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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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"The classic book on the subject of faith development....An extremely important work, integral to the understanding of the human condition and our sense of meaning."--M. Scott Peck
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Groundbreaking study shows how human life is progressively centered around a basic set of meanings and values that shape the faith people live by.
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Top Customer Reviews
I've always known instinctively that the rejection of religio-spiritual experience by material realists was ignorant. What constitutes something as a real experience? Not the belief claims that might become attached to that experience, but the functionality of the experience for the one experiencing it. Put another way, if faith experiences didn't work in some way, if they didn't perform some kind of practical function, we wouldn't employ them as people. As a human being expands, and their faith-identity triads become interlinked with other triads, their understanding of self, other, and the universe evolves and changes, thus propelling them along the stages of faith.
Dr. Fowler is a retired professor of theology and human development at Emory University, was director of both the Center for Research on Faith and Moral Development and the Center for Ethics at Emory, is a United Methodist Church minister, and a scholar of the highest caliber. His work builds upon Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development and Lawrence Kohlberg's stages of moral development.
I know that I've rambled somewhat in this review, and I'm still working through all these ideas, and will be for some time. The bottom line is, Fowler is profound and incredibly astute, and I highly recommend this work.
In a fictional conversation with Lawrence Kohlberg, Erik Erikson, and Jean Piaget - Fowler discusses their ideas including their influences on his conception of faith development. He provides a useful comparative from Infancy through maturity highlight each theorists' ideas. As Fowler indicated about developmental theories, "[they] allow us to speak of the dynamics of change and transformation" (p. 89). He then described his VI faith stages.
This is one of the more important books I have read, one, for the better understanding it gave me about human nature, which is my constant craving, and the other is the insight into my own personal nature, another constant craving. It is easy to say 'I'm not perfect and who is?' but it's humbling for that imperfection to be named and described. I experienced a real sense of grief and guilt for the stark proof I am not a Ghandi or St. Paul firmly entrenched in the sixth stage (duh), yet the description of this stage gave me a satisfying humility and a hope because I understand better what I should be reaching for.
Fowler's elucidation that there is more to maturity than cold, intellectual reasoning was, I thought, particularly valuable. Though Fowler's descriptions of the stages were well done and thorough enough, I would have greatly appreciated more vignettes and examples of the various stages. Regardless, this is a profound book and I will continue to review it every once in a while. Thank you, Dr. Fowler.