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Just as there are discernible stages in human physical and psychological growth, so there are stages in human spiritual development. The most widely read scholar of the subject today is James Fowler of Emory University, the writer of Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning. But I first came to an awareness of these stages through my own personal experience.
The first of these experiences occurred within I was fourteen and began attending Christian churches in the area. I was mainly interested in checking out the girls but also in checking out what this Christianity business seemed to be about. I chose one particular church because it was only a few blocks down the street and because the most famous preacher of the day was preaching there. It was in the day before the "electronic church," but this man's every sermon was broadcast over almost every radio frequency across the country. At fourteen I had no trouble spotting him as a fraud. On the other hand, up the street in the opposite direction was another church with a well-known minister--not nearly as famous as the first but still probably among the top thirty in the Who's Who of preachers of the day-a Presbyterian named George Buttrick. And at age fourteen I had no trouble spotting George Buttrick as a holy man, a true man of God. What was I to think of this with my young brain? Here was the best known Christian preacher of the day, and as far as I could discern at age fourteen, I was well ahead of him. Yet in the same Christian religion was George Buttrick, who was obviously light years ahead of me. It just didn't compute. So I concluded that this Christianity business didn't make any sense, and I turned my back on it for the next generation.
Another significant non computing experience occurred more gradually. Over the course of a decade of practicing psychotherapy a strange pattern began to emerge. If people who were religious came to me in pain and trouble, and if they became engaged in the therapeutic process, so as to go the whole route, they frequently left therapy as atheists, agnostics, or at least skeptics. On the other hand, if atheists, agnostics, or skeptics came to me in pain or difficulty and became fully engaged, they frequently left therapy as deeply religious people. Same therapy, same therapist, successful but utterly different outcomes from a religious point of view. Again it didn't compute--until I realized that we are not all in the same place spiritually.
With that realization came another: there is a pattern of progression through identifiable stages in human spiritual life. I myself have passed through them in my own spiritual journey. But here I will talk about those stages only in general, for individuals are unique and do not always fit nearly into my psychological or spiritual pigeonhole.
With that caveat, let me list my own understanding of these stages and the names I have chosen to give them:
Stage I: Chaotic, Antisocial.
Stage !!: Formal, Institutional, Fundamental.
Stage III: Skeptic, Individual (atheists included here)
Stage IV: Mystic, communal.
Originally posted by 547000
I actually find it the other way around:
I. Anti social
Though I have retained my support for individualism.
There is a saying though, that if you commiserate with your friend and neighbor, and he is kind hearted he will thank you, but if he is hard hearted, he will scorn you.
Originally posted by Titen-Sxull
reply to post by NewAgeMan
For me the stages went like this:
Fundamentalist Pentecostal -> Old Earth Creationist -> Deist -> Pantheist -> Agnostic-Atheist
Yes, but can you still speak in tongues?