the fathers and theosis
Dear John and Rick,
I have seen it stated by one of the Fathers (I can't find that sheet of paper at the moment, when I do I will name name names!) that theosis, or deification, can only be complete after the Resurrection, which makes sense. This does not imply that saints have not experienced theosis, but that this will be confirmed when they are with Christ in His Glory at the Second Coming of our Lord.
Theosis is central to the understanding of the whole process of God's Saving act. Starting with the recognition that in the begining we were created in the image and likeness of God, that the Fall led to the tarnishing and almost complete burial of that divine image within us through sin. It explains why the Logos, God's Only-begotten Son was made Incarnate, and why we partake of His Holy Body and Blood, not as a symbol, but as an actual partaking of His divine humanity. When Christ said, "he who hath seen me hath seen the Father," He was proclaiming, among other things, that He was presenting what the true likeness of God must be in human flesh.
"The Word made flesh has deified the flesh," wrote St John of Damascus in
On Icons. St Paul explained that our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit, which makes us not our own. He also said that because of baptism we have "put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." (Col3:9-10).
That magnificent prayer spoken by Jesus in the Gospel of St John, chapter 17, should be read and re-read as the most definitive explanation of what theosis is.
Whether as babies or as adults we have been baptised into the Body of Christ, thus receiving the Holy Spirit, however, this is not the end of the story, because we must live our life in struggle against our lower, sinful nature, the wiles of the devils, and the need to live a life of love according to God's will. This is the meaning of prayer life, to become closer to God, to implement His commands, to overcome evil, a continuous struggle that will receive the blessed aid of the Holy Spirit.
I suggest that, if an English translation exists, everyone should read Matta el-Maskeen's "The New Creation of Man".