Stages of Faith: The psychology of human development and the quest for meaning by James W. Fowler, Harper Collins, 1981, 348 ff.
Each person's faith is unique, yet faith is also universal. It is fundamental, mysterious, and infinitely varied. So says James W. Fowler in the introduction to his most popular work, `Stages of Faith'. He is a minister in the United Methodist Church, Professor of Theology and Human Development at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, and Director of the Center for Ethics there. In this book he is suggesting that individuals develop their faith throughout life in a similar way that Jean Piaget proposed a theory of cognitive development and Lawrence Kohlberg suggested stages of moral development.
Some authors, like Michael Barnes, disagree fundamentally with Fowler's thesis. Furthermore, to Fowler `[f]aith is not always religious in its content or context' - another concept that Barnes takes issue with. Fowler points out that many animals `are endowed with far more set and specific instinctive guidance systems than we are.' But what Man seems to possess uniquely within the animal kingdom is conscious awareness: we require meaning in our lives. He recalls Wilfred Cantwell Smith's distinction between faith and belief: faith is our relationship with the transcendent from which beliefs are fashioned. This distinction is of prime importance in Smith's (and thence Fowler's) writing. Faith develops from our relationship with the world and other people; yet it seems then that faith, a opposed to belief, should indeed apply only in a religious context, for beliefs can be purely secular.
The seven stages of faith are given on p.52 of the book and are then elaborated on in the remaining chapters. The `baseline' for development of these stages of faith is the state during the first two years of life before an infant is capable of defining any meaning for faith. The first stage of faith proper is the trust that the infant has in those who nurture him or her - again nothing to do with religion. This Fowler describes as the intuitive-projective faith of the 3-7 year old. The mythic-literal stage from 7 to 12 years of age in primary school is characterised by pictures of anthropomorphic deities. From age 12 to adulthood our synthetic-conventional faith is characterised by conformity with that of our friends and/or family in our quest for personal identity. In our late twenties and thirties we begin to question our beliefs as to whether or not they are genuine and meaningful. We begin to take responsibility for our beliefs. This doubt reaches a climax in that period often described as the `mid-life crisis' in which we must resolve any inconsistencies in our belief system. The final stage represents `enlightenment' when we believe we see clearly what our life-path was all about and look back on achievements and try to make good any deficiencies in accordance with our faith.
This is a challenging and thought-provoking book, whether or not you agree with the central thesis. It isn't an easy read but I found it well worth the challenge.
Dr Howard A. Jones is the author of The Thoughtful Guide to God (2006) and The Tao of Holism (2008), both published by O Books of Winchester, U.K.; and The World as Spirit published by Fairhill Publishing, Whitland, West Wales, 2011.
Understanding Religion and Science: Introducing the Debate. Michael Horace Barnes
Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning (英語) ハードカバー – 1981/5/1
- 発売日 : 1981/5/1
- ハードカバー : 224ページ
- ISBN-10 : 0060628405
- ISBN-13 : 978-0060628406
- 寸法 : 15.24 x 3.18 x 22.23 cm
- 出版社 : Harpercollins College Div (1981/5/1)
- 言語: : 英語
- Amazon 売れ筋ランキング: - 426,218位洋書 (の売れ筋ランキングを見る洋書)
Mr. Kevin Snow
Of great value to anyone interested in religion and no doubt ...2015年4月8日に英国でレビュー済み
Fowler 's scientific methodology is atrocious but his book is nevertheless fascinating and illuminating, integrating science and religion in a constructive way. Of great value to anyone interested in religion or psychology and no doubt of value pastorally as well.