Fowlers Faith Theory & Analysis of Faith Development Written Assignment

Your replies can include dialogue regarding their impressions of Fowler’s faith theory or contribute to their personal reflection and analysis of faith development. Seek to integrate insight from the article, or relevant source of information, to support your own ideas. I have two questions below that need responses. 250 word minimum for each.

1. As outlined in Fowler and Dell (2004), the complex interaction between many factors need to be taken into consideration when discussing one’s development as it pertains to faith. In the development of one’s faith some interplays that should be taken into consideration are, “biological maturation, emotional and cognitive development, psychosocial experience, and the role of religious/cultural symbols, meanings and practices” (Fowler & Dell, 2004, p. 18).

I do not believe that one who has gone through a certain biological process can attain a greater faith base, than one who is has not went through the developmental processes. I have talked to some children throughout my life and the development of their faith is far more reaching than some adults. I have been blessed by the presence of little ones who have explained the most dramatic events that one may face in life in the most simplistic terms and their view of God and their strength in faith is amazing. I can not deny that there were calls that I responded to that shook my faith, most involved the victim being a young child. I would often find myself wondering, ‘how can there be a God? What kind of God would allow a young innocent child to suffer in such a way?” Yet after talking to a child who had endured so much tragedy at such a young age, explain the idea of God to me I found myself oftentimes gaining a stronger faith from the words of a child, who possessed the wisdom of an oldest souls. Here I was an adult with a shaken faith, being brought to my faith from the words and wisdom of the tiniest voice.

Growing up, I never had the insight on faith like the children that I encountered in my career. I was raised with a mother who also told my brother and I that God always loved us, and we knew things as being positive and negative, not so much as good and evil. In second grade we had just moved from Indonesia to Kentucky and my brother and I had a very difficult time in school, as we were seen as being different as we did not talk with a southern twang and the children knew we came from a different country. To help with the stress of the situation my mother told my brother and I to sing, “Jesus loves me” whenever we felt we needed help through the situation and it helped me immensely in getting through such a difficult time, as just singing the song brought me the peace that I needed. It was during that time that I think I really began to form an understanding of faith.

The most pivotal moment that I can remember that really shed light on the power of faith was when I was a senior in high school. I went to Salt Lake City, Utah for the day and was traveling back to Elko, Nevada, which was a three-and-a-half-hour drive. I remember I was driving just west of Salt Lake City when I began to get tired, but I continued to drive as my brother and friend were already sleeping. That is all I can recall from the trip. The next thing I remember is opening my eyes as the lights of the off-ramp going into Elko passed overhead. I drove my friend to her house and found it very hard to keep my eyes open to get to her house, then to mine. It was that trip that I realized that there was someone watching over and protecting me.

References

Fowler, J. W., & Dell, M. L. (2004). Stages of faith and identity: Birth to teens. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 13(1), 17-33. doi:10.1016/s1056-4993(03)00073-7

2. “The dance of faith development in Christian lives has the twin movements of maturation and development and of recentering and ongoing transformation in Christ. Through God’s spirit, this is an ongoing process of metanoia and renewal in the lives of Christians” (Fowler, 2004, p 27).

This statement is an amazing summary of the faith development. So often with faith, it is a delicate dance where steps are taken forward and then backward, often being swayed by the circumstances this life throws at an individual. As an individual grows in this life, gaining a better grasp of the realities of life, he or she is definitely better prepared to move forward in faith.

I had a dear childhood friend with a strong faith—until his brother died in a tragic car accident when we were in the seventh grade. The devastation of losing a child led to his parent’s divorce. The ongoing pain my friend experienced led him to use alcohol as a way of coping which then caused issues in his own relationship. One day, he simply could not any more. That was the day his dad found him after he hung himself.

I believe my friend is an example of how the interplay between one’s cognitive development and one’s faith development. The crisis my friend experienced at a formative time in his life stunted his growth in every aspect of life. I don’t believe he could see the goodness of God in light of the ongoing devastation that took place within his family. According to Fowler (2004), this stage is when he should have gained the view of God as a personal God of love. Instead, the devastating losses he experienced in the next few years caused him to withdraw from the faith.

Often, we see how childhood trauma can stunt the growth of faith in an individual’s life without the proper guidance and foundation, just as it often stunts a child’s cognitive, emotional, and social growth.

Even though some people are stunted following a crisis such as the one mentioned above, these same crises can actually propel others into the individuative-reflective faith (Fowler, 2004). When I was faced with the trauma of my husband’s adultery and an unwanted divorce, I initially wanted to cast my childhood faith aside. As I sought to move forward and make sense of the chaos in my life, I found the love of my Heavenly Father calling me back to Him. Because of the crisis of faith, I actually found myself propelled into a much deeper faith than I ever imagined. It was at this junction that I truly began to grasp who I am in Christ.

Interestingly, I was in my late 30s when I reached this stage. My boys (who are currently 19 and 17) are in the stage of re-examining their faith and making sense of this God and this life since their father’s untimely death three years ago. While my heart breaks to watch them struggle with their faith, I know the profound depth that comes out of just such a struggle. I continue to pray daily for God to strengthen them as they make sense of this world. My 14 year-old daughter, on the other hand, is a giant in the faith! She has dealt not only with her father’s death but also with her own life-altering medical diagnosis. As Fowler (2004) points out, girls seem to be better prepared because of their emphasis on relationships.

References

Fowler, James W. & Dell, Mary Lynn. (2004). Stages of faith and identity: birth to teens, Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, Volume 13, Issue 1, 2001, Pages 17-33, ISSN 1056- 4993, https://doi.org.1016/S1056-4993(03)00073-7

 
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