Some friends of mine from Jacob’s Well, aka The JW, aka JWeezy are kicking about the subject of theosis - which wikipedia defines for us as - theosis (written also: theiosis, theopoiesis, theōsis; Greek: Θέωσις, meaning divinization, or deification, or making divine). Basically, it is a teaching that we in some way become partakers of the divine nature as we are transformed from sinners into new creatures in Christ.
Anyway, if you have never heard the word “theosis” - rejoice!!! you are not weird. But for all the theological weirdos of the world, here is a reply that I sent to my good brothers. I will ask them if they will be so kind to leave their thoughts here in the comments. They had some good things to say.
Oh yeah, one more thing - Jacob’s Well is nothing like this on Sunday mornings - well, maybe a little, we do like questions but we do the nerdy stuff offline (or er, on blogs too) and try to keep it real at church.
I have enjoyed you guys’ thoughts and hearing your wrestle out loud about such issues. Deification is not a new issue in theology, but it is “new to us” in the sense that the West in general and western Protestantism in particular has not dealt with it using the Athanasian grammar. We have tended to talk of “Union with” Christ, sanctification as progressive (but Wesleys perfectionism has to be addressed I suppose) and glorification being to be made as much “like God” and participatory in his nature as a human can be. I know this discussion is primarily Pauline but Peter’s words in 2 Peter 1:4 seem quite relevant to the discussion as well - though I am guessing with all the hatred of Petrine authorship and the popularity of Paul/Justification that this text isn’t going to be playing much on the academic theology top 40.
My thoughts on this issue is to keep ourselves metaphysically separated but relationally in union with Christ and in communion with the triune God. Relational theology seems proper for Christians and taking these sorts of things metaphysically seems to produce massive problems.
- I am “one flesh” with my wife - this is a physical and relational reality but we do not become one person metaphysically
- Christ marries his church - he becomes one with her, but he remains head, we remain body - so there is union and distinction - the union must be understood relationally as to neither obliterate my identity or that of our Lord.
- We are partakers of the divine nature (Peter’s words are the strongest) in such a way to fully participate relationally in the divine life of God, but we share it “as a human” not as gods. We are filled with his fullness but we do not become all that he is.
Piper touches on Athanasius and “deification” a bit here.
As to justification and relating to theosis, I’ll just read like you guys are doing. I do think that our union with Christ, he in us and us in him is inseparable from salvation but I agree with Scott in not placing one facet of God’s saving act “at the center” - I am fine with having Father, Son and Spirit as the center…and as far as we are concerned, Jesus is at the center. He is the center of the Fathers action, his work on the cross is the redemptive outworking of the determined decree of God and he is the sender of the Spirit to glorify him and the Father. He is our relational touchstone.
To me to blend us too much in union will end in pantheism…which is a gross heresy. To speak to little about the intense knowledge God has for us and we for him in Christ is to not go far enough. So perhaps Jesus envelopes us with his love and being…he takes us fully in to himself without us becoming him and he becoming us (individually speaking, for in the incarnation he did indeed become “us”). So I like the metaphors in Scripture to speak of these things, but peering behind metaphors only seeks to make one lost.
- Indwelt Temples
- The Intimate Family
These we ought to use well for in them God has stooped low and used human language, from human life to reveal to us “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” - Ephesians 3:19
Love you men