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Relating Faith Development and Religious Styles: Reflections in Light of Apostasy from Religious Fundamentalism

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This paper provides a relational analysis of James Fowler's (1981) Faith Development Theory (FDT) and Heinz Streib's (2001) Religious Styles Perspective (RSP) in light of a recent study of apostasy from religious fundamentalisms. Empirical support is provided for both theories. RSP is endorsed as a more encompassing theory of religious development which accounts for more contingencies than FDT. However, FDT is subsumed rather than superseded by RSP as a powerful lens through which to observe cognitive dimensions of religious development. The paper introduces an integrative paradigm, phenomenological empiricism, to conceptualise a complementary relationship between FDT and RSP as key theories in the future study of religious development.

Affiliations: 1: School of Education, James Cook University, Australia;, Email:


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