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  #1  
Unread 24th December 2010, 08:39 AM
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God became man so that man could become God

Ever since the Middle Ages, Western Christianity has understood salvation as primarily a transaction in which the individual receives forgiveness of sins through Jesus being punished in his place. While there are hints of this doctrine in Scripture, it was not the primary emphasis of the early church. The first Christians understood salvation as a process, with forgiveness of sin as only the beginning and the salvation of the entire self as its goal.

Atonement or theosis?

In Finlan’s account, the basic problem with almost all versions of atonement theory is that they picture salvation as a transaction wherein God needs to be bought off, or satisfied, before he can forgive sins and save people...

The book includes two very informative chapters reviewing the rituals of sacrifice and atonement in the OT (helpfully distinguishing between sacrifice and scapegoat-type rituals) and discussing the atonement metaphors used by Paul. One problem with the history of atonement doctrines, according to Finlan, is that Paul heaps a number of different metaphors on top of one another in order to express something of the mystery of salvation (legal, penal, sacrificial, cultic, etc.), but later theologians have frequently taken one or more of these metaphors and used it as a literal account of how we are saved...

Atonement is what he calls a “secondary doctrine,” while the primary and distinguishing doctrine of Christianity is incarnation. Finlan favors the Eastern and patristic notion of theosis as a better account of how God saves us through the incarnation of his Son. By becoming human, God enables us to participate in the divine life. Or, in Athanasius’ immortal formulation, “the Son of God became man so that we might become God.”
http://thinkingreed.wordpress.com/20...nt-or-theosis/
It's not that man becomes God in a literal sense of being God himself but that we become partakers in the divine nature.

Theosis and Kenosis
Posted on January 12, 2010 by Carl McColman

What is the relationship between “participation in the Divine Nature” (II Peter 1:4) and the self-humbling of Christ (Philippians 2:7)? Part of the splendor of Christ, as described by Paul in his letter to the Philippians, is that Christ, “being found in appearance as a man, humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death.” Humility and obedience: self-emptying. Christ divested himself of the privilege of his Divinity, taking human form, entering so fully into the human experience to the point of becoming “obedient” to death.

Theosis, or deification, or divinization are all concepts that crop up again and again in the Christian mystery. We are not just called to be God’s servant or slave, but indeed to become “partakers” in God’s very nature. We abide in Christ as Christ abides in us. It is very tempting to see this “theosis” as getting in on how cool it must be to be Christ. To experience love like Christ loves; to be immersed in the wisdom of Christ; to know the joy that only Christ knows. It all sounds sweet and good.

But I think, perhaps, the real, ultimate, most important key to this mystical notion oftheosis likes in this scriptural concept of kenosis. We are invited to participate in Christ’s self-emptying. We know Christ through adopting his freely chosen humility (down-to-earthiness).

What does this mean? We become partakers of the Divine Nature by surrendering all claim to our own “divinity.” The wisdom of Christ comes to us through the humility of our own unknowing. The joy of Christ is ours when we surrender our own claim to joy (which means — eek — being available to suffering). To experience the love of God, we must simply, lavishly, prodigally give it away.
http://anamchara.com/2010/01/12/theosis-and-kenosis/
It is common knowledge that St. Athanasius of Alexandria presided over the Council of Nicaea to defend the full divinity and fully humanity of Christ. What most Western Christians don't know is why Athanasius found the incarnation so important. In his classic treatise On the Incarnation, Athanasius wrote that God became man to enable man becoming one with God in such a profound way that otherwise wouldn't have been possible.

Calvin and Luther were familiar with the doctrine of theosis, what John Wesley would later term "entire sanctification." It is to be saved, not just from the consequence of sin, but from sin itself.

Martin Luther in a Christmas sermon:
For the Word becomes flesh precisely so that the flesh may become word. In other words: God becomes man so that man may become God.

John Calvin, rather eloquently:
This is the wonderful exchange which, out of his measureless benevolence, he has made with us; that, by his descent to earth, he has prepared an ascent to heaven for us; that, by taking on our mortality, he has conferred his immortality upon us; that, accepting our weakness, he has strengthened us by his power; that, receiving our poverty unto himself, he has transferred his wealth to us; that, taking the weight of our iniquity upon himself (which oppressed us), he has clothed us with his righteousness.
http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2...-common-faith/
When Protestants rejected the doctrine of purgatory, sanctification became optional, especially if you'll be immediately perfected at death anyway, based on your faith alone. Yet Scripture closely links sanctification to justification. If we are not sanctified in this life, we might need to be in the age to come:

Purgatory Explained by Greg Boyd


Evangelical scholars are often familiar with the classic doctrine of theosis, and some see it as complimentary to the Western understanding of atonement.

Soteriology in Athanasius of Alexandria
By Rev. CÚlestin Musekura
Dallas Theological Seminary
http://www.mattblackmon.com/pyne/Sot...Alexandria.PDF

Gregory Graham
St. Athanasius and St. Anselm on Redemption
http://www.grahamtx.net/papers/chris...ius_anselm.pdf

Mike Gorman Interview pt3

6) You also brought out theosis as an aspect of Pauline theology at that conference. What sparked your interest in theosis?

My interest in theosis, as mentioned above, was sparked when I came to the realization that cruciformity was really participatory theoformity. I knew the tradition well enough to recognize that I was beginning to move in an Easterly direction, but I was pleasantly surprised to find both that some parts of the Western tradition had stressed theosis and that it was now gaining momentum across traditions and disciplines. As I say in the introduction to my book, there is much more to be done in connection with Paul and theosis—especially by scholars like you!

7) What about theosis adds to protestant theology that we have been missing?

Protestant theology is profoundly Christocentric and frequently rather juridical in its understanding of our relationship to God. Theosis does not lose Christocentrism but links it explicitly to a profound participation in God and the Spirit of God—hardly a juridical relation. (I realize that some embrace participation but reject theosis. My guess is that this is ultimately a semantic rather than a substantive difference, though those who reject theosis disagree.) Theosis also holds together things that Protestants tend to split apart and label something like stages: justification, sanctification, glorification. In theosis, these are all of a piece. Paul’s distinctive contribution, I think, is to insure that theosis is always understood cruciformly. Theosis is conformity to Christ crucified even in its final phase of eschatological glorification.
http://dunelm.wordpress.com/category/theosis/
By looking back to the writings of Martin Luther, some evangelical theologians are rediscovering his teachings on theosis:

The New Perspective on Luther
http://www.christianforums.com/t7520581/#post56348340

With theosis on mind, the work of Christ is the healing of all Creation:

Resurrection: Rob Bell


On the Incarnation is an excellent book for the Christmas season, explaining why Christ came to this world:

On the Incarnation: De Incarnatione Verbi Dei
St. Athanasius (Author), C. S. Lewis (Introduction)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/091...pf_rd_i=507846


While nothing we do can earn our salvation from hell, love and service are the only appropriate response to God's work on the cross. Jesus, radically giving up himself on the cross, is calling us to give something radical in return. In doing so, we'll draw closer to him than what passive belief makes possible. Christ's incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection enable our path of personal and social transformation.

By ascending into heaven, Christ fulfilled his work of salvation:

And with Christ, man's nature ascends also.

"We who seemed unworthy of the earth, are now raised to heaven," says St John Chrysostom. "We who were unworthy of earthly dominion have been raised to the Kingdom on high, have ascended higher than heaven, have came to occupy the King's throne, and the same nature from which the angels guarded Paradise, stopped not until it ascended to the throne of the Lord." By His Ascension the Lord not only opened to man the entrance to heaven, not only appeared before the face of God on our behalf and for our sake, but likewise "transferred man" to the high places. "He honored them He loved by putting them close to the Father." God quickened and raised us together with Christ, as St Paul says, "and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephes. 2:6). Heaven received the inhabitants of the earth. "The First fruits of them that slept" sits now on high, and in Him all creation is summed up and bound together. "The earth rejoices in mystery, and the heavens are filled with joy."
http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsView...4&ID=1&FSID=42
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  #2  
Unread 24th December 2010, 10:11 AM
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I need a reason for believing that God became man other than that he'd just suffer and die and a reason for following his teachings other than fear of judgment. What I want more than anything in life is to have intimate friendship with Jesus.
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Unread 24th December 2010, 10:19 AM
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Great work at pulling Luther out of Context.

Actually he said this:
"The Word became flesh" (1 John 1:14) and "took on the form of a servant" (Phil. 2:7), in order that the flesh should become word and man take on the form of the word; then, in terms of the third chapter of the letter before us, man will become as righteous, truthful, wise, good, meek, chaste as the word itself whose form he takes on by faith.
It's not that man becomes God. It's man becomes perfect (i.e. we WILL be raised incorruptible and in heaven sin will not exist. We can only do good.)

The next page of his lecture says exactly that...

So then, sin rules in our mortal body if we yield to it, but it becomes a servant if we resist it, for it thoroughly arouses our hatred of iniquity and our love of righteousness. But in our future immortal body, it will neither have dominion, nor will it rule, nor will it be a servant.
Luther: Lectures on Romans - Google Books
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Unread 24th December 2010, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Aibrean View Post
It's not that man becomes God. It's man becomes perfect (i.e. we WILL be raised incorruptible and in heaven sin will not exist. We can only do good.)
It's not that man becomes God in a literal sense of being God himself but that we become partakers in the divine nature.

First Things
Books In Review

Union With Christ: The New Finnish Interpretation of Luther.
Edited by Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson. Eerdmans. 192 pp. $21 paper.

Reviewed by Ted Dorman

This brief but rich book introduces English–speaking scholars to ground–breaking research from Helsinki University that casts Martin Luther’s soteriology in a new light. The "new Finnish interpretation of Luther" finds the essence of his doctrine of salvation not in forensic justification—God declaring us just solely by virtue of Christ’s sacrifice—but in something more akin to the Eastern Orthodox doctrine of theosis, or deification...

Mannermaa expounds the book’s thesis as follows: "According to Luther, Christ (in both his person and his work) is present in faith and is through this presence identical with the righteousness of faith. The idea of a divine life in Christ who is really present in faith lies at the very center of the theology of the Reformer." The forensic element in Luther’s doctrine of justification is thus viewed by the Finns as a function of his central emphasis on the believer’s actual participation in the divine life through union with Christ.

This in turn means, in the words of the book’s editors, that for Luther "righteousness as an attribute of God in Christ cannot be separated from his divine being. The righteousness of God that is ours by faith is therefore a real participation in the life of God." To ascribe such views to the German Reformer flies in the face of the German Protestant tradition, which has "notoriously read Luther under the spell of neo–Kantian presuppositions" that ignore "all ontology found in Luther" and instead define faith as "purely an act of the will with no ontological implications [such as the believer’s actual participation in the divine nature]."

Mannermaa cites the German philosopher Hermann Lotze as one such neo–Kantian culprit whose ontology denies the idea of "being in itself" in favor of the notion of things "standing in relationship" and having no real existence apart from the effects they have on each other. An epistemological corollary of Lotze’s ontology is that "things in themselves cannot be objects of human understanding, but only their effects." Lotze’s approach places an epistemological gap between knowledge of Christ’s person (object, being) and of his work (effects).

Luther, on the other hand, "does not distinguish between the person and work of Christ. Christ is both favor of God (forgiveness of sins, atonement, abolition of wrath) and gift (donum)." Faith means "justification precisely on the basis of Christ’s person being present in it as favor and gift."

The fact that "favor" and "gift" are inextricably connected means, as Puera’s essay notes, that the "gift" of spiritual renewal in Christ "is not only aconsequence of grace [favor], as is usually emphasized in Lutheran theology, but it is in a certain sense a condition for grace as well" (emphasis added). This notion of conditional grace (as opposed to modern Lutheran and Reformed emphasis on unconditional grace) springs from Luther’s rejection of late Scholasticism’s concept of "created grace." Whereas Scholasticism defined grace as "a quality, an accident adhering to the human being considered as substance," Luther sided with the interpretation of Peter Lombard, "who claimed that the Holy Ghost himself is the love (caritas) of a Christian." In this way Luther "does not separate God’s essential nature ontologically from the divine attributes effecting salvation."

Since for Luther "Christ . . . is present in faith and is through this presence identical with the righteousness of faith," it follows that the first commandment of the decalogue demands "trust and faith solely in the Trinity." This is because for Luther, "To have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe him with our whole heart." Puera therefore concludes that "the requirement to believe in God . . . is basically the same as the commandment to love God purely."

The new Finnish perspective on Luther offers a refreshing corrective not only to the post–Enlightenment dualism of German Lutheran scholarship, but also to neo–evangelical Protestantism’s tendency to define justification solely in forensic terms. It opens doors of ecumenical common ground by placing Luther’s thought within the context of classical Christian traditions that preceded the Reformation, as opposed to emphasizing Luther’s historically unprecedented notional distinction between Christ’s imputed righteousness (justification) and inherent righteousness (sanctification).
Union With Christ: The New Finnish Interpretation of Luther [Book Review]
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Unread 24th December 2010, 10:53 AM
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But that is not saying man becomes God which is what you said. You quoted Martin Luther incorrectly (it is not a Luther quote and if it is, I would be happy to look at the complete reference rather than a "Christmas sermon").
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Unread 24th December 2010, 11:08 AM
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ooooh. Somebody has been reading!

God bless you Yoder777!

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Lord have mercy!
Lord have mercy!

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Unread 24th December 2010, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Aibrean View Post
But that is not saying man becomes God which is what you said. You quoted Martin Luther incorrectly (it is not a Luther quote and if it is, I would be happy to look at the complete reference rather than a "Christmas sermon").
I thought he quoted St. Athanasius.

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Unread 24th December 2010, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Yoder777 View Post
When Protestants rejected the doctrine of purgatory, sanctification became optional, especially if you'll be immediately perfected at death anyway, based on your faith alone. Yet Scripture closely links sanctification to justification.
sanctification be inseparably joined with justification Westminster LC 77

Sanctification is linked directly to how you've been forgiven and justified.
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Unread 24th December 2010, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by OrthodoxyUSA View Post
ooooh. Somebody has been reading!

God bless you Yoder777!

Learning the mysteries of God.

Lord have mercy!
Lord have mercy!
Lord have mercy!

Forgive me...
I've long been familiar with the doctrine of theosis, yet only recently have I attended to incorporate it within a Protestant outlook. John Wesley is someone who wrote extensively on theosis.

While evangelicalism often sees the sole purpose of the incarnation as Jesus' death, and the resurrection as solely the vindication of his sacrifice, theosis sees the path taken by Christ as enabling a path within us.

For me, theosis isn't a cool, new-agey idea to feel different and cool. It's about how I'm going to become a better person in growing closer to Christ and how growing closer to Christian will make me a better person.
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Unread 24th December 2010, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Aibrean View Post
But that is not saying man becomes God which is what you said. You quoted Martin Luther incorrectly (it is not a Luther quote and if it is, I would be happy to look at the complete reference rather than a "Christmas sermon").
Perhaps it should be that man becomes "god" with a lower-case "g". That might be a better translation of Athanasius. It's like the Scriptural idea in John when Jesus says "you are gods."
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