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"Theosis" What does the word mean and what does it not mean?

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  • E.Danial Doss
    I looked into the Orthodox Study Bible , so that I do not use my own word. That book was published in the U.S. in 1993 and it covers only the New Testament.
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 12, 2007
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      I looked into the “Orthodox Study Bible”, so that I do not use my own word.   That book was published in the U.S. in 1993 and it covers only the New Testament. It has been authored and reviewed by 30 Orthodox scholars from Easter Orthodox Churches (Greek, Russian, Serbian, Antiochian, .. etc).  Fr. Anthony Conaris is one of them. The book is used in all Eastern Orthodox Churches.

       

      The word “theosis” or deification is common among all the Orthodox and is being taught in all seminaries and Churches.  It is strange that it is causing that much commotion among the Copts in the Coptic Church.  Anyway, here is what the study Bible says about this word.

       

      Deification is the ancient theological word used to describe the process by which a Christian becomes more like God.  St. Peter speaks of this process when he writes, “As divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness … you may be partakers of the divine nature” (2Pet. 1:3, 4)

       

      What does it mean to partake of the divine nature, and how do we experience it?  To give an answer, first address what deification is not, and then describe what it is.

       

      What deification is not!  When the Church calls us to pursue godliness, to be more like God, this does not mean that human beings then become divine.  We do not become like God in His Nature.  That would not be only heresy, it would be impossible.  For we are human, always have been human, and always will be human.  We can not take on the nature of God.  (Note - Probably that is what those against the word and teaching of “Theosis” think this way – and that could be the problem)

       

      St. John of Damascus, writing in the eighth century, makes a remarkable observation.  The word “God” in the Scriptures refers not to the Divine nature or essence, for that is unknowable.  “God” refers rather to the divine energies-the power and grace of God which we can perceive in this world.  The Greek word for God, theos comes from a verb meaning “run”, “see”, or “burn”.  These are energy word, so to speak, not essence words.

       

      What deification is!  Deification means we are become more like God through His grace or divine energies.  In creation, human were made in the image and likeness of God according to human nature.  In other words, humanity by nature is an icon or image of deity.  The divine image is in all humanity.  Through sin, however, the image and likeness of God was marred and we fell.

       

      When The Son of God assumed humanity, …., the process of our being renewed in God’s image and likeness was begun. Thus, those who are joined to Christ through faith in Holy baptism begin a re-creation process, being renewed in God’s image and likeness.  We become, as St. Peter writes: ”partakers of the divine nature”

       

      Because of the Incarnation of the Son of God, because the fullness of God inhabited human flesh, being joined to Christ means that it is again possible to experience deification, the fulfillment of our human destiny.  That is through union with Christ, we become by grace what God is by nature – we “become children of God” (John 1:12).  His deity interpenetrates our humanity.

       

      By application, the divine energies interpenetrate the human nature of Christ.  Being joined to Christ, our humanity is interpenetrated with the energies of God through Christ’s glorified flesh.  Nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ, we partake of the grace of God – His strength.  His righteousness, His love – and are enabled to serve Him and glorify Him.  Thus we, being human, are being deified.

       

      Now, let me say my humble opinion in the subject. God, the all mighty, is like the Sun and we are by His grace like the moon and the stars.  Without the sun, the moon and the stars are dark and dim.  Only through the sun, those stars can shine; we will never be the source of light, but the receiver of light.  Without God, we are nothing.  With God, we can shine (let your light shine before men, that they may see your good work and glorify your Father in heaven – Mathew 5: 16). 

       

    • Bissada, Nabil A.
      DEAR DR. EZZAT, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR EXPLANATION.... I HOPE WE CAN ALL UNDERSTAND... WE HAVE NO MORE EXCUSE.... GOD BLESS. NABIL BISSADA ... From:
      Message 2 of 2 , Jun 13, 2007
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            DEAR DR. EZZAT,
         
            THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR EXPLANATION....
            I HOPE WE CAN ALL UNDERSTAND...
            WE HAVE NO MORE EXCUSE....
         
             GOD BLESS.
             NABIL BISSADA
        -----Original Message-----
        From: arbible@yahoogroups.com [mailto:arbible@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of E.Danial Doss
        Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2007 7:29 PM
        To: arbible@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [Zeitun-eg.org] "Theosis" What does the word mean and what does it not mean?

        I looked into the "Orthodox Study Bible", so that I do not use my own word.   That book was published in the U.S. in 1993 and it covers only the New Testament. It has been authored and reviewed by 30 Orthodox scholars from Easter Orthodox Churches (Greek, Russian, Serbian, Antiochian, .. etc).  Fr. Anthony Conaris is one of them. The book is used in all Eastern Orthodox Churches.

        The word "theosis" or deification is common among all the Orthodox and is being taught in all seminaries and Churches.  It is strange that it is causing that much commotion among the Copts in the Coptic Church.  Anyway, here is what the study Bible says about this word.

        Deification is the ancient theological word used to describe the process by which a Christian becomes more like God.  St. Peter speaks of this process when he writes, "As divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness ... you may be partakers of the divine nature" (2Pet. 1:3, 4)

        What does it mean to partake of the divine nature, and how do we experience it?  To give an answer, first address what deification is not, and then describe what it is.

        What deification is not!  When the Church calls us to pursue godliness, to be more like God, this does not mean that human beings then become divine.  We do not become like God in His Nature.  That would not be only heresy, it would be impossible.  For we are human, always have been human, and always will be human.  We can not take on the nature of God.  (Note - Probably that is what those against the word and teaching of "Theosis" think this way - and that could be the problem)

        St. John of Damascus, writing in the eighth century, makes a remarkable observation.  The word "God" in the Scriptures refers not to the Divine nature or essence, for that is unknowable.  "God" refers rather to the divine energies-the power and grace of God which we can perceive in this world.  The Greek word for God, theos comes from a verb meaning "run", "see", or "burn".  These are energy word, so to speak, not essence words.

        What deification is!  Deification means we are become more like God through His grace or divine energies.  In creation, human were made in the image and likeness of God according to human nature.  In other words, humanity by nature is an icon or image of deity.  The divine image is in all humanity.  Through sin, however, the image and likeness of God was marred and we fell.

        When The Son of God assumed humanity, ...., the process of our being renewed in God's image and likeness was begun. Thus, those who are joined to Christ through faith in Holy baptism begin a re-creation process, being renewed in God's image and likeness.  We become, as St. Peter writes: "partakers of the divine nature"

        Because of the Incarnation of the Son of God, because the fullness of God inhabited human flesh, being joined to Christ means that it is again possible to experience deification, the fulfillment of our human destiny.  That is through union with Christ, we become by grace what God is by nature - we "become children of God" (John 1:12).  His deity interpenetrates our humanity.

        By application, the divine energies interpenetrate the human nature of Christ.  Being joined to Christ, our humanity is interpenetrated with the energies of God through Christ's glorified flesh.  Nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ, we partake of the grace of God - His strength.  His righteousness, His love - and are enabled to serve Him and glorify Him.  Thus we, being human, are being deified.

        Now, let me say my humble opinion in the subject. God, the all mighty, is like the Sun and we are by His grace like the moon and the stars.  Without the sun, the moon and the stars are dark and dim.  Only through the sun, those stars can shine; we will never be the source of light, but the receiver of light.  Without God, we are nothing.  With God, we can shine (let your light shine before men, that they may see your good work and glorify your Father in heaven - Mathew 5: 16). 

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