Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Theosis: Man, Creation, and Synergy - Part 4 (by Clint)
This is the final installment of my Theosis study. The previous posting on this blog has a link to the previous installments.
Bishop Kallistos Ware has provided an excellent summation of the Orthodox view of deification. First, it should never be believed that deification is reserved for a few “special” Christians. It is intended for all of humanity and can be received by all who return to God. Secondly, though Christians are being deified, it is a continuing process. They will continue to struggle with sin, hence the need for penitence. Thirdly, the process that a Christian undergoes to be deified is simple: communing with God and with fellow Christians, partaking of the Holy Mysteries, prayer, study, and steadfastness of the commandments. Fourthly, deification is a community process. All Christians are “in this together.” Fifthly, deification is worked out in our lives in a practical manner. Praying for others, serving others and caring for others is an important part of the process. Finally, in a similar way to the fourth point, deification takes place within the confines of the Church. That is where the sacraments are distributed and Christians can receive the proper direction and encouragement to proceed down the path to deification.
Ultimately, deification is the process by with God brings all things back to the state in which they were intended to be. Mankind had a close, personal relationship with God, but allowed the passions to destroy that intimate relationship. By sending Christ to partake and to perfect flesh, God provided for a way that man could return to that original closeness with Him. By freely accepting this gift and devoting his life to God, a man can be deified. He walks down this path by focusing upon God through prayer, mediation, study, fasting and other spiritual exercises. Likewise, he will love his neighbors, just as Christ loved mankind. This love is manifested in various ways, including praying, serving and helping others. As a man progresses in his deification, he will come to reflect the glory of God in a real and tangible way. Sometimes, this reality is visible. Even when it is not, a Christian should continue to follow the commandments of God, knowing that God will never leave nor forsake His people (Hebrews 13:5). Instead, He will draw them to Himself and by grace make them gods.