Part of the discussion that kicked off the “Hell!” article made mention of Fowler’s stages of faith. It sounded intriguing so I did a bit more digging and came up with a couple of articles which give an overview of what it’s about. The first is an article from Theology Today which covers the subject in a wider sense. The other is an overview summary specifically of Fowler’s ideas.
I think it has some merit though it’s not without its problems. I’m not convinced that it completely characterises each ‘stage’ well enough (but then, I have just been reading the overviews), but there is enough in them to see the general picture. I do think that there are indeed many people who are happy in the early stages (back to this issue of simple/simplistic faith) and I do tend to agree that moving to the ‘next level’ is pretty scary for most people. It involves letting go of what’s comfortable and embracing something that itself may still be wriggling and reshaping itself. But I have to say, in my experience, it’s a rewarding jump. And that’s perhaps my other criticism. I’m not sure that it’s a progression. I think we take leaps and tumbles, almost oscillating between lower and higher ‘levels’ until issues are resolved.
Still, it makes for interesting reading and perhaps sheds a bit of understanding on why it’s difficult to move people from a particular position.