Theosis/Divinization and the Energy-Essence Distinction

As a Protestant I find the concept of Energy Essence Distinction very interesting:


It was believed in by Cyril of Alexandria. And several other church Fathers. And very well explains the Glorification of the Human Body that all believers will receive in the future ever since our LORD himself was risen from the dead.

Therefore Theosis is possible in regards to our participation in the Divine Nature:
3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4Through these He has given us His precious and magnificent promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, now that you have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

But not in any way taking on the nature of the Godhead ourselves. Akin to an asymptote never quite reaching the mark but infinitely approaching such a state. Such may be the nature of Theosis:

Being created and finite although we are tending towards the infinite we never reach infinity. We participate in the Divine Nature through the Uncreated Energies but never shall we share in the Divine Essence.

What do you guys think?
 

Eusebius Erasmus

Pelican
Orthodox
I'm glad that as a Protestant, you find this interesting. As far as I can tell, theosis is backed up by the Bible and Church Tradition.

We are, after all, God's adopted children through Christ. Therefore, it makes sense that as we grow in Christ, we become more like Him, without taking on His essence as God. We are children by adoption, not by blood (essence).
 
I'm glad that as a Protestant, you find this interesting. As far as I can tell, theosis is backed up by the Bible and Church Tradition.

We are, after all, God's adopted children through Christ. Therefore, it makes sense that as we grow in Christ, we become more like Him, without taking on His essence as God. We are children by adoption, not by blood (essence).

Thanks.
 

OrthoLeaf

Sparrow
Orthodox
I think you're on the path towards Holy Orthodoxy, dear brother. Theosis is the very purpose of human life and it exists only in the Orthodox Church. Not in the pagan religions, nor the philosophies of man - not even in the other Christian denominations. But in Holy Orthodoxy alone. Look into the lives of modern day saints. Men like St. Paisios, St. Porphyrios and St. Nektarios to see Theosis in action. When you see men like these, you'll realize that the Old Testament Prophets never disappeared with the creation of the New Covenant - Indeed, how could they? How could the covenant of Christ be in any way inferior to the covenant established by Moses, through Christ? The saints are our living testimony of the truth of our divine covenant and the truth of our divine faith, just as the prophets were of the old. These are deified men, miracle-working men and just as the prophets of old, their miracles come through the Holy Spirit. When you fully grasp this doctrine, you'll realize that Holy Scripture itself is a product of theosis, not the producer of it and with this revelation, your heart will open up to Orthodoxy. It truly brings great joy to my heart to see protestants, whom I know love Christ very much, on the path towards the true and ancient faith. (Even if they don't yet realize it)

P.S. Watch the video titled "Theosis: The True Purpose of Human Life" for the most succinct breakdown of this most beautiful doctrine of Orthodoxy.
 

Hermetic Seal

Kingfisher
Orthodox
Gold Member
Interestingly, 2 Peter 1 was one of my favorite Bible passages for years before I ever even looked at Orthodoxy. There was something profound about those verses but I rarely heard any sort of commentary on it in my protestant world and couldn't necessarily even articulate why I found it compelling. But when I learned about Orthodox theology it all seemed to click.

That this seemed clearly to be a crucial piece of Christian thought that had been virtually lost in the West made me give serious consideration to Orthodoxy's claims.
 
I think you're on the path towards Holy Orthodoxy, dear brother. Theosis is the very purpose of human life and it exists only in the Orthodox Church. Not in the pagan religions, nor the philosophies of man - not even in the other Christian denominations. But in Holy Orthodoxy alone. Look into the lives of modern day saints. Men like St. Paisios, St. Porphyrios and St. Nektarios to see Theosis in action. When you see men like these, you'll realize that the Old Testament Prophets never disappeared with the creation of the New Covenant - Indeed, how could they? How could the covenant of Christ be in any way inferior to the covenant established by Moses, through Christ? The saints are our living testimony of the truth of our divine covenant and the truth of our divine faith, just as the prophets were of the old. These are deified men, miracle-working men and just as the prophets of old, their miracles come through the Holy Spirit. When you fully grasp this doctrine, you'll realize that Holy Scripture itself is a product of theosis, not the producer of it and with this revelation, your heart will open up to Orthodoxy. It truly brings great joy to my heart to see protestants, whom I know love Christ very much, on the path towards the true and ancient faith. (Even if they don't yet realize it)

P.S. Watch the video titled "Theosis: The True Purpose of Human Life" for the most succinct breakdown of this most beautiful doctrine of Orthodoxy.

Maybe. I will see where the truth leads me. If I am wrong. I will see where God takes me.
 

OrthoLeaf

Sparrow
Orthodox
That this seemed clearly to be a crucial piece of Christian thought that had been virtually lost in the West made me give serious consideration to Orthodoxy's claims.
Interesting. I come from an atheist background and it was likewise this doctrine that brought me to Orthodoxy. Without getting into my whole conversion process here, I'll just say I had a worldview crisis where I realized I had no epistemological foundation for any of my beliefs. This revelation put me on the edge of nihilism and despair, but I figured I had nothing to lose by first going to the ancient religions to look for "Divine Revelation". I figured that because man can not reason up to the God, then God, if he existed, had to condescend down to us. He had to be the bridger of that gap, not man. Orthodoxy alone bridges this gap, with the doctrine and living reality of theosis and does so on a far more intimate and profound level than I ever could have possibly imagined when I began this search.

I still remember the joy and the awe I felt when I discovered this, by Gods grace, after nearly 2 years of searching. "Wait...this is it! Gods revelation to the heart of man directly, no intermediaries. Beyond mere reason and vain intellectual pursuits, no translation or interpretation errors, no cults of personality but a direct knowledge of God."
 

Don Quixote

Kingfisher
Orthodox Inquirer
I'm still confused on the the essence/energy distinction and how it pertains to the holy trinity, if at all. God is manifested in three persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who share in the same divine nature or substance. Jay Dyer said at one point, that the logos is an icon of the Father and man (man's soul, I believe) is an icon of God. Since iconography is crucial in Orthodox Church and shares in the uncreated divine energies of God, and hence why they are proper to worship before, then that sounds to me like Dyer is saying Christ himself is an energy. However I have never heard of Christ, nor the Holy Spirit , be described as an energy. Rather they are always described as different uncreated divine persons.

Is the essence/energy distinction at all relevant to the trinity?
 
And very well explains the Glorification of the Human Body that all believers will receive in the future ever since our LORD himself was risen from the dead.

Therefore Theosis is possible in regards to our participation in the Divine Nature.

But not in any way taking on the nature of the Godhead ourselves. Akin to an asymptote never quite reaching the mark but infinitely approaching such a state. Such may be the nature of Theosis.

Being created and finite although we are tending towards the infinite we never reach infinity. We participate in the Divine Nature through the Uncreated Energies but never shall we share in the Divine Essence.

What do you guys think?


Interesting distinction between becoming like God, without becoming part of Him. I'm not sure what to think. On the one hand I don't want to claim more than I should, thinking I will someday become part of God. There are many passages of Scripture where it's clear we are adopted sons, becoming like Him, conformed to His image, without literally being part of Him. On the other hand there are some passages where it's clear we are literally part of Christ's body, and Jesus prays all believers may become "perfectly one" with Him and the Father.

It seems clear from Scripture that the spirit of Christ lives inside us after we are born again, if we do not fall away. So in that sense His nature lives within our nature.

Here some other Bible verses I found about our present and future state, and how we are related to God.

PART OF HIS BODY
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27

For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the church. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. Ephesians 5:29-30

ONE WITH THE FATHER AND THE SON
Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one... I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. John 17:11,20-23

ADOPTED SONS
In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. Ephesians 1:5

CONFORMED TO HIS IMAGE, BROTHERS OF CHRIST THE FIRSTBORN
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:29

GOD'S CHILDREN, TO BECOME LIKE GOD
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are... Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:1-2

CHRIST LIVING WITHIN
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. Galatians 2:20a

RESURRECTED IN THE IMAGE OF THE MAN OF HEAVEN
So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 1 Corinthians 15:42-53
 
Interesting distinction between becoming like God, without becoming part of Him. I'm not sure what to think. On the one hand I don't want to claim more than I should, thinking I will someday become part of God. There are many passages of Scripture where it's clear we are adopted sons, becoming like Him, conformed to His image, without literally being part of Him. On the other hand there are some passages where it's clear we are literally part of Christ's body, and Jesus prays all believers may become "perfectly one" with Him and the Father.

It seems clear from Scripture that the spirit of Christ lives inside us after we are born again, if we do not fall away. So in that sense His nature lives within our nature.

Here some other Bible verses I found about our present and future state, and how we are related to God.

PART OF HIS BODY




ONE WITH THE FATHER AND THE SON


ADOPTED SONS


CONFORMED TO HIS IMAGE, BROTHERS OF CHRIST THE FIRSTBORN


GOD'S CHILDREN, TO BECOME LIKE GOD


CHRIST LIVING WITHIN


RESURRECTED IN THE IMAGE OF THE MAN OF HEAVEN

In this sense the marriage relationship makes sense. We remain distinct even as we are joined to him. The uncreated and the created cannot be identical no matter what.

But because of this marriage. We are nonetheless like God without being God. Hence we are ultimately fulfilling our purpose as being "Images of God". How much more so when we are immortal, the perfection of beauty in each of our unique ways,perfect in health and form and sharing his divine glory(1 Corinthians 15:42-43)(Philippians 3:21) and authority(Revelation 3:21).

Not that different and in many ways even better than what the Greeks imagined their Pagan Gods to be in their excellencies.
 

Dijkstra

Pigeon
Could someone explain "theosis" to me, or provide me a source so I can better understand the concept the term references?

What I'm currently understanding is the eventual "finish line" of our journey of Sanctification. We struggle against, and with the help of the Holy Spirit overcome, our sinful natures, though never attaining full Christ-like perfection while we yet remain here on earth. Then in the Father's time, when Christ returns, there will be the resurrection of the saints, the great judgement, and the new creation, in which all who repented and clung to Christ through faith in His sacrifice on the cross shall attain perfection (that being a ceaseless, sinless, disease and death-free existence). I'd use the phrase "restored to our intended pre-original sin state."

Pardon my gross oversimplification, I'm grasping for the core points; I'm attempting to see where Protestants and Orthodox may differ on this matter.
 
Could someone explain "theosis" to me, or provide me a source so I can better understand the concept the term references?

What I'm currently understanding is the eventual "finish line" of our journey of Sanctification. We struggle against, and with the help of the Holy Spirit overcome, our sinful natures, though never attaining full Christ-like perfection while we yet remain here on earth. Then in the Father's time, when Christ returns, there will be the resurrection of the saints, the great judgement, and the new creation, in which all who repented and clung to Christ through faith in His sacrifice on the cross shall attain perfection (that being a ceaseless, sinless, disease and death-free existence). I'd use the phrase "restored to our intended pre-original sin state."

Pardon my gross oversimplification, I'm grasping for the core points; I'm attempting to see where Protestants and Orthodox may differ on this matter.

There's a detailed Wikipedia article on Theosis. I would be interested to hear our Orthodox brothers' take on the article. The article says Theosis is one of the primary concepts in Orthodoxy.


Here are a few excerpts.

Theosis (Greek: θέωσις), or deification (deification may also refer to apotheosis, lit. "making divine"), is a transformative process whose aim is likeness to or union with God, as taught by the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Byzantine Catholic Churches. As a process of transformation, theosis is brought about by the effects of catharsis (purification of mind and body) and theoria ('illumination' with the 'vision' of God). According to Eastern Christian teachings, theosis is very much the purpose of human life. It is considered achievable only through synergy (or cooperation) of human activity and God's uncreated energies (or operations).

Theosis is understood to have three stages: first, the purgative way, purification, or katharsis; second, illumination, the illuminative way, the vision of God, or theoria; and third, sainthood, the unitive way, or theosis. Thus the term "theosis" describes the whole process and its objective.

Byzantine theology (as historically conceived by its principal exponents) is based to a greater extent than Latin Catholic theology on the direct spiritual insights of the saints or mystics of the church rather than the apparently more rational thought tradition of the West. Byzantine Christians consider that "no one who does not follow the path of union with God can be a theologian" in the proper sense. Thus theology in Byzantine Christianity is not treated primarily as an academic pursuit. Instead it is based on applied revelation (see gnosiology), and the primary validation of a theologian is understood to be a holy and ascetical life rather than intellectual training or academic credentials.

Naturally, the crucial Christian assertion, that God is One, sets an absolute limit on the meaning of theosis: even as it is not possible for any created being to become God, or even a necessary part of God, so a created being cannot become Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit nor the Father of the Trinity.

Most specifically creatures, i.e. created beings, cannot become God in His transcendent essence. Such a concept would be the henosis, or absorption and fusion into God of Greek pagan philosophy. However, every being and reality itself is considered as composed of the immanent energy, or energeia, of God. As energy is the actuality of God, i.e. his immanence, from God's being, it is also the energeia or activity of God.

A sure warrant for looking forward with hope to deification of human nature is provided by the Incarnation of God, which makes man God to the same degree as God Himself became man. Let us become the image of the one whole God, bearing nothing earthly in ourselves, so that we may consort with God and become gods, receiving from God our existence as gods. For it is clear that He Who became man without sin will divinize human nature without changing it into the Divine Nature, and will raise it up for His Own sake to the same degree as He lowered Himself for man's sake.

Through theoria (illumination with or direct experience of the Triune God), human beings come to know and experience what it means to be fully human, i.e., the created image of God; through their communion with Jesus Christ, God shares himself with the human race, in order to conform them to all that He is in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. As God became human, in all ways except sin, he will also make humans "God", i.e., "holy" or "saintly", in all ways except his Divine Essence, which is uncaused and uncreated.

For many Church Fathers, theosis goes beyond simply restoring people to their state before the fall of Adam and Eve, teaching that because Christ united the human and divine natures in Jesus' person, it is now possible for someone to experience closer fellowship with God than Adam and Eve initially experienced in the Garden of Eden, and that people can become more like God than Adam and Eve were at that time. Some Byzantine Christian theologians say that Jesus would have become incarnate for this reason alone, even if Adam and Eve had never sinned.

In Christ the two natures of God and human are not two persons but one; thus a union is effected in Christ between all of humanity in principle and God. So the holy God and sinful humanity are reconciled in principle in the one sinless man, Jesus Christ.

This reconciliation is made actual through the struggle to conform to the image of Christ. Without the struggle, the praxis, there is no real faith; faith leads to action, without which it is dead. One must unite will, thought, and action to God's will, his thoughts, and his actions. A person must fashion his life to be a mirror, a true likeness of God.
 
There's a detailed Wikipedia article on Theosis. I would be interested to hear our Orthodox brothers' take on the article. The article says Theosis is one of the primary concepts in Orthodoxy.


Here are a few excerpts.

In agreement with some orthodox theologians. I believe given enough time Adam and Eve would have reproduced sexually but at some point they will have experienced Theosis once they partook of the Tree of Life provided they didn't sin.

As would the entire Human race.
 
I am glad I learned about Theosis. Now when I read the Bible aloud, it's more clear what it means when I read the parts where God speaks in the first person ("I am the LORD your God," etc.)

Obviously I didn't think I was actually God while reading these passages, but I wasn't sure what to think of myself speaking out loud as if I were God. Now as I understand the purpose of my life is to struggle to conform my thoughts, words and actions to God while not actually becoming Him (impossible for me to become uncreated) it makes a lot more sense.

It was also helpful to learn the Orthodox faith is based more on directly revealed knowledge than intellectual reasoning. Not that Orthodox discourage thinking, but apparently it's subordinate to direct revelation. Hence the high reverence for saints and mystics, and the hesitancy to draw one's own conclusions directly from Scripture.

If I mischaracterized the Orthodox faith in any way, please correct me.

This forum has been my first contact with Orthodoxy. It's been eye opening and increased my faith in Christ, and broadened my understanding of who He is.
 
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The misrule of Elites are inversions as to what they are supposed to be. True High culture is to be conformed to Christ. Not being haughty aristocrats looking down at the lowly but being Christlike in Character renders us suitable to rule in the Millennial Earth and beyond as a result of sharing God's Throne.

Including our respective Palaces in accordance with our merit and resulting positions

Exemplifying Wisdom and Justice.
 
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OrthoLeaf

Sparrow
Orthodox
Could someone explain "theosis" to me, or provide me a source so I can better understand the concept the term references?
The following (part 1/2) is the best and most succinct explanation of Theosis that I have found to date. I couldn't hope to articulate this beautiful doctrine anywhere nearly as clearly as Fr. George (Kapsanis) of the Holy Mountain does, so I will merely link a reading of his work here.

 
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