For both the Missional Church and spiritual formation course this week, we looked and are looking at various faith development models, thinking about how people go about changing (in the Missional course toward changing attitudes toward mission, in the spiritual formation course about changing individually).
In the spiritual formation course, Change and Transformation, the whole class basically by partial coincidence, ended up looking at either James Fowler or M. Scott Peck. Peck's looked to me like a modification of Kierkegaard: 1) chaotic, 2) fundamentalist, 3) agnostic, and 4) mystic. Fowler's has 7 stages, the first four of which he finds fairly normal and the last 3 of which he suggested only some people reach.
Part of the assignment was to come up with one's own sense of faith development stages and I found myself coming up with more of a Venn diagram, which I will only talk through here:
1. Default: unreflective faith or non-faith
One begins with an inherited default set of beliefs and practices or non-beliefs, etc.
2. Path 1: never becoming reflective
A person might never reflect on the beliefs or non-beliefs and practices they inherited from their parents or environment their entire life.
3. Moments of reflection
For most people their default faith comes to various moments of reflection to various degrees. In these moments, they will make faith choices.
4. Path 2: from faith toward non-faith
Some people whose default is faith will move to varying degrees away from faith and faith practices.
5. Path 3: from non-faith to faith
Some people whose default is non-faith will move to varying degrees toward faith and faith practices.
6. Identity commitment
A few people, not many really in the vast scheme of things, find themselves investing their core identity to a particular set of faith or non-faith beliefs and practices.
7. Path 4: commitment to fundamentalist faith or non-faith
Some commit themselves to a rather rigid and narrow approach to faith or non-faith, usually with a very cognitive orientation. Yes, there are fundamentalist atheists.
8. Path 5: commitment to mystical faith or agnosticism
Another set of individuals commit to a more personal and existential approach to faith or non-faith. The person of faith cannot fully explicate the basis for their beliefs and practices but they are at peace with them. Similarly, the agnostic cannot deny the possibility of faith but is at peace with a doubtful uncertainty.