What is the development of GOD
Levels of development of faith (after Fritz Oser / Paul Gmünder)
The development of people's beliefs depends to a large extent on what experiences people have with belief and religiosity. Ultimately, the basis for being able to believe is the early childhood experience of basic trust, i.e. the experience of being unconditionally accepted. What matters are the people who convey faith and trust. Knowledge of faith is more of a "gift" as a prerequisite for mastering life believing and thus trusting. The development of faith is never completed. In addition to the experiences that people have with faith, reflection, i.e. the intellectual examination of questions of faith, is an essential part of a successful development of faith. At this point, however, be warned against "qualifying" people and their beliefs. One must warn against an undifferentiated and judgmental classification of the quality of faith. In addition, images of God that are painted by people of different ages show that the individual levels do not always correspond to age.
Stage 1: Perspective of the "Deus ex machina"
At this level, God is seen as an omnipotent counterpart, who can intervene specifically and selectively in world events, be it positive by rewarding, protecting and giving gifts to the "good" for honest behavior, or negative by promoting the "bad" rebukes or punishes. The child experiences himself to be largely reactive; the divine, on the other hand, is an absolute subject who is even trusted to crash planes.
Stage 2: perspective of the "do ut des"
God is understood as being influenced by man. The "progress" compared to the first stage consists in the fact that the child can henceforth act on the "ultimate", that is, on God. It now has the means to use God for its well-being and to protect itself from him. Doing good works, keeping the commandments, obedience, and prayer is a guarantee of God's favor and grace. Reprehensible behavior, on the other hand, entails sanctions and penalties. Indeed: The image of God is understood as if God's love is offered in the contractual framework of a barter.
This perspective was and is often used in religious education. Many people came and then do not get beyond this stage of development. This is often the source of downright scrupulous behavior. In addition, the presentation of the "Do-ut-des-Gottes" (do ut des means: I give something so that something is given to me) but then also to defenses against a God who obviously cannot be made compliant as desired. At this stage God is often experienced as a (strict) judge.
Stage 3: perspective of deism
The idea of God in this phase recognizes God as the one who created the world, but who has now left it to itself. This is the classic position of the Deism.
The second stage in the development of the concept of God shows, however, that even the “righteous” is often not spared from suffering and good works do not always protect against harm. Especially since such experiences, as they are not alien to the Old Testament man (cf. Job), can break the previous structures and conceptual patterns of God. This is where level 3 begins to form. God obviously no longer intervenes directly in world events, but drifts away into an area of his own, if his existence is not contested at all. Level 3 can also be used as a position of the "Quasi-atheism" describe. At least this stage of development can be considered a "Crisis in the relationship with God" that many people probably go through. God is understood, if at all, as an uninvolved observer and not as a "historically powerful" God.
Man himself steps into the void created by the absence of God, who from now on feels largely responsible for his fate and for that of his world and wants to determine himself.
Level 4: Orientation towards correlation and the plan of salvation
At level 4, the divine and human realms are mediated anew with one another. God appears in the world, in symbols, in cult, in his creation, in human experiences. However, the human ego autonomy formed on level 3 is not reversed. Rather, God is experienced as the condition of the possibility of human freedom. In addition, man recognizes that in his life, but also in history in general, a hidden plan of salvation is effective, which makes it possible to understand painful experiences ex retro (i.e. retrospectively) as nevertheless necessary, as steps of development. Man participates in this hidden divine plan of salvation.
As a partner, God is in a dialogical relationship with man. This position is perhaps the classic one of theism.
Level 5: Orientation towards intersubjectivity and universal solidarity
At this level, which is rarely reached, God's love and grace are realized in life and in interpersonal relationships. God becomes an event where people love one another unconditionally, comfort one another, and liberate themselves. God can also become an event where people experience suffering. Confessional boundaries are no longer restrictive. Rather, the perspective of universal solidarity is adopted and the divine is defined as absolute freedom, which aims at people themselves. The autonomy of man and the omnipotence of God are thus in a reciprocal structure of conditions. God is recognized as the absolutely autonomous one who makes human finite and limited autonomy (self-determination) possible in the first place. In this way, the perception of human autonomy in solidarity with fellow human beings becomes at the same time an expression of love for God.
Source: Handouts for the curriculum for the subject Catholic Religious Education in Baden-Württemberg, Ed. Erzbisch. Ordinariate Freiburg, Bishop. Rottenburg Education Authority, 1997
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