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COUN 6119, Fowler's Faith Development Model

CH J.R. Lorenzen

J.R. Lorenzen

on 23 October 2013

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Transcript of COUN 6119, Fowler's Faith Development Model

Stages of Faith Development
and Child/Adult Baptism

COUN 6119
Human Growth and Development
J.R. Lorenzen

Stage 1: Intuitive-Projective
(Primal Faith)
This stage occurs during the first few months of life. The faith developed here is a "pre-language" faith in which the infant learns to believe in the relationship with the parents. The developing trust of the child in the parents is able to offset the anxiety of separation.
In this stage the child acquires language and blend together their fantasy (imagination) and reality (physical) worlds. Not yet controlled by logical thinking, the child has little capacity to separate fantasy from fact (Einstein, 1978). Fowler also believes that it is at this stage that the basic ideas about God are developed from interactions with parents and society.
Stage 5: Individuated-Reflective
The Individual-Reflective stage in the years between twenty and forty and is characterized by a critical analysis of personal values and beliefs. Prior to this stage the beliefs of individuals are largely based on an uncritical acceptance of the beliefs of others. However, in this stage, the skills of logical reasoning, problem solving and abstract thinking are exercised in order to take responsibility for personal beliefs and values.
Universal definition of faith as "meaning making quality" allows wide application
Fowler's model is hierarchical and structural in its development
Advancement through Fowler's model is largely psychological and cognitive, leaving no room for God's grace
This model is rooted in a modern mindset of mastery, metanarrative and universal meaning and conflicts with Post-modernity
Universal definition of faith that is devoid of religion is in direct conflict with the tenets of monotheism
Stage 6: Conjuctive Faith
The later stages of Fowler's Faith Development are rarely reached by the general populace. If this stage takes place, it does so later in "mid-life." It is characterized by a return to early spiritual/religious symbols, stories, metaphors, myths and mysteries. The individual embraces and integrates the opposites and polarities in life and faith through personal struggle and not based on the opinions of others.
Stage 4: Synthetic-Conventional
This stage begins to emerge in early adolescence (12-15 years old) and is signified by the ability to use abstract ideas and concepts in understanding the world around them. Societal norms may begin to shape the "faith" of the individual. This stage is also classified by interpersonal multi-perspective cognitions that culminate in a desire for deep comprehensive and personal loving relationship with God.
Stage 3: Mythic-Literal
The ability to think logically increases as the child becomes school-age. The child generally accepts as truth the stories told to them by their family and faith community. The child's belief in the faith narratives are commonly understood in the most literal way at this stage.
Stage 7: Universalizing Faith
This stage of faith development is the most rarely attained of all. Those who attain to this faith stage see the world as one universal inclusive community, regardless of nationality, religious, cultural, social class, age, gender or isolating distinctive. They seek to transform the world through a perspecitve of God's love and justice that transcends division, oppression and violence. (i.e. Ghandi, Mother Teresa, MLK Jr.)
James Fowler constructed a model of faith development heavily influenced by Piaget, Erickson and Kohlberg. Thus this model is a structural approach that is universal, hierarchical and sequential (Day, 2001).
What is faith?
Fowler defines faith as, "a universal quality of human meaning making." (1991) Faith is the meaning making process that occurs as individuals place personal trust and loyalty in one or more "centre of value" such as religion, family money, power (government) and so on
(Fowler, 1991).

Fowler's faith development model is a psychological process of meaning-making in seven stages that are universal whether the centre of value is religious or non-religious for the individual.
What do you find most useful in viewing faith development following this model?
How closely does this model fit your personal experience on faith development?
What stage (age group) of Fowler's Faith Development Model is the most problematic?
Erikson Stage
Trust vs. Mistrust
Piaget Stage
Kohlberg Stage
Erikson Stage
Autonomy vs Shame/Doubt
Piaget Stage
Stage 2: Intuitive-Projective
Kohlberg Stage
Erikson Stage
Initiative vs. Guilt
Industry vs. Inferiority
Piaget Stage
Concrete Operational
Kohlberg Stage
Social Conformity
Erikson Stage
Identity vs. Role
Piaget Stage
Formal Operational
Kohlberg Stage
Law and Order
Erikson Stage
Intimacy vs. Isolation
Piaget Stage
Formal Operational
Kohlberg Stage
Social Contract
Erikson Stage
Generativity vs. Stagnation
Piaget Stage
Formal Operational
Kohlberg Stage
Universal Ethics
Erikson Stage
Integrity vs. Despair
Piaget Stage
Formal Operational
James Fowler

James W. Fowler III (born 1940), 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 until he retired in 2005. He is a minister in the United Methodist Church. He is best known for his book Stages of Faith, published in 1981, in which he sought to develop the idea of a developmental process in "human faith". These stages of faith development were along the lines of Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development and Lawrence Kohlberg's stages of moral development. (Evans, 2010)
Do you feel that a child can have a legitimate faith?
When is baptism or a personal faith decision valid?
Full transcript