James Fowler's Stages of Faith

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doug
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by doug » 09 Jan 2011, 12:04

I'm hoping that if and when I get a little further into stage 5 I will be able to give Santa Claus a second chance.
The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also. -- Mark Twain

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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by Ray DeGraw » 09 Jan 2011, 17:13

I believe in Santa Claus - or, at least, in St. Nicholas. Just saying.

cwald is correct, I believe, that there are MANY more Stage 5 members than those who are in Stage 4 realize - and I think it's because Stage 3 members assume Stage 5 members are just like them, in many cases, since the general outward manifestations aren't all that different, in many cases. (Maybe they recognize a little more compassion or a tendency to talk about grace a little more or some other subtle difference, but they are "faithful members", after all . . .) Therefore, when someone smashes into Stage 4, they tend to assume the same thing - that the Stage 5ers are Stage 3ers.

I also like how Brian addressed it. However, with the caveat of my previous comment about looking at earliest age of reason and conscious recollection, I am convinced that some people really are wired more naturally to a Stage 5 point of view, generally speaking.
A baby or young child doesn't have the wiring yet to think of something like faith in such abstract terms. Like Cwald said, babies aren't going to pop out of the womb and start thinking about their faith as an object they can explore. They don't even have the language or cognitive skills to do that.


That is true, but there are some children who can do that at a young age.

I started exploring my faith as something I could construct on my own, while acknowledging the validity of others' differing perspectives for their own individual faith and consciously choosing to be influenced or not by them, at the latest in First Grade - when I read and pondered the Book of Mormon for the first time. I also remember doing something similar in the realm of literature (seeing and accepting differing interpretations of the books I read) at least by age nine. Reading "Jesus, the Christ" and Nibley's stuff in middle school (age 11) furthered that process - and keeping a dictionary next to me as I read greatly helped my vocabulary. ( :shock: :crazy: )

I'm using that as an example only to say that the type of journey Fowler describes is accurate as a general rule for the majority of people. I think it's a VERY good general rule - but it still is a general rule. It's REALLY hard to tell if someone is Stage 3 or Stage 5 through only a shallow or cursory observation, especially for someone who isn't familiar with the whole idea in the first place. Again, that's why most members who crash headlong into Stage 4 under-estimate the percent of members who are in Stage 5 - because they seemed like just more Stage 3ers in their past paradigm.
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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greenapples
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by greenapples » 20 May 2012, 02:07

I've been thinking about the Fowler stages for quite some time now. For the past few years I've said that I was in stage 4. then I started saying that I was a stage 4 who was well on his way to stage 5.

Today I began to wonder where I am now. perhaps I am nearly a stage 5. Perhaps I already am a stage 5. I have spoken to some people who feel like I was in stage 5.

Reason being that I no longer believed and yet I find that there may still be some good in the old teachings. I do not go to church to get into heaven. I go to church because good guidelines are taught.
NO church is true so absolutely GOD CAN NOT EXIST That is stage 3 thinking.]
I would think that would be a stage 4 thought process. They become a skeptic of their religion and all religion. It is easy to become less religious or totally nonreligious without the belief of God.
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Orson
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by Orson » 21 May 2012, 08:20

greenapples wrote:
NO church is true so absolutely GOD CAN NOT EXIST That is stage 3 thinking.]
I would think that would be a stage 4 thought process. They become a skeptic of their religion and all religion. It is easy to become less religious or totally nonreligious without the belief of God.
My understanding is stage 3 largely accepts the tradition and teachings of their community and authority figures, while a stage 4 questions everything and learns to lean on their own understanding. So if someone is stage 3 in an atheistic community the above quote could be reflective of that.
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I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

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Brian Johnston
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by Brian Johnston » 21 May 2012, 10:34

I agree with Orson' interpretation. There are very few statements of faith that give clear indication on the Fowler stage of thinking *without* the context of that person's life. A statement such as "God can not possibly exist" is what Fowler would call "Faith Content." The stages of faith theory attempts to give language to HOW someone believes (the mechanics of their faith), not the WHAT they believe (the content of their faith).

I personally think it natural that we straddle 2 or maybe even 3 stages simultaneously. A person is not purely in one single stage of faith, all the time, regardless of other variables. I think the mechanics of our faith can shift depending on the setting, where we are, who we are talking to, our stress level, etc.

I particularly notice when I am sitting in a church class or in sacrament meeting mentally dissecting everything a person is saying -- breaking it down into parts, comparing what they say to history I have read, etc. That is a very stage 4 mode of engaging in my faith at church. Other times, I try to put myself mentally into the flow, and just let it permeate my soul and tell me a story. That is more stage-5-ish.
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"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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greenapples
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by greenapples » 21 May 2012, 15:19

Ah I see. Perhaps I am stage 4 and stage 5-ish :clap:
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Brian Johnston
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by Brian Johnston » 22 May 2012, 07:04

greenapples wrote:Ah I see. Perhaps I am stage 4 and stage 5-ish :clap:
People working in a Stage 3 level or lower can not generally examine their faith from an external vantage point, like you are doing. They can't generally even make a statement like that or ask these kinds of questions. They exist fully in their story, and have just begun to build the story of stories (recognizing that others outside their group have different stories).

It takes at least a foothold in Stage 4 to start dissecting one's faith, the ability to think about how your faith operates.

Transition into Stage 5 is motivated by a satisfaction with the dissection process, and a desire to willfully live the magic again sometimes, being tired of the flat and flavorless pile of broken pieces we have after we've torn it all apart inside. We become comfortable sometimes allowing ourselves to be vulnerable again to the elements of faith, and just let the stories permeate us with their symbol and meaning.
AKA Valoel
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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cwald
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by cwald » 22 May 2012, 11:18

Brian Johnston wrote: Transition into Stage 5 is motivated by a satisfaction with the dissection process, and a desire to willfully live the magic again sometimes, being tired of the flat and flavorless pile of broken pieces we have after we've torn it all apart inside. We become comfortable sometimes allowing ourselves to be vulnerable again to the elements of faith, and just let the stories permeate us with their symbol and meaning.

Ahhh. Someday. Perhaps. Someday.
  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

WeightyMatters

Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by WeightyMatters » 25 May 2012, 10:11

My interpretation of the stages:

Stage 3: Accepting what your faith tells you as complete truth.

Stage 4: Realizing that your faith is not the whole truth and dissecting what you think is the truth.

Stage 5: Accepting the truth you have discovered and living it to the fullest. Well at the same time realizing all people have different truths they have discovered.

Stage 6: Desires to share the truth you have discovered to make the world a better place.

That is my interpretation of the stages, correct me where I am wrong.

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cwald
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Re: James Fowler's Stages of Faith

Post by cwald » 27 May 2012, 19:04

WeightyMatters wrote:My interpretation of the stages:...

Stage 6: Desires to share the truth you have discovered to make the world a better place.

That is my interpretation of the stages, correct me where I am wrong.
Stage 6 is usually reserved for martyers. I think it goes much deeper than just sharing your belief to make the world a better place....but I can't explain it. Its really the one stage that I don't understand or know what it truly means, or suppose to mean.


I guess I will worry about that if I can ever move out of stage 4 for long enough to get comfortable in stage 5.
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  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

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