Monopolar, Bipolar and Tripolar Spirituality

In his book, Dissident Discipleship, David Augsburger draws up a helpful table distinguishing between monopolar, bipolar and tripolar spirituality.






Monopolar Spirituality

Mirror of Self “My own God”

Bipolar Spirituality

Benevolent Self that Serves God

Tripolar Spirituality

Spirituality of in-search and self discovery

Spirituality of wish fulfilment and projection

Spirituality of God encounter, God as Other

Spirituality of gratitude, service and neighbour love

Spirituality of radical agape and enemy love

I am a church of one, me

My God and I fulfil my life

I know true self as I know God

As I love God I care for others

I love God only as I love enemy


I think this is a very useful tool, for both personal reflection and reflection on the traditions on offer in the spiritual marketplace today.

2 thoughts on “Monopolar, Bipolar and Tripolar Spirituality

  1. I am not so sure. Fowler’s stages seem to have a “moving in, moving out” sort of rhythm to them which builds to a climax. The above scheme isn’t so sequential or linear. You don’t have to work through monopolar or bipolar before you get to try tripolar.
    Furthermore, I think it would be perfectly possible for a mystic with a “universalizing faith” according to Fowler to still be locked into a bipolar spirituality according to Augsburger. In fact Ive seen many mystics stuck at 1.5.
    Besides all that, the above scheme is self-consciously Christian whereas Fowler’s is more interfaith applicable.


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