Spiritual Formation

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SPIRITUAL FORMATION THROUGHOUT THE LIFESPAN
BY SOMMER BARNES

LIBERTY UNIVERSITY ONLINE

Abstract

In this research paper, I will try to illustrate my hypothesis of spiritual formation throughout the lifespan by using my interpretation of a collection of theories. The theories I will refer to include Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory, Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory, and Kohlberg’s Development of Moral Reasoning Theory. In Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development, he develops a theory of cognitive development that occurs in stages from persons under two years of age through age 14. Piaget’s theory relates to the cognitive development of a human person. In Erik Erickson's Theory of Psychosocial Development, Erikson describes a theory consisting of eight stages of psychosocial development. This is in regard to personality development and the impact of external factors to that development. Lawrence Kohlberg sums up his theory with several distinct stages of development regarding moral reasoning. He presents moral dilemmas to persons, and observes how a person talks about those dilemmas. I will try to correlate my thoughts on spiritual formation throughout the life span to these theories as I use these authors’ models of mature thought, moral and cognitive development.

Keywords: cognitive, psychosocial, centration

* According to Jean Piaget, there is a sequence of maturational thinking. Piaget proposes that a child will respond to external forces in order to formulate abstract thinking of that concept. This is the beginning of a life cycle of changes in a person’s thinking and eventually a comprehensive cause and effect thinking begets more thinking leading to further maturation within a person. Using his model of cognitive development, I will illustrate one’s maturation through the lifecycle of spiritual formation. Using Piaget’s theory and relating it to the spiritual formation of a person through the lifecycle I will illustrate my theory of this the spiritual formation thru the life cycle. The first stage in Piaget’s cognitive development theory is the sensory-motor stage. In summary of Piaget’s work on this stage, an infant orients himself or herself to objects in the world; by moving and reacting the infant learns what he is capable of as well as what the surrounding world is capable of. This sequence of actions, are learned responses and reflexes that will be repeated. The infant will first direct actions toward him self and eventually direct the actions toward something other than himself. In the infancy stage of spirituality, the new “infant” or seeker, is at the beginning of a spiritual journey. Something stimulated the thought of a deeper meaning and in that thought was pleasure. The seeker will look within and become aware of a new perception in reality, one with meaning and reliant on a higher being. The second stage in Piaget’s theory is the pre-operational stage. This is the ability for thought beyond a single dimension. Piaget calls this narrow focusing on a single object or salient dimension centration. A spiritual seeker will narrowly assume that their beliefs are universally accepted or the “right” way. According to Piaget, this thinking is egocentrism. The third stage of the theory is concrete operational stage. In this stage, Piaget describes a capacity for the thinking in a visual manner *

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* About multiple concrete objects and “see” what can become of them a simple arithmetic, if you will. This understanding is fundamental to the comprehension of simple arithmetical manipulations. It is also fundamental to a second operational skill: categorization. For a spiritual seeker, one can identify with or against different denominations, beliefs, and/or higher power. The fourth stage of Piaget’s theory is formal operations stage. In this stage one will be able to think of things in a way that allows possibilities that are speculative in...
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