Geoffrey’s post about theosis deals with one of the most important topics for Christians, and one which we in the West do not foreground the way they do in the East. The notion is misunderstood by Mormons. It comes from 2 Peter 1-4:
”Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
Read literally, one can see how some people have reached the hubristic and heretical conclusion that we become gods. But St. Peter is explaining that partaking in the eternal life requires our flight from the corruption that is in the world through lust, esteeming the value of our precious salvation, and holding fast to the divine promises. That the heresy is an old one is shown by the fact that both St. Athanasius and St. Cyril wrote on it.
St. Peter himself emphasized this concept in his first epistle by saying, “Rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Pet 13-16).
The original Greek text should be translated as “partakers of the divine nature”. It never appeared in any language with the preposition “in” which is “en” in the original Greek language in which the epistle was written. It is not possible that any creature partakes in the nature, being, or essence of God. Whoever claims this is caught in a great theological error against the faith in God, and against the superiority of His essence and nature over all creation. This claim is also the type of pride that the devil previously fell into when he said, “I will be like the Most High” (Is 14:14). May we be kept from such an error and such presumption.
By saying “partakers of the divine nature” St. Peter simply means that we become partakers with God in His eternal life through partaking in His Holiness, paraphrasing the commandment “Be holy, for I am holy”. Even being partakers of the holiness of God is relative, and not absolute. Perfection of the creation is relative but perfection of God is absolute. Holiness of God is natural and not acquired but our holiness is acquired.
To be human is to be Christ-like in the sense that God intended creation to reach its climax in ‘the Word made Flesh’, and so, thanks to His redeeming work the road to theosis is open; for to be human is to be called to an eternal destiny.
Through our selfishness and disregard for God’s Law, we have erred and strayed, and the image of Him in us is marred and obscured. Christ’s coming allows that process to be reversed, and we can, once again, attain the eternal destiny.
Servus Fidelis said:
Enjoyed this Jess, though I am not a theological adept. But I do enjoy the more poetic phrasing of theological points by some of our saints; hope you like the following as well.
** The initiation of Jesus’ hidden life has for its ultimate end the participation in His interior live; that is, to be hidden “with Christ in God,” in order to enter with Him the sanctuary of the Most Holy Trinity. As St. Teresa Margaret expressed this in her ardent desire to “emulate by faith, insofar as it is possible for a creature, the hidden interior life and activity of the intellect and will of the sacred humanity of Jesus Christ, hypo statically united to the Word.” __ taken from Divine Intimacy, 116.2 **
I love that, dear friend – I was very touched by it 🙂 xx
Carl D'Agostino said:
Mormons crazy of this one. We cannot become gods or god-like. But we try to live Christ-like in daily affairs.
That’s quite right Carl.
Tom McEwen said:
I enjoyed that, and I enjoyed the picture of the bishops, saints and fathers. It was a good argument for the grace of the sacraments so we can partake of the divine nature. Self is a obstacle to helping those who the world willing looks away from, grace helps in between the microseconds long decision to partake in the divine nature and not in self and the judgement of the world.
Thank you Tom, the picture is St Athanasius – one of my favourites xx Jess 🙂
Reblogged this on The Shepherd/Guardian.