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Stages Of Growth?


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1 Corinthians 13:11 - When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

 

I wonder if others have had – or are having – experiences similar to mine. I've gone through many of the same stages spiritually as we do developmentally as children and young adults.

 

*Believing what authority figures said I should believe

*questioning what I had been taught

*rebelling against what I was taught

*coming back to the faith of my childhood yet having matured in my beliefs

 

Yet, I still question. I have not been able to articulate what I do believe, though I know – emphatically – what I do not believe. I'm still trying to grasp some concepts I've come across in the last year or so, and some I have set aside for later as they do not (yet) fit in my world view. I find that I am far less likely to dismiss ideas that are new to me without careful (and prayerful) consideration.

 

Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Edited by Yvonne
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Very familiar.

 

 

I don't think these growth cycles are so much complete single cycles, that we go through once and for all, but as we move upward in our growth, more like an upward spiral, we repeat these stages again and again, each time going deeper, integrating more fully, what is being processed. I think that's how it has to be, it would be too much to try to work through every aspect, in depth, of all the elements of our growth.

 

Jenell

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I probably go in circles.

 

For a more complex desciption of stages based on child development you might read this thread. I am not sure about returning to the faith of my childhood step because that implies some expectations about how things work out.

 

http://tcpc.ipbhost.com/index.php?/topic/1720-stages-of-faith/

 

The mystics and the Eastern church would say that the best statements you can make about God are the negative ones. God is not this; God is not that. Any attempt to describe God will not be God either.

 

Dutch

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I have noticed it also. In my mind I approach each stage as a layer of the mind. I feel I act from all the layers, but know the higher layers of my mind can contemplate the inherent laws of life, how they relate to my being and my relationship to the whole. It is so nice to be able to con-template in the temple or higher layers of my mind. My mind seems to extract from Life what I think about it, every time I use the mind.

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Guest billmc

The following is long but, hopefully, worth reading (and discussing if desired). It is, believe it or not, a "condensation" taken from Brian McLaren's book, "Finding Faith", that describes four stages of faith. Personally, I'm still smeared across all four stages. :D

 

Four Stages of Faith Development

1. Simplicity

2. Complexity

3. Perplexity

4. Humility

 

1. Simplicity – You’re either for us or against us. It’s all or nothing.

Focus: Right or wrong? Good or bad?

Motive: Pleasing authority figures, being an insider - “us”

Perception: Dualistic i.e. us vs. them

Beliefs:

- Everything is known or knowable; there are easy answers to every question

- Good authorities/”us” are the ones who know the right answers

- The bad guys/”them” are wrong

Authorities: Are Godlike, God’s representatives, they know and give answers

Life: Is a war

Identity: In my leader or group

Relationships: Dependent or co-dependent

God: Is the ultimate authority figure or ultimate friend

Strengths: Highly committed, willing to sacrifice and suffer

Weaknesses: Also willing to kill or inflict suffering. Arrogant, simplistic, combative, judgmental, intolerant

 

2. Complexity – There’s more than one way to do things.

Focus: Effective or ineffective? Technique, winning, success

Motive: Reach goals, being effective

Perception: Pragmatic

Beliefs:

- Anything is doable

- There are many ways to reach the goal

- Authorities/us are the ones who know how to do it

- The bad guys don’t do the right stuff

Authorities: Are Coaches. They help you grow and succeed with know-how

Life: Is a game. Learn the rules. Play to win.

Identity: My cause or achievement.

Relationships: Increasingly independent.

God: Is the ultimate guide or coach

Strengths: Enthusiasm, idealism, action

Weaknesses: Superficial, naïve, overly pragmatic

 

3. Perplexity – Everyone has an opinion. Who knows who is right?

Focus: Honest or dishonest? Authentic or inauthentic?

Motive: Being honest or authentic

Perception: Relativistic, critical

Beliefs:

- Little/nothing is known or knowable; everyone has an opinion

- Good people are honest about their questions

Authorities: Are controllers, the enemy, trying to impose easy answers on the naïve, trying to us the naïve

Life: Is a joke, mystery, or search

Identity: In solitude, or among a small band of similarly alienated friends

Relationships: Counter-dependent

God: Is mythic authority I’ve outgrown or mysterious reality I’m seeking or opiate of the pathetic masses

Strengths: Depth, honesty, sensitivity to suffering, perhaps ironic humor

Weaknesses: Cynical, uncommitted, withdrawn, critical, depressed, elitist

 

4. Humility – Seek first God’s kingdom…love God, love neighbors…in essentials unity…focus on a few grand essentials

Focus: Wise or unwise? Fulfilling potential

Motive: Serve, contribute, make a difference

Perception: Integrated, synthesizing, sympathetic

Beliefs:

- Some things are known, many are mysteries; life is a quest

- There is no “them”

Authorities: Are people like me, imperfect, sometimes doing their best, sometimes dishonest, sometimes sincerely misguided

Life: Is what you make it (with God’s help)

Identity: In mutual relationships

Relationships: Interdependent

God: Is knowable in part yet mysterious; present yet transcendent, just yet merciful (faith is able to hold truths in tension – “paradoxy”)

Strengths: May exhibit strengths of previous stages, plus stability, endurance, wisdom

Weaknesses: May display weaknesses of earlier stages

 

Bill's note: In some ways, yes, it seems that I have returned to the faith of my childhood -- that God loves us and gives us eternal life in Jesus (John 3:16). But I interpret it differently in that I believe that God is love and that Jesus didn't come to hand out tickets to heaven, but to show us how to live out God's justice and mercy ("eternal life") here on earth here and now.

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That is precisely what I was trying to say! I think the shift in Authorities and Relationships in each of the stages is interesting.

 

Bill's note: In some ways, yes, it seems that I have returned to the faith of my childhood -- that God loves us and gives us eternal life in Jesus (John 3:16). But I interpret it differently in that I believe that God is love and that Jesus didn't come to hand out tickets to heaven, but to show us how to live out God's justice and mercy ("eternal life") here on earth here and now.

 

I should clarify that I returned to the practices (rather than the “faith”) of my childhood as it was comforting and familiar during a time of upheaval; and yes, I definitely do interpret it differently.

 

I don't think we “attain” a particular stage and stay there (at least I don't). Like Maslow's hierachy or even psychologany developmental stages, some of us “act childish” at times. Yes? I think I sort of slide between perplexity and humility; though I definitely show some weaknesses of previous stages! :blink:

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Another really good stages in faith development is by some Emory Professor James Fowler who worked out a very erudite academic 6 stages in faith development. I have read his book in the past and used to love to have spiritual discussions with people about faith development.I have forgotten the stages and criteria, however, so I will tell you about my Bible and Scott M Peck's 4 stages.

 

You don't hear about Peck nowadays unless you are somewhat spiritually inclined(sermon at my church yesterday!), but Peck wrote a book The Road Less Traveled which was a best seller in the late 70'. Peck an un-churched psychiatrist reinterpreted Fowler's work into 4 stages which are much more easily worked with. Stage I is children and other immature people. Stage II are most of the people you find in churches today. Stage III is seekers into religious and spiritual matters and real atheists. Stage IV is the saints, MLK Jr., Ghandi,etc., really spiritually advanced people.

Most of the time I am a Stage II and I strive to be a stage III like so many of the people on this forum are I feel. I drift from stage to stage sometimes in the same minute.

 

Peck as well as Sam Keen are my idols. Phyllis Tickle is another one. She was at that Wild Goose Seminar. Also a friend of mine Carl Mc Coleman was there. I plan to go next year. By then I will be talking about Tillich and other deep theologians with understanding to some while observing the true saints in this Emerging Church or Progressive Christianity or whatever is developing.

 

Kay

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I probably go in circles.

 

For a more complex desciption of stages based on child development you might read this thread. I am not sure about returning to the faith of my childhood step because that implies some expectations about how things work out.

 

http://tcpc.ipbhost....tages-of-faith/

 

The mystics and the Eastern church would say that the best statements you can make about God are the negative ones. God is not this; God is not that. Any attempt to describe God will not be God either.

 

Dutch

 

Yes, this reminds me of the "The Art of Letting Go", where we need to let go of all of our preconceptions about God, in order to connect with God, in reality.

 

I know what you mean about going in a circle. I have felt that way, at times. But, lately, I am thinking it's more like a spiral. I am visiting the same questions and issues over and over, but I do think a sort of slow awareness is coming about. Very slow. :)

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But, lately, I am thinking it's more like a spiral. I am visiting the same questions and issues over and over, but I do think a sort of slow awareness is coming about. Very slow. :)

 

That is exactly what i've been experiencing!

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That growth seems to follow a spiraling pattern, we keep going back and dealing again with elements of previous stages, but at ever deeper levels, or as one put it, like peeling away the layers, like an onion, round and round but ever closer to the core, is how my experience seems.

 

Something I'm feeling very much lately is the draw back to some of the books and things I read many years ago, related to matters of spirituality, consciousness, etc, that have been resting in boxes at the back of the closet for as much as a decade since I first read them. And I'm fiinding as I re-read, I'm more equipped now to get out of them things I didn't comprehend back then, that I think I just wasn't ready for yet, but am more so now.

 

It's kind of like how we may view a movie that we saw years before, but weren't all that into, but now we watch it and "get it", whatever it was we weren't ready "to get" back then. A good example of that for me is the tv series "Mash." When it was current, in my very young world view, all I saw was just another series about war time stuff, and it never caught my interest. But several decades later, I got hooked into late night re-runs of Mash, and really got into it. I wasn't ready for it until then.

 

As I now begin to revisit some of these books I read over a decade ago, I did get a lot from them then, but I'm discovering now there is so much more I can draw from them because of further developmments in my growth since then.

 

Jenell

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