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Book Review: The Critical Journey/ Stages in the Life of Faith The Critical Journey is a book that describes the different stages of faith that can be experienced throughout one’s life. The authors, Janet O. Hagberg and Robert A. Guelich, begin their book with an overview of their theories. The argue that spirituality is, “the way in which we live our response to God.” Our responses, they reason, make up the body of each faith stage and help to define the experience of the life of faith. This experience, from stage to stage, is described as a six step process. The second part of The Critical Journey is devoted to describing each stage of faith. The six stages include the recognition of God, the life of discipleship, the productive life, the journey inward (including the wall), the journey outward, and the life of love. Each stage is defined through a series of characteristics and then fleshed out through human examples. Hagberg and Guelich proceed to examine transitional qualities to and from different stages. This includes a look at becoming caged or stuck, moving from one stage into the next , and describing the catalyst for change at each stage. The third part of this book contextualizes the critical journey into different subsets of Christian life. A chapter is devoted to the ministry and the church . Other chapters deal with power and steward ship and reflect on the experience of the wall (a subset of stage four). The book is concluded with a question and answer section that addresses some of the more common inquiries about The Critical Journey that have come up sense its first printing in 1995. I would only recommend reading this book to anyone interested in taking a closer look at spiritual development and life stages. This is a spacific recommendation for a specific type of literature. Hagberg and Guelich go to great lengths to make a logical argument with excellent chapter summaries. The organization of this book is among the best I have ever read. If what you see interests, you then check it out! The Critical Journey examines the distinct phases of spiritual life. Though the authors readily admit that it is impossible to dogmatically define something as subjective and unique as the individual spiritual walks of people, by examining common traits and experiences they have identified six distinct "stages" in people's spiritual lives: 1. The Recognition of God 2. The Life of Discipleship 3. The Productive Life 4. The Journey Inward/The "Wall" 5. The Journey Outward 6. The Life of Love
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In discussing each stage, they discuss these traits along with pitfalls and ways to grow through each of the stages. In reading the book, I found myself identifying many of my own experiences in these characteristics of the various stages.
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