalism of stage 2. 2. When interviewing persons who are thought to be potentially stage 6, it would be advisable to probe statements that show symbolic functioning, in order to discover how symbolic interpretations are constructed. The person's images of the transcendent, images of the goal or purpose of human life, ideas of the process of revelation and images of human nature will be particularly revealing. 3. When compared to the openness of stage 5, symbolic functioning at stage six may seem more literal and univocal due to the greater authority with which symbolic interpretations are held. Unlike that of stages three or four, however, the "literalism" of stage 6 is not the somewhat arbitrary choice of one interpretation among many, but a sensitivity to the multiplicity of meanings that a symbol can generate. The person at stage 6 displays a synthetic style of interpretation that has the potential to incorporate and explain interpretations of a symbol that are different from the one the individual has chosen.
Universalizing Faith (Mid-life and beyond), the God –grounded self
Beyond paradox and polarities, person in this stage are grounded in a oneness with the power of being. Their visions and commitments free them for a passionate yet detached spending of the self in love, devoted to overcoming division, oppression and violence, and in effective anticipatory response to an in breaking commonwealth of love and justice. (Fowler’s list of examples includes Lincoln, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, MLK, JR.) “Greatness of commitment and vision often coexists with great blind spots and limitations.”
@J.W. Fowler, stages of faith: the psychology of human development and the quest for meaning, 1981
@Parker, S. (2009). Faith Development Theory as a Context for Supervision of Spiritual and Religious Issues. Counselor Education and Supervision, 49(1), 39-53.
@Fowler, J. W., Streib, H., & Keller, B. (Eds.). (2004). Manual for Faith Development Research. Atlanta: Emory University.
@Fowler, J. W., & Dell, M. L. (2006). Stages of Faith From Infancy Through Adolescence: Reflections on Three Decades of Faith Development Theory. In E. C. Roehlkepartain, P. E. King, L. Wagener & P. L. Benson (Eds.), The handbook of spiritual development in childhood and adolescence (pp. 34-45). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
@Fowler, J. W. (1991). Stages in faith consciousness. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 1991(52), 27-45
critique of faith development theory
- structural ‘logic of development’---fails to account for ‘the rich and deep life-world and life-history-related dimensions of religion’; relative inattention to conditions and processes of transformation (transition processes from one stage to another), lacks mechanisms of change (and maintenance)
- its over-emphasis on cognition and consequent lack of attention to emotional/psychodynamic dimensions as processes of transition and transformation; neglect of the emotional, psychodynamic dimension
- its gendered bias and cultural specificity (see gender, spirituality post)
- its purported difficulty in accommodating postmodern trends in psychology; Faith Development Theory has been represented as a modernist endeavour because of its aspiration to universalism (later qualified), its separation of form and content, its conceptualization of human experience in ordered stages and its aim of being grounded in empirical evidence (Heywood, 2008).(postmodern sensibility is characterized by movement from objectivity and meta-narratives to a socially constructed world of plural realities and local narratives)
- criticisms have been levelled at the theory for its relatively insubstantial and methodologically problematic empirical base
- Fowler's concept of faith is so broad as to be indistinguishable from knowing or ‘meaning-making’ in general.
- difficulty of providing adequate empirical support for this ‘grand hypothesis’ of faith development through his chosen methodology of analyzing transcriptions of semi-structured interviews. This process involves treating each interview response as expressing one of the seven aspects of faith, and identifying the stage level of these aspects. The resulting scores are then ‘averaged out’ for a given aspect and then again across all seven aspects to identify the interviewee’s overall faith stage, which tends to flatten out scores. Interviews that span two, or even more, stages are taken to represent transition between stages.
- It is also a weakness that very little longitudinal work has been done (although see Smith, 2003), leaving the pattern of faith development largely to be inferred from cross-sectional data.
- It has been further argued that scores on measures of religious judgment and faith reasoning lie too close to those of moral judgment for them to be treated as distinctive from them;
- there is such diversity in the ‘religious voice’ that the idea of any underlying development of deep structures of meaning-making seems implausible (Day, 2001; 2002).
- A more theoretical critical question is often raised as to whether Fowler’s developmental scheme is to be regarded merely as descriptive of how human faith does develop, or as representing an intentionally or unintentionally normative prescription of how faith – and therefore spirituality? – should develop. Certainly, Fowler’s Stage 6, for which there is so little empirical support, must be regarded as a normative extrapolation from Stage 5.
- Many scholars have insisted that Fowler is most vulnerable in his reliance on a framework of cognitive developmentalism based on Lawrence Kohlberg and Jean Piaget (see, e.g., Day, 2001; Heywood, 1992 and forthcoming). Such theories, it is alleged, hardly do justice to the complex, multi-faceted nature and context of human development, or the influences that bear upon it. Fowler himself has recently admitted that ‘the most vulnerable feature’ of formalist stage theories such as his own is ‘the tendency to overtrust the structuring power of the formally describable operations of knowing and construing’, acknowledging that this can be ‘only half his story’ of what shapes and maintains a person’s worldview (Fowler, 2001, p. 169). The rest of the tale surely requires reference to a person’s cultural environment and life history, and perhaps to his or her personality as well. Fowler, with a nod to Heinz Streib (see below), even proposes his own theory of types (but of people rather than of faith – e.g. ‘rational critical’, ‘diffuse’), which could ‘crosscut stages but not replace them’.
- Heinz Streib is another who criticizes faith development theory for its narrow point of view, resulting from its espousal of cognitive development as the motor of religious development (e.g. Streib, 2003b, pp. 124–126; 2003c, p. 7). He argues that faith development theory needs to account not only for structural diversity, but also for diversity in the content (especially the narratives) of faith (Streib, 1991; 2003a, p. 36). Drawing on his own empirical studies, Streib has proposed a reformulation of faith development theory. He prefers a typology of religious styles of faith that places more emphasis on narratives about a person’s life history and accounts of her ‘life world’, as well as research evidence from the psychodynamics of a person’s representation of God. These faith styles are modelled as a series of overlapping curves, which replace Fowler’s sequence of non-overlapping stages understood as structural wholes connected by periods of transition. The curves that represent each faith style rise from a low level and ‘descend again after a culminating point’ (Streib, 2001, p. 149); each then persists at a lower level while succeeding styles come into their own. Each of these styles may begin to show its effect rather earlier than Fowler’s theory of stages would allow, and each continues to be relevant after it has reached its biological peak. At any one time, then, an individual may have access to a range of different faith styles. Unlike the sequential, invariant and hierarchical typology of stages as structural wholes that are restructured and transformed during development, this revised perspective sees development largely as a matter of an individual’s operating through and coping with his or her integration of a number of faith styles.
- Streib’s theory designates five religious styles, each of which show obvious parallels with Fowler’s stages: (1)the subjective religious style of the infant; (2) the instrumental-reciprocal religious style of later childhood, which is dominated by story-telling; (3)the mutual religious style characteristic of adolescence; (4) the individuative-systemic religious style, which focuses on reasoned reflection and adopts a critical distance from matters of belief, while at the same time hungering for intimacy and relatedness; (5) the dialogical religious style, which is more open to beliefs different from one’s own and involves a certain ‘letting go’ of the self.Streib, H. (2001). Faith Development Theory Revisited: The Religious Styles Perspective. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 11(3), 143-158.
- Jane Loevinger's definition of ego development is particularly close to Fowler's definition of faith. How are faith development and ego development to be related and distinguished?
- Fowler has not yet sufficiently articulated the interrelationship between faith's structure and content
- Fowler has not given an adequate accounting to the power of affective and unconscious elements in faith development. Fowler clearly intends to integrate the rational and passional elements of selfhood. Nevertheless, rational and cognitive elements tend to control his understanding of faith development
In the latest edition of the Manual for Faith Development Research, the authors write:
- While the perspective that faith development proceeds in a sequence of stages by which persons shape their relatedness to a transcendent center or centers of value is the basic framework of faith development theory and research, the assumption that a stage forms a ‘structural whole’ cannot be postulated a priori and prior to empirical investigation, when, besides cognitive development, the psycho-dynamic and relational-interpersonal dimensions of development, the (changing) relations to self and tradition, are included and when we theoretically allow for coexistence, for regressions to, or revivals of, earlier biographical forms of meaning-making. . . . Thus, it cannot be excluded that individuals may revert to earlier styles, that elements of different styles are at the disposal of a person at the same time.
- Taking up and trying to integrate these recent contributions, faith development research accounts for the multidimensionality of faith development, including biographical, psycho-dynamic and social contexts.
- Writing some years before, and from a far less research-based perspective, the Christian educationalist John Westerhoff also proposed ‘four distinctive styles of faith’: experienced, affiliative, searching and owned faith. He likened these to the annual rings of a tree, with the individual retaining the earlier faith style as a new one is added, and being capable of re-adopting the earlier style at any time (Westerhoff, 1976, pp. 89–103). In his later work, Westerhoff declared that he had moved on from speaking of faith development and (surprisingly) of ‘four stages of faith’, expressing a preference for the metaphors of ‘pathways’ or ‘trails’ in the journey of faith: the affiliative–experiencing, illuminative-reflective and unitive-integrating ways. Unlike Fowler’s understanding of sequential faith development, these may be travelled ‘at any time, in any order’, with the individual returning at will to an earlier track (Westerhoff, 1983, pp. 44–46).
Fowler, J. (1976). Stages in faith: The structural-developmental approach. In T. Hennessy (Ed.), Values and moral development (pp. 173–211). New York: Paulist Press.
Fowler, J. (1981). Stages of faith. San Francisco: Harper & Row.
Fowler, J. (1996). Pluralism and oneness in religious experience: William James, faith-development theory, and clinical practice. In E. Shafranske (Ed.), Religion and the clinical practice of psychology (pp. 165–186). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Fowler, J. W. (2004). Faith development at 30: Naming the challenges of faith in a new
millennium. Religious Education, 99, 405-421.
James W. Fowler, Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1981).
Craig Dykstra and Sharon Parks, eds. Faith Development and Fowler. (Birmingham, Alabama: Religious Education Press, 1986).Stages of Faith, published in 1981
Stages of faith and religious development: implications for church, education, and society, 1992
Faith development and Fowler, 1986
James Fowler (1981, 1991, 1996) pioneered the study of faith development. He identified seven stages of faith, labeled 0 through 6, extending from infancy to full maturity (Fowler, 1981, pp. 276–277). Subsequent research suggests that different levels of faith can be distinguished empirically (Oser & Gmunder, 1991; Stokes, 1987)
Oser, F.,&Gmunder, P. (1991). Religious judgment: A developmental perspective. Birmingham, AL: Religious Education Press.
Stokes, K. (Ed.), (1982). Faith development in the adult life cycle. New York: Sadlier.
Stokes, K. (Ed.). (1987). Faith development in the adult life cycle. Minneapolis: Religious Education Association.
Stokes, K. (1991). Faith Development in the Adult Life Cycle. Journal of Religious Gerontology, 7(1-2), 167-184. doi: 10.1300/j078v07n01_13
Fowler, J. (1981). Stages of faith: The psychology of human development and the quest for meaning. San Francisco: Harper and Row.
Fowler, J. (1991). Weaving the new creation: Stages of faith and the public church. San Francisco: Harper Collins.
Fowler, J. (1996). Faithful change: The personal and public challenges of postmodern life. Nashville: Abingdon.
Dykstra, C., & Parks, S. (Eds.). (1986). Faith development and Fowler. Birmingham, AL: Religious Education Press.
Fowler, J.,Nipkow, K.,&Schweitzer,F. (Eds.). (1991). Stages of faith and religious development: Implications for church, education, and society. New York: Crossroad.
Matustik, M. (1988). Mediation of deconstruction: Bernard Lonergan’s method in philosophy: The argument from human operational development. New York: University Press of America.
Oko,D. (1991). The transcendental way to God according to Bernard Lonergan. New York: Lang.
Morelli, M. (1998).Authentication of common sense from below upwards: Mediating self-correcting folk culture. Paper presented at LonerganWorkshop XXV, June 18, 1988, Boston, MA
Lonergan’s realms of meaning
Lonergan’s cognitional theory (Lonergan, 1957, 1972) as the structure to formulate such a theory of faith development.
Lonergan, B. J. (1957). Insight: A study of human understanding. San Francisco: Harper and Row.
Lonergan, B. J. (1972). Method in theology. New York: Seabury.
Conn (1986, 1998) integrated Lonergan’s thought with Kohlberg, Erikson, Fowler, and Kegan.
Conn, W. (1986). Christian conversion: A developmental interpretation of autonomy and surrender. New York: Paulist.
Conn, W. (1998). The desiring self: Rooting pastoral counseling and spiritual direction in self-transcendence. New York: Paulist.
Carmody (1988) and Creamer (1996) also noted relationships between Fowler’s adult faith stages and Lonergan’s conversions.
Carmody, B. (1988). Faith development: Fowler and Lonergan. Irish Theological Quarterly, 54, 93–106
Creamer, D. (1996). Guides for the journey. New York: University Press of America.
Ormerod (1997) proposed that Fowler’s stages of faith are to be found in Lonergan’s levels of meaning.
Ormerod, N. (1997). Faith development: Fowler and Lonergan revisited, Method: Journal of Lonergan Studies, 15, 191–208.
Fowler, J. W. (1974). To see the kingdom: The theological vision of H. Richard Niebuhr. Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon.
Fowler, J. W. (1976). Stages in faith: The structural developmental approach. In T. C. Hennessy (Ed.), Values and moral education (pp. 173–211). New York: Paulist.
Fowler, J. W. (1981). Stages of faith: The psychology of human development and the quest for meaning. San Francisco, California: Harper & Row.
Fowler, J. W. (1984). Becoming adult, becoming Christian. San Francisco, California: Harper & Row).
Fowler, J. W. (1986). Faith and the structuring of meaning. In Dykstra, C. & Parks, S. (Eds). Faith development and Fowler (pp. 15–42). Birmingham, Alabama: Religious Education Press.
Fowler, J. W. (1987). Faith development and pastoral care. Philadelphia: Fortress.
Fowler, J. W. (1990). Faith development through the family life cycle. Network Papers 31 (New Rochelle, New York: Don Bosco Multimedia).
Fowler, J. W. (1991a). Stages of faith consciousness. In F. K. Oser & W. G. Scarlett (Eds), Religious development in childhood and adolescence (pp. 27–45). San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.
Fowler, J. W. (1991b). Weaving the new creation: Faith development and public church. San Francisco, California: Harper & Row.
Fowler, J. W. (1992a). Faith, liberation and human development. In Astley & Francis (pp. 3–14). First published 1974.
Fowler, J. W. (1992b). The Enlightenment and faith development theory. In Astley & Francis (Eds) (pp. 15–28). First published 1988.
Fowler, J. W. (1992c). Perspectives on the family from the standpoint of faith development theory. In Astley & Francis (pp. 320–353). First published 1979.
Fowler, J. W. (1996). Faithful change: The personal and public challenges of postmodern life. Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon.
Fowler, J. W. (2001). Faith development theory and the postmodern challenges. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 11(3), 159–172.
Fowler, J. W. (2004). Faith development at 30: Naming the challenges of faith in a new millennium. Religious Education, 99 (4), 405–421.
Fowler, J. W. & Keen, S. (1978). Life maps: Conversations on the journey of faith. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Winston Press; Waco, Texas: Word.
Fowler, J. W. & Osmer, R. (1985). Childhood and adolescence – a faith development perspective. In R. J. Wicks, R. D. Parsons and D. Capps (Eds), Clinical handbook of pastoral counseling (pp. 171–212). New York: Paulist.
Fowler, J., Nipkow, K. E. & Schweitzer, F. (Eds) (1992). Stages of faith and religious development: Implications for church, education and society. London: SCM.
Fowler, J., Streib, H. & Keller, B. (2004). Manual for faith development research (3rd ed.). Bielefeld, Germany: Research Center for Biographical Studies in Contemporary Religion; Atlanta, Georgia: Center for Research in Faith and Moral Development.
Fowler, J. W. (1996). Faithful Change. The Personal and Public Challenges of Postmodern Life. Nashville: Abingdon Press.
Fowler, J. W. (1991). Weaving the New Creation. Stages of Faith and the Public Church. San Francisco: Harper&Row.
Fowler, J. W. (1991). Stages of Faith Consciousness. In F. K. Oser & W. G. Scarlett (Eds.), Religious Development in Childhood and Adolescence (pp. 27-45). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Fowler, J. W. (1989). The Public Church: Ecology for Faith Education and Advocate for Children. In D. A. Blazer (Ed.), Faith Development in Early Childhood (pp. 131-154). Kansas City: Sheed & Ward.
Fowler, J. W. (1987). Faith Development and Pastoral Care. Philadephia: Fortress Press.
Fowler, J. W. (1984). Becoming Adult, Becoming Christian. San Francisco: Harper&Row.
Fowler, J. W. (1980). Faith and the Structuring of Meaning. In C. Dykstra & S. Parks (Eds.), Faith Development and Fowler (pp. 15-42). Birmingham: Religious Education Press 1986.
Osmer, R. R. & Schweitzer, F. (Eds.). (2003). Developing a Public Faith. New Directions in Practical Theology. Essays in Honor of James W. Fowler. St Louis: Chalice Press.
IJPR 1/2001. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 11 (1), (Thematic Issue on “Faith Development Beyond the Modern Paradigm”, including articles by H. Streib, J.W. Fowler, J. Day, J. McDargh, and A.-M. Rizzuto which have been presented at a symposium at the APA 1999 Annual Meeting in Boston).
Astley, J. & Francis, L. J. (Eds.) (1992). Christian Perspectives on Faith Development: A Reader. Leominster, Eng.; Grand Rapids: Gracewing; Eerdmans.
Fowler, J. W., Nipkow, K. E., & Schweitzer, F. (Eds.) (1991). Stages of Faith and Religious Development. New York: Crossroads.
Dykstra, C. & Parks, S. (Eds.) (1986). Faith Development and Fowler. Birmingham: Religious Education Press
Reviews of Research and Literature on Faith Development
Streib, H. (2005). Faith Development Research Revisited: Accounting for Diversity in Structure, Content, and Narrativity of Faith. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion 15 (2).
Streib, H. (2003). Faith Development Research at Twenty Years. In R. R. Osmer & F. Schweitzer (Eds.), Developing a Public Faith. New Directions in Practical Theology. Essays in Honor of James. W. Fowler (pp. 15-42). St. Louis: Chalice Press.
Slee, N. (1996). Further on From Fowler: Post-Fowler Faith Development Research. In L. J. Francis, W. K. Kay, & W. S.
Campbell (Eds.), Research in Religious Education (pp. 73-96). Macon; Herefordshire: Smyth&Helwys; Gracewing.
Parks, S. (1991). The North American Critique of James Fowler's Theory of Faith Development. In J. W. Fowler, K. E.
Nipkow, & F. Schweitzer (Eds.), Stages of Faith and Religious Development (pp. 101-115). New York: Crossroads.
McDargh, H. J. (1984). Faith Development Theory at Ten Years. Religious Studies Review, 10, 339-343.
See Fowler, J. W., Streib, H., & Keller, B. (Eds.). (2004). Manual for Faith Development Research. Atlanta: Emory University. for much more references/ Bibliography of Dissertations and Research Projects on Faith Development
Fowler, J. W. (1974). Agenda toward a developmental perspective on faith. Religious Education, 69,
Fowler, J. (1980). Faith and the structuring of meaning. In C. Brusselsmans (Ed.), Toward moral development and religious maturity (pp. 58–81). Morristown, NJ: Silver Burdett.
Fowler, J. W. (1981). Stages of faith. New York: HarperCollins.
Fowler, J. W. (1984). Becoming adult, becoming Christian: Adult development and Christian faith. San Francisco: Harper and Row. (Revised edition published by Jossey-Bass, 2000)
Fowler, J. W. (1986a). Faith and the structuring of meaning. In C. Dykstra and S. D. Parks (Eds.),
Faith development and Fowler (pp. 15–42). Birmingham, AL: Religious Education Press.
Fowler, J. W. (1986b). Dialogue toward a future in faith development studies. In C. Dykstra and
S. D. Parks (Eds.), Faith development and Fowler (pp. 275–301). Birmingham, AL: Religious
Fowler, J. W. (1987). Faith development and pastoral care. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
Fowler, J. W. (1989). Strength for the journey: Early childhood development in selfhood and faith. In
D. Blazer (Ed.), Early childhood and the development of faith (pp. 1–36). Kansas City, MO: Sheed and Ward.
Fowler, J. W. (1991). Weaving the new creation: Stages of faith and the public church. New York:
Fowler, J. W. (1996). Faithful change: The personal and public challenges of postmodern life.
Nashville, TN: Abingdon.
Fowler, J. W., Nipkow, K. E., & Schweitzer, F. (Eds.). (1991). Stages of faith and religious development. New York: Crossroad.