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The Fathers and Theosis
19-08-2008, 09:41 AM
Post: #1
The Fathers and Theosis
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In the 'Conversion without conversion' thread, we have been discussing theosis, and I thought it might be useful to examine what the Church Fathers had to say on this subject.

I'd like to offer a few contributions, starting with the general background, and then moving on to looking at particular Fathers.

The first formal definition of the term theosis occurs in the sixth century writings of Dionysius the Areopagite: 'Deification is the attaining of likeness to God and union with Him so far as is possible.' (Patrologia Graecae, 3.376A). But this does not mean it was a late, Hellenistic import which somehow diluted the pure message of the Bible. Not only was it a topic which was discussed within Judaism, it was one which the early Christians inherited from both their Jewish texts and their own earliest writings.

Psalm 82:6 reads: 'I said, you are gods and all of you sons of the most high', and the early Church noted the similarity with the various Pauline verses about becoming 'adopted' sons of God, and becoming 'one in Christ'. Justin Martyr, who was familiar with the rabbinic exegesis on the Psalms, laid claim to the 'gods' for the Church, and Irenaeus, who shared that view, takes it for granted that Christians might be called 'gods' on the authority of Scripture because they have been incorporated into Christ by baptism, thereby attaining a potential immortality.

But in addition to this early interpretation, we see another, less allegorical in nature, coming from Alexandria (that home of allegory). Clement of Alexandria and Hippolytus of Rome used the verb theopoie Literally, this word means 'to make God' or, more politely, 'to make divine'. Clement and Hippolytus assert that the Christian can be called 'a god' because he/she has become like God through the attainment of knowledge (gnosis) and dispassion.

We can see both these approaches - the realistic and the ethical - in use by the Fathers through the third century; the former is expressed in language about participation through the sacraments, especially baptism and the Eucharist, the latter through the language of imitation, relating to the ascetic and contemplative life.

As so often in the life of the early Church, it was only when an interpretation of the word of God which ran counter to the sense of the faithful appeared, that the Church found itself obliged to delve deeper into what certain Scriptural phrases meant. In this case it was Arius' claim that the Son was a creature, and therefore not divine, which forced others to think more closely about what it meant to say that 'God became man so that men might become gods.'

I'll stop there, having outlined the idea and some of its early manifestations. But I'd be happy for us to discuss any of the things here before moving on, later, to deal with the ways in which Athanasius, the Cappadocian Fathers, and St, Cyril, all came to deeper understanding of what it means for us to 'become gods'.

In Christ,

John

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
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Messages In This Thread
The Fathers and Theosis - John Charmley - 19-08-2008 09:41 AM
In the End, the Beginning? - Rick Henry - 20-08-2008, 12:36 PM
[] - John Charmley - 20-08-2008, 05:03 PM
theosis and the fathers - kirk yacoub - 21-08-2008, 08:37 AM
[] - John Charmley - 21-08-2008, 09:08 AM
Origen on theosis - John Charmley - 26-08-2008, 05:04 PM
the fathers and theosis - kirk yacoub - 27-08-2008, 08:29 AM
[] - John Charmley - 27-08-2008, 08:51 AM
[] - Rick Henry - 27-08-2008, 11:58 AM
[] - John Charmley - 27-08-2008, 03:04 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 27-08-2008, 03:49 PM
the fathers and theosis - kirk yacoub - 28-08-2008, 08:40 AM
[] - admin - 28-08-2008, 09:19 AM
[] - Rick Henry - 28-08-2008, 10:41 AM
[] - Rick Henry - 28-08-2008, 11:31 AM
[] - John Charmley - 28-08-2008, 06:55 PM
Theosis - a journey without end? - Simon - 28-08-2008, 09:00 PM
[] - John Charmley - 28-08-2008, 09:32 PM
the fathers and theosis - kirk yacoub - 29-08-2008, 09:25 AM
[] - Rick Henry - 29-08-2008, 11:51 AM
[] - John Charmley - 29-08-2008, 05:52 PM
[] - marc hanna - 15-04-2009, 07:58 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 15-04-2009, 10:33 PM
[] - marc hanna - 16-04-2009, 02:20 AM
[] - admin - 16-04-2009, 03:01 PM
[] - marc hanna - 16-04-2009, 03:59 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 17-04-2009, 12:15 PM
[] - marc hanna - 17-04-2009, 12:45 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 20-04-2009, 01:22 PM
[] - admin - 20-04-2009, 07:46 PM
[] - marc hanna - 20-04-2009, 08:28 PM
[] - marc hanna - 21-04-2009, 04:05 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 26-04-2009, 09:42 PM
[] - marc hanna - 27-04-2009, 03:37 AM
[] - Rick Henry - 27-04-2009, 11:59 AM
[] - marc hanna - 27-04-2009, 01:31 PM
[] - admin - 27-04-2009, 03:42 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 28-04-2009, 01:04 PM
[] - admin - 28-04-2009, 01:17 PM
[] - marc hanna - 28-04-2009, 02:47 PM
[] - marc hanna - 28-04-2009, 02:47 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 28-04-2009, 04:44 PM
[] - marc hanna - 29-04-2009, 02:57 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 29-04-2009, 03:06 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 29-04-2009, 04:42 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 29-04-2009, 05:00 PM
[] - marc hanna - 29-04-2009, 06:01 PM
[] - admin - 30-04-2009, 11:53 AM
[] - marc hanna - 30-04-2009, 01:05 PM
[] - admin - 30-04-2009, 01:45 PM
[] - marc hanna - 30-04-2009, 02:03 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 30-04-2009, 02:07 PM
[] - marc hanna - 13-05-2009, 12:47 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 11-08-2009, 01:03 PM
[] - marc hanna - 11-08-2009, 02:06 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 09-10-2009, 01:39 PM
[] - marc hanna - 09-10-2009, 01:51 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 09-10-2009, 02:02 PM
[] - marc hanna - 09-10-2009, 02:25 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 09-10-2009, 02:45 PM
[] - marc hanna - 09-10-2009, 03:22 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 09-10-2009, 03:34 PM
[] - marc hanna - 09-10-2009, 03:58 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 09-10-2009, 04:44 PM
[] - marc hanna - 09-10-2009, 04:54 PM
[] - marc hanna - 09-10-2009, 05:06 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 09-10-2009, 05:16 PM
[] - marc hanna - 10-10-2009, 07:25 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 15-10-2009, 11:47 AM
[] - marc hanna - 15-10-2009, 12:51 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 15-10-2009, 01:34 PM
[] - marc hanna - 15-10-2009, 04:53 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 15-10-2009, 05:17 PM
[] - marc hanna - 15-10-2009, 06:48 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 27-01-2010, 06:56 PM
[] - marc hanna - 27-01-2010, 07:09 PM
[] - admin - 29-01-2010, 01:04 PM
[] - marc hanna - 29-01-2010, 01:13 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 29-01-2010, 06:09 PM
[] - admin - 01-02-2010, 09:26 AM
[] - marc hanna - 01-02-2010, 03:06 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 01-02-2010, 03:23 PM
[] - marc hanna - 01-02-2010, 03:32 PM
[] - Rick Henry - 01-02-2010, 03:56 PM
[] - marc hanna - 01-02-2010, 05:09 PM
[] - John Charmley - 04-04-2010, 09:30 AM
[] - Rick Henry - 05-04-2010, 02:17 PM
[] - John Charmley - 05-04-2010, 02:24 PM



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