I like words that sound scholarly and intelligent. Maybe it’s because I would like to be scholarly and intelligent myself. Be that as it may, I shall present to you today this theological concept of theosis, which was introduced to me at school this winter.
Theosis is a part of the Eastern Orthodox Church’s tradition, but I think it needs to go beyond just one part of the Christian church and infiltrate all denominations. So what does it mean? According to Wikipedia, “theosis, or deification, is a transformative process whose aim is likeness to or union with God.” Another word for it is “divinization.” Now before you begin to accuse me of heresy, let me explain. I also had an issue with the word divinization to begin with; it does sound heretical to assume that we will become divine! But is it?
One of my instructors pointed to 2 Peter, and indeed, this idea is Biblical! Listen: “….His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter 1:3-4 NKJV) No, we are not going to become God (that would be a dangerous place in which to land), but we will become united with Divinity.
Theosis, as I was taught it, is our cooperation with God in the process of becoming divinized. There is something incredibly powerful in the phrase “cooperation with God.” I suppose you could point out that what I have described in theosis is basically the more common idea of sanctification. Maybe it is; maybe it isn’t. I think theosis is a stronger concept than sanctification.
Our hands opening outward
Acceptance of the ordinary
On outstretched palms.
The thought of God
Throbbing through the earth
The slow shaping of us.
His hug from heaven
A reaching down, a reaching up
Our truest hope of home.
Consider theosis. Engage with theology. It is beautifully rich.