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Types And Stages Of Faith/spirituality


R. S. Martin

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This was written for a discussion on stages of faith, including James Fowler's book.

 

 

The people who tried to guide me had great difficulty because I had so many unanswerable questions. But they could not admit having no answers because that would make their faith look bad. That was very problematic for me, too, because I was made to feel like I wasn't measuring up. Thus I dug deeper and ever deeper to get at the truth of religion.

 

 

By the time I read James Fowler's Stages of Faith I had pretty much concluded that Christianity had no answers for my questions. All the same, I struggled with the question: Why did I see life so differently from others who lived and grew up at the same time in the same community as I did? The idea that we pass through progressive stages of faith, and that many adults never move beyond a certain stage, helped me think that perhaps because of my questing mind I had progressed to a higher stage of faith.

 

 

I wrote a paper on this and the prof suggested that instead of seeing it as a more progessed or higher stage, to just see it as different. I think that is less judgmental. Also, I did not think I passed through all the stages that theoretically preceeded the stage I was in at the time of writing that paper.

 

 

At a later point in my life I read a book about spirituality types, or was it types of faith--I don't remember for sure. That book suggested that there were four basic types of spirituality/faith. It would make sense to me to think that each person fits into one or another of those types, and grows in stages of maturity within those types. That could explain why I saw life differently from others who shared the same environment, but perhaps I was not at a "higher" stage-- just different--than my peers.

 

 

That's about as far as I ever got in psychology of religion. It's pretty abstract and unverifiable. But for me it was valuable because it suggested that being different from my peers did not necessarily make me less decent as a human being.

 

 

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