The Spiritual Development Stages in Everyday Language

It has taken me eighteen years to understand the spiritual development stages enough that I could write about them.

You see, first I ran into them by surprise. The story about that appears in my book Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind At first I was not really willing to accept that these spiritual development stages were really true. I was a little angry at first because if they were true, then I had a lot of work to do because I was not (and still am not!)at the last stage.

Then, as I thought it over, I began to realize that they did have some validity. They did match up to my own experience and that of other people I had known.

Reading all the different theorists was no easy trick. It took me ten years just to get through a particular one of those books!

I don't mean ten whole years. But I would start and stop, start and stop. It was not easy going. I feel knowing about the stages has really enriched my insight about religion and spirituality - in my own case and in terms of what I see going on in the world.

So I have decided to make it easier for my readers. I have tried to condense the works of the into more simple terms that most people can understand. I have named the four stages Lawless, Faithful, Rational, Mystic.

The Lawless -

The link below attempts to explain what this stage is about. Of course there are no clear-cut distinctions between the stages so nothing you find here can be engraved in stone. I have to admit I really do not have much experience with this type of person, to my knowledge. Interestingly Peck said that as many as one adult in five falls into this category. I guess lots of these people have had me fooled!

- The Lawless (click here to read about this stage)


The Faithful -

According to experts, what we are calling The Faithful stage tends to arise some time in childhood. In many cases it lasts only until adolescence but sometimes a person remains at this level for the better part of a lifetime. The link below takes you to information about this stage in some very general terms.

Of course there are no clear-cut distinctions between the stages so nothing you find here can be engraved in stone. My only hope is to impart a general understanding of what the various experts have determined is typical of people who fall into this style of spiritual development.

- The Faithful (click here)


The Rational -

According to experts, what we are calling The Rational stage of spiritual development tends to arise some time during or after adolescence - rarely before. It may last only a very short while, or it may last a lifetime, depending on life circumstances. Click on the link below to read a very general explanation of this level of spirituality.

- The Rational (click here)


The Mystic -

According to James Fowler, what we are calling the Mystic stage is "unusual before midlife."1 (Fowler - Stages of Faith, p. 198.) But it would seem that some people show tendencies toward this spiritual style from an early age - hence the suspicion that personality type may be just as significant a factor as maturation in its formation. Click on the link below for a very cursory explanation about this complex, fascinating, and counter-intuitive stage.

- The Mystic (click here)


Here is chart that might make it easier to compare the stages one with another:

Spiritual Development Stage Chart

If you want more detail, then go to the original texts, some of which I have listed here. My explanation of the spiritual development stages is just to introduce you to the topic.

Once you read my easy stage summaries, you will probably want to learn more. My upcoming book Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind is an easy, painless way to do this--or you can study all the works of the various theorists listed.


NOW AVAILABLE! WHEREVER BOOKS ARE SOLD. ORDER YOURS TODAY.