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Stages in Spiritual Development

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  • Stages in Spiritual Development

    I have a vague recollection of doing a thread on this on the old Tweb, (You remember, the popular one), but I thought I might put it before you again.

    In 1981 James Fowler PhD published 'Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning', which appeared in 1981. In it, he proposed that just like cognition and moral development, spirituality also develops through a series of discernible stages. In brief his stages are:

    Stage 0 "Primal or Undifferentiated" faith (birth to 2 years), is characterized by an early learning of the safety of their environment (i.e. warm, safe and secure vs. hurt, neglect and abuse). If consistent nurture 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.
    Stage 1 "Intuitive-Projective" faith (ages of three to seven), is characterized by the psyche's unprotected exposure to the Unconscious, and marked by a relative fluidity of thought patterns. Religion is learned mainly through experiences, stories, images, and the people that one comes in contact with.
    Stage 2 "Mythic-Literal" faith (mostly in school children), stage two persons have a strong belief in the justice and reciprocity of the universe, and their deities are almost always anthropomorphic. During this time metaphors and symbolic language are often misunderstood and are taken literally.
    Stage 3 "Synthetic-Conventional" faith (arising in adolescence; aged 12 to adulthood) characterized by conformity to religious authority and the development of a personal identity. Any conflicts with one's beliefs are ignored at this stage due to the fear of threat from inconsistencies.
    Stage 4 "Individuative-Reflective" faith (usually mid-twenties to late thirties) a stage of angst and struggle. The individual takes personal responsibility for his or her beliefs and feelings. As one is able to reflect on one's own beliefs, there is an openness to a new complexity of faith, but this also increases the awareness of conflicts in one's belief.
    Stage 5 "Conjunctive" faith (mid-life crisis) acknowledges paradox and transcendence relating reality behind the symbols of inherited systems. The individual resolves conflicts from previous stages by a complex understanding of a multidimensional, interdependent "truth" that cannot be explained by any particular statement.
    Stage 6 "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.
    These are all taken from here Yes, I know it's Wiki, but in thios case a reasonable summation of his book which I have actually read.)

    What's interesting, is that people can get 'stuck' in stages for various reasons. Stage 2 people for example are very rule governed. Their God is a kind of cosmic policeman. Legalism is their natural state. It's said that not many people get to stage 5 or 6.

    In EVERY religion you'll find people of most stages. I think people who are Stage 5 Christians will have a better conversation with a Stage 5 Buddhist than they will with a stage 2 Christian.

    I'd be interested in your thoughts. See here for a good summary chart.

    This is based on a similar idea and has a quiz. I know you love quizzes.

  • #2
    I'm interested in seeing if any religious people see themselves in those stages somewhere. Personally, I completely failed Stage 3. Well, I developed a personal identity, but it was one without faith. And I'm not sure about Stage 2.
    Middle-of-the-road swing voter. Feel free to sway my opinion.

    Comment


    • #3
      One of the seminary classes I'm in right now is focusing on this as a big concept. We had to write a paper where we tried to put ourselves in a stage. As you said, they said not many people get past stage 4 or even 3. My tentative conclusion was that I do not entirely fit within one stage in this paradigm, and my professor said that is considered normal.

      Of course, in writing such a paper, I do not necessarily have to fully buy into a theory, but I am at the very least to treat it as a thought experience. I found this to be interesting. I believe Fowler was a Christian.
      Last edited by KingsGambit; 04-21-2015, 10:14 PM.
      "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

      Comment


      • #4
        I've just done the quiz. It's rubbish, entirely from a Christian point of view. I'll try to find better.

        Comment


        • #5
          I went through stage 4 before I found tweb or JP Holding.
          Though I'm not an adult.
          I think this is kinda outdated age wise, but that just might be me.
          "Kahahaha! Let's get lunatic!"-Add LP
          "And the Devil did grin, for his darling sin is pride that apes humility"-Samuel Taylor Coleridge
          Oh ye of little fiber. Do you not know what I've done for you? You will obey. ~Cerealman for Prez.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Cerealman View Post
            I went through stage 4 before I found tweb or JP Holding.
            Though I'm not an adult.
            I think this is kinda outdated age wise, but that just might be me.
            Sometimes we can cycle through a couple a stages a few times. In my lifetime (I'm 60) I've swung through 4 a few times as my ideas have changed and broadened. Cheer up, you'll have struggle and angst a few times yet. I think it's a bit like a spiral. You come back to 4 at ever higher, boarder levels (in my experience)

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            • #7
              I recognize 4/5, 1-3 are unrecognizable and 6 accurately describes a vegetable.
              "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." Isaiah 3:12

              There is no such thing as innocence, only degrees of guilt.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Darth Executor View Post
                I recognize 4/5, 1-3 are unrecognizable and 6 accurately describes a vegetable.
                Spoken like the true number 2 you are.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Spite is a stinky cologne.
                  "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." Isaiah 3:12

                  There is no such thing as innocence, only degrees of guilt.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Darth Executor View Post
                    Spite is a stinky cologne.
                    You'd know.

                    nyuck, nyuck, nyuck.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I suspect the author is the one stuck in stage 2. He imagines he advanced to a mythical stage 6, but in reality he retreated into the safe mental cage of a ten year old. As such I can understand why pman is upset with my earlier assessment.
                      "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." Isaiah 3:12

                      There is no such thing as innocence, only degrees of guilt.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Darth Executor View Post
                        I suspect the author is the one stuck in stage 2. He imagines he advanced to a mythical stage 6, but in reality he retreated into the safe mental cage of a ten year old. As such I can understand why pman is upset with my earlier assessment.
                        lol. Hardly upset. Pointing and laughing, yes. upset, not so much.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          You're obviously upset because you took my criticism as a personal insult and lashed out like a kid who just dropped his lollipop in the mud.
                          "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." Isaiah 3:12

                          There is no such thing as innocence, only degrees of guilt.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            What is this I don't even..

                            There's a complete sudden shift from the individual to the individual's interaction with others at stage 6. It's like the author doesn't even know what the higher stages are so put something vague and ad hoc.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                              What is this I don't even..

                              There's a complete sudden shift from the individual to the individual's interaction with others at stage 6. It's like the author doesn't even know what the higher stages are so put something vague and ad hoc.
                              Honestly, you should try reading the book. These little statements are very brief.

                              “Some few persons we find move into Stage Six, which we call universalizing faith. In a sense I think we can describe this stage as one in which persons begin radically to live as though what Christians and Jews call the "kingdom of God" were already a fact. I don't want to confine it to Christian and Jewish images of the kingdom. It's more than that. I'm saying these people experience a shift from the self as the center of experience. Now their center becomes a participation in God or ultimate reality. There's a reversal of figure and ground. They're at home with what I call a commonwealth of being. We experience these people on the one hand as being more lucid and simple than we are, and on the other hand as intensely liberating people, sometimes even subversive in their liberating qualities. I think of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the last years of his life. I think of Thomas Merton. I think of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I think of Dag Hammerskjold and Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the last years of his imprisonment. These are persons who in a sense have negated the self for the sake of affirming God. And yet in affirming God they became vibrant and powerful selves in our experience. They have a quality of what I call relevant irrelevance. Their ‘subversiveness’ makes our compromises show up as what they are.”
                              from https://www.integrallife.com/node/40372

                              I think it's a little premature to dismiss a work without reading it.

                              Comment

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