Four Stage Theory of Life Development

Here is a version of the handout┬áI’m working with at VCW

David Schmelzer, of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Cambridge gave a terrific session at the 2006 Vineyard Eastern Regional Conference. One of the things that struck me, and continues to resonate, was about M. Scott Peck’s 4 stages of development. Here is the description found on Wikipedia.

The four stages Scott Peck postulates that there are four stages of human spiritual development:

Stage I is chaotic, disordered, and reckless. Very young children are in Stage I. They tend to defy and disobey, and are unwilling to accept a will greater than their own. Many criminals are people who have never grown out of Stage I.

Stage II is the stage at which a person has blind faith. Once children learn to obey their parents, they reach Stage II. Many so called religious people are essentially Stage II people, in the sense that they have blind faith in God, and do not question His existence. With blind faith comes humility and a willingness to obey and serve. The majority of good law abiding citizens never move out of Stage II.

Stage III is the stage of scientific skepticism and inquisitivity. A Stage III person does not accept things on faith but only accepts them if convinced logically. Many people working in scientific and technological research are in Stage III.

Stage IV is the stage where an individual starts enjoying the mystery and beauty of nature. While retaining skepticism, he starts perceiving grand patterns in nature. His religiousness and spirituality differ significantly from that of a Stage II person, in the sense that he does not accept things through blind faith but does so because of genuine belief. Stage IV people are labelled as mystics.

Scott Peck argues that while transitions from Stage I to Stage II are sharp, transitions from Stage III to Stage IV are gradual. Nonetheless, these changes are very noticeable and mark a significant difference in the personality of the individual.

Peck writes about these in his Further Along the Road Less Traveled (chapter 7 I believe). He says he stumbled on these because of his counseling practice. People with really defined spirituality would leave counseling with no faith at all. But people with no faith at all would come out of weeks of counseling with a vibrant, cohesive spirituality. Same counseling, very different results. As he developed the four stages, he realized Stage II folks progressed to Stage III even though it looked like a regression. And Stage III’ers were progressing to Stage IV.

One way he describes Stage IV is that as you analyze and question, eventually you may start realizing that you’ve taken the shards of the Stage II myths and beliefs you smashed in Stage III and made a collage. Interestingly, that collage looks quite a bit like Stage II but it’s deeper, more beautiful.

I’m interested in becoming a Stage IV church in Waterville.