Applying Faith Development Theory for the Teaching of Religious Education: Sharing Knowledge to Benefit Religious Educators

Andrews Acquah, Ebenezer Boakye


The aim of this paper is to discuss the implication of the faith development theory for the teaching of religious education. In his distinction, Fowler stated that faith and religion are not synonymous and should not be considered as such. Hence, faith is defined as a generic feature of the human struggle to find and maintain meaning. Fowler holds that faith permeates and informs our way of being in relation to our neighbours, and to the causes and companions of our lives. The zero stage of faith development occurs in the first preverbal year of life and it provides the foundation of trust and mistrust on which all later faith builds. In the first stage of faith development, morality is learned through experiences, stories, images and the people that the child comes in contact with. Stage two is characterized by seeing God as an anthropomorphic being in the sky. Stage three characterized by conformity to authority and the religious development of a personal identity. Stage four is characterized by two essential features namely; a critical distancing from one’s previously assumed value system and the emergence of executive ego. Individuals in stage five begin to realize the limits of logic and starts to accept the paradoxes or contradictory views in life. In the last stage of faith development, people typically exhibit qualities that shake our usual criteria of normalcy. Following the above stages, the strengths, weaknesses as well as the implications for the teaching of religious education have been identified and discussed systematically.

Keywords: faith development, holistic orientation, religion, religious education, teaching.

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