Fowler`s Stages of Faith Development

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Review Part III
FAITH & Fowler
7. Fowler’s Stages of
Faith Development
James Fowler
• Famous for creating a theory of Faith
Development.
Stage One:
Intuitive/Projective
Faith
 ages 2 – 7
 Trust placed in what a
child sees and hears from
parents or guardians.
 A child absorbs all the
taboos and beliefs from
the family around them
 mirrors them back.
.
Stage Two: Mythic/Literal
Faith
or the Literalist


Ages 8 – Adolescence , but
could last a lifetime
NARRATIVE STAGE –


Stories with great meaning.
But all taken
LITERALLY
See Adam and Eve as an
historical story.
Simple explanations
give comfort!
Stage Three: Synthetic/Conventional
Faith
 Adolescence
 Most people never get beyond this stage!
 Trust is shifted from stories to being part of a
group
 Approval is important.
 Start to see contradictions but questions are
silenced and conformity wins.
 God is seen as an extension of interpersonal
relationships.. Parent, friend,
girlfriend/boyfriend.
Stage Four: Individuative/Reflective Faiththe Searcher
• Early as age 17, but usually 30s or 40s
• Begin to develop own spiritual beliefs (no
longer rely on others)
• Authority shifts from an external source to
authority within oneself.
• Working out one’s own path.
• Nothing is certain but my own existence.
– One can become disillusioned. (not a comfortable
place to be)
Nihilism
• An extreme form of skepticism that
denies all existence.
• A doctrine holding that all values are baseless and
that nothing can be known or communicated.
Stage Five: Conjunctive Faiththe Seer

People usually enter Stage Five
around age 35 or 40 (but could happen
earlier, later, or NEVER)



We realize absolute answers cannot
be found and starts to trust “the
mystery.”
Accept new views – have higher level
of relationships.
Begins the total surrender to the
Divine
Stage Six: Universalizing Faith
Enlightenment
• Few people reach!
• Called Universalizing faith because
one becomes an activist for the
universe.
• Person begins to live in the
“Kingdom of God”
• We are no longer the center of the
universe
• Have radical commitment to social
justice
Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, & Mother Theresa
Characteristics of Stage 6
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Deny self for total unity with God
No longer concerned about the normal ego needs of survival
and security,
often involves nonviolent suffering
Everything matters, yet without attachment.
Life is both loved fully and held loosely.
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