I’ve been reading quite a bit lately in the area of Integral Spirituality, Spiral Dynamics, and human/faith development in general.  While admitedly anachronistic, I think Wesley had an innate sense about how faith develops and I can see in his sermon, The Almost Christian, a proto-version of the stages advocated by Ken Wilber (integral), Claire Graves (Spiral Dynamics), and James Fowler (faith development). This chart picks up basically in the third stage of each of these different systems.  Some understanding of integral theory, Spiral Dynamics, and/or Fowler’s “stages of faith” is required to understand the chart below.

Wesley Integral Spiral Dynamics James Fowler Explanation
Heathen Red/Preoperational/Egocentric Red/Egocentric-exploititive Mythic-Literal This is only implied in The Almost Christian, but this would be the sort of person who has no basic sense of morality and is wholly concerned about himself or herself.
“Heathen Honesty” (Ref: I.(I.)1.) / Almost Christian version #1 Amber/Ethnocentric/Premodern Blue/Absolutistic-obedience Synthetic-Conventional “By the rules…they were taught, that they ought not to be unjust; not to take away their neighbour’s goods…neither to use extortion toward any; not to cheat…”
Outward Christian (Ref: I.(II.)4.) / Almost Christian version #2 Orange/Ethnocentric/Modern Orange/Scientific-Strategic Synthetic-Conventional Has the “outside of a real Christian…[and] does nothing that the gospel forbids. He taketh not the name of God in vain; he blesseth and curseth not…”
Inward Christian (Ref: I.(III.)9.) / Almost Christian version #3 Green/Worldcentric/Postmodern Green/Relativistic-personalistic Individuative-Reflective The next level of an “almost Christian,” according to Wesley, adds a since of inward sincerity. In other words, faith comes from a personal place. Real empathy is born – themes shared with characteristics of the green/individuative-reflective stage of development.
Altogether Christian (Love of God & humans) (Ref. II.(I.)1. & II.(II.)2.) Teal/Worldcentric/Integral Yellow/Systemic-integrative Conjunctive Believer now has a real sense of love of God free from obligation and cultural pressure and seeks to love neighbor (“every man in the world”) whatever their station may be (including enemies).
Altogether Christian (Faith) (Ref. II.(III.)3.) Turquoise/Worldcentric/Harmonizing Turquoise/Holistic Universalizing Here the believer lives wholly by faith that “purifies the heart”


While it isn’t clear from the sermon that Wesley conceived of these as “developmental stages,” there was clearly a heirarchy to them, suggesting development. Much like Wilber and Graves, Wesley even speaks of consciousness relative to these stages, saying, “Are not many of you conscious, that you never came thus far; that you have not been even almost a Christian.”  In his sermon, The Spirit of Bondage and Adoption, Wesley seems to lay out another possible way of dividing up a spiritual developmental line in three basic stages – the natural, legal, and evangelical.  He says, “the natural man neither fears nor loves God; one under the law, fears, one under grace (evangelical), loves him (IV.1).”  The natural man would seem to correspond with mythic/literal and red levels of development; legal with synthetic-conventional and blue/amber; and evangelical could correspond with conjunctive and yellow/teal in the chart above.  Wesley seems to also make the connection that Ken Wilber does between lines of development and states.  One can be in different states of being and will interpret them according to the stage of development one is at, according to Wilber.  Wesley says, “From this plain account of the three-fold state of man, the natural, the legal, and the evangelical, it appears that it is not sufficient to divide mankind into sincere and insincere.  A man may be sincere in any of these states (IV.1).”  Clearly, Wesley doesn’t mean precisely what Wilber does by “states,” but nevertheless, the truism that one interprets personal experience according to the level of development one is at would seem to hold true for both.


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