Casting Pearls



James W. Fowler

“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. (Mat 7:6 NKJ)


But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. (1Co 2:9-10 NKJ)

Not everybody is ready to receive the deep things of God, and that can include Christians. If you take the deep things of God and share them with a person that’s an unbeliever, or a Christian that spends more time courting the world, then don’t be surprised if they mock you, and laugh and discredit what you share.

The Psalmist in Psalm 24 asks the question, “Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? The answer comes, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully.” Not everybody ascends the hill of the Lord. Some stay behind and settle for a golden calf, other may climb part way. Sometimes you need to keep the deep things of God in your heart until the time is right to share.

Fowler’s Stages of Faith

Description of the stages[edit]

No. Fowler Age Piaget
6 Universalizing 45+? Formal-operational
5 Conjunctive 35+ years?
4 Individual-Reflective 21+ years?
3 Synthetic-
12+ years
2 Mythic-
7–12 years Concrete operational
1 Intuitive-
2–7 years Pre-operational
0 Undifferentiated
0–2 years Sensoric-motorical
  • Stage 0“Primal or Undifferentiated” faith (birth to 2 years), is characterized by an early learning of the safety of their environment (i.e. warm, safe and secure vs. hurt, neglect and abuse). If consistent nurture is experienced, one will develop a sense of trust and safety about the universe and the divine. Conversely, negative experiences will cause one to develop distrust with the universe and the divine. Transition to the next stage begins with integration of thought and languages which facilitates the use of symbols in speech and play.
  • Stage 1“Intuitive-Projective” faith (ages of three to seven), is characterized by the psyche’s unprotected exposure to the Unconscious, and marked by a relative fluidity of thought patterns.[4] Religion is learned mainly through experiences, stories, images, and the people that one comes in contact with.
  • Stage 2“Mythic-Literal” faith (mostly in school children), stage two persons have a strong belief in the justice and reciprocity of the universe, and their deities are almost always anthropomorphic. During this time metaphors and symbolic language are often misunderstood and are taken literally.
  • Stage 3“Synthetic-Conventional” faith (arising in adolescence; aged 12 to adulthood) characterized by conformity to authority and the religious development of a personal identity. Any conflicts with one’s beliefs are ignored at this stage due to the fear of threat from inconsistencies.
  • Stage 4“Individuative-Reflective” faith (usually mid-twenties to late thirties) a stage of angst and struggle. The individual takes personal responsibility for his or her beliefs and feelings. As one is able to reflect on one’s own beliefs, there is an openness to a new complexity of faith, but this also increases the awareness of conflicts in one’s belief.
  • Stage 5“Conjunctive” faith (mid-life crisis) acknowledges paradox and transcendence relating reality behind the symbols of inherited systems. The individual resolves conflicts from previous stages by a complex understanding of a multidimensional, interdependent “truth” that cannot be explained by any particular statement.
  • Stage 6“Universalizing” faith, or what some might call “enlightenment“. The individual would treat any person with compassion as he or she views people as from a universal community, and should be treated with universal principles of love and justice (Wikipedia)

Most Christians do not develop beyond Stage 3


About Terry Threadwell

Dr. Terry Threadwell has thirty five years ministry experience. Author, educator and Director of the Institute of Progressive Pentecostal Studies.
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