Fowlers’ Stages of Faith Development Theory Reconsidered

The content and form of the faith development stages in the life of Coelho are analysed and discussed in Sect. 7.6 and summarised in Sect. 9.5.2. The stages occurring in Paulo Coelho’s life are similar to the descriptions and the developmental stages of cognitive structures in the life of individuals. Findings show that once the stages are reached, they are not necessarily researched for ever. Coelho revises, refines and reconstructs previously reached stages at later points in his life by consciously deepening his faith. The “stages” are rather “circles” that are deepened with each revision process. The possible revision of stages needs to be reflected in the theory.

Fowler (1981, p. 101), defines later stages as more comprehensive and adequate than earlier stages of faith development. This is true for the later stages reached by Coelho. The last stage, which is described as philosophical and theological traditions and commitments (Astley, 2009, p. 5) is not reached by Coelho. The findings support the assumption that each stage level allows for the development of greater self-knowledge and greater intimacy with God. However, the findings do not provide information on the assumption of Fowler (1981, 1987) on whether the stages reached allow for greater intimacy with others (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. Coelho seems to explore faith on cognitive and emotional levels, supporting Fowler’s assumption (1987).

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