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Monday, October 26, 2009


the fifth page for Sunday, October 25, 2009

After two sermons in October in which I have been pondering the story of Job, I got wondering where the hero of this tale would fit in the “stages of faith development” as suggested by Dr. James Fowler. His is not the only analysis of faith development, but is the one I have worked with the most. Fowler suggests these stages, that seem to parallel cognitive development.

Primal faith is that which is formed in infancy, and reflects our basic sense of the trustworthiness and reliability of the environment into which we are born. Our parents or caregivers are the most powerful influence. (For good, or for bad, it seems.)

Intuitive-Projective faith is our pre-school stage. While our imagination is beginning to take flight, we grow in awareness of God, and of the reality of death. We are the centre of our own universe, and may operate with “magical thinking”- believing that things happen because of us.

Mythic-literal faith is our early school stage. We are taking in more of the world, and rely less on fantasy, and more on what we see and hear. Our faith is built on shared traditions, stories, and practices of others.

Synthetic-conventional faith is our early adolescence- we are pulling together a world view made up of elements we have absorbed, but likely without deep reflection on the individual parts of the puzzle.

Individuative-reflective faith is the project of our early adulthood, in which we are examining things more closely before we commit to them. Claiming our own identity.

Conjunctive faith typically arises in mid-adulthood or later. We learn to hold apparent opposites in creative tension, and we recognize that truth is more complex than we might have once thought. We become more open to other perspectives and interpretations.

Universalizing faith is the ultimate stage in Fowler’s analysis. It is characterized by “detachment”. The apparent tension between opposites seems unimportant. The movement is towards “kenosis”, spiritual self-emptying.