Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Little Spiritual Help #4 - Deification and Grace

I like this excerpt from an Armenian Orthodox bishop, particularly for its definition of Grace from the Orthodox perspective. As an evangelical Protestant, I was always taught that grace means God's unearned favor toward us--nothing more. It is thus synonomous with mercy and compassion. But as the Orthodox Church teaches, it is much more than that -- it is nothing less than God's power bestowed upon us, a power that transforms us day by day and that give us the ability to live the Christian life. Enjoy.

The ultimate destiny of humanity and creation is deification (
theosis). The human being is the representative of the cosmos, a 'microcosm.' Men and women are superior to the cosmos. The latter receives grace through them who are called by God to a supreme vocation: deification, to become by grace that which God is by His nature.

Grace is the transforming and deifying presence of God revealed and poured out by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit transforms us and makes us God-like. Deification is liberation from death. It is re-creation, 'being in Christ,' communion with God. The Holy Spirit leads humanity to Christ and through Him to the Father. Humanity is called also to transform the whole creation in the power of the Holy Spirit. The deification of the cosmos is the restoration of the original order.

His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia, The Challenge to be a Church in a Changing World Pages 77-78, The Armenian Prelacy, New York 1997


charlene said...

Father James,
What a beautiful explanation of grace! I have not been Orthodox long enough to be exposed to its fuller meaning and also thought it meant simply 'God's unmerited good will towards man'. The theology here is a bit heavy for me, but I think he is saying even more than the Holy Spirit is willing to come and dwell within us.(Unstated, but assumed, that the Holy Spirit enters only where invited, and stays only as long as we are willing to allow Him to lead. He is also saying, I think, that with the acceptance of this wonderful gift is the responsibility to go into the world and help others understand that the Holy Spirit is also available to them. And if we do not go forth, the world will not ever be changed into what God meant it to be. Am I on the right track here Father?

::Sylvia:: said...

Fr. James,
I love your blog!

What a beautiful quote! I will certainly be writing this one down! Thanks for signing your daughter up for the pen pal program!

I'll be emailing you soon with the details.

Fr. James Early said...

I agree completely with you, Charlene!


Thank you for the kind comments. Both Beth and I will look forward to hearing from you.