Stages of Faith

Mormon Labels

There have been a few labels floating around the web regarding the Mormons and their stages of faith: SLTribMormon SpectrumMormon Stages.

Fowler’s Stages

The BCC blog Stages of Faith simplifies and summarized James Fowler’s model from The Stages of Faith. I quote and alter quote and borrow from there.

*Stage One is characterized by infant faith — a baby who learns to have faith that her mother or father will return to take care of her.

*Stage Two is primarily characterized a world of Gods and Monsters, black and white. Another example of those in Stage Two might be the Taliban.

*Stage Three is distinguished by a reliance and trust in certain authority figures, literal belief, and an expectation of unity among members of the flock.  Stage Three is when it all makes sense, when religion usually fits into life like a glove. The vast majority of members of organized religions are in Stage Three.

Those in Stage Three are good at making connections to their own faith, often without thinking beyond the connection or rationalizing it. For example: God saves a good Christian family from death or destruction while others are not spared. Or a Mormon example might be: God spared Elizabeth Smart because of her and her family’s prayers. Notice, Elizabeth is not necessarily saved because she is Mormon, but because of prayer. However, little thought is given to other parents who prayed for their own lost children to no avail, or superficial explanations might be offered as to why their prayers failed (ie., God is testing them, or wanted their child to return home).

*Stage Four is the doubter. Stage Four consists of people who have begun to and eventually lose most of their trust in authority figures, and instead place their trust in themselves. This stage may be characterized by anger and frustration, coupled with a feeling of betrayal or that one has been lied to. Many in Stage Four want to pull back the curtain for others, so that they might no longer be “ignorant.”

* Stage Five is characterized by a revaluing of one’s faith tradition and belief. Although belief is usually not literal, the metaphorical meanings have significant importance in a Stage Fiver’s life. This stage includes nuance and paradox — the ability to believe two seemingly conflicting ideas at once. Those in Stage Five tend to believe more for what it does for them right now in life, and that might be where they find peace.

* Stage Six consists of those who become the embodiment of faith for others — Jesus, Buddha, etc.