The deification of the Virgin Mary in Christianity – 3

The Deification of the Virgin Mary in Christianity

The Immaculate Conception

According to Pius IX (1854), “From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world. Above all creatures did God so love her that truly in her was the Father well-pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints, so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.

“It was wholly fitting that so wonderful a mother should be ever-resplendent with the glory of most sublime holiness and so completely free from all taint of original sin that she would triumph utterly over the ancient serpent. To her did the Father will to give his only-begotten Son — the Son who, equal to the Father and begotten by Him, the Father loves from His Heart — and to give this Son in such a way that He would be the one and the same common Son of God the Father and of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was she whom the Son Himself chose to make His Mother and it was from her that the Holy Spirit willed and brought it about that He should be conceived and born from whom He Himself proceeds” (Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, para. 1-2).

This is the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the Catholic Church, a dogma also held originally by the Fathers of the Orthodox Church, the Byzantine Fathers.

The Virgin Mary

As shown, the Virgin Mary is deified, was deified at the instance of her conception, and has always been deified. In other words, Mary was granted the grace of perpetual deification by the Holy Trinity, in addition to the graces of immaculate conception and perpetual virginity, otherwise she would not have been worthy of being the Theotokos; the bearer of the sinless Word. The Eternal Father, the First Person of the Trinity, proclaimed Mary’s deification to the heavens at the commencement of time when He told Satan, who had possessed the serpent to entice Adam and Eve to sin: “I will put enmity between you and the Woman, and between your seed and her seed. They shall bruise your head and you will bruise their heel” (Gn 3:15). If Mary had not been deified, she would have been unable to remain victorious over the Evil One throughout her entire life in relation to sin, because after Eve had disobeyed God (Gn 3:6), she lost that state of deification with which she was originally created and that would have been confirmed in her and in her offspring had she not sinned.

Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, attested publicly to the Virgin’s perpetual deification during the wedding at Cana when He explicitly addressed Mary with the Father’s preferred term, after she had asked Him to take care of the issue with the wine: “Woman, what is that to Me and to you?” (Jn 2:4). Woman. The woman who not only had been proclaimed deified by the Father (Gn 3:15), but who was also proclaimed thus by the Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, through the Apostle John: “And a great sign appeared in heaven. A Woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rv 12:1). The Archangel Gabriel further attested to Mary’s perpetual deification at the Annunciation when he addressed her as “full of grace” (Lk 1:28).

The Virgin Mary is the epitome of deification (Palamas, 2005), a god by grace (Jn 10:34) though not God, as she has always been the incorrupt partaker of the divine nature (2 P 1:4). This because deification is “God’s perfect and full penetration of man” (Staniloae, 2002, p. 362), with “all who share in this [being] referred to as deified . . . above nature and virtue and knowledge . . . [as] this grace effects this ineffable union” (Gregory Palamas, 1338/1982).

The deification of the Virgin Mary in Christianity – 2

The Deification of the Virgin Mary in Christianity

The Church Fathers on Deification

Below are more statements by the Church Fathers and early Christian writers on deification. Both on their own and taken as a whole, these statements illustrate how it is deification, not mere salvation, that has always been the aim of God for humankind, regardless of the stripping of any semblance of divinity and language sanitization that have occurred throughout the more recent centuries:

Ambrosius of Milan:

He makes us partakers of the divine nature in His power (On Christ. Faith 5.14).

Athanasius of Alexandria:

He Himself has made us sons of the Father and deified men by becoming Himself man . . . He was God and then became man, and that to deify us (Cont. Arian 1.11.38,39).

The work is perfected because men, redeemed from sin, no longer remain dead, but being deified, have in each other by looking at Me the bond of charity (Cont. Arian 3.25.23).

The Word was made flesh in order to offer up this body for all and that we, partaking of His Spirit, might be deified (De Decret 3.14).

He has become Man that He might deify us in Himself and He has been born of a woman and begotten of a Virgin in order to transfer to Himself our erring generation, and that we may become henceforth a holy race and ‘partakers of the Divine Nature’ as blessed Peter wrote (Lett 60).

Augustine of Hippo:

If the word of God came to men, that they might be called gods, how can the very Word of God, who is with God, be otherwise than God? If by the word of God men become gods, if by fellowship they become gods, can He by whom they have fellowship not be God? If lights which are lit are gods, is the light which enlighteneth not God? If through being warmed in a way by saving fire they are constituted gods, is He who gives them the warmth other than God? (On the Gospel of John, Trac 48.9).

It is evident then that He hath called men gods that are deified of His grace, not born of His substance . . . If we have been made sons of God, we have also been made gods: but this is the effect of grace adopting, not of nature generating . . . The rest that are made gods, are made by His own grace, are not born of His substance, that they should be the same as He, but that by favor they should come to Him and be fellow-heirs with Christ (On the Psalms 50.2).

The Son of God hath been made partaker of mortality in order that mortal man may be made partaker of divinity (On the Psalms 53.5).

That Godhead equal to the Father was made partaker of our mortal nature not of His own store, but of ours, that we too might be made partakers of His Divine Nature, not of our store, but of His (On the Psalms 139.1).

God wishes not only to vivify us, but also to deify us. When would human infirmity ever have dared to hope for this unless divine truth had promised it? . . . Our God, the true God, the one God has stood up in the synagogue of gods, many of them of course, and gods not by nature but by adoption, by grace. There is a great difference between God who exists, god who is always God, true God, not only God but also deifying God; that is if I may so put it, god-making God, God not made making gods, and gods who were made, but not by a craftsman (Sermon 23B).

You are already gods (Sermon 81).

Basil of Caesarea

Hence comes foreknowledge of the future, understanding of mysteries, apprehension of what is hidden, distribution of good gifts, the heavenly citizenship, a place in the chorus of angels, joy without end, abiding in God, the being made like to God, and, the highest of all, the being made God (De Spir Sanc 9.23).

Clement of Alexandria

I desire to restore you according to the original model that ye may become also like Me (Exhortation 12).

They are called by the appellation of gods, being destined to sit on thrones with the other gods that have been first put in their places by the Savior (Stromateis 7.10).

Cyprian of Carthage

What man is, Christ was willing to be, that man may be what Christ is (Treat 6.11).

Freedom made hateful the beauty of Adam that he might be god . . . But grace adorned its flaws and God came to be human. Divinity flew down to rescue and lift up humanity. Behold the Son adorned the servant’s flaw so that he became god as he had desired (Hymns on Virginity 48.14-18).

Gregory of Nazianzus

Who can mold, as clay-figures are modeled in a single day, the defender of the truth . . . be God and make others to be god? (Orat 2).

His inferior nature, the humanity, became God . . . in order that I too might be made god (Third Theol Orat).

What greater destiny can befall man’s humanity than that he should be intermingled with God and by this intermingling should be deified . . . that thou mayest become a god, ascending from below (Fourth Theol Orat).

Gregory of Nyssa

He was transfused throughout our nature in order that our nature might by this transfusion of the Divine become itself divine (The Great Cat 25).

The God who was manifested infused Himself into perishable humanity for this purpose, that by this communion with Deity mankind might at the same time be defied (The Great Cat 38).

Gregory of Thessalonica

He who participates in the divine energy . . . becomes himself, in a sense, Light; he is united to the Light and with the Light he sees in full consciousness all that remains hidden for those who have not this grace. He thus surpasses not only the corporeal senses, but also all that can be known . . . for the pure of heart see God . . . who, being the Light, abides in them and reveals Himself to those who love Him (Serm Feast of Pres Bl Virgin).

Hilary of Aries

Just as God stepped out of his nature to become a partaker of our humanity, so we are called to step out of our nature to become partakers of his divinity (Intro Comm 2 P).

Hilary of Poitiers

The object to be gained was that man might become God (De Trinitate 9.38).

When God was born to be man, the purpose was not that the Godhead should be lost, but that the Godhead remaining, man should be born to be God (De Trinitate 10.7).

Hippolytus of Rome

Thou hast become God: for whatever sufferings thou didst undergo while being a man, these He gave to thee because thou wast of mortal mould, but whatever it is consistent with God to impart, these God has promised to bestow upon thee because thou hast been deified and begotten unto immortality (Ref Her 5.30).

Ignatius of Antioch

It is therefore good for you to be in perfect unity that you may at all times be partakers of God (Eph 4.2).

Irenaeus of Lyons

God stood in the congregation of the gods, He judges among the gods (Adversus Haereses 3.6.1).

To whom the Word says, mentioning His own gift of grace: ‘I said, Ye are all the sons of the Highest and gods; but ye shall die like men’ . . . it was for this end that the Word of God was made man and He who was the Son of God became the Son of man, that man, having been taken into the Word and receiving the adoption, might become the son of God (ibid. 3.19.1).

Man does not see God by his own powers; but when He pleases He is seen by men, by whom He wills and when He wills, and as He wills . . . those who see the light are within the light and partake of its brilliancy; even so, those who see God are in God and receive of His splendor . . . Men therefore shall see God that they may live, being made immortal by that sight and attaining even unto God (ibid. 4.20.5, 6a).

The Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who did through His transcendent love become what we are that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself” (ibid. 5.Pref).

As the opinions of certain [persons] are derived from heretical discourses, they are both ignorant of God’s dispensations and of the mystery of the resurrection of the just, and of the [earthly] kingdom which is the commencement of incorruption, by means of which kingdom those who shall be worthy are accustomed gradually to partake of the divine nature (ibid. 5.32.1).

Jerome of Stridon

We are gods, not so by nature, but by grace: ‘But as many as received him he gave power of becoming sons of God.’ I made man for that purpose, that from men they may become gods: ‘I said, You are gods, all of you sons of the most High’ (Homily 14).

John Chrysostom

He Himself is God and He hath called me god; with Him is the essential nature as an actual fact, with me only the honor of the name: ‘I have said ye are gods, and ye are all children of the most highest.’ Here are words, but in the other case there is the actual reality. He hath called me god for by that name I have received honor (Homily 2).

Man can become God and a child of God. For we read, ‘I have said, Ye are gods, all of you are the children of the Most High’ (Ps. lxxxii. 6).

And what is greater, the power to become both God and angel and child of God is put into his own hands (Hom Acts 32).

Justin Martyr

All men are deemed worthy of becoming ‘gods’ and of having power to become sons of the Highest (Dial 124).

Lactantius

The Word exercises an influence which does not make poets . . . by its instruction it makes mortals immortal, mortals gods (Discourse to the Greeks 5).

The man will triumph over the earth. He will be exactly similar to God (hic erit consimilis Deo) who has embraced the virtue of God (Div Inst 6.23).

Mark the Ascetic

The Logos became man, so that man might become Logos (Let Nic).

Origen of Alexandria

It was by the offices of the first-born that they became gods, for He drew from God in generous measure that they should be made gods, and He communicated it to them according to His own bounty (Comm J 2.2,3).

From Him there began the union of the divine with the human nature in order that the human, by communion with the divine, might rise to be divine (Adv Cel 3.28).

Tertullianus of Carthage

We shall be even gods, if we shall deserve to be among those of whom He declared, ‘I have said, Ye are gods,’ and ‘God standeth in the congregation of the gods.’ But this comes of His own grace, not from any property in us, because it is He alone who can make gods (Adv Herm 5).

Although Adam was by reason of his condition under law subject to death, yet was hope preserved to him by the Lord’s saying, ‘Behold, Adam is become as one of us;’ that is, in consequence of the future taking of the man into the divine nature [hominis in divinitatem] (Adv Marc II.25).

But how does deification apply to the Virgin Mary, since she has always been a creature and not the Creator?

(continued in Part 3)

The deification of the Virgin Mary in Christianity – 1

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The Deification of the Virgin Mary in Christianity

Many tend to claim that the Virgin Mary is not deified, was not deified at the moment of her conception, and has never been deified. This claim seems to originate from the deep-seated fear, likely Protestant in origin, that the Holy Virgin is being worshipped with that kind of worship reserved for God alone, instead of being honored as the Mother of God. This fear, however, is unfounded. What seems to be happening is the perpetuation of a misunderstanding and lack of sufficient comprehension (and use) of the terms deification and worship.

What is Worship?

Two kinds of worship exist: the worship of latreia and the worship of proskynesis (Bartolo-Abela, 2017). Latreia is the kind of worship reserved for God alone, while proskynesis is the relative worship that can be legitimately given to any saints. Proskynesis is more commonly understood by people as veneration. However, it is still worship in a technical sense, although not the kind of worship that needs to be reserved for God. What is deification and what kind of worship is employed towards those human beings who have become deified?

Deification – Brief Overview

Have I not said that you are gods? (Jn 10:34).

God, you see, wants to make you a god; not by nature, of course, like the One whom He begot but by His gift and by adoption (Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 166.4).

Through Christ, the Word made flesh, man has access to the Father in the Holy Spirit and comes to share in the divine nature (Paul VI, Dei Verbum, 1965).

The Most High knew that Adam wanted to become a god, so He sent His Son who put him on in order to grant him his desire (Ephraim the Syrian, Nisb. Hymns LXIX.12).

He became human so that he might make us gods (Athanasius of Alexandria, De Incarnatione 54.3).

According to Dionysus the Aeropagite, deification is defined as “the attaining of likeness to God and union with Him so far as is possible” (EH 1. 3, PG 3. 376a) both in this life and the next. Maximus the Confessor called deification “the invocation of the great God and Father, the symbol of the authentic and real adoption, according to the gift and grace of the Holy Spirit, thanks to the bestowal of which the saints become and will remain the sons of God” (Ad Thalas 61, PG 90, 636C; Scholia 6, ibid. 644C). Thomas Aquinas stated that deification allowed “this name God [to be] communicable not in its whole signification, but in some part of it by way of similitude so that those are called gods who share in divinity by likeness, according to the text I have said, ‘You are gods (Ps 82:6)’ (Summa Theologica, Resp. to I.13,9).

Gross (1938/2002) elaborated that deification, [the] “divinization of the Christian is not an identification with God [but] an assimilation, a very eminent restoration of the original divine likeness [where one] participates by grace in the perfections that God possesses by nature . . .  [Throughout the process of deification], the Spirit transforms the soul to the image of the Logos, the natural Son of God, thus making the Christian an adoptive child of God. Affecting, it seems, the very essence of the soul, this mysterious conformation is not of a moral nature only, but of a physical nature. It is a veritable partaking of the divine nature and of the divine life” (p. 272). Aquinas added that in deification “the gift of grace surpasses every capability of created nature, since it is nothing short of a partaking of the Divine Nature, which exceeds every other nature . . . God alone should deify, bestowing a partaking of the Divine Nature by a participated likeness” (Summa Theologica, 2.1:112.1).

Irenaeus of Lyons explained that God had “become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself” (Adversus Haereses, Preface). He added, “Do we cast blame on Him because we were not made gods from the beginning, but were at first created merely as men and then later as gods? Although God has adopted this course out of his pure benevolence, that no one may charge him with discrimination or stinginess, He declares, ‘I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are sons of the Most High’ . . . It was necessary at first that nature be exhibited, then after that what was mortal would be conquered and swallowed up in immortality” (ibid., 4.38[4]). Clement of Alexandria declared, “Yea, I say, the Word of God became a man so that you might learn from a man how to become a god” (Exhortation to the Greeks 1). He stated, “If one knows himself, he will know God, and knowing God will become like God . . . His is beauty, true beauty, for it is God and that man becomes a god since God wills it. So Heraclitus was right when he said, ‘Men are gods and gods are men’” (Stromateis 23). Clement added, “He who obeys the Lord and follows the prophecy given through Him . . . becomes a god while still moving about in the flesh” (Stromata 716,101,4). Augustine of Hippo stated, “He Himself that justifies also deifies for by justifying He makes sons of God: ‘For he has given them power to become the sons of God’ [Jn 1:12]. If then we have been made sons of god, we have also been made gods” (On the Psalms 50.2.).

Deification is the process of fulfillment, starting from this earthly life, of the words of the Apostle Peter, “He [Christ] has given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature, flying the corruption of that concupiscence which is in the world” (2 P 1:4). Deification as a term was common in the writings of the Greek Fathers and other Early Church Fathers until it was supplanted by the sterile and ‘safe’ language of the Reformation (Kharlamov, 2010).

(continued in Part 2)

The deification of the Virgin Mary: A brief response

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He was made man that we might become god (Athanasius of Alexandria, De Inc, 54.3).

Many individuals these days, both in the Catholic Church (especially in America) and in Protestant ecclesial communities, tend to make the claim that the Virgin Mary is not deified, was not deified at the very instance of her conception, and has never been deified. Such a claim seems to be originating from the deep-seated fear, likely Protestant in origin, that the Holy Virgin is being worshipped with the worship that should be reserved for God alone, instead of just being honored as the Mother of God. Both, however, are wrong in their above-referenced claims. They are also wrong in their comprehension and use of the terms deification and worship.

What is worship?

Two kinds of worship exist: the worship of latreia and the worship of proskynesis (Bartolo-Abela, 2017). Latreia is the worship that is reserved only for God, whereas proskynesis is the relative worship that can be legitimately given to the saints. Proskynesis is more commonly understood by the people as veneration. However, it is still worship, even though not the kind of worship that should be reserved for God alone.

What is deification?

God, you see, wants to make you a god; not by nature, of course, like the One whom He begot but by His gift and by adoption (Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 166.4).

Through Christ, the Word made flesh, man has access to the Father in the Holy Spirit and comes to share in the divine nature (Paul VI, Dei Verbum, 1965).

The Most High knew that Adam wanted to become a god, so He sent His Son who put him on in order to grant him his desire (Ephraim the Syrian, Nisb. Hymns, LXIX.12).

According to Dionysus the Aeropagite, deification is defined as “the attaining of likeness to God and union with Him so far as is possible” (EH 1. 3, PG 3. 376a). Maximus the Confessor called deification “the invocation of the great God and Father, the symbol of the authentic and real adoption, according to the gift and grace of the Holy Spirit, thanks to the bestowal of which the saints become and will remain the sons of God” (Ad Thalas 61, PG 90, 636C; Scholia 6, ibid. 644C). Thomas Aquinas stated that deification allowed “this name God [to be] communicable, not in its whole signification, but in some part of it by way of similitude so that those are called gods who share in divinity by likeness, according to the text I have said, ‘You are gods (Ps 82:6)’ (Summa Theologica, Response to I.13,9).

Gross (1938/2002) explained that deification, [the] “divinization of the Christian is not an identification with God [but] an assimilation, a very eminent restoration of the original divine likeness [whereby one] participates by grace in the perfections that God possesses by nature . . . The Spirit transforms the soul to the image of the Logos, the natural Son of God, thus making the Christian an adoptive child of God. Affecting, it seems the very essence of the soul, this mysterious conformation is not of a moral nature only but of a physical nature; it is a veritable partaking of the divine nature and of the divine life” (p. 272). Aquinas further elaborated that in deification “the gift of grace surpasses every capability of created nature, since it is nothing short of a partaking of the Divine Nature, which exceeds every other nature . . . God alone should deify, bestowing a partaking of the Divine Nature by a participated likeness” (Summa Theologica, 2.1:112.1).

The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary

He has given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature (2 P 1:4).

According to Pius IX (1854), “From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world. Above all creatures did God so love her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints, so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.

“And indeed it was wholly fitting that so wonderful a mother should be ever resplendent with the glory of most sublime holiness and so completely free from all taint of original sin that she would triumph utterly over the ancient serpent. To her did the Father will to give his only-begotten Son — the Son whom, equal to the Father and begotten by him, the Father loves from his heart — and to give this Son in such a way that he would be the one and the same common Son of God the Father and of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was she whom the Son himself chose to make his Mother and it was from her that the Holy Spirit willed and brought it about that he should be conceived and born from whom he himself proceeds” (Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, para. 1-2).

Note: This would become known as the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the Catholic Church, a dogma that was implicitly and not-so-implicitly held also by the early Fathers of the Orthodox Church, namely the Byzantine Fathers.

Discussion

Is it not written in your Law: I said, ‘You are gods?’ (Jn 10:34).

We are gods, not so by nature, but by grace. ‘But as many as received him he gave power of becoming sons of God.’ I made man for that purpose, that from men they may become gods. ‘I said: You are gods, all of you sons of the most High’ (Jerome of Stridon, Hom, 14).

When God was born to be man, the purpose was not that the Godhead should be lost, but that, the Godhead remaining, man should be born to be God (Hilary of Poitiers, De Trin, 10.7).

As can be seen from the above, the Virgin Mary is deified, was deified at the very instance of her conception, and has always been deified. Otherwise, she would not have been sufficiently worthy of being the Theotokos, the bearer of the sinless Word. The eternal Father Himself attested to Mary’s deification at the beginning of all time (Gn 3:15), as did her Son during the wedding at Cana (Jn 2:4) and the Archangel Gabriel during the Annunciation (Lk 1:28).

That having been said, the Virgin Mary is not God, nor has she ever been (or claimed to be) God. Deification does not mean that one becomes a god by nature – that is an erroneous understanding of deification; a false understanding borne of fear if not miseducation.

Deification is “God’s perfect and full penetration of man” (Staniloae, 2002, p. 362) and “all who share in this [divine] light are referred to as deified . . . above nature and virtue and knowledge . . . [as] this grace effects this ineffable union” (Gregory Palamas, 1338/1983). Hence as the Virgin Mary is, was, and will always be the Immaculate Conception, she is, as Palamas (2005) stated, the epitome of deification.

References

  • Bartolo-Abela, M. (2017). Icons as resistance: Challenging the new iconoclasm in the Catholic Church.
  • Dionysus the Aeropagite. EH 1. 3, PG 3. 376a.
  • Gregory Palamas. (1338/1983). The triads in defense of the holy hesychasts.
  • _____. (2005). Mary the Mother of God: Sermons by Saint Gregory Palamas.
  • Gross, J. (1938/2002). The divinization of the Christian according to the Greek Fathers.
  • Maximus the Confessor. Ad Thalas 61, PG 90, 636C.
  • _____. Scholia 6, ibid. 644C.
  • Pius IX. (1854). Ineffabilis Deus. 
  • Staniloae, D. (2002). The experience of God: Orthodox dogmatic theology, Vol. 2, The world: Creation and deification.
  • Thomas Aquinas. (1225-1274). Summa Theologica.

Deification is the true aim of man

There is no other way to know God than by the vision of the Light which comes from Him (Symeon the New Theologian).

Deification – the restoration of the likeness (not the image) – is the true aim of humankind, not just salvation, because deification is the invocation of the great God and Father, the symbol of the authentic and real adoption, according to the gift and grace of the Holy Spirit, thanks to the bestowal of which the saints become and will remain the sons of God (Palamas, Ad Thalas 61, PG 90, 636C; Scholia 6, ibid. 644C). It is deification that allows this name God [to be] communicable, not in its whole signification, but in some part of it by way of similitude so that those are called gods who share in divinity by likeness, according to the text I have said, ‘You are gods (Ps 82:6)’ (Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Response to I.13,9).

It is time – The relationship between the Father and the child

And everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of My Name will be repaid a hundred times over, and also inherit eternal life (Mt 19:29).

Give Him everything. It is time. Give Him everything without the slightest hesitation: everything you are and everything you are not; everything you have and everything you have not, down to the slightest thing. The Almighty and incomparable Father will supply and repay you like none other. He will repay you with a joy beyond description and He will give you His very own Self.

Yes, the Father will give you Himself and everything that is His in the entire universe, including His only-begotten Son in like (but not identical) manner to how He had given Him to the Virgin Mary – the coming of the Kingdom. Give yourself to the Heavenly Father, therefore, no matter who you are; no matter where you are. Give yourself to Him without fear, from the bottom of your heart. You can never lose, you can only gain.

On deification – 6

Deification and theology

Theology is theoria – the vision of God (Gregory Palamas).

All truly dogmatic work has a basis in mystical experience . . . all mystical work is connected to the realm of dogma, in that it expresses and exposes the content of the experiences of divine things (Lossky, 1967/1974).

To end, deification turns man into a theologian not because he has studied theology academically and intellectually, but because he attains theoria. At this stage of the spiritual life, man

communes with the angelic powers…approaches the uncreated Light and the depths of God are revealed to him through the Spirit. This man knows many things which are hidden from others, including mysteries that exist in Holy Scripture (N. Stithatos in Vlachos, 2010).

On deification – 5

Deification and Theosis

Suddenly the Almighty reveals Himself in boundless humility. The vision floods our entire being and instinctively we bow in adoration…Prayer to this God of love and humility rises from the depths of our being…Brought from nothingness into life, man is drawn by His Creator into the fullness of divine life (Arch. Sophrony, 1997).

Only those found worthy of seeing the uncreated Light are able to gain true knowledge of God (Vlachos, 2010).

When deification occurs, it is not solely the soul which takes part in theoria but also the body, for man sees the divine light and hears the voice of God after both his soul and the physical senses have been transformed by divine grace (Vlachos, 2010). Theoria is defined as seeing the glory of God through union with Him and deification.  Continue reading “On deification – 5”

On deification – 4

Illumination and Deification

He who enjoys illumination is greater and receives more that he who only tastes, for he has within himself the assurance of his visions (Maximus the Confessor, Hom. 7,5-6, PG 34, col.527).

The Divine One purifies the man who desires Him: by this purification, He creates men of divine character, conversing as with friends with those who have attained this state; and uniting Himself as God with gods, and making Himself known to them perhaps to the same extent that He knows those who are known to Him (Gregory of Nazianzus, Hom, XLV.3, PG XXXVI, 625C-628A).

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God (Mt 5:8).

Union with God became discontinuous after the fall because man became imperfect. Therefore, man can become deified and attain theoria – start seeing God – only insofar as his nous has first been healed by the trials of purification and reopened by the illumination which occurs through baptism in the Holy Spirit (Vlachos, 2005, 2010). The phrase ‘baptism in the Spirit’ as used herewith refers to it as historically understood throughout Christian tradition (e.g., Kontzevich, 1989).  Continue reading “On deification – 4”

On deification – 3

Deification versus Salvation

He was made man that we might become god (Athanasius of Alexandria, De Inc, 54.3). 

Through Christ, the Word made flesh, man has access to the Father in the Holy Spirit and comes to share in the divine nature (Paul VI, 1965).

Many, especially in Western Christianity, tend to commingle the terms deification and salvation as though they have the same meaning, but this manifests poor understanding of the two terms as originally meant by the Fathers of the Church. In fact, when the language and context of deification and theosis are replaced with the language and context of salvation, Patristic theology becomes, in effect, displaced by Reformation language (Kharlamov, 2010), with the consequent loss of the original meanings. Salvation is part of deification, but

Continue reading “On deification – 3”

On deification – 2

Is it not written in your Law: I said, you are gods? (Jn 10:34).

He has given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature (2 P 1:4).

Two kinds of deification exist. The first kind refers to the

elevation of man to the highest level of his natural powers, or to the full realization of man…[when] the divine power of grace is active in him…[The second kind refers to the] progress which man makes beyond the limits of his natural powers, beyond the boundaries of his nature, to the divine and supernatural level (D. Staniloae, 2002, p. 363).

For man to pass from the first kind of deification which is well-known, to the second Continue reading “On deification – 2”

On deification – 1

What is deification?

Deification is the attaining of likeness to God and union with Him so far as is possible (Dionysus the Aeropagite, EH 1.3, PG 3.376a).

God, you see, wants to make you a god; not by nature, of course, like the One whom He begot but by His gift and by adoption (Augustine of Hippo, Serm. 166.4).

Deification can be defined as “God’s perfect and full penetration of man” (Staniloae, 2002, p. 362). The deification or divinization of man is not “an identification with God; it is only an assimilation, a very eminent restoration of the original divine likeness…[whereby one] participates by grace in the perfections that God possesses by nature . . . Continue reading “On deification – 1”