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Fowlers’ Stages of Faith Development Theory

The faith development stages are divided into a pre-stage (Stage 0), three lower stages of development (Stages 1-3), which usually occur from childhood up to adulthood, and three higher stages of development (Stages 4-6), which are usually experienced in adulthood or might even never be attained (Ashdown & Gibbons, 2012). Although all stages are worth developing and build onto one another, Fowler (1981, p. 101) highlights that the later stages are more comprehensive and adequate than earlier stages of development (Fowler, 1981, p. 101) and the last stage is described as a philosophical and theological tradition and commitment (Astley, 2009, p. 5) rather than a practical development stage.

Each stage level allows for the development of greater self-knowledge, as well as greater intimacy with others and God (Fowler, 1981, 1987). While developing through these stages, human beings develop a “disposition of faith” (Fowler, 1987, p. 56), which involves both cognitive and emotional aspects of the self.

 
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