James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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nibbler
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by nibbler » 18 Nov 2013, 10:54

I just got through reading the entire thread (it took some time) and I have to say... thanks.

Thanks to everyone that commented in this thread. In many, many ways this thread has helped me to understand what I've been going through for several years now. The 2nd and 3rd pages really, really opened my eyes. Really too much to process and comment on at the moment, however I will say:
Brian Johnston wrote:You have to get to a point where you can allow religious symbols and metaphors to speak to you again, just letting them tell you their story and take you where they go without trying to force them into your paradigm of "truth." Its hard, but it is worth it.
Thank you for that comment. With where I'm at in my life I feel like this is what my new goal should be. I've always looked for and found truth from all sources, not just the church. I think having a life before joining the church has helped in that regard... but lately I've struggled with feelings that could best be described as "does truth even exist?" The end result is that I've often felt like a stranger in a strange land. At times I want to be a self-imposed hermit, at other times I need that social interaction. I've been extremely depressed for years now, I'd like to move on.

I'm a bit confused about the definition of stage 3 and how it relates to the LDS church. In church I've always heard that we believe that there is truth in everything and that if something is true that it is inscribed into our religion by default. In reading some of the definitions of stage 3 it seems like this stage fosters in some ways an "us vs. them" mindset, which doesn't seem to jive with the truth in everything doctrine. Isn't the admonition "If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things?" Couple that with Alma and planting the seed (experimenting) to see if it is good and I don't know how we come away with the notion that you can't incorporate good from sources external to the church. In fact it seems to encourage the experimentation of "truths" from external sources and retaining all truths found to be good.
cwald wrote:Maybe even better example is to leave the church in stage 4, and go back to a stage 3 that NO church is true so absolutely GOD CAN NOT EXIST.. That is stage 3 thinking.
Interesting, this might be exactly what I'm going through; however, I don't like the places that route is taking me, I still want to believe. My new mantra often uttered out of desperation is "help thou my unbelief." As much as I disagree with labels maybe it would help me with my own personal progression to first know and understand better where I am currently. After all, a journey needs a starting point.

Tolerance: I've got a live and let live attitude. Don't obey the Word of Wisdom? Don't let that stop you from coming to church. Don't go to our church but your belief system is working for you? That's fine, if you ever need us we're here, if you never need us that's okay too. I get the sense that tolerance is outside the scope of this discussion though. Everyone should be tolerant regardless.

Why I still go to church: Mostly for my family, to not be a stumbling block to them learning the good principles that the church espouses. On a personal level... I still live the commandments, I guess my activity level hinges on the church providing one of the best outlets to learn to love more and more people and to give service where I can.

I see that anger often accompanies stage 4. Maybe that's an indication that my stint into stage 4 was brief, as I've never felt hostility toward the church (for a perceived notion of being duped, etc.). I'm truly grateful for all the decisions I've made like joining the church, serving a mission, getting married in the temple, paying tithing, countless hours in church, etc., etc. That stuff has made me who I am. I wouldn't trade those decisions for anything. Anything.

I'll leave my incoherent thoughts with this:
How would a stage 4 person deal with mission work within the church? Is this possible?
Of course I don’t want to get knocked down. But the single and sole solution to that fear is to not go anywhere where I can be knocked down. And is that not already being knocked down?
― Craig D. Lounsbrough

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Heber13
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by Heber13 » 19 Nov 2013, 00:06

nibbler, thanks for your thoughts.

I realize you are doing lots of reading, but you may also want to check out one of my favorite FairMormon speeches by Dr Wendy Ulrich "“Believest thou…?”: Faith, Cognitive Dissonance, and the Psychology of Religious Experience"
nibbler wrote:How would a stage 4 person deal with mission work within the church? Is this possible?
For the most part, stage 4 person doesn't see value in missionary work because they don't trust the institution sending the message that missionaries are delivering. In fact, they probably get offended by it, and want to bash with the missionaries to want to prove they don't know what they are talking about, that there is no way to know if those things are true, and possibly to point out to the missionaries the difficult tenets of the gospel that bother the individual. Perhaps they don't bash, but silently shake their heads and say "that mission work is a waste of time", and ignore it.

Whereas someone in stage 3 has definite beliefs that mission work is right, or it is wrong. That there is one way.

Stage 5 is someone more open to talking to LDS missionaries, JW proselytizers, or other missionaries or anyone who respectfully talks of their belief in God and sees the value in how that dedication and mission spirit is carried out. Stage 5 is not just tolerance, but true appreciation for various views of faith, and seeing how multiple sources of truth provide a brighter picture than just one stage 3 source of truth.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

jhp33
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by jhp33 » 16 Jul 2014, 07:36

I just read this entire thread as well. What a doozy, but so interesting and insightful.

I had an epiphany of sorts over the last few weeks. I have felt better than I have since I started my "faith crisis."

I didn't have words to describe what I was thinking or feeling, but when I read this thread the crux of it is that I have essentially transitioned from Stage 4 to a Stage 5 view of the world. It's so different, so new and yet so exhilarating and liberating.

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MockingJay
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by MockingJay » 17 Jul 2014, 05:05

I guess I need to take the time to read the whole thread as I seem to be stuck in Stage 4. I think I have moments of Stage 5, but it hasn't stuck. I feel like Nibbler, it's time to move on.

Also wondering about the missionary work aspect. Our ward is making a HUGE missionary work push and has this elaborate program set up (I may write about that in a separate thread) and DH wants to follow the bishop and participate, but I don't. I have no desire to bash with anyone, but how can I share or lead someone to something I don't even believe in?

DH and I have also always talked about serving a mission someday. That someday is still about 8-10 years away, but now I don't want to do it. I haven't told him that and who knows if things will change, but it's just not part of my future plans anymore. Could progressing to Stage 5 possibly help me with that?

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nibbler
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by nibbler » 17 Jul 2014, 05:21

I was a WML for 2 years post faith crisis. I'd really like to get in on that discussion. Maybe you should create that thread. 8-)
Of course I don’t want to get knocked down. But the single and sole solution to that fear is to not go anywhere where I can be knocked down. And is that not already being knocked down?
― Craig D. Lounsbrough

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MockingJay
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by MockingJay » 17 Jul 2014, 07:16

Nibbler said,
I was a WML for 2 years post faith crisis. I'd really like to get in on that discussion. Maybe you should create that thread. 8-)
I'll do it later today when I have a little more time.

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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by Curt Sunshine » 17 Jul 2014, 17:22

Could progressing to Stage 5 possibly help me with that?


Absolutely. Internal peace and personal clarity and charity help pretty much everything.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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MockingJay
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by MockingJay » 02 Aug 2014, 04:31

Ray DeGraw wrote:
Could progressing to Stage 5 possibly help me with that?


Absolutely. Internal peace and personal clarity and charity help pretty much everything.
Excellent point :thumbup:

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DBMormon
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by DBMormon » 08 Jun 2015, 06:52

The absolute best document I have ever read on stages of faith. I recommend anyone here have some sort of faith crisis at what ever stage they are read this. I also wish all the TBM's could read as well

http://www.thebattleofarmageddon.com/st ... _faith.pdf

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