13 January 2009

Theosis: that we might become God

It is well past Christmas, but there's always a good reason to spice up the season with a wonderful essay on my favorite theological topic: theosis!

From Carl E. Olson at Ignatius Insight:

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Theosis: The Reason for the Season
December 30, 2008

What, really, is the point of Christmas? Why did God become man?


The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in a section titled, "Why did the Word become flesh?" (pars 456-460) provides several complimentary answers: to save us, to show us God's love, and to be a model of holiness. And then, in what I think must be, for many readers, the most surprising and puzzling paragraph in the entire Catechism, there is this:
The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature": "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God." "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God." "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods." (par 460)
So that "we might become God"? Surely, a few might think, this is some sort of pantheistic slip of the theological pen, or perhaps a case of good-intentioned but poorly expressed hyperbole. But, of course, it is not. First, whatever problems there might have been in translating the Catechism into English, they had nothing to do with this paragraph. Secondly, the first sentence is from 2 Peter 1:4, and the three subsequent quotes are from, respectively, St. Irenaeus, St. Athanasius, and (gasp!) St. Thomas Aquinas. Finally, there is also the fact that this language of divine sonship—or theosis, also known as deification—is found through the entire Catechism. A couple more representative examples. . .[here is the rest of the article].

4 comments:

  1. This quote, "we might become God" was troubling to me many years ago because it closely resembles the temptation of the devil in the garden of eden. So I stayed away from that for a very long time because no one, that I knew, could give an answer.
    BUT, what I didn't realize was in that garden, Adam and Eve were holy because of the gifts given them. They were meant to be in communion with God. And following that through, on a very simple level, a Father would want his children as close, divine, to him as possible.

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  2. Opey,

    Exactly!

    We can become God only with God's help.

    The serpent wanted A&E to believe that they could become gods w/o God.

    That's the origin of post-Christian paganism...and other New Agey garbage.

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  3. Flambeaux11:00 AM

    Christmas doesn't end until Candlemas. So, no, it's not too late. :D

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