Sunday, January 13, 2008

Faith Development: Von Hügel... 2/3

Continuing with my notes from Gerard Hughes' God of Surprises with regard to von Hügel's approach to faith development. The first part is here

Adolescence /Critical

If 'Infancy' is where we absorb information, the stage described next by von Hügel as 'Adolescence' is where we make sense of what we know in our context through questioning. This stage is also described as the 'critical' stage as a growing awareness; the search for meaning; search for direction is worked out and contributes to a stage of faith characterised by criticising and theorising. The security blanket of simple and literal answers meeting basic needs of faith no longer makes sense within a desire to discover and integrate faith within every day life.

This can be an uncomfortable transition, as to question and to dig deeper into understanding God feels disloyal and guilt can prevent any wider exploration of God's narrative. However, to not foster such questioning has a danger of leaving a faith infantile in both belief and practice. A compartmentalised approach to God helps contribute to an understanding of religion that is considered to be a private and harmless eccentricity of a minority.

Remembering that it is easy to fall into the trap of seeing these stages as successive and to forget each stage contains elements of each other - in isolation the 'critical' stage can contribute to a cold rationalism, where faith is engaged with intellectually but is spiritually barren.

I suspect that it is at this point that most people that leave church because proof text teaching is not scratching where they are itching. Struggling to make sense, feeling isolation, guilt or a cocktail of each, exiting church is the easiest way of coping.... shame!


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Faith Development: Von Hügel... 1/3

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