"A Great Occultist and an Orthodox Christian walk into a bar..."
March 31, 2015
Apprentice Tyler has been reading upon the topic of Calvinism and lately he has been talking about “two lips” during our weekly meetings. Apprentice Tyler remains convinced that a heterodox Dutchman knows more about Christianity than the combined teachings and long experiences of the Roman and Greek churches, despite my sincere attempts to show him that this position is highly unlikely and Calvin may be in error. In frustration, I brought up the Orthodox Church’s concept of “theosis” and that while he may be saved, I will be united to God. [I was not speaking exactly on the Orthodox concept since my purpose was not the exchange of ideas, but goading Apprentice Tyler into reacting.]
I inquired of Apprentice Tyler that since Christ is fully human and fully divine, it is not reasonable that the purpose of Christ is not to only teach morality, but allow his faithful servants to attain to some aspect of divinity for their fidelity?
The culmination of my frustration was when I said “Nana nana boo boo…”. The juxtaposition of a great mind displaying taunting behavior is a topic can be taken up by a competent psychiatrist and is, mercifully, beyond this scope of this research paper.
Part the First: Citations from the New Teaching
John 10:34,35 “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods.. and the scripture cannot be broken…”
John 17:22: “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:”
Romans 8:17 “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
Romans 12:1–2: We are to present our bodies as a “living sacrifice,” doing so as part of our spiritual worship. We are to “be transformed” by the renewing of our minds into the likeness of God.
1 Corinthians 3:16 “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”
1 Corinthians 6:17 “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.”
Galatians 2:20: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
Philippians 1:21: “For me, to live is Christ.”
Philippians 3:21: “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
Colossians 3:3: We have “died” and our lives are “hidden with Christ in God”—total participation in Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:23: “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day…”
2 Thessalonians 2:14: “Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 John 3:2: “We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
1 John 4:17: “...because as He is, so are we in this world”
Revelation 21:7: “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”
Part the Second: Citations from the Church Fathers
Irenaeus (c. 130-200)
"... our Lord Jesus Christ, who did... become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself."
"'For we cast blame upon [God], because we have not been made gods from the beginning, but at first merely men, then at length gods; although God has adopted this course..[so] that no one may impute to Him invidiousness or grudgingness he declares, "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are sons of the Most High."
"For it was necessary, at first, that nature should be exhibited; then, after that, that what was mortal should be conquered and swallowed up by immortality, and the corruptible by incorruptibility, and that man should be made after the image and likeness of God."
Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215)
"[T]he Word of God became man, that thou mayest learn from man how man may become God."
"For if one knows himself, he will know God; and knowing God, he will be made like God"
"His is beauty, the true beauty, for it is God; and that man becomes God, since God so wills. Heraclitus, then, rightly said, “Men are gods, and gods are men.” For the Word Himself is the manifest mystery: God in man, and man God”
"He who listens to the Lord.. will be formed perfectly in the likeness of the teacher—made a god going about in flesh."
"And to be incorruptible is to participate in divinity..."
Justin Martyr (c. 100-165)
"[Men] were made like God, free from suffering and death, provided that they kept His commandments, and were deemed deserving of the name of His sons, and yet they, becoming like Adam and Eve, work out death for themselves; let the interpretation of the Psalm be held just as you wish, yet thereby it is demonstrated that all men are deemed worthy of becoming “gods,” and of having power to become sons of the Highest."
Theophilus of Antioch (c. 120-190)
"For if He had made him immortal from the beginning, He would have made him God. Again, if He had made him mortal, God would seem to be the cause of his death. Neither, then, immortal nor yet mortal did He make him, but, as we have said above, capable of both; so that if he should incline to the things of immortality, keeping the commandment of God, he should receive as reward from Him immortality, and should become God..."
Hippolytus of Rome (c. 170-235)
"And you shall be a companion of the Deity, and a co-heir with Christ, no longer enslaved by lusts or passions, and never again wasted by disease. For you have become God: for whatever sufferings you underwent while being a man, these He gave to you, because you were of mortal mould, but whatever it is consistent with God to impart, these God has promised to bestow upon you, because you have been deified, and begotten unto immortality."
"If, therefore, man has become immortal, he will also be God. And if he is made God by water and the Holy Spirit after the regeneration of the laver he is found to be also joint-heir with Christ after the resurrection from the dead."
Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 296-373)
"Therefore He was not man, and then became God, but He was God, and then became man, and that to deify us"
"for as the Lord, putting on the body, became man, so we men are deified by the Word as being taken to Him through His flesh."
"For He was made man that we might be made God."
Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-395)
"For just as He in Himself assimilated His own human nature to the power of the Godhead, being a part of the common nature, but not being subject to the inclination to sin which is in that nature (for it says: "He did no sin, nor was deceit found in his mouth), so, also, will He lead each person to union with the Godhead if they do nothing unworthy of union with the Divine."
Augustine of Hippo (c. 354-430)
"'For He hath given them power to become the sons of God.’ [John 1:12]' If we have been made sons of God, we have also been made gods."
Maximus the Confessor
"Nothing in theosis is the product of human nature, for nature cannot comprehend God. It is only the mercy of God that has the capacity to endow theosis unto the existing... In theosis, man (the image of God) becomes likened to God, he rejoices in all the plenitude that does not belong to him by nature, because the grace of the Spirit triumphs within him, and because God acts in him."
Cyril of Alexandria says that men "are called 'temples of God' and indeed 'gods', and so we are."
Gregory of Nazianzus implores men to "become gods for (God's) sake, since (God) became man for our sake." Likewise, he argues that the mediator "pleads even now as Man for my salvation; for He continues to wear the Body which He assumed, until He make me God by the power of His Incarnation."
Basil of Caesarea stated that "becoming a god is the highest goal of all"
Part the Third: Deification is Possible
The following are extracts are from “Deification is Possible through the Uncreated Energies of God” (link) by Archimandrite George, Abbott of the Holy Monastery of St. Gregorios on Mount Athos. Select commentary is by yours truly and brackets ([...]) indicate my clarification.
“In the Orthodox Church of Christ man can achieve deification because... the Grace of God is uncreated. God is not only essence, as the West thinks; He is also energy.”
“If God was only essence, we could not unite with Him, could not commune with Him, because the essence of God is awesome and unapproachable for man…”
The Roman Church understands God as only essence. This view confirms Jean Hardouin’s statements that atheistic writings only refer to the essence of God and no other attributes.
“If we were able to unite with the essence of God, we too would become gods in essence. In other words everything would become a god…”
The Orthodox Church clearly teaches that neither humans nor creation can or will unite with the essence of God.
“... if God had only the divine essence – of which we cannot partake – and did not have His energies, He would remain a self-sufficient god, closed within himself and unable to commune with his creatures.”
This view of an isolated God is similar to the Gnostic concept of the “Unknown Father” who can not intervene in the material world.
“...according to the Orthodox theological view... God is filled with a divine love... for His creatures. Because of this infinite and ecstatic love ... He comes out of Himself and seeks to unite with them. This is expressed and realised by means of ... His energies. “
In certain western Christian beliefs, God seeks only to save Christians from sin, not to unite with them.
“With.. His uncreated energies, God created the world and continues to preserve it. He gives essence and substance to our world through His essence-creating energies.”
It is God, not emanations, who created the universe and preserves it.
“He is present in nature and preserves the universe with His preserving energies; He illuminates man with His illuminating energies; He sanctifies him with His sanctifying energies. Finally, He deifies him with His deifying energies. Thus, through his uncreated energies, holy God enters nature, the world, history, and men's lives. “
“The energies of God are divine energies. They too are God, but without being His essence.”
The Orthodox recognize a distinction between God’s essence and His energies.
”They [His energies] are God, and therefore they can deify man.”
I have no doubt that Apprentice Tyler, as well as other protesters, will have difficulty with the above sentence. I can only respond that the issue is not the Church’s unchanging teaching, but your revolutionary understanding of Christianity.
”If the energies of God were not divine and uncreated, they would not be God and so they would not be able to ... unite us with God. There would be an unbridgeable distance between God and men.”
An example of this distance is Calvin’s belief in “total depravity”. This “unbridgeable distance” is reminiscent of the Gnostic’s issue between the pure essence of God and the material world that is resolved with the introduction of Aeons that connect the spiritual and material worlds..
“... by uniting with us by these energies, we are able to commune with Him and to unite with His Grace without becoming identical with God, as would happen if we united with His essence.”
Orthodox Christians do not unite with God’s essence, but with His Grace. This distinction, between Grace and essence, is lost upon Western Christians who will accuse the Orthodox Church of being influenced by the Oriental religions and Pagan.
“...we unite with God through His uncreated energies, and not through His essence. This is the mystery of our Orthodox faith and life. “
I predict western Christians will read “mystery” and see only “Mystery, Babylon...” and make unfounded accusations against the Orthodox Church.
“Western heretics cannot accept this. Being rationalist, they do not discern between the essence and the energy of God, so, they say that God is only essence. “
Atheists, per Hardouin, and Western heretics do not understand the difference between essence and energy and believe God has only essence.
“And for this reason they [the Western Churches] cannot speak about man's deification (gr. theosis). ... according to them, how could man be deified when they do not accept that the divine energies are uncreated, but regard them as created? And how could something created, i.e., something outside God, deify created man?”
“In order not to fall into pantheism, they [the Western Churches] do not speak at all about deification (gr. theosis). “
“What then, according to them, remains as the purpose of man's life? Simply moral improvement.... since man cannot be deified by means of divine Grace, ... what purpose does his life have? Only that he becomes morally better.”
Because the historical development of deification is absent in the Western Churches, Christ’s Incarnation serves only two purposes: Salvation, in eternity, and moral improvement, in this life.
“But moral perfection is not enough for man. It is not enough for us simply to become better than before, to perform moral deeds.”
Archimandrite George has identified the failing of western Christianity. The only goal in this world is moral improvement. Since continual moral improvement can have only one logical outcome, moral perfection, all adherents must be frustrated by their failure to achieve perfection. This failure of obtaining moral perfection leads to denying Christianity and, in many instances, the final outcome is a nihilistic worldview. In the Modern Age, “Christians” know they are “saved” in the next world. But, what of this world? Moralizing or Nihilism are their only options and neither are pleasant prospects for those of us who are not “saved”.
”We have as our final aim to unite with holy God Himself. This is the purpose of the creation of the universe. This is what we desire. This is our joy, our happiness, and our fulfillment.”
“The psyche of man, who is created in the image and likeness of God...and desires union with Him. No matter how moral, how good man may be, no matter how many good deeds he may perform, if he does not find God, if he does not unite with Him, he finds no rest. “
There are two examples of this lack of rest: Firstly, the unending moralizing by Protestants for others to conform to their extreme beliefs. Secondly, the unending works of Roman Catholics to achieve release for their relatives from the flames of Purgatory. The lack of rest that defines both groups is their misplaced concern with other people’s welfare.
“Because holy God Himself placed within him [man] this holy thirst, the divine eros, the desire for union with Him, for deification (gr. theosis).” Man possesses “the erotic power, which he receives from his Creator... just as his holy Creator falls in love with His world, with His creatures. This is so that with this holy erotic impetus and loving power, he falls in love with God. If man did not have the image of God in himself, he would not be able to seek its prototype. Each of us is an image of God, and God is our prototype. The image seeks the prototype, and only when it finds it does it find rest.”
“In the fourteenth century, there was a great upheaval in the Church which was provoked by ...Barlaam [d. 1348]” who “heard that Athonite monks talked about deification (gr.theosis).” But, “...having the Western, heretical, rationalistic spirit, Barlaam was unable to perceive the authenticity of these divine experiences ... and ... began to accuse the Athonite monks as though it was they who were deluded, heretical, and idolatrous.” Barlaam said ” it was impossible for someone to see the Grace of God, because he knew nothing about the distinction between the essence and the uncreated energy of God. “
“...St. Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessaloniki... said and wrote much which taught... that the light of God's Grace is” an uncreated divine energy. “... deified men see this light as the ultimate, the highest experience of deification (gr. theosis), and that they are seen within this light of God. This is the glory of God, His splendour, the light of Mount Tabor, the light of Christ's Resurrection and of Pentecost, and the bright cloud of the Old Testament. It is the real uncreated light of God, and not symbolic as Barlaam, and others like him, believed in their delusion.”
“Subsequently”...the Church declared “that life in Christ is not simply the moral edification of man, but deification (gr. theosis), and that this means participation in God’s glory, a vision of God, of His Grace and His uncreated light.”
“We owe great gratitude to Saint Gregory Palamas, because... he bequethed to us the teaching and eternal experience of the Church concerning the deification (gr. theosis) of man. “
“A Christian is not a Christian simply because he is able to talk about God.”
I prefer: “A Christian is not a Christian simply because he believes he is a Christian.” In our Modern Age, Christianity has become little more than a belief system. The philologist and historian are correct to say “Fraud”.
”He is a Christian because he is able to have experience of God. And just as, when you really love someone and converse with him, you feel his presence, and you enjoy his presence, so it happens in man's communion with God: there exists not a simply external relationship, but a mystical union of God and man in the Holy Spirit. “
“Even now, Westerners consider the divine Grace, or the energy of God, as something created.”
“Unfortunately, this also is one of the many differences which must be seriously taken into consideration in theological dialogue with the Roman Catholics.”
“It is not only the filioque, the primacy of authority, and the ‘infallibility’ of the Pope which are basic differences between the Orthodox Church and the Papists. .... If the Roman Catholics do not accept that the Grace of God is uncreated, we cannot unite with them even if they accept all the other points.”
Archimandrite George writes that even if Rome recants her innovations of the preceding five centuries (including, but not limited to: the Rosary, Stations of the Cross, the immortal soul, and the Immaculate Conception of Mary), reunion will not be possible. We leave the final sentence without comment:
“For who is able to effect deification (Gr.theosis), if divine Grace is a creation and not an uncreated energy of the All-Holy Spirit?“
We speculate that the modern occult concept of deification has two its origin in the synthesis of two alien and divergent philosophies:
Primo, the absence of the theological deification of man in the western Churches has contributed to much speculation about man’s purpose. This speculation has resulted in an emphasis on this world and man’s place in the world. Additionally, the separation of the spirit, soul or psyche from the body has resulted in a schizoid form of Christianity that is peculiar to the western Churches. In light of Theosis, all historical heresies should be understood as an incorrect belief of the nature of Christ, where the standard is the teachings of the Orthodox Church and not the Roman Church.
Secondo, the introduction of the Oriental religions and philosophies into the West in the 19th century that emphasis the triumph of the spiritual aspect of man over the suffering of the material world. “Spiritualism” reached its culmination in the later half of the 19th century and occult writers were eager to teach the antediluvian “wisdom” of the ancient Orientals.
Paradoxically, we reach the conclusion that the occult idea of becoming divine ultimately finds its origin in a misunderstanding of the theology of the Orthodox Church, specifically, the influences of the western Church and the Oriental philosophies has resulted in the Modern Occult belief in our attaining Godhood, that is, “We are Gods upon the earth”.
A PDF explaining the true purpose of life
This entry from the Oxford English Dictionary was created in 1986. The recentness of the inclusion of “theosis” in the OED demonstrates the obscure nature of this Orthodox Doctrine, although the evidence for its usage dates from 1874.
Etymology: < medieval Latin theōsis, < Patristic Greek θέωσις deification.
Theol. rare. Deification.
1874 J. W. Draper Hist. Confl. Relig. & Sci. v. 126 The return of the soul to the universal Intellect is designated by Erigena as Theosis, or Deification.
1934 Theology 28 24 Both natures, therefore, can be correlated positively through the communion of qualities,communicatio idiomatum, in the theosis of the created by the Divine.
1967 Eastern Churches Rev. I. 246 This is a kind of theosis whereby the symbols become life-giving.