Contribution to Empirical Research in Faith Development Theory

Empirical studies that use FDT are quantitative in methodology and Streib (2005) argues for more content-analytical procedures using FDT, as this research study does: It contributes to the highly heterogeneous research on faith development. As Fowler (2004) indicated, by studying the development of faith, understanding of the concept of faith improves and the impact of faith in the life of a person is explored. This is true for this study: It contributes to the understanding of developmental theories, their systemic contextualisations and the idea of a kind of circular development.

Streib (2005, p. 104) emphasises that structural evaluation is the key to FDT; Fowler (1981), includes a variety of factors, such as “life history and event markers, contents of faith, dynamics of the unconscious or the regio-cultural force field”, which are not evaluated explicitly. This study used a structural content-analysis approach that integrated the life history of Coelho, the transformation of content of faith, the highlighting of event markers and the description of unconscious and cultural aspects and built on previous qualitative research studies (Bolen, 1994; Cowden, 1992; Pendler, 2000; Real, 1995; Watt, 1997).

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