The Christian tradition has recognized for a long time that there are different types or levels of spiritual awareness.  The U.S. bishops recognized this in their Pastoral Letter Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us when they explained that faith "is living and active, sharing many of the qualities of living things: it grows and develops over time; it learns from experience; it adapts to changing conditions while maintaining its essential identity; it goes through seasons, some apparently dormant, others fruitful" (#80). James W. Fowler (1940–2015) proposes a series of stages of faith-development (or spiritual development) across the human life-span.His stages relate closely to the work of Piaget, Erikson, and Kohlberg regarding aspects of psychological development in children and adults. No wonder Harry Potter appeals so strongly to this age group. Dylan’s popularity influences his view of God as a person, another friend. Amalee Meehan is a Faith Leadership and Governance Coordinator for CEIST (Catholic Education an Irish Schools Trust). In the first stage, the stage of nursery rhymes and fairy tales, three-year-old Dylan’s thinking is very fluid and magical. This is a pre-stage that contains the seeds of trust, courage, hope and love that will later become integral parts of faith. The invitation to write what became Stages of Faith and to publish it with Harper came in 1979, and was partly the result of my summer students Stages of Faith From Infancy Through Adolescence–•–35 03-Roehlke-4710.qxd 5/11/2005 6:13 PM Page 35 The Stages of Revelation . While some types of faith are somewhat related, others are distinctly different, with names such as common, great, genuine, and one we all hope to avoid, wavering. His growing self-awareness will influence his sense of responsibility for the choices he makes including career, lifestyle, friends and beliefs. The highest stages are people like the Dalai Lama, Henri Nouwen and some aspects of Pope Francis. In order to accompany people on their faith journey, we need to recognise where they are and allow them to fully live into that stage. Family Faith Environment--What's the Faith Environment in Your Family? For stage 2 Dylan, justice as a god value is understood in terms of reciprocal fairness. Because Fowler’s theory suggests that the majority of people in a second level school community are in stage 3, my emphasis is on that stage. It is a highly critical stage in which individuals evaluate faith-claims against personal experience, "common sense," rational and scientific criteria. I was baptised at a very young age (a few weeks old) and I went to church with my family. The theme song from High School Musical, We’re All in This Together is a wonderful reflection of stage 3, where the ultimate concern is belonging in a group. With his seven-year-old sister, Dylan shares a packet of Maltesers by counting them out – “one for you, one for me”. The candidates are guided through the experience of exploring and living out the values and convictions, lifestyle and actions that are at the heart of Christian living. James Fowler feels faith is something common to every human being, and that each person develops faith through the same six stages. Article 1. It is interesting that Fowler’s research found that 50% of all adults are still in stage 3. In classic terms, this stage marks the end of the Purgative Way and the beginning of the Illuminative Way. His insights on the primary forms of learning relating to each stage are helpful tools in this regard. During stage 2, Dylan’s egocentrism expands, albeit slowly. Fowler’s theory suggests that it is important to understand and honour each stage, and to form our expectations accordingly. Teaching and learning occur best in a group with a respected authority figure and where positive peer learning is at work. The following is his original four-stage theory. In the United States of Catholic Conference Bishops’ doc

The extent to which this god value is present in their infant lives shapes a child’s earliest images of God. How we imagine God and relate to God, ourselves and the world around us, depends on what stage we are at on that journey. • In this stage an individual experiences God's presence in the deepest levels of oneself, others and creation, transcending superficial differences.  The human analogy would be to the deep interpersonal connection which spouses sometimes feel. This awareness of God as the Holy Spirit leads to an abiding conviction that all will be well because God wills it. Conformity with peers governs everything. (I believe faith development can occur like Abraham Maslow’s self-actualization – growth in different areas, so that you are more open to faith issues in some areas rather than others. Each stage informs the next, we never quite leave it behind. THE REVELATION OF GOD. A young man I know tells of how his Dad would open the curtains every morning, look out the window and say “thank you God for a good night’s sleep and a brand new day”. Movement towards stage 4 is accompanied by a sense of identity, a “relocation of authority within the self”. Unsubscribe. Just as we progress through different physical and psychological stages, from the baby “mewling and peeking in the nurse’s arms” through schoolboy, lover, and “lean and slipper’d pantaloons” . Through loving care from parents and other adults in their life young children start to build a lived experience of trust, courage, hope and love. Conjunctive or Mystical Faith [Possible in Adults in Their 30s or Older; Rarely Before Middle Age] In this stage an individual adult become more aware of the presence of the Divine Mystery in all of life.  This awareness produces a deep sense of sufficiency, wholeness and peace, which enables the individual to accept and believe what cannot be fully understood or explained.  Faith now includes a sense of solidarity and compassion, which allows the individual to reconnect with the faith community and to live comfortably with contradictions and shortcomings within the self and the faith community.  Mystical Faith is the first stage in a post-critical attitude about faith.  Adults in this stage reject the literalism of early stages not because it is untrue, but because it is not true enough; they have discovered that there are truths (or mysteries) embedded in reality which do not conflict with, and can not be judged by, entirely rational or scientific standards. Literal faith is the first step toward a less naive and more critical attitude toward faith, although the older child's ability to subject the content of faith to critical standards is still limited. This book-length study contains a framework and ideas, which have generated a good deal of response from those interested in religion. He identifies 6 Stages of Faith Development. Imagination gets a little tempered by logic. One of Fowler’s interviewees, 10-year-old Beth, gives a wonderful example of this. • In this stage the older child, young adults and many adults image God as an authority figure who holds the group -- and the world -- together by enforcing order -- a kind of cosmic "Godfather" with whom one exchanges "favors," who rewards loyalty and punishes disloyalty.  In this sense, God may be loving and merciful, but never at the expense of justice.Â, 5. Personal Faith [Dominant in Adults Age 20 and Older] This stage is sometimes characterized as a period of rebellion or withdrawal, a kind of spiritual adolescence.  In this stage individuals are rethinking the conventions and convictions of the group as they search for a personal faith, independent of the individuals and groups they relied upon as children and young adults.  This stage may be marked by a certain amount of ambivalence and confusion -- both a desire to belong and a need to be independent. So says James W. Fowler in the introduction to his most popular work, `Stages of Faith'. Inquiry: the initial period before you decide to enter the Catholic Church. . Let’s focus here on the first three of Fowler’s stages, using Dylan’s (not a real person) path from childhood to early adulthood as an illustration. Adult Stages of Faith • Self-Assessment Read each of the following statements. Just as human life develops in stages — infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood — so too life in the Spirit develops in stages. A deep seeded drive to prove oneself to one’s peers is as potent a ‘god value’ as the desire to help those most in need. Westerhoff labels the four stages of faith development: experienced faith, affiliative faith, searching faith, and owned faith. This period models for the newly initiated members the lifelong process of faith development. In many ways it is this very blurred line between what’s real and what’s not that makes children of this age such fun to be with. Stage 5: Conjunctive Faith (Middle-Later Adulthood)– This is the “wisdom stage” of faith. Subscribe In 1981 James Fowler, a professor of theology and human development at Emory University, identified seven "stages" or types of faith which tend, as a general rule, to emerge as individuals grow and mature.  Fowler explained his stages of faith in two books, Stages of Faith (1981) and Becoming Adult, Becoming Christian (1984).  Other observers have also identified stages or types of faith, although most tend to explain faith development in broader categories or more generalized stages than Fowler. Stage 2 brings an increased awareness of other people and how we relate with them. In order to conform with the world wide stage of female singer/performers from Madonna to Lady Gaga, this practicing Baptist became Sasha Fierce. Amalee Meehan examines how a sense of God develops through childhood. Indeed, the timeless appeal to teenagers of school plays, musicals and drama makes sense here as it allows them to experiment with another role without risk. Stage 1 children learn primarily by imitation and repetition. Similarly for stage 2 Dylan, it is not so much what God thinks that matters, but what God thinks of Dylan. Whatever our god values, they shape how we think of God and how we relate to God, which in turn shapes how we relate to ourselves, others and the greater world. 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Of course this has taken on a whole new dimension with social media sites such as Facebook and Bebo. Marriage/How To Get Married in the Catholic Church, Parenting Formation in the Waterloo Parishes. "  Imaginative faith is almost entirely non-critical or naive, in the sense that children for the most part lack the knowledge, experience and insight to evaluate or judge the content of faith against objective criteria. The basic theory can be applied, not only to those in traditional faiths, but those who follow alternative spiritualities or secular worldviews as well. 7. Universal Faith [Rare in a Few Adults During or After Middle Age] In this stage an individual's faith is shaped by an intense awareness of the unity of all living things and the oneness of God's creation.  A vision of the Kingdom of God breaking into everyday reality frees the individual to be both radically detached from self and passionately committed to living a life of self-sacrificing love marked by transcendent values like truth, justice and love and devoted to overcoming division, oppression and violence of every kind. Experienced faith grows by participating in the customs and rituals of our faith tradition with other Christians. So says James Fowler, former Harvard professor and developmental psychologist. In the absence of an authority figure, the authority of the group will prevail. In the first three stages of faith development, people rely on some authority outside themselves for their beliefs. (1976) and was later reduced to three stages in A developmental stages (see article on moral development) as well as other theories of human development. Form action Fowler identifies six stages from early childhood to fully mature adult. [ Placeholder content for popup link ] I had not prayed to him for ages, and so I was really mean to him, so I had to give him extra love, and I felt really good after that, but when I wasn’t praying, I felt really, really bad,” she said. He can’t always explain why something is important to him; he just knows that it is. The individual's life and faith center on an awareness of God's transforming presence.  The rare individuals who reach this level live lives of totally self-less love, uncompromised by concerns for personal status, comfort or security. It is filled with fantasy and not bound by logic. Dylan’s ultimate concerns are of food and warmth and shelter, but most importantly of being loved. Learn More • Download a self-assessment which might help you decide what stage you are at or what stage you are    yearning for. Fowler explained his stages of faith in two books, Stages of Faith (1981) and Becoming Adult, Becoming Christian (1984). define six stages in faith's development. For Fowler, it is hugely significant that stage 2 children can “tell self-generated stories that make it possible to conserve, communicate and compare their experiences and meanings.” In other words, a primary teaching and learning methodology for stage 2 children is story. Inquiry: the initial period before you decide to enter the Catholic Church. Fowler describes how the ‘buzzing confusion’ of stage 1 is replaced with the ability to coordinate one’s own perspective with that of another. Just as there are discernible stages in human physical and psychological growth, so there are stages in human spiritual development. How we imagine God and relate to God, ourselves and the world around us, depends on what stage we are at on that journey. The god value Fowler identifies at this stage is safety and security. In his book 1981 book Stages of Faith, James W. Fowler developed a theory of six stages that people go through as their faith matures based on the Piaget stages and Kohlberg stages. The Catholic Kindergarten program is a child-centred, developmentally appropriate, integrated faith-based program of learning for four- and five-year-old children. The ‘god values’ in our lives are the things that concern us ultimately. The first, a four-stage theory, was printed in his exceptional volume entitled Will our Children Have Faith? The experience of stage 2 children is of a more predictable and patterned world. He chats to Barney, cuddles and admonishes him; he relates to Barney exactly as others relate to him. As Fowler sees it, faith has to do with what values have centering power in our lives – what we consider as really important. (1976) and was later reduced to three stages in A Faithful Church (1981). Stages of faith and the church! The Irish Catholic is Ireland’s biggest and best-selling religious newspaper. In my faith development work with school communities, one thing has become very clear – people are at different stages on their faith journey. His theory has influenced the entire field of Christian catechesis, religious education and faith development over the last 50 years. And they are not always mutually exclusive. Westerhoff presented two separate theories of faith development in his writings. Rate your response using the following scale: (1) strongly disagree (2) disagree (3) … Christian faith is based on God's promises, rather than feelings, or things visible. It is fundamental, mysterious, and infinitely varied. Today I’m thinking about our third session with him, on the 4 Stages of Faith Development (If you want to read the first couple of posts you can find them by clicking here: Inherited Faith vs. the Faith We Will Live and/or Reading the Bible Naked). WordPress Download Manager - Best Download Management Plugin, Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Magnificat - Delivery to Ireland and Northern Ireland Only, The Irish Catholic Newspaper - Digital Edition, The Irish Catholic Newspaper - Delivery Abroad, The Irish Catholic Newspaper - Delivery to Ireland, Parishes hailed for ‘trojan work’ as priests ready for busy Christmas, ‘Loneliness is killing me Father’ – priest tells of plight of lonely parishioners, Parishes working hard to cater for big Mass demand over Christmas, WordPress Download Manager - Best Download Management Plugin. The RCIA process has several distinct stages. 54 “God, who creates and conserves all things by his Word, provides men with constant evidence of himself in created realities. Pre-Stage: Undifferentiated Faith. The stage 3 god value is acceptance by others where ‘others’ largely refers to one’s peers. Humble Faith Is the First Step Among their many points, one in particular is intriguing. These Catholic RCIA stages are a good model of faith development itself, so this article will fit you whether or not you’re actually in the RCIA process. Although this stage is typically understood as an attempt to break free from parental authority, Fowler’s research found that those in stage 3 are still very influenced either by an authority figure or the authority of consensus – for better or for worse. Stages of Faith Development. • In this stage an individual's image of God defies words or images. A very young child cannot be said to have any conscious faith at all, but he or she is unconsciously developing a basic attitude about reality -- a perception about whether the world and the people in it are basically friendly or dangerous, pleasant or painful, trustworthy or capricious. Faith is considered as a holistic orientation with regard to the individual’s relatedness to the universal. In fact, our experience of each stage can effect not just our progression through subsequent stages, but our entire lives. Dylan’s faith is implicit and hard to make explicit. The first, a four stage theory, was printed in his exceptional volume entitled Will our Children Have Faith? 3. Literal Faith [Dominant in Children Ages 6 to 12] During this stage the child is gradually developing the ability to think for her or him self and beginning to ask questions about things which earlier they took for granted, including their parents' faith.  At this stage, children develop an intense desire and need to know how things really are.  They are fascinated by stories, rituals and traditions which show real people living out their faith in concrete ways.  They depend on authority figures, rules and structure to assure them that reality is ordered and safe. In 1981 James Fowler, a professor of theology and human development at Emory University, identified seven "stages" or types of faith which tend, as a general rule, to emerge as individuals grow and mature. Church Teaching--What If I Don't Agree with Some of the Church's Teachings? The child is able to unconsciously develop attitudes and perception about reality. “There is the peer pressure where, you know, someone should like to get involved, but if his friends found out he was doing something like that they’d all stand around and laugh at him, and he’d be sort of an outcast. In the beginning God makes himself known. Experienced faith is also the faith of our senses. It may be more information than you need but here it is:-) Thanks for your consideration). When there is one left over, they split it down the middle. The bishops also noted that “with regard to people involved in the development and production of vaccines, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith … ii. Generally children from birth through about 2 years of age. Despite these cautions, the concept of faith development remains useful.  It tends to confirm the impression individuals have that their faith has grown and changed, that it continues to change, often in response to particular circumstances in their lives. Have the potential for faith but lack the ability to act on that potential. Fowler distinguishes between six stages (Fowler 1981, 2001): As he becomes more aware of social systems, the stage 4 Dylan will no longer be confined by conformity. Personal faith represents the individual's transition from a primarily pre-critical to a post-critical faith. Fowler's seven "stages" are not as distinct or self-contained as they appear.  The transition from one to another often takes place gradually, and usually depends upon a variety of personal and social circumstances in addition to  chronological age.  It is possible -- in fact, likely -- that individuals may incorporate aspects of more than one stage, particularly during periods when they are growing gradually from one stage to the next.  As a general rule, Fowler's stages are sequential and individuals move from one to the next along the continuum which he outlined.  However, in any given stage, circumstances may cause individuals to return to elements of previous stages.  Personal images of God, which may seem to be quite distinct in each stage, in reality usually contain aspects or characteristics of two or more different types. Dylan identifies Barney, a larger than life, singing and dancing purple dinosaur, as his best friend. Each person's faith is unique, yet faith is also universal. He identifies 6 Stages of Faith Development. (This is a chapter in our book, The Critical Journey. Although our time with Brian McLaren has ended, I’m trying to get down some of my thoughts on some of the great conversations he’s led us in…. What differs is the content of that faith. The same prayer springs almost involuntarily from his own lips every morning even now.