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Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning Paperback – September 15, 1995
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"Stages of Faith" is the first and perhaps best known work of James Fowler, who is particularly remembered in Roman Catholic circles for his influence upon the structure and content of religious education programs and study books for the young. Fowler himself appears to have been profoundly influenced by the study of Paul Tillich and particularly Richard Niebuhr, about whom the author would produce another book years later. Fowler credits both theologians for their seminal systematic work on the distinction between personal spiritual experience and cultic religious belief. [I did find Fowler's omission of Rudolf Otto's groundbreaking work on religious experience from his primary sources as curious.]
The scholarly quest for systematic recognition of personal religious experience was a new venture for mainstream Protestant and Roman Catholic academics. The established theories of human development-notably Piaget and Erikson-provided theologians with something of a language for further theorizing.Read more ›
Ever wondered why everyone seems to start life seeing things in black and white, and while most continue to do so, some people begin seeing in gray or even colors? Why every tradition starts with a list of concrete laws, and then eventually someone comes along and sums them up with one or two -- if his or her listeners will only pay attention? And why some members of the tradition feel more comfortable with the dozens or hundreds while others let them go and embrace the one or two?
Fowler deals in depth with the six stages of faith, moving from the "Mythic-Literal" that we all begin with, explaining why some of us never outgrow it and each successive stage. He then discusses the processes one must move through, which he calls "crises of faith," in order to move from one stage to the next.
He also explains why those in a low level of faith not only cannot understand those at a higher level, but are usually either distrustful, afraid or worshipful (or possibly all three at once) of them, and often pressure them to move back to the lower stage so they will feel more comfortable around them.
This book is helpful to anyone undergoing a crisis of faith or to anyone who is confident in her own faith but is being pressured by old friends or family members to return to a previous religious background.
As for his system of stages, it makes perfect sense, but I don't know how you could prove that it applies to all people in all cases. But even if it doesn't, it provides an extremely useful guide to understanding where you are in your own faith, and where others are and may be heading. For people who are ministering in any type of faith community, or for people who want a deeper understanding of their own faith journey, this book will broaden and sharpen your perspective, provided you have the patience to plow through Fowler's technical and complex prose.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a must read for people interested in a developmental approach to understanding faith development. Read morePublished 28 days ago by Alicia Crumpton
I enjoyed this book, because it shows me that there are stages in life that we go through and must know how to approach individuals.Published 1 month ago by Jose M. Gomez
Unreadable. Had hoped to use this for a research project and it is so dense that I cannot find the kernels of truth.Published 11 months ago by M. Schaefer
I'm a therapist and work with a very religious population. This book has helped me in my professional work as well as my personal life. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Rob Cox
My reading of this book, many years ago, had a very personal connection. It opened my eyes to where I had been and encouraged me to seek new possibilities for my self. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jay A. Jacobus
I can't express how impressed I am with Dr. Fowler's work here. I feel that people like Wilfred Cantwell Smith and James W. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Dr. Jonathan Katz