re: j: romans road

As I read through your statement, however, it struck me as more reflective of a Synthetic / Conventional faith style than an Individuative / Reflective one. Some questions:

I didn’t quite contextualize completely. That message is the first of probably five that are going to cover some of where my beliefs are now. Even then though I don’t quite understand you.

What I got of Synthetic/Conventional faith was that it… Well, to quote:

“[Speaking of a case study.] As his statement of a personal philosophy his view is not genuinely the result of an introspective process. Rather, it makes him one with the community – or his perceived community of hard-working men. This is the central meaning behind the terms synthetic and conventional. The Stage 3 individual’s is conventional, in that it is see as being everybody’s faith system or the faith system of the entire community. And it is synthetic in that it is nonanalytical; it comes as a sort of unified, global wholeness.”

Individuative/Reflective faith begins with the process of critical examination of those previously tacit beliefs. The example that he gives is the fellow who goes into the army and hangs out with the black soldiers and recognizes the issues with the racial ideas he grew up with. There is a distancing from previous beliefs and the examination of previous structures.

Does that line up with your understanding?

My picture of what I wrote was that of a description of that distancing process. I guess it makes sense where you can call the beliefs Stage 3, though it seems like the process is the formative process of Stage 4.

The words I’ve highlighted were (among others) sticking points for me with S/C Christianity, which I pretty much rejected by the time I was about 12. But I didn’t move into I/R until my early 20’s when I started working with A and read Fowler and Campbell for the first time.

This doesn’t quite line up with my understanding. Let me try and say what I think I see and you can tell me how it fits with what you believe…

There isn’t really such a thing as S/C Christianity. S/C has nothing to do with the particulars of belief, rather it is about the method of believing. He almost seems to be touching on identifying certain doctrinal elements with different stages and I am wondering if he doesn’t do that in some of his other books. So far though, he labeled televangelists as propagating Stage 3, but that seems like it has more to do with the method of their preaching and the nature of their appeal than with the actual message that they teach.

Is S/C Christianity just the normative view? I was raised Methodist and the whole damnation thing was hardly ever talked about. I started thinking about it more because I wanted a cohesive model to work with. Recognizing that even if we didn’t talk about it my beliefs supported certain ideas and wanting all of what I was supporting to make sense.

What I don’t understand is why the process, begun at 12, of filtering your beliefs by internal authority is not a part of the Stage 4 transition. Certainly if the decisions were made because of peer pressures they weren’t Stage 4. Does it have to be done using Piaget’s formal operational sort of methods?

I guess this sort of wanders off into ways of knowing. =)

Many, many, many people reject S/C Christianity but stay there, never really knowing that, as Fowler points out, “literalism and disbelief are not the only two options.” For me, Christianity was completely untenable without working out the set of “equal marks” which I described above. This, in my mind, is the true hallmark of I/R faith.

Is there a tie between “S/C Christianity” and “literalism”? I think I understand what you are saying; that Stage 4 is marked by a set of cohesive models and the questioning process, though the beginning of the process, is not Stage 4 in itself. There is a long examination process involved.

I didn’t find Christianity untenable when God, sin and salvation had their traditional meanings. It made sense and it worked together. It seemed horribly unfair to me, but I couldn’t come up with any reason why it ought to seem fair to me. =)

Eventually I switched the meanings to make it fit with my perception of the world, but that took some time and internalization of authority.

Will

P.S. AA, A and S made fun of me for being long winded, so I am working at breaking my writings up into more digestible pieces. =)

P.P.S. Do you have something that you would call “an experience of God”? If so, what is that mean? What is it like?

I have a journal that is working toward talking about that, but I got sidetracked in examining why I am going into the Peace Corps and am trying to work back toward digestible.

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