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Number Of Stage 3 Beleivers Really That High?


Ham Clam

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I am not impressed by Fowler's stages, the empirical data is lacking for anything more than the basic stages, for one thing.  Also I have never seen anyone who uses it who has placed themselves at a lower stage currently, though they are happy enough to tell everyone how they moved from stage one or two to the more enlightened stages of 4 or 5.

 

People's beliefs also vary.  Depending on what belief one is studying a person could be at stage 1 or 2 and another s/he may be at stage 4 or 5.

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Here is a more sophisticated Roman Catholic approach, which is based on centuries of experience:

http://www.dioceseoflacrosse.com/vocations/St.John.pdf .

 

Thank you for posting this Robert. There is disagreement among good Catholics as to some details, but virtually every school of sanctity teaches those three stages of purgative, illuminative, and unitive.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fowler's_stages_of_faith_development

 

cal, that link just talks about what a "fowler" is.

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Hey thank you calmoriah...

 

Ham Clam, I was not familiar with Fowler's stages. I have to contrast Fowler with what Robert cited, describing the Catholic understanding of how the Christian has this colossal potential for deification. Union with God, in this life or the next is what will eventually happen to the children of the Resurrection who do not resist God at the end. I found Fowler's explanations to lack a supernatural element that would explain how only with God's grace can a willing soul reach the highest level of religious experience, which is even frightening for its transformative effect. On the other hand, by faith, we can begin to see that this union with God, our deification, is why we were made and realize that nothing else satisfies us. Such interior tension creates the conflict of the will that explains why the Christian life proceeds in sputtering starts and stops for most of us. I think Catholics are often misunderstood when we say that we understand heaven, the Beatific Vision, as nothing less than contemplation of God forever and eternity. One of the gifts that the blessed in heaven will possess according to the Catholic faith, is agility. Physical movement will be so swift and graceful as to make the mover marvel at his/her own abilities, and give praise to God for it.  

 

Those who have ever sought to follow the precept to "pray without ceasing" will understand that contemplation does not ordinarily mean, and cannot necessarily mean, an immobile state, but optimally would include even periods of intense activity, where one is nevertheless undistracted, with heart and mind fixed recollectedly upon the Object of all of our reverence and veneration. This would have been the state in which God's Son was continually, even during His Passion.  For anyone who has ever had this as a goal, with the distractions which invariably interrupt our intentions, the idea of a gift to be able to be always undistracted, even while "multi-tasking" to use a modern phrase, seems a blessed relief from our frustrations. In a word, we are reaching for heaven now, and if we can resign our wills to God, He will do this for us now as a prelude to eternity, according to the Catholic teaching which Robert has cited. We are assuredly all called by God to be saints at least after death, but in Catholic thought, the true saints, are those who have so surrendered their wills as to have reached that highest level in this life, and they are few.     

 

I might believe in Fowler's psychological analysis of stages of faith if I were an atheist, but never as a Catholic and a Christian. Look at his highest level. I don't men to be dismissive, but there is nothing sublime enough about it. Its too earthbound. Where is union with God? Where is partaking of the divine nature? Where is the joy of heaven in any of his stages? I would never aspire to his last stage as a stopping point. Its basically the golden rule, which is a part of anyone's code of values. You don't need any religion to hold that you do unto others as you would like to be done unto you. Who doesn't believe in compassion? 

Edited by 3DOP
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Yes, his last stage is strikingly without reference to any religious or spiritual beliefs and is a simple moral position.

Fowler appears to see moving through stages of faith to a 'higher' state as actually shedding beliefs of faith as opposed to what most people would see as growing in faith.

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Yes, his last stage is strikingly without reference to any religious or spiritual beliefs and is a simple moral position.

Fowler appears to see moving through stages of faith to a 'higher' state as actually shedding beliefs of faith as opposed to what most people would see as growing in faith.

 

Bingo!

 

His idea of progression is not based on studying actual people; it is an idealized position on faith as seen by an agnostic.

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Which is why there is no empirical data supporting him save for the first two stages which he got from someone else.

However, it is a feel good description IMO for those who see themselves as struggling....as in "hey, there is a purpose to this, I am moving to a higher form of thought, a more educated and superior way of doing things". It isn't enough apparently to just say to one self "I changed my mind when I learned new things".

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Which is why there is no empirical data supporting him save for the first two stages which he got from someone else.

However, it is a feel good description IMO for those who see themselves as struggling....as in "hey, there is a purpose to this, I am moving to a higher form of thought, a more educated and superior way of doing things". It isn't enough apparently to just say to one self "I changed my mind when I learned new things".

 

Exactly, it is a way to not only disagree with someone but make yourself "more advanced" by disagreeing. If they try to tell you you are wrong you can smugly dismiss them as "not having reached that stage yet".

 

It's like graduate school. Everyone thinks you are wasting money and your life going there to study advanced philosophy or folk lore literature but you surround yourself with people who also fancy themselves superior to others by being there and you can disguise your own feelings of inadequacy quite well.

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Which is why there is no empirical data supporting him save for the first two stages which he got from someone else.

However, it is a feel good description IMO for those who see themselves as struggling....as in "hey, there is a purpose to this, I am moving to a higher form of thought, a more educated and superior way of doing things". It isn't enough apparently to just say to one self "I changed my mind when I learned new things".

I would consider myself currently "struggling" with multiple things. The narcissism/needing to feel "special" that has spewed into my thinking since it began is a real challenge at times.  :fool:

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I can understand the need, there is a drive to balance the negative with something positive. Everyone wants suffering to be worth it. It becomes a problem though, IMO, when we start comparing ourselves with others rather than with ourselves in earlier times.

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