Theosis: Wikis

Advertisements
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In Christian theology, particularly in Eastern Orthodox theology, theosis (written also: theiosis, theopoiesis, theōsis; Greek: Θέωσις, meaning divinization, deification, or making divine) is the process of transformation of a believer who is putting into practise (called praxis) the spiritual teachings of Jesus Christ and His gospel. In particular, theosis refers to the attainment of likeness to or union with God, that is the final stage of this process of transformation and is as such the goal of the spiritual life. Theosis is the third of three stages; the first being purification (katharsis) and the second illumination (theoria). By means of purification a person comes to illumination and then sainthood. Sainthood is the participation of the person in the life of God. According to this doctrine, the holy life of God, given in Jesus Christ to the believer through the Holy Spirit, is expressed through the three stages of theosis, beginning in the struggles of this life, which increases in the experience of the believer through the knowledge of God, and is later consummated in the resurrection of the believer, when the power of sin and death, having been fully overcome by the atonement of Jesus, will lose hold over the believer forever.[1] This conception of salvation is historical and foundational for Christian understanding in both the East and the West.

Contents

Eastern Christian theology

Icon of The Ladder of Divine Ascent (the steps toward theosis as described by St. John Climacus) showing monks ascending (and falling from) the ladder to Jesus. Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai.

St. Athanasius of Alexandria wrote, "God became man so that man might become god." [the second god is always lowercase] (On the Incarnation 54:3, PG 25:192B). His statement is an apt description of the doctrine. What would otherwise seem absurd—that fallen, sinful man may become holy as God is holy—has been made possible through Jesus Christ, who is God incarnate. Naturally, the crucial Christian assertion, that God is One, sets an absolute limit on the meaning of theosis: as it is not possible for any created being to become God ontologically, or even part of God (of the three existences of God called hypostasis).[citation needed] Most specifically creatures (created beings) can not become God in his transcendent essence (called ousia), hyper-being (see apophaticism). Such a concept would be the henosis or absorption into God of Greek pagan philosophy. However, every being and reality itself is considered as composed of the immanent energy (Energeia) of God. As energy is the actuality of God (his immanence), from God's being or ontology, it is also the activity of God. Thus avoiding pantheism while partially accepting Neoplatonism.

Through theoria, the contemplation of the triune God, human beings come to know and experience what it means to be fully human (the created image of God); through their communion with Jesus Christ, God shares Himself with the human race, in order to conform them to all that He is in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. As God became human, in all ways except sin, He will also make humans god (Holy or saintly), in all ways except his divine essence (uncaused or uncreatedness). St Irenaeus explained this doctrine in Against Heresies, Book 5, in the Preface, "the Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who did, through his transcendent love, become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself."

St. Maximus the Confessor wrote, "A sure warrant for looking forward with hope to deification of human nature is provided by the incarnation of God, which makes man god to the same degree as God himself became man.... Let us become the image of the one whole God, bearing nothing earthly in ourselves, so that we may consort with God and become gods, receiving from God our existence as gods. For it is clear that He who became man without sin (cf. Heb. 4:15) will divinize human nature without changing it into the divine nature, and will raise it up for his own sake to the same degree as He lowered himself for man's sake. This is what St Paul teaches mystically when he says, '...that in the ages to come he might display the overflowing richness of His grace' (Eph. 2:7)."(page 178 PHILOKALIA Volume II)

For many fathers, theosis goes beyond simply restoring people to their state before the Fall of Adam and Eve, teaching that because Christ united the human and divine natures in Jesus' person, it is now possible for someone to experience closer fellowship with God than Adam and Eve initially experienced in the Garden of Eden, and that people can become more like God than Adam and Eve were at that time. Some Orthodox theologians go so far as to say that Jesus would have become incarnate for this reason alone, even if Adam and Eve had never sinned.[2]

All of humanity is fully restored to the full potential of humanity because the Son of God took to himself a human nature to be born of a woman, and takes to himself also the sufferings due to sin (yet is not himself sinful, and is God unchanged in being). In Christ the two natures of God and human are not two persons but one; thus a union is effected in Christ between all of humanity in principle and God. So the holy God and sinful humanity are reconciled in principle in the one sinless man, Jesus Christ. (See Jesus's prayer as recorded in John 17.)

This reconciliation is made actual through the struggle (podvig in Russian) to conform to the image of Christ. Without the struggle, the praxis, there is no real faith; faith leads to action, without which it is dead. One must unite will, thought, and action to God's will, his thoughts, and his actions. A person must fashion his life to be a mirror, a true likeness of God. More than that, since God and humanity are more than a similarity in Christ but rather a true union, Christians' lives are more than mere imitation and are rather a union with the life of God himself: so that the one who is working out salvation is united with God working within the penitent both to will and to do that which pleases God. Gregory Palamas affirmed the possibility of humanity's union with God in his energies, while also affirming that because of God's transcendence and utter otherness, it is impossible for any person or other creature to know or to be united with God's essence. Yet through faith we can attain phronema, an understanding of the faith of the Church. A common analogy for theosis, given by the Greek fathers, is that of a metal which is put into the fire. The metal obtains all the properties of the fire (heat, light), while its essence remains that of a metal. Using the head-body analogy from St Paul, every man in whom Christ lives partakes of the glory of Christ. As St John Chrysostom observes, "where the head is, the body is also; for by no means is the head separated from the body; for if it were indeed separated, there would not be a body and there would not be a head".

The journey towards theosis includes many forms of praxis. Living in the community of the church and partaking regularly of the sacraments, and especially the Eucharist, is taken for granted. Also important is cultivating "prayer of the heart", and prayer that never ceases, as Paul exhorts the Thessalonians (1 and 2). This unceasing prayer of the heart is a dominant theme in the writings of the Fathers, especially in those collected in the Philokalia. The "doer" in deification is the Holy Spirit, with whom the human being joins his will to receive this transforming grace by praxis and prayer. This synergeia or co-operation between God and Man does not lead to mankind being absorbed into the God as was taught in earlier pagan forms of deification like Henosis. Rather it expresses unity, in the complementary nature between the created and the creator.

Western Christian theology

Advertisements

Latin-Rite Catholic views

“To restore man, who has been laid low by sin, to the heights of divine glory, the Word of the eternal Father, though containing all things within His immensity, willed to become small. This He did, not by putting aside His greatness, but by taking to Himself our littleness. . . . The humanity of Christ is the way by which we come to the divinity.” (Thomas Aquinas, Compendium of Theology, §1-2)

"Now the gift of grace surpasses every capability of created nature, since it is nothing short of a partaking of the Divine Nature, which exceeds every other nature. And thus it is impossible that any creature should cause grace. For it is as necessary that God alone should deify, bestowing a partaking of the Divine Nature by a participated likeness, as it is impossible that anything save fire should enkindle." (Summa Theologiae I-II.112.1 co.)

In Roman Catholic theology, theosis refers to a specific and rather advanced phase of contemplation of God. [1] The process of arriving to such a state, or moving toward it (as arrival there is not necessary for salvation, but rather an end result of salvation), involves different types of prayer which are recognized as beneficial. Various stages of prayer life are recognized as being likely to occur should a person respond to faith by moving along the purgative, illuminative, and unitive ways. See ascetical theology.

Some western writers refer to theosis using the same implications given above. It is common to find western writings that flatteringly suggest that eastern spirituality uniquely manifests theosis, and that by implication their own tradition never attained to the idea. This may be a case of rhetoric obscuring fact. Under different terminology the western spiritual traditions, which also reach to the origins of Christianity (in the East), share the objective of sharing in the life of God. Some Catholic writers consider it lamentable that the term theosis is not used more extensively in western theology (usually, the term "divinization" is preferred by Western Catholic writers).

Although the West has generally given due credit to Eastern insight into deification (theosis) from a western point of view, the theological differences between western formulations and understanding and Eastern is somewhat rhetorical[citation needed]. But there is also a slight difference in the idea of theosis itself. In the West there is a tendency to see it as the highest level of union (in the purgation, illumination and union model for deification).

Virtually all spiritual writings of any consequence during the Middle Ages, and all modern books published in the West that take seriously the Western historical tradition on this matter, manifest overt awareness of all the issues comprised in theosis, more commonly known as deification.

Whether or not eastern liturgies are more conducive to theosis is also at issue. In the West there has been much debate about the merits of the Mass of Paul VI, and some traditionalist Catholics claim that the Tridentine Mass is particularly conducive to the sort of prayer life that leads one along the path of theosis. This issue is moving toward resolution with the recent re-introduction of the ancient medieval liturgy into general currency in the Catholic West through Pope Benedict XVI's motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.

Anglican views

Out of the English Reformation, an understanding of salvation in terms closely comparable to the Orthodox doctrine of theosis was recognized in the Anglican tradition, for example in the writings of Lancelot Andrewes, who described salvation in terms vividly reminiscent of the early fathers:

Whereby, as before He of ours, so now we of His are made partakers. He clothed with our flesh, and we invested with His Spirit. The great promise of the Old Testament accomplished, that He should partake our human nature; and the great and precious promise of the New, that we should be “consortes divinae naturae”, “partake his divine nature,” both are this day accomplished.[3]

Protestant views

Protestants are generally less aware of the doctrinal line of thought of theosis, except for Methodists and Wesleyans, whose religious tradition has always placed strong emphasis on sanctification. Generally speaking, the Methodist/Wesleyan doctrine of sanctification is roughly equivalent to the Catholic/Eastern Orthodox concept of theosis. Early during the Reformation, thought was given to the doctrine of union with Christ (unio cum Christo) as the precursor to the entire process of salvation and sanctification. This was especially so in the thought of John Calvin.[2]

Henry Scougal's work The Life of God in the Soul of Man is sometimes cited as important in keeping alive among Protestants the ideas central to the doctrine. In the introductory passages of his book, Scougal describes "religion" in terms that evoke the doctrine of theosis:

"... a resemblance of the divine perfections, the image of the Almighty shining in the soul of man: ... a real participation of his nature, it is a beam of the eternal light, a drop of that infinite ocean of goodness; and they who are endued with it, may be said to have 'God dwelling in their souls', and 'Christ formed within them'."[4]

Theosis as a doctrine developed in a distinctive direction among Methodists [3], and elsewhere in the pietist movement which reawakened Protestant interest in the asceticism of the early Catholic Church, and some of the mystical traditions of the West. Distinctively, in Wesleyan Protestantism theosis sometimes implies the doctrine of entire sanctification which teaches, in summary, that it is the Christian's goal, in principle possible to achieve, to live without any (voluntary) sin (Christian perfection). In 1311 the Roman Catholic Council of Vienne declared this notion, "that man in this present life can acquire so great and such a degree of perfection that he will be rendered inwardly sinless, and that he will not be able to advance farther in grace" (Denziger §471), to be a heresy. Thus this particular Protestant (primarily Methodist) understanding of theosis is substantially different from that of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican Churches. This doctrine of Christian perfection was sharply criticized by many in the Church of England during the ministry of John Wesley and continues to be controversial among Protestants and Anglicans to this day.[4] Most Protestants do not believe in Christian perfection as Wesley described it and most Protestants also do not use the term theosis at all, though they refer to a similar doctrine by such terms as sanctification, "adoption as sons", "union with Christ", and "filled with the Spirit". Dietrich Bonhoeffer echoed the convictions of Athanasius when he wrote "He has become like a man, so that men should be like him." (The Cost of Discipleship, 301)

Nevertheless, similarities of doctrine notwithstanding, within the whole of the conception of the Christian life which the idea of "theosis" is intended to comprehend, differences of doctrine are disclosed especially in differences of practice, between the East and West, and between Orthodoxy and Protestantism.

Non-trinitarian theologies

Latter-day Saint views

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly referred to as "The LDS Church" or "The Mormon Church," and its people as "LDS," "saints," or "Mormons"), exaltation or eternal life is premised on the doctrine that "The Father has [an immortal, glorified] body of flesh and bones, as tangible as man's; the Son also." The Holy Spirit, however, exists as a "personage of Spirit" enabling it to "dwell in us." (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22) These three Beings make up the Godhead, each of them separate and distinct, yet unified in the Father's plan for the salvation of his children.

Latter-day Saints believe that all human beings are children of God, and have, therefore, as children of God the Father (see Heb. 12:9) the divine potential to become as their Heavenly Father is, and to be exalted to godhood, in the same way that God the Father 'exalted' His Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ. This theological concept is derived from both Biblical interpretation, declared revelations (Doctrine and Covenants 76) and is found summarized within a sermon by Joseph Smith called the King Follett discourse.

Based upon the Book of Acts the LDS Church teaches that Jesus was exalted by God (See Acts 5:29-32). Exaltation is to become, through the Atonement of Christ, a 'joint-heir' with Jesus Christ, in all that the Father possesses; meaning that, God the Father makes each man a being like himself, perfect in power, authority, dominion, glory, attributes, knowledge, wisdom, might, &c, yet eternally subordinate to and worshipping God the Father.

Christian Universalist views

There has been a modern revival of the concept of theosis (often called "Manifest Sonship" or "Christedness") among Christians who believe in universal reconciliation, especially those with a background in the Charismatic Latter Rain Movement or the New Age and New Thought movements.[5] The statement of faith of the Christian Universalist Association includes theosis in one of its points.[6]

Some Charismatic Christian universalists believe that the "return of Christ" is a body of perfected human beings who are the "Manifested Sons of God" instead of a literal return of the person of Jesus,[7] and that these Sons will reign on the earth and transform all other human beings from sin to perfection during an age that is coming soon (a universalist approach to millennialism).[8] Some Liberal Christian universalists with New Age leanings also share a similar eschatology.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Theology and Mysticism in the Tradition of the Eastern Church" from The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, pgs 8-9, 39,126, 133, 154, 196
  2. ^ "Theology and Mysticism in the Tradition of the Eastern Church" from The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church by V Lossky
  3. ^ Ninety-six Sermons by Lancelot Andrewes, page 109
  4. ^ The Life of God in the Soul of Man by Henry Scougal, page 13
  5. ^ See http://greater-emmanuel.org/jg/2006/jg_06_02.html, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYCO8Gv4PP8, and http://www.christianuniversalist.org/articles/beyondhell.html
  6. ^ http://www.christianuniversalist.org/faq.html#faith, http://www.christianuniversalist.org/articles/divinization.html
  7. ^ See http://www.hearingthetruthofgod.com/id69.html and http://www.hearingthetruthofgod.com/id349.html
  8. ^ September 5
  • Anstall, Kharalambos (2007). "Juridical Justification Theology and a Statement of the Orthodox Teaching," Stricken by God? Nonviolent Identification and the Victory of Christ". Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. 
  • Lossky, Vladimir (1997). The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church. St. Vladimir's Seminary Press. ISBN 978-0-913836-31-6. 
  • Gross, Jules (2003). The Divinization of the Christian According to the Greek Fathers. A & C Press. ISBN 978-0-7363-1600-2. 
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church. Pauline Books & Media. 1994. pp. 116. ISBN 978-0-8198-1519-4. 

External links


Theosis (written also: theiosis, theopoiesis, theōsis) is a Greek word (θέωσις) that means divinization, deification, or making divine. This transformation of a believer who is putting into practice (called praxis) the spiritual teachings of Jesus Christ and his gospel is a feature of Christian theology, particularly in the Greek Orthodox and the Catholic[1][2][3][4][citation needed][5][6] theology.

Contents

Greek Orthodox theology

[[File:|thumb|200px|right|Icon of The Ladder of Divine Ascent (the steps toward theosis as described by St. John Climacus) showing monks ascending (and falling from) the ladder to Jesus. Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai.]] St. Athanasius of Alexandria wrote, "God became man so that man might become god" (On the Incarnation 54:3, PG 25:192B). His statement is an apt description of the doctrine. What would otherwise seem absurd—that fallen, sinful man may become holy as God is holy—has been made possible through Jesus Christ, who is God incarnate. Naturally, the crucial Christian assertion, that God is One, sets an absolute limit on the meaning of theosis: as it is not possible for any created being to become God ontologically, or even a necessary part of God (of the three existences of God called hypostasis).[citation needed] Most specifically creatures (created beings) can not become God in his transcendent essence (called ousia), hyper-being (see apophaticism). Such a concept would be the henosis or absorption into God of Greek pagan philosophy. However, every being and reality itself is considered as composed of the immanent energy (Energeia) of God. As energy is the actuality of God (his immanence), from God's being or ontology, it is also the activity of God. Thus avoiding pantheism while partially accepting Neoplatonism's terms and general concepts (but not the actual philosophy see Plotinus).

Through theoria, the contemplation of the triune God,{{dead link}} human beings come to know and experience what it means to be fully human (the created image of God); through their communion with Jesus Christ, God shares Himself with the human race, in order to conform them to all that He is in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. As God became human, in all ways except sin, He will also make humans god (Holy or saintly), in all ways except his divine essence (uncaused or uncreatedness). St Irenaeus explained this doctrine in Against Heresies, Book 5, in the Preface, "the Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who did, through his transcendent love, become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself."

St. Maximus the Confessor wrote, "A sure warrant for looking forward with hope to deification of human nature is provided by the incarnation of God, which makes man god to the same degree as God himself became man.... Let us become the image of the one whole God, bearing nothing earthly in ourselves, so that we may consort with God and become gods, receiving from God our existence as gods. For it is clear that He who became man without sin (cf. Heb. 4:15) will divinize human nature without changing it into the divine nature, and will raise it up for his own sake to the same degree as He lowered himself for man's sake. This is what St Paul teaches mystically when he says, '...that in the ages to come he might display the overflowing richness of His grace' (Eph. 2:7)."(page 178 PHILOKALIA Volume II)

For many fathers, theosis goes beyond simply restoring people to their state before the Fall of Adam and Eve, teaching that because Christ united the human and divine natures in Jesus' person, it is now possible for someone to experience closer fellowship with God than Adam and Eve initially experienced in the Garden of Eden, and that people can become more like God than Adam and Eve were at that time. Some Orthodox theologians go so far as to say that Jesus would have become incarnate for this reason alone, even if Adam and Eve had never sinned.[7]

All of humanity is fully restored to the full potential of humanity because the Son of God took to himself a human nature to be born of a woman, and takes to himself also the sufferings due to sin (yet is not himself sinful, and is God unchanged in being). In Christ the two natures of God and human are not two persons but one; thus a union is effected in Christ between all of humanity in principle and God. So the holy God and sinful humanity are reconciled in principle in the one sinless man, Jesus Christ. (See Jesus' prayer as recorded in John 17.)

This reconciliation is made actual through the struggle (podvig in Russian) to conform to the image of Christ. Without the struggle, the praxis, there is no real faith; faith leads to action, without which it is dead. One must unite will, thought, and action to God's will, his thoughts, and his actions. A person must fashion his life to be a mirror, a true likeness of God. More than that, since God and humanity are more than a similarity in Christ but rather a true union, Christians' lives are more than mere imitation and are rather a union with the life of God himself: so that the one who is working out salvation is united with God working within the penitent both to will and to do that which pleases God. Gregory Palamas affirmed the possibility of humanity's union with God in his energies, while also affirming that because of God's transcendence and utter otherness, it is impossible for any person or other creature to know or to be united with God's essence.

Yet through faith we can attain phronema, an understanding of the faith of the Church. A common analogy for theosis, given by the Greek fathers, is that of a metal which is put into the fire. The metal obtains all the properties of the fire (heat, light), while its essence remains that of a metal. Using the head-body analogy from St Paul, every man in whom Christ lives partakes of the glory of Christ. As St John Chrysostom observes, "where the head is, the body is also; for by no means is the head separated from the body; for if it were indeed separated, there would not be a body and there would not be a head".

The journey toward theosis includes many forms of praxis. The most obvious form being Monasticism and Clergy. Of the Monastic tradition the practice of Hesychasm is most important as a way to establish a direct relationship with God. Living in the community of the church and partaking regularly of the sacraments, and especially the Eucharist, is taken for granted. Also important is cultivating "prayer of the heart", and prayer that never ceases, as Paul exhorts the Thessalonians (1 and 2). This unceasing prayer of the heart is a dominant theme in the writings of the Fathers, especially in those collected in the Philokalia. The "doer" in deification is the Holy Spirit, with whom the human being joins his will to receive this transforming grace by praxis and prayer. This synergeia or co-operation between God and Man does not lead to mankind being absorbed into the God as was taught in earlier pagan forms of deification like Henosis. Rather it expresses unity, in the complementary nature between the created and the creator. Acquisition of the Holy Spirit is key as the acquisition of the spirit leads to self-realization.[8]

Western rejection of the theosis of the Greek Orthodox

See Talk:Theosis#POV subsection heading for a discussion of the neutrality and accuracy of the wording of this heading.

The practice of ascetic prayer called Hesychasm in the Eastern Orthodox Church is centered on the enlightenment or deification, theosis of man. [9] Roman Catholic theologians have generally expressed a negative view of Hesychasm.[10][11]

The (Hesychasm) doctrine of Gregory Palamas won almost no following in the West,[11] and the distrustful attitude of Barlaam in its regard prevailed among Western theologians, surviving into the early 20th century, as shown in Adrian Fortescue's article on hesychasm in the 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia.[11][12] Fortescue translated the Greek words ἥσυχος and ἡσυχαστής as "quiet" and "quietist".[11] In the same period, Edward Pace's article on quietism indicated that, while in the strictest sense quietism is a 17th-century doctrine proposed by Miguel de Molinos, the term is also used more broadly to cover both Indian religions and what Edward Pace called "the vagaries of Hesychasm", thus betraying the same prejudices as Fortescue with regard to hesychasm [13] and, again in the same period, Siméon Vailhé described some aspects of the teaching of Palamas as "monstrous errors", "heresies" and "a resurrection of polytheism",[14] and called the hesychast method for arriving at perfect contemplation "no more than a crude form of auto-suggestion"[14]

That was a century ago. Today, while some Western theologians see the theology of Palamas as introducing an inadmissible division within God, others have incorporated his theology into their own thinking,[15] maintaining that there is no conflict between his teaching and Roman Catholic thought.[16]

The teaching of deification or theosis in Eastern Orthodoxy refers to the attainment of likeness to or union with God, as deification has three stages in it's process of transformation. Theosis as such is the goal, it is the purpose of life.[17][18] Theosis has the three stages; the first being purification (katharsis) and the second illumination (theoria). By means of purification a person comes to illumination and then sainthood. Sainthood is the participation of the person in the life of God. According to this doctrine, the holy life of God, given in Jesus Christ to the believer through the Holy Spirit, is expressed through the three stages of theosis, beginning in the struggles of this life, increasing in the experience of knowledge of God, and consummated in the resurrection of the believer, when the victory of God over sin and death, accomplished in the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus, is made manifest in the believer forever.[19] This conception of salvation is historical and foundational for Christian understanding in both the East and the West; however, Eastern Orthodox and Western Christian conceptions of theosis are not identical. Due to the Western vilification of the essential component of Heyschasm as part of the Orthodox theological process of theosis.[citation needed]

Western Christian theology

Roman Catholicism

In the teaching of the Western Catholic Church, God gives to some souls, even in the present life, a very special grace by which they can be mystically united to God even while yet alive: this is true mystical contemplation.[20] The writings attributed to St. Dionysius the Areopagite were highly influential in the West, and their theses and arguments were adopted by Peter Lombard, Alexander of Hales, Albert the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure.[21] According to these writings, mystical knowledge must be distinguished from the rational knowledge by which we know God, not in his nature, but through the wonderful order of the universe, which is a participation of the divine ideas. Through the more perfect knowledge of God that is mystical knowledge, a knowledge beyond the attainments of reason even enlightened by faith, the soul contemplates directly the mysteries of divine light. In the present life this contemplation is possible only to a few privileged souls, through a very special grace of God: it is the θέωσις (theosis), μυστικὴ ἕνωσις (mystical union).[20] Meister Eckhart too taught a deification of man and an assimilation of the creature into the Creator through contemplation.[20] In Catholic theology, the soul has three states, or stages, of perfection: the purgative way (that of cleansing or purification), the illuminative way (so called because in it the mind becomes more and more enlightened as to spiritual things and the practice of virtue), and the unitive way (that of union with God by love and the actual experience and exercise of that love).[22]

"Since it was the will of God's only begotten Son that human beings should share in his divinity, he assumed our nature in order that by becoming human he might make humans gods." (Catholic Book of Prayers, Pg. 92)[23]

"Now the gift of grace surpasses every capability of created nature, since it is nothing short of a partaking of the Divine Nature, which exceeds every other nature. And thus it is impossible that any creature should cause grace. For it is as necessary that God alone should deify, bestowing a partaking of the Divine Nature by a participated likeness, as it is impossible that anything save fire should enkindle." (Summa Theologiae I-II.112.1 co.)

"The Word of God became flesh in order that... the flesh might be elevated to God the Word. He...elevates us to the nature of His Godhead." (St. Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 1:11, 13)

In Roman Catholic theology, theosis refers to a specific and rather advanced phase of contemplation of God, in which the soul becomes "enveloped" by the Divine Nature. [20] The process of arriving to such a state, or moving toward it (as arrival there is not necessary for salvation, but rather the end result of salvation in the beatific vision of the Godhead), involves different types of prayer which are recognized as beneficial. Various stages of prayer life are recognized as being likely to occur should a person respond to faith by moving along the purgative, illuminative, and unitive ways. See ascetical theology.

St. John of the Cross speaks of Theosis thus: "In thus allowing God to work in it, the soul... is at once illumined and transformed in God, and God communicates to it His supernatural Being, in such wise that it appears to be God Himself, and has all that God Himself has. And this union comes to pass when God grants the soul this supernatural favour, that all the things of God and the soul are one in participant transformation; and the soul seems to be God rather than a soul, and is indeed God by participation; although it is true that its natural being, though thus transformed, is as distinct from the Being of God as it was before."

Some western writers refer to theosis using the same implications given above. It is common to find western writings that flatteringly suggest that eastern spirituality uniquely manifests theosis, and that by implication their own tradition never attained to the idea. This may be a case of rhetoric obscuring fact. Under different terminology the western spiritual traditions, which also reach to the origins of Christianity (in the East), share the objective of sharing in the life of God. Some Catholic writers consider it lamentable that the term theosis is not used more extensively in western theology (usually, the term "divinization" is preferred by Western Catholic writers).

Although the West has generally given due credit to Eastern insight into deification (theosis) from a western point of view, the theological differences between western formulations and understanding and Eastern is somewhat rhetorical[citation needed]. But there is also a slight difference in the idea of theosis itself. In the West there is a tendency to see it as the highest level of union (in the purgation, illumination and union model for deification).

Virtually all spiritual writings of any consequence during the Middle Ages, and all modern books published in the West that take seriously the Western historical tradition on this matter, manifest overt awareness of all the issues comprised in theosis, more commonly known as deification."

The doctrine of theosis is represented in certain prayers of the modern Roman rite, for instance, an ordinary prayer pronounced by the priest when preparing the Eucharistic chalice: "By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity."

Some Catholics claim the more ancient Tridentine Mass is particularly conducive to the sort of prayer life that leads one along the path of theosis. This issue is moving toward resolution with the recent re-introduction of the ancient medieval liturgy into general currency in the Catholic West through Pope Benedict XVI's motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.

Anglican views

Out of the English Reformation, an understanding of salvation in terms closely comparable to the Orthodox doctrine of theosis was recognized in the Anglican tradition, for example in the writings of Lancelot Andrewes, who described salvation in terms vividly reminiscent of the early fathers:

Whereby, as before He of ours, so now we of His are made partakers. He clothed with our flesh, and we invested with His Spirit. The great promise of the Old Testament accomplished, that He should partake our human nature; and the great and precious promise of the New, that we should be “consortes divinae naturae”, “partake his divine nature,” both are this day accomplished.[24]

Protestant views

Protestants are generally less aware of the doctrinal line of thought of theosis, except for Methodists and Wesleyans, whose religious tradition has always placed strong emphasis on sanctification. Generally speaking, the Methodist/Wesleyan doctrine of sanctification is roughly equivalent to the Catholic/Eastern Orthodox concept of theosis. Early during the Reformation, thought was given to the doctrine of union with Christ (unio cum Christo) as the precursor to the entire process of salvation and sanctification. This was especially so in the thought of John Calvin.[25]

Henry Scougal's work The Life of God in the Soul of Man is sometimes cited as important in keeping alive among Protestants the ideas central to the doctrine. In the introductory passages of his book, Scougal describes "religion" in terms that evoke the doctrine of theosis:

"... a resemblance of the divine perfections, the image of the Almighty shining in the soul of man: ... a real participation of his nature, it is a beam of the eternal light, a drop of that infinite ocean of goodness; and they who are endued with it, may be said to have 'God dwelling in their souls', and 'Christ formed within them'."[26]

Theosis as a doctrine developed in a distinctive direction among Methodists,[27] and elsewhere in the pietist movement which reawakened Protestant interest in the asceticism of the early Catholic Church, and some of the mystical traditions of the West. Distinctively, in Wesleyan Protestantism theosis sometimes implies the doctrine of entire sanctification which teaches, in summary, that it is the Christian's goal, in principle possible to achieve, to live without any (voluntary) sin (Christian perfection). In 1311 the Roman Catholic Council of Vienne declared this notion, "that man in this present life can acquire so great and such a degree of perfection that he will be rendered inwardly sinless, and that he will not be able to advance farther in grace" (Denziger §471), to be a heresy. Thus this particular Protestant (primarily Methodist) understanding of theosis is substantially different from that of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican Churches. This doctrine of Christian perfection was sharply criticized by many in the Church of England during the ministry of John Wesley and continues to be controversial among Protestants and Anglicans to this day.[28] Most Protestants do not believe in Christian perfection as Wesley described it and most Protestants also do not use the term theosis at all, though they refer to a similar doctrine by such terms as sanctification, "adoption as sons", "union with Christ", and "filled with the Spirit". Dietrich Bonhoeffer echoed the convictions of Athanasius when he wrote "He has become like a man, so that men should be like him." (The Cost of Discipleship, 301)

Nevertheless, similarities of doctrine notwithstanding, within the whole of the conception of the Christian life which the idea of "theosis" is intended to comprehend, differences of doctrine are disclosed especially in differences of practice, between the East and West, and between Orthodoxy and Protestantism.

Non-trinitarian theologies

Latter Day Saint views

Within the Latter Day Saint movement, and particularly within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the concept or teaching of theosis is taken very literally. Latter Day Saints believe the Apostle Paul's statement in Romans 8:17 that humanity may become joint-heirs with Jesus Christ to be glorified together. This entire concept is believed to be established by scripture.[29] This view is believed to stem from the teachings of the apostles in the New Testament and the teachings of LDS prophets and apostles.

Christian Universalist views

There has been a modern revival of the concept of theosis (often called "Manifest Sonship" or "Christedness") among Christians who believe in universal reconciliation, especially those with a background in the Charismatic Latter Rain Movement or the New Age and New Thought movements.[30] The statement of faith of the Christian Universalist Association includes theosis in one of its points.[31]

Some Charismatic Christian universalists believe that the "return of Christ" is a body of perfected human beings who are the "Manifested Sons of God" instead of a literal return of the person of Jesus,[32] and that these Sons will reign on the earth and transform all other human beings from sin to perfection during an age that is coming soon (a universalist approach to millennialism).[33] Some Liberal Christian universalists with New Age leanings also share a similar eschatology.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ "The Catechism (of the Catholic Church) readily invokes the Eastern Fathers to emphasize the mystery of divinization (see §1589, 1988), which Catholic and Orthodox have affirmed together" (Encyclopedia of Christian Theology, vol. 1, article Holiness).
  2. ^ "catholic+church"+divinization&hl=en&ei=4lgeTNiRKI2UsQan9K36DQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CFQQ6AEwCTgK#v=onepage&q=%22catholic%20church%22%20divinization&f=false Timothy Drake, Richard John Neuhaus, There We Stood, Here We Stand: Eleven Lutherans Rediscover Their Catholic Roots (1stBooks Library 2001 ISBN 0-7596-1320-6), p. 21
  3. ^ Jennifer Ferrara, Patricia Sodano Ireland, The Catholic Mystique (Our Sunday Visitor 2000 ISBN 1-931709-91-2), p. 122
  4. ^ Rudolf Steiner, Christianity as Mystical Fact (Anthroposophic Press 1997 ISBN 0-88010-436-8), p. 99
  5. ^ Francis J. Caponi, Divinization in Roman Catholicism
  6. ^ Thomas Langan, The Catholic Tradition (University of Missouri Press 1998 ISBN 0-8262-1183-6), p. 409
  7. ^ "Theology and Mysticism in the Tradition of the Eastern Church" from The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church by V Lossky
  8. ^ Theosis-The deification of man. According to the Orthodox Tradition, man’s purpose in life is to achieve union with God, and to become god by grace. Acquisition of the Holy Spirit; self-realization.[1]
  9. ^ Hesychasm, then, which is centered on the enlightenment or deification (Θέωσις, or theosis, in Greek) of man, perfectly encapsulates the soteriological principles and full scope of the spiritual life of the Eastern Church. As Bishop Auxentios of Photiki writes: [W]e must understand the Hesychastic notions of ‘theosis’ and the vision of Uncreated Light, the vision of God, in the context of human salvation. Thus, according to St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite (†1809): ‘Know that if your mind is not deified by the Holy Spirit, it is impossible for you to be saved.’17 Before looking in detail at what it was that St. Gregory Palamas’ opponents found objectionable in his Hesychastic theology and practices, let us briefly examine the history of the Hesychastic Controversy proper. English version: Archbishop Chrysostomos, Orthodox and Roman Catholic Relations from the Fourth Crusade to the Hesychastic Controversy (Etna, CA: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 2001), pp. 199‒232 [2]
  10. ^ Coming back to theological and anthropological problems, we can see at once that Hesychasm is indeed such a field, in which theology and anthropology meet and almost merge together. It is spiritual or mystico-ascetic practice, and, as I explain in my other Hongkong lecture, spiritual practice is such anthropological strategy that is oriented to a goal, which does not belong to the horizon of man’s empiric existence. This goal is, in other words, meta-anthropological, and so it obtains its characteristics not from usual experience of empiric being, but from basic postulates of the religious tradition, to which the corresponding practice belongs. In the case of Hesychasm, the goal is defined by the Orthodox doctrine as deification (theosis, in Greek), which is conceived as the perfect union of all man’s energies with the Divine Energy (God’s grace). This concept has a specific dual nature: it belongs to dogmatic theology, but at the same time it represents the goal, to which ascetic works are oriented and which they approach actually, according to all the rich corpus of ascetic texts with the first-hand descriptions of hesychast experience. Thus it is both theological and anthropological concept. CHRISTIAN ANTHROPOLOGY AND EASTERN-ORTHODOX (HESYCHAST) ASCETICISM Prof. Dr. Sergey S. Horujy [3]
  11. ^ a b c d Hesychasm article on the Catholic Encyclopedia online
  12. ^ Andreas Andreopoulos, Metamorphosis: The Transfiguration in Byzantine Theology and Iconography (St Vladimir's Seminary Press 2005, ISBN 0-88141-295-3), p. 215
  13. ^ Edward Pace, "Quietism" in The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911) Retrieved 10 September 2010
  14. ^ a b Church Edward Pace, "Quietism" in The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911) Retrieved 10 September 2010
  15. ^ Kallistos Ware in Oxford Companion to Christian Thought (Oxford University Press 2000 ISBN 0-10-860024-0), p. 186
  16. ^ "Several Western scholars contend that the teaching of St. Gregory Palamas himself is compatible with Roman Catholic thought on the matter" (Michael J. Christensen, Jeffery A. Wittung, Partakers of the Divine Nature (Associated University Presses 2007 ISBN 0-8386-4111-3), p. 243).
  17. ^ THEOSIS as the goal human life by Archimandrite George Abbott
  18. ^ DEIFICATION AS THE PURPOSE OF MAN'S LIFE By Archimandrite George Abbott of the Holy Monastery of St. Gregorios on Mount Athos [4]
  19. ^ "Theology and Mysticism in the Tradition of the Eastern Church" from The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, pgs 8-9, 39,126, 133, 154, 196
  20. ^ a b c d George M. Sauvage, "Mysticism" in Catholic Encyclopedia
  21. ^ Joseph Stiglmayr, "Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite" in Catholic Encyclopedia
  22. ^ Arthur Devine, "State or Way" in Catholic Encyclopedia
  23. ^ Catholic Book of Prayers, Pg. 92, Large-Print Edition; Nihil Obstat and Impramatur. 2005 copyright. Catholic Book Publishing Corp. New Jersey.
  24. ^ Ninety-six Sermons by Lancelot Andrewes, page 109
  25. ^ http://www.quodlibet.net/tan-union.shtml
  26. ^ The Life of God in the Soul of Man by Henry Scougal, page 13
  27. ^ Our True Final Hope -The Theosis / Divinization / Deification Web Page
  28. ^ Book Information | Christian Classics Ethereal Library
  29. ^ http://scriptures.lds.org/gs/m/4
  30. ^ See http://greater-emmanuel.org/jg/2006/jg_06_02.html, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYCO8Gv4PP8, and http://www.christianuniversalist.org/articles/beyondhell.html
  31. ^ http://www.christianuniversalist.org/faq.html#faith, http://www.christianuniversalist.org/articles/divinization.html
  32. ^ See http://www.hearingthetruthofgod.com/id69.html and http://www.hearingthetruthofgod.com/id349.html
  33. ^ September 5
  • Anstall, Kharalambos (2007). "Juridical Justification Theology and a Statement of the Orthodox Teaching," Stricken by God? Nonviolent Identification and the Victory of Christ". Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. 
  • Lossky, Vladimir (1997). The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church. St. Vladimir's Seminary Press. ISBN 978-0-913836-31-6. 
  • Gross, Jules (2003). The Divinization of the Christian According to the Greek Fathers. A & C Press. ISBN 978-0-7363-1600-2. 
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church. Pauline Books & Media. 1994. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-8198-1519-4. 

External links


Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message