Towards a New Integral and Transformative Model of Religious Education for Nigeria in the 21 st Century
Chapter Two: Faith Development in Relation to Religious Education: A Critical Analysis of James W. Fowler’s Theory
Since 1981, James Fowler has become an important resource person on the relevance of faith in the quest for meaningful living thanks to his famous study on Stages of Faith.1 For him, faith encompasses every aspect of human living. His fundamental category leads him to an understanding of faith that includes a preference for a universal concept, a non-restriction of faith to religious commitment or adoption of a certain belief about reality. He presents faith as a process that manifest virtually in every individual engagement in all aspects of life. It is a person’s way of searching for coherence in his/her field of life and giving meaning to the complex forces, values, images, symbols and other relations that shapes and makes up his/her own life and the world.2 Hence, faith in Fowler’s description is relational and dynamic.
Therefore, this chapter is divided into two sections. We shall in the first section expose Fowler’s faith development discourse; what he understands faith to mean and its role in human existence, as well as his six stages of faith, beginning with the pre-stage to universalizing faith. To critically do justice to Fowler’s faith development theory, we shall in the second section assess his contributions and shortcomings in the field of faith and RE. Thus, we shall begin by examining how Fowler’s thought on faith evolves in section I.
Attempts have been made, over the centuries, to understand faith in its existential character and the human capacity to construct its...