Friday, December 24, 2010

Bountiful gifts from John Piper via Ken Temple and his unexpected agent: yours truly

Our Reformed brother in Christ, Ken Temple, recommended an online resource (John Piper's, "Contending For Our All"), in one of his recent posts (here). He did not provide a link to the book due to the quirkiness of Blogger's combox, so I went to Piper's Desiring God website earlier this morning to obtain the url and provide it for Ken (and others). I have linked to this site for quite sometime now under the "EVANGELICAL AND GENERAL CHRISTIAN LINKS" label on the right side bar; however, I have not visited the site for a number of months—to my surprise, I discovered that well over a dozen of Piper's books are now available in pdf format for FREE!!! Being the bibliophile that I am, I have been downloading books like crazy, and I thought I would share these 'gifts' with all. ENJOY!!!

Link to Desiring God Online Books

Grace and peace,


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Trinity: a 'clear' Biblical teaching, or a post-Biblical development?

In the combox of our previous thread, Lvka (an Eastern Orthodox brother in Christ), articulated some of the distinctions between the Eastern Orthodox understanding of the Trinity and those generally held by Augustinian/Western Trinitarians (link to Lvka's post). Lvka's reflections brought back to mind Fr. Boris Bobrinskoy's detailed book on the Trinity: The Mystery of the Trinity. Fr. Bobrinskoy is an ordained Orthodox priest, and the Dean and Professor of Dogmatic Thelogy at St. Sergius Institute, Paris (see Orthodox Wiki bio). The following is my response to Lvka; I am utilizing it as an introduction to the theme of this thread:

==Good morning Lvka,

Thanks much for your informative reply—an excellent summation of the post-Palamas EO view. Now, I would like to let Fr. Boris Bobrinskoy (Dean and Professor of Dogmatic Theology at St. Sergius Institute) 'fill in', so to speak, the development/progression of the doctrine of the Trinity in EO thought/history. (All the following quotations will be from his The Mystery of the Trinity, English trans. by Anthony P. Gythiel, SVS Press, 1999.)

Fr. Bobrinskoy begins his reflections on the development/progression of the doctrine of the Trinity with what he terms "the ecclesial explanation of the trinitarian dogma". (MT, p. 6.) He then writes:

"To study the progression of trinitarian revelation, there is the classical method, the so-called chronological and doctrinal method:

1. Form the first foreshadowings, the first Old Testament intimations, to the fullness of the New Testament;

2. Inside the New Testament itself, through the pedagogy of Jesus, His words and deeds, from Galilee to the Passion; then in the testimonies that follow;

3. Finally, from the post-apostolic writings to the earliest ecumenical councils.

Actually, the evolution of trinitarian dogma does not end at the Second Ecumenical Council, but continues through what is sometimes called the "christological period" (which extends to about the eighth century, and is characterized by the proclamation of the mystery of Christ in all its aspects), through the "pneumatological period" (which continues to about the fourteenth century, and culminates in the synthesis made by St Gregory Palamas. It particularly emphasizes the integration of the human being into the mystery of Christ through the grace of the Holy Spirit), and is, in our day, catching a second breath in what is called "the era of the Church." The theological progression cannot be doubted, though it is not brought about according to a linear scheme, but with strong movements, underground advances, times of regression, even of crisis." (MT, pp. 6-7.)

And a bit later:

"A living theology cannot be severed from the living environment that forms the body of the Church, where the Spirit of knowledge and of truth breathes. A theological reading of Scripture cannot be made outside the great Tradition which, generation after generation, searches the Bible in order to discover within it the presence of Christ, and in Him, the face of the Father." (MT, p. 7.)

He then provides the following quote from St. Gregory Nazianzen ("On The Holy Spirit"):

"'The Old Testament proclaimed the Father openly, and the Son more obscurely. The New manifested the Son, and suggested the Deity of the Spirit. Now the Spirit Himself dwells among us, and supplies us with a clearer demonstration of Himself. For it was not safe, when the Godhead of the Father was not yet acknowledged, plainly to proclaim the Son; nor when that of the Son was not yet received to burden us further (if I may use so bold an expression) with the Holy Ghost; lest perhaps people might, like men loaded with food beyond their strength, and presenting eyes as yet too weak to bear it to the sun’s light, risk the loss even of that which was within the reach of their powers; but that by gradual additions, and, as David says, Goings up, and advances and progress from glory to glory the Light of the Trinity might shine upon the more illuminated.' (MT, p. 8 - St Gregory Nazianzen, Oratio XXXI [Theologica V] 26, PG 36:161. Tr Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2ns ser., vol. 7, p. 326.)"

Fr. Bobrinskoy then adds:

"This is an exception text because it accept a dogmatic progression not only from the Old Testament to the New, but from the New Testament to the Church. Here St Gregory Nazianzen differs from St. Basil who applied the principle of tradition and antiquity much more stringently. Certainly, Gregory Nazianzen could, in the dialectic of his argumentation, legitimately see a dogmatic innovation in the profession of the divinity of the Spirit, for such divinity is not clearly stated in Scripture. In the New Testament, it is merely intimated through the revelation of the Son,; and, in the Old, through the revelation of the fatherhood of God." (MT, p. 8.)

Me: I think it is safe to say that Fr. Bobrinskoy believes that the continued work of the Holy Spirit in the Church is necessary for one to arrive at a correct understanding of the Godhead and the doctrine of the Trinity. After a workout and lunch, I plan to type up a new thread, reproducing the material in this post, and adding some more reflections on this issue.== [See THIS AF THREAD for an earlier treatment on the development of doctrine in Gregory Nazianzen.]

Fr. Bobrinskoy is yet one more Trinitarian scholar who acknowledges that the doctrine of the Trinity is far from being an explicit teaching of the Bible. Bobrinskoy, like so many Catholic scholars (and a few Anglican), points to the need of the Holy Spirit working through the Church to make clear/explicit, what is only implicit in the Scriptures (their understanding, of course). Even a few Protestant scholars have admitted that the doctrine of the Trinity is found wanting in the Bible—note the following selections:

The Trinity. The NT does not contain the developed doctrine of the Trinity. "The Bible lacks the express declaration that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are of equal essence and therefore in an equal sense God himself. And the other express declaration is also lacking, that God is God thus and only thus, i.e. as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These two express declarations, which go beyond the witness of the Bible, are the twofold content of the Church doctrine of the Trinity" (Karl Barth, CD, I, 1, 437). It also lacks such terms as trinity (Lat. trinitas which was coined by Tertullian, Against Praxeas, 3; 11; 12 etc.) and homoousios which featured in the Creed of Nicea (325) to denote ttha Chirst was of the same substance of the Father (cf. J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 1968, 113, 233-7). (J. Schneider, "God", in New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 2, p. 84.)

Part of the problem for the ordinary Christian may be that in its debates and struggles, the ancient church was forced to use extrabiblical terms to defend biblical concepts...Biblical language could not resolve the issue, for the conflict was over the meaning of biblical language in the first place. (Robert Letham, The Holy Trinity, pp. 1, 2.)

Because the Trinity is such an important part of later Christian doctrine, it is striking that the term does not appear in the New Testament. Likewise, the developed concept of three coequal partners in the Godhead found in later creedal formulations cannot be clearly detected within the confines of the *canon...While the New Testament writers say a great deal about God, Jesus and the Spirit of each, no New Testament writer expounds on the relationship among the three in the detail that later Christian writers do. (Daniel N. Schowalter, "Trinity", in The Oxford Companion To The Bible, p. 782.)

In all of these elements of revelation, of course, Scripture has not yet provided us with a fully developed trinitarian dogma…Scripture contains all the data from which theology has constructed the dogma of the Trinity. Philosophy did not need to add anything essential to that dogma: even the Logos doctrine is part of the New Testament. It all only had to wait for a time when the power of Christian reason would be sufficiently developed to enter into the holy mystery that presents itself here. (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 2, trans. John Vriend, pp. 279, 280.)

Though all of above scholars certainly believe that 'basic elements' for the development of the doctrine of the Trinity can be found in the Bible, a question which should be asked by everyone that embraces sola scriptura (and in so doing, rejects rejects any authorative, infallible 'rule of faith' outside of the Bible), is: were those 'basic elements' correctly developed by the Church? This, IMHO, is a crucial question, for if one is truly 'honest' with the Biblical data, and the subsequent developments of theology and christlogical, one will acknowledge with Dr. Raymond Brown that: no NT passage, not even in Matt. 28:19 (“Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”) is there precision about three divine Persons, co-equal but distinct, and one divine Nature—the core dogma of the Trinity. Greek philosophy, sharpened by continuing theological disputes in the church from the 2nd to the 5th centuries, contributed to the classical formulation of the dogma…If ‘tradition’ implies that first-century Christianity already understood three coequal but distinct divine Persons and one divine Nature but had not developed the precise terminology, I would dissent. Neither the terminology nor the basic ideas had reached clarity in the first century; problems and disputes were required before the clarity came…Precisely because the “Trinitarian” line of development was not the only line of thought detectable in the NT, one must posit the guidance of the Spirit and intuition of faith as the church came to its decision. (Raymond E. Brown, Biblical Exegesis & Church Doctrine, 1985, pp. 31-33.)

The older, but respected, Cyclopedia of Biblical and Ecclesiastical Literature, concurs with Dr. Raymond:

The first class of texts, [i.e. triadic] taken by itself, proves only that there are three separate subjects named, and that there is a difference between them; that the Father in certain respects differs from the son, etc.; but it does not prove, by itself, that all three belong necessarily to the divine nature, and possess equal divine honor...

Matt. xxviii, 18-20. This text, however, taken by itself, would not prove decisively either the personality of the three subjects mentioned, or their equality or divinity.
(Vol. X, p. 552.)

I shall end this opening post with a recommendation to those who have not read the threads here at AF listed under the label, Subordinationism (especially this older thread), to do so.

Grace and peace,


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sproul's Tabletalk: "The Deity of Christ & the Church"

Yesterday, I received in the mail the latest edition of R.C. Sproul's/Ligonier Ministries', Tabletalk (a "devotional magazine" - Jan. 2011/vol. 35.1). In this thread, I would like to examine the essay penned by Dr. Robert A. Peterson: "The Deity of Christ & the Church" (pp. 74, 75). This essay 'caught my eye', for in it's introduction, two verses from the OT that I have recently discussed (Pss. 45:5-7 and 110:1 - see the following threads: ONE; TWO; THREE), are listed as "seed form" proof texts for "the deity of Christ". Another item in the introduction which drew my attention was Dr. Peterson's assertion that, "There is no more important biblical truth for the life and health of the church than the deity of Christ." The following is the entire introduction:

There is no more important biblical truth for the life and health of the church than the deity of Christ. Although this truth exists in seed form in the Old Testament (Pss. 45:5-7; 110:1; Isa. 9:6; Dan. 7:13-14), it comes to full flower in the New Testament. I marshal five arguments for the deity of Christ. (P. 74)

An 'interesting' introduction for sure! Though I am quite certain that Dr. Peterson is sincere in his bold assertion that, "There is no more important biblical truth for the life and health of the church than the deity of Christ", the Bible, Jesus, Paul, Lutherans, and other EVs suggest otherwise. Now, if "the deity of Christ" is the most important Biblical truth, one would expect to find it's teaching on the lips of Jesus Christ—i.e. that our Lord would not only have CLEARLY/EXPLICITLY taught such a doctrine, but would have EMPHASIZED it—however, when one reads the words of Jesus as recorded in the NT, the doctrine is found wanting. Instead of teaching (let alone emphasizing) his "deity" (in the sense Dr. Peterson advocates), Jesus taught the monotheism of the Shema, and in a number of discourses, clearly distanced himself from "the Father" who is "the one true God". Dr. Scot McKnight pointed out in the beginning of his Christianity Today article, "Jesus vs. Paul" (Dec. 2010/vol. 54.12 - pp. 24-29) that, "Many biblical scholars and lay Christians have noted that Jesus preached almost exclusively about the kingdom of heaven" (p. 25). And let us not forget that Lutherans (and many EVs) advance the dictum that, “justification by faith alone is ‘the article upon which the church stands or falls (articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae)’”. (See THIS THREAD for some important historical information on this quite famous dictum.) As for the apostle Paul, a number of NT scholars are quite adamant that Paul never called Jesus "God" (see THIS THREAD, and THIS ONE, especially the combox, for some discussion on this issue). In a 'nutshell', I think it is safe to point out that Dr. Peterson's assertion is highly subjective, and may in fact be inaccurate.

Moving on, Dr. Peterson's first of "five arguments for the deity of Christ", is as follows:

Jesus is identified with God. Recent scholarship has taught us to argue for Christ's deity based on the way that the early Christians identified Jesus unambiguously with the one God of Israel (1 Cor. 8:5-6). (P. 74)

I sincerely wonder what Dr. Peterson is referring to when he mentions "recent scholarship"; fact is, a substantial portion of "recent scholarship" has taken the exact opposite position—i.e. Jesus did NOT identify himself as/with the one God of Israel, but rather, as the agent/representative of the one God of Israel. Further (and this importantly) the OT texts cited in Dr. Peterson's introduction, are not some "seed form" for identifying the future promised Messiah as/with the one God of Israel, but rather, they clearly identify this eschatological figure as God's agent/representative.

As for his statement that, "the early Christians identified Jesus unambiguously with the one God of Israel", the text he lists for support, 1 Cor. 8:5-6, does NOT assert what he claims; rather the text CEARLY identifies "one God of Israel" with the Father, NOT with Jesus. Now, I am quite aware that some Evangelical scholars have suggested that 1 Cor. 8:6 is an "expansion", "splitting", and/or "Christianizing" of the shema (e.g. Bauckham, de Lacey, Wright)—however, other scholars are not as convinced. For instance, Dr. James F. McGrath wrote:

In this chapter, we will look at evidence that challenges the idea that Jesus has here [1 Cor. 8:6] been included inside rather than alongside the Shema. The main difficulty with the view that Paul has "split the Shema" to produce a "Christological monotheism (whatever that might mean) is that it does not do justice to the nature of the Shema itself." (The One True God: Early Christian Monotheism in Its Jewish Context, p. 40.)

And then, a bit later:

Theoretically, he [Paul] could have written, "There is one God: the Father, from whom are all things, and the Son, through whom are all things." This would have emphasized the oneness of God while including Jesus clearly within that one God. Instead, Paul uses a statement about one God, which itself is sufficient to reiterate the point off the Shema, and then goes further to talk about "one Lord." When the oneness of God is coupled with another assertion of oneness in this way, we must look carefully to determine whether we are indeed dealing with a splitting of the Shema that is without parallel, or an addition of a second clause alongside the Shema, which is not in fact unparalleled in Jewish literature. (Ibid.)

Interestingly enough, James D.G. Dunn, who once held to the "expansion", "splitting", and/or "Christianizing" of the shema in 1 Cor. 8:6, later adopted McGrath's view, adding: "if anything the fuller confession of 8:6 could be said to be a more natural outworking of the primary conviction that 'the Lord (God) had said to the Lord (Christ), "Sit at my right hand..."' (Ps. 110:1)." (Did the First Christians Worship Jesus, p. 109.)

I could add so much more, but I do not want my opening post to get to cumbersome—I shall end here by making an assertion of my own:

Dr. Peterson is taking the highly developed theological system that he embraces, and reads it back into texts that predate his system by centuries, while ignoring how much of the important terminology of those texts was being used in their original context.

Grace and peace,


Thursday, December 9, 2010

"In Essentials, Unity; in Non-essentials, Liberty; in All Things, Charity"

An email that I received on Tuesday (12-07-10), brought back to the fore the oft quoted phrase: "in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity". Many who have quoted this phrase have attributed its first usage to Augustine; however, a number of scholars have established that this quote did not originate with Augustine; rather, it is "the product of an irenic Lutheran theologian and pastor living in Augsburg during the early seventeenth century with the name of Peter Meiderlin." (See Rollman's online esaay, "IN ESSENTIALS UNITY".)

In order to understand the intent and meaning of the statement, one needs to examine the original historical context which prompted the phrase from Peter Meiderlin's pen. Hans Rollman provides a concise, and excellent summation:

Meiderlin lived in a very troubled time, a time exposed to the ravages of the Thirty Years War and one of much strife between Lutherans and Calvinists as well as a period of internal discord within Lutheranism itself. In this so-called "Confessional Age," the Lutheran movement became a battleground for competing political forces such as the territories of Saxony and the Palatinate. But especially vexing for the soul of the religious reform movement were the numerous doctrinal disputes which in part had their origin in the theological differences of the Reformation leaders themselves. In the period after Luther's death, there emerged an intense competition as to who represented the Lutheran theological heritage most authentically. An attempt to forge an authoritative doctrinal norm binding for everyone produced the Formula of Concord (1577) but resulted also in much cantankerousness about the legitimacy of the formula. The period that followed has also been termed the age of "Lutheran Orthodoxy," in which theologians increasingly would use scholastic philosophical means to define more specifically their Bible-oriented faith, which became tied to the emerging Lutheran confessional norms. A new wave of theological disputes spread through the protestant universities during the early 1600's which cannot be detailed here sufficiently but is documented and studied amply in a protestant doctrinal history such as the one by Otto Ritschl. ("In Essentials Unity".)

A bit later, Rollman furnishes a more 'personal' aspect to the impetus behind the phrase:

Peter Meiderlin's argument for peace in the church starts out with a story about a dream he had. In it he encounters a devout Christian theologian in a white robe sitting at a table and reading the Scriptures. All of a sudden Christ appears to him as the victor over death and devil and warns him of an impending danger and admonishes him to be very vigilant. Then Christ vanishes and the Devil appears in the form of a blinding light, moonlight to be exact, and claims to have been sent on a mission from God. He states that in this final age the Church needs to be protected from all heresy and apostasy of any kind and God's elect have the duty to safeguard and keep pure the doctrinal truths they inherited. The devil then alleges that God has authorized him to found a new order of these doctrinally pure elect, some sort of a doctrinal heritage coven. Those who join will bind themselves to an oath of strictest observance to these doctrines. The devil then extends to our devout theologian the invitation to join this militant fellowship for his own eternal welfare. Our theologian thinks about what he has just heard and decides to bring it in prayer before God, upon which the devil immediately vanishes and Christ reappears. Christ tenderly raises the trembling Christian up, comforts him most kindly, and before he departs admonishes him to remain loyal only to the Word of God in simplicity and humility of heart. For Meldenius, this dream depicted in a powerful way the state of his own church, and the resultant admonition is his own contribution on how to keep the peace. (Ibid.)

[I would like to recommend to all, that they read Rollman's entire essay, and then add the following online treatment: A common quotation from "Augustine"?.]

Now, back to Tuesday's email. The author of the email was David Cloud, an independent Baptist author, lecturer, minister. The email that I received was also published online at Cloud's "Way of Life Literature" website (HERE). Cloud, as so many Protestants of the period delineated above by Hollman, does not like Meiderlin's now famous phrase; from his email/online essay, we read:

The modern evangelical philosophy is often stated by the dictum, “In essentials unity; in non-essentials liberty; in all things charity.”

Though commonly attributed to Augustine, it was actually first stated by the 17th-century Lutheran Rupertus Meldenius (a.k.a. Peter Meiderlin).

It became the rallying cry of the Moravians, who did many good things but retained such Roman heresies as infant baptism and a priesthood and promoted unity above the absolute truth of God’s Word.

It was adopted by the Fundamentalist movement of the first half of the 20th century. As a movement Fundamentalism focused on unity around “the fundamentals of the faith” while downplaying the “minor issues.” The objective was to create the largest possible united front against theological modernism.

This dictum has also been an integral philosophy of New Evangelicalism. They might stand for ten or twenty or thirty “cardinals,” but they refuse to make an issue of the WHOLE counsel of God. Particularly when it comes to one’s associations, they believe that there are “non-essentials” that should not get in the way of unity.

Many Independent Baptists are buying into this error.And a bit later:

There is no support in the Bible for the “in essentials liberty” doctrine. The Lord Jesus Christ commanded His disciples to teach converts “to observe ALL things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Mat. 28:20).

The Apostle Paul reminded the elders at Ephesus that the reason he was free from the blood of all men was that he had preached the WHOLE counsel of God (Acts 20:27). The more plainly you preach the whole counsel of God, the less likely it will be that you will join hands in ministry with those who hold different doctrine.

Paul instructed Timothy to keep the truth “without SPOT, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Tim. 6:14). A spot is a small, seemingly insignificant thing. That particular epistle contains commandments about such things as the woman’s role in ministry, which is widely considered a “non-essential” today. Paul taught Timothy to have an entirely different approach toward such teachings.

In 1 Corinthians 11:2 Paul said to the church at Corinth, “Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in ALL things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.” This passage deals with hair length and the Lord’s Supper, which are widely considered to be “non-essentials” today, yet Paul praised the church for remembering him in all things.

We know that not all doctrine has the same significance and weight, but none of it is “non-essential” in any sense.

I challenge anyone to show me where the Scripture encourages the believer to treat some doctrine as “non-essential” or to “stand for the cardinal truths and downplay the peripherals.”

Some try to use Romans 14 to support this philosophy, but Romans 14 does not say that some Bible doctrine is non-essential. It says that we are to allow one another liberty in matters in which the Bible is silent! The examples that Paul gave were eating meat and keeping of holy days. Those are things that the New Testament faith is silent about. There is no doctrine of diet in the New Testament, so it is a matter of Christian liberty.

This reminds us that the only true “non-essential” is a personal opinion not based solidly upon Scripture.

Jude instructed every believer to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). As Jude didn’t delineate what part of the faith is to be defended, the obvious meaning is that whatever aspect of the faith is under attack at a particular time, God’s people should rally to its defense rather than pretend that it is a “non-essential.”

Since the Bible doesn’t identify a “non-essential” doctrine, who is to say what this might be?

The fact is that once one adopts the “non-essentials” philosophy, his list of “non-essentials” tends to grow as time passes and as his associations broaden.

Cloud's appraisal of Meiderlin's dictum sure seems to be a more consistent, and 'honest,' take when addressing the Protestant movement as a whole. Many anti-Catholic apologists invoke Meiderlin's phrase when dealing with the RC and EO churches, but the so-called "unity in essentials" remains, at least to the mind of this beachbum, quite nebulus in nature, if not mere empty words. Right or wrong, Cloud's thoughts on this matter are a 'breath of fresh air', an 'in your face', non-compromising stance that exposes the "unity in essentials" myth.

Grace and peace,


UPDATE: On August 20, 2014, Steve Perisho posted a comment which demonstrates that it was NOT the Lutheran Peter Meiderlin who first coined the phrase, "in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity"; but rather, it was the Catholic bishop Marco Antonio De Dominis, who did so nine years earlier. See  THIS LINK for the convincing support.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Islam: Threat or Not?

Last week, I discovered that a debate between a personal friend of mine (Dr. Daniel Peterson) and the controversial author/lecturer Robert Spencer is available online via YouTube. The debate, though somewhat brief by debate 'standards', is an excellent introduction into some of the more delicate issues involving Islam. I think most viewers will enjoy this debate, and I am looking forward to dialogue with those who take the time to view it.

Grace and peace,


Friday, November 19, 2010

TurretinFan on "Formal Insufficiency"

I have not looked in on TurretinFan's (hereafter, TF) blog for a number of weeks now, but a couple of recent posts by Colin Smith concerning Cornelius Van Til and the Trinity (FIRST; SECOND) at the AOMIN blog, brought back to mind an older post of mine that touched on Van Til's controversial doctrine of the Trinity, while sharing a few of my reflections on a debate between TF and William Albrecht (LINK to the thread: Is God a being or a person?). I went back and read anew the thread, added another update, linking to Colin's new posts, and then headed over to TF's blog, reading his most recent contribution: Formal Insufficiency - An Insult to Jesus—the rest of this post will assess TF's musings.

[TF] Those Roman Catholics who think that the Scriptures are an insufficient rule of faith and life - that the Scriptures are not clear enough to stand sola Scriptura as the way by which we know God: please consider that the Gospels give us verbatim teachings of Jesus himself in his own words.

TF doesn't actually believe that ALL Scripture is clear, rather, I suspect he believes what the Westminster Confession of Faith teaches on the matter:

VII. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them. (ONLINE TEXT - bold emphasis mine.)

Now, for the record, I have requested from TF (on at least two occasions) a list of "those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation", a list he refused to give me—I make the request again—hopefully this time TF will provide this very important list.

[TF] It's bad enough that you are not satisfied by the Holy Spirit's teaching through the entirety of the Inspired Holy Scripture, but that may be less self-evidently divine. In other words, while you are to blame for not being satisfied with the divine teachings of the law, the prophets, the evangelists, and the apostles, we can understand that perhaps you do not understand that the Bible is the Holy Spirit speaking to us through men.

Is TF truly "satisfied by the Holy Spirit's teaching through the entirety of the Inspired Holy Scripture"? TF under his "About Me" states that he is "Reformed" and "Ecclesiastically Presbyterian", which probably means that he subscribes to the Westminster Standards. IMO, it is equivocal to berate another for not being "satisfied by the Holy Spirit's teaching through the entirety of the Inspired Holy Scripture", while belonging to a denomination that requires its members to subscribe to extra-Biblical confessions and catechisms.

[TF] But are you going to seriously say that Jesus' preaching, recorded in the Gospels, is not clear enough for people to read it, understand it, and trust in Christ alone for salvation? Is God's own word, not spoken through prophets under inspiration but spoken directly by the God-man Himself not clear enough?

Obviously not for those who belong to confessional denominations.

[TF] Don't you think that's a little insulting?

I would not say that the view which TF is attacking is "insulting", rather, I would say it accurately reflects the doctrinal and theological battles/developments, and the proliferation of denominations and sects, during the nearly two thousand years of Christian history.

Grace and peace,


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Is Ratzinger/Benedict XVI a pantheist?

John Bugay at the Beggars All blog has followed up his assertion that Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, "is functionally a pantheist", with no less than THREE subsequent threads (FIRST; SECOND; THIRD) wherein he attempts to bolster his claim, and in doing so, moves beyond his initial charge, boldly stating that, "Ratzinger is pretty much a full-blown pantheist".

I originally thought that John's initial charge was merely an off-handed remark, that he didn't actually believe that Ratzinger/Benedict XVI was REALLY a pantheist; however, his subsequent threads and combox posts, clearly demonstrate that I was wrong—John Bugay ACTUALLY believes that Ratzinger/Benedict XVI IS A PANTHEIST!!!

Amazing, I really mean AMAZING. Though I by no means consider myself a scholar of Ratzinger/Benedict XVI's thought/theology, I have read a substantial amount of his published works in English, including eleven of his books that I own, and a number of his books and essays that are available online; I am left stunned that John actually believes that Ratzinger/Benedict XVI is a pantheist—the evidence CLEARLY repudiates such a view. The rest of this thread will be devoted to the evidence itself, and shall come under three categories: first, what pantheism actually is; second, Ratzinger's thought on theology proper; and third, the anthropology and soteriology of historical Catholic theology, which Ratzinger/Benedict XVI embraces. I believe once the evidence has been read, one will conclude with me that John has clearly misunderstood all three.


Pantheism comes from two Greek words, pan (all) and theism (God) meaning "all is God" or "God is all." It is the belief that all things contain divinity and that God is the sum of all things. Pantheism is the view that God is everything and everyone - and consequently that everyone and everything is God.
Pantheism is the presupposition behind many cults and false religions, for example Hinduism and Buddhism to an extent, the various unity and unification cults, mother nature worshippers, etc. (THEOPEDIA)

Pantheism (πᾶν, all; θεός, god), the view according to which God and the world are one...

CATHOLIC DOCTRINE.—The Church has repeatedly condemned the errors of pantheism. Among the propositions censured in the Syllabus of Piur IX is that which declares: "There is no supreme, all-wise and all-provident Divine Being distinct from the universe; God is one with nature and therefore subject to change; He becomes God in man and the world; all things are God and have His substance; God is identical with the world, spirit with matter, necessity with freedom, truth with falsity, good with evil, justice with injustice"
... (The Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 11, pp. 447, 448)

All pantheisms are actually forms of monism, not pluralism. They hold that reality is ultimately one, not many. More precisely, the many exist in the one rather than the one in the many. In other words, pantheists believe that God encompasses all there is...

There are several distinctive elements involved in pantheism. Each may be seen in contrast to theism.

The nature of God. God is non-personal. Personality, consciousness, knowledge, and so forth, are lower levels of manifestation. The highest level is beyond personality. It consists of absolute simplicity.

The nature of creation. Creation is not ex nihilo, as in theism; it is ex Deo (out of God). There is only one "substance" in the universe and everything is an emanation of it.

Relation of God and the world. In contrast to theism which holds that God is beyond the universe and separate from it, the pantheist believes that God and the universe are one. God is the All and the All is God. some pantheists speak of the world as an illusion. In this sense the world is not God; it is nothing. But whatever reality exists in the universe is the reality of God.

Evil is not real. In the stricter forms of pantheism, evil is a mere illusion, an error of mortal mind. Evil seems to be real, but it is not. It is due to the deception of our senses; it is a result of thinking partially rather than wholistically about reality. The Whole is actually good; it only seems evil if one is looking at a part separate from the Whole.
(Norman L. Geisler and Paul D. Feinberg, Introduction To Philosophy, pp. 277-280.)

[As we shall shortly see, Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, in his own words, clearly denies the "several distinctive elements involved in pantheism" delineated above.]

Ratzinger/Benedict XVI -

I believe in God, the Almighty, the Father, the Creator. This statement, with which Christians have been confessing their faith in God for almost two thousand years, is the product of a still older history. Behind it stands Israel's daily confession of faith, the Christian form of which represents: "Hear, O Israel, Yahweh, thy God, is an only God". (Introduction To Christianity, trans. J. R. Foster, Ignatius Press, 1990 ed., p. 73.)

El [God] is regarded not only as the sustainer of personality, as father, creator of creatures, the wise, the king; he is seen also and above all things as the highest God of all, as the greatest power of all, as he who stands above all else. (Ibid., p. 83.)

...Christian belief in God means that things are the being-thought of a creative consciousness, of a creative freedom, and that the creative consciousness that bears up all things has released what has been thought into the freedom of its own, independent existence. It goes beyond any mere idealism. While the latter, as we have just established, explains everything real as the content of a single consciousness, in the Christian view what supports it all is a creative freedom of its own being, so that on the one hand it is the being-thought of a consciousness and yet on the other true self-being.

This also clarifies the root of the conception of creation: the model from which creation must be understood is not the craftsman, but the creative mind, creative thinking. At the same time it becomes evident that the idea of freedom is the characteristic mark of the Christian belief in God as opposed to any kind of monism. At the beginning of all being it puts not just some kind of consciousness but a creative freedom which creates further freedoms. To this extent one could very well describe Christianity as a philosophy of freedom. For Christianity, the explanation of reality as a whole is not an all-embracing consciousness or one single materiality; on the contrary, at the summit stands a freedom that thinks and, thinking, creates freedoms, thus freedom is the structural form of all being. (Ibid., p. 110)


If the Christian belief in God is first of all an option in favour of the primacy of the logos, faith in the pre-existing, world-supporting reality of the creative meaning, it is at the same time, as belief in the personal nature of that meaning, the belief that the original thought, whose being-thought is represented by the world, is not an anonymous, neutral consciousness but freedom, creative love, a person. Accordingly, if the Christian option for the logos, means an option for a personal, creative meaning, then it is at the same time an option for the primacy of the particular as against the universal. (Ibid., p. 111)

...the wording of the dogma [i.e. the Trinity] was to all intents and purposes settled. It expresses the perception that God as substance, as "being", is absolutely one. (Ibid., p. 131)

Catholic anthropology and soteriology -

"And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one" ( John 17:22 - NASB) we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Romans 12:5 - NASB)

For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (2 Peter 1:4 - NASB)

God, says St. Peter "has given us most great and precious promises that by these you may be made partarkers of the Divine nature" (2 Pet. i. 4). Startling as the words are, the teaching which we have already considered will have prepared us for them. They signify that the sonship conferred on us through Jesus Christ raises us so far above our creaturely condition, that by it we partake in the life which is proper to the Three Divine Persons in virtue of Their nature. The passage does not stand altogether alone. When our Lord prays to His Father on behalf of the apostles and all who through their word should believe in Him, “that they all many be one, as Thou, Father in Me and I in Thee, that they may be made perfect in one” (John xvii. 22, 23), His words can hardly signify less than this. If our union with God is comparable to that which unites the Father and the Son, it can only be a union bases on a share in the Divine life...The fathers of the Church from the earliest times with one consent take the apostle’s words in their literal sense. There is no question of any figurative interpretation. They do not hesitate to speak of the “deification” of man. By grace, they tell us, men become gods. (G.H. Joyce, S.J., The Catholic Doctrine of Grace, London: 1920, pp. 34, 35

If man is to be reunited to God as his Father, God Himself must raise him up again to His side...God must again draw man up to His bosom as His child, regenerate him to new divine life, and again clothe him with the garment of His children, the splendor of His own nature and glory...this transformation of the will is essentially bound up with the inner elevation of our entire being by the grace of divine sonship and participation in the divine nature...The children of God participate as such in the divine holiness of their Father, in His very nature. (Matthis J. Scheeben, The Mysteries of Christianity, B. Herder Book Co.: St. Loius, pp. 615, 616, 617, 619, German first ed. 1865; English ed. 1946, translated from the 1941 German ed.)

we must bear in mind that grace is really and formally a participation in the divine nature precisely in so far as it is divine, a participation in the Deity, in that which makes God God, in His intimate Life…Grace is a mysterious participation in this essence, which surpasses all natural knowledge…Grace makes us participate really and formally in this Deity, in this eminent and intimate life of God, because grace is in us the radical principle of essentially divine operating that will ultimately consist in seeing God immediately, as He sees Himself, and in loving Him as He loves Himself. Grace is the seed of glory. In order to know its essence intimately, we must first have seen the divine essence of which grace is the participation. (Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., Christian Perfection and Contemplation, St. Louis and London: B. Herder Book Co., 1937 – reprinted by Tan Books and Publishers, 2003, pp. 55, 56.)

The Church prays in the Offertory of the Holy Mass : “Grant that by the mystery of this water and wine, we may be made partakers of His divinity, who vouchsafed to become partaker of our humanity.” Similarly in the Preface of the Feast of Christ’s Ascension into Heaven : “He was assumed into Heaven in order that we might be partakers in His divinity.” Cf. D 1021.

According to 2 Peter 1, 4 the Christian is elevated to participation in the Divine nature...Again, the scriptural texts which represent justification as generation or birth from God (John 1, 12 et seq. ; 3, 5 ; 1 John 3, 1. 9 ; Tit. 3. 5 ; James 1, 18 ; 1 Peter 1, 23), indirectly teach the participation of man in the Divine nature, as generation consists in the communication of the nature of the generator to the generated.

From the scriptural texts cited, and from others (Ps. 81, 1. 6 ; John 10, 34 et seq.), the Fathers derived the teaching of the deification of man by grace (θείωσις, deificatio). It is a firm conviction of the Fathers that God became man so that man might become God, that is, defied. (Dr. Lugwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 256 - German ed. 1952; English 1955.)

This is the central truth of all Christian soteriology that finds an organic unity with the revealed reality of the God-Man. God became man that man could truly participate in the life of Godso that, indeed, in a certain sense, he could become God. The Fathers of the Church had a clear consciousness of this fact. It is sufficient to recall St. Irenaeus who, in his exhortations to imitate Christ, the only sure teacher, declared: “Through the immense love he bore, he became what we are, thereby affording us the opportunity of becoming what he is.” (John Paul II, Jesus, Son and Savior, 1996, p. 215 - General audience address September 2, 1987.)

As an “I”, man is indeed an end, but the whole tendency of his being and of his own existence shows him also to be a creation belonging to a “super–I” that does not blot him out but encompasses him; only such an association can bring out the form of the future man, in which humanity will achieve complete fulfillment of itself. (Introduction To Christianity, trans. J. R. Foster, Ignatius Press, 1990 ed., p. 179)

Faith sees in Jesus the man in whom – on the biological plane – the next evolutionary leap, as it were, has been accomplished; the man in whom the breakthrough out of the limited scope of humanity, out of its monadic enclosure, has occurred; the man in whom personalization and socialization no longer exclude each other but support each other; the man in whom perfect unity – “The body of Christ”, says St. Paul, and even more pointedly “You are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3.28) – and perfect individuality are one; the man in whom humanity comes into contact with its future and in the highest extent itself becomes its future, because through him it makes contact with God himself, shares in him and thus realizes its most intrinsic possibility. From here onwards faith in Christ will see the beginning of a movement in which dismembered humanity is gathered together more and more into the being of one single Adam, one single body – the man to come. It will see in him the movement to that future of man in which he is completely “socialized”, incorporated in one single being, but in such a way that the separate individual is not extinguished but brought completely to himself. (Ibid., p. 179)

[NOTE: All bold emphasis in the quotations is mine.]

Summation -

Ratzinger/Benedict XVI clearly denies the "several distinctive elements involved in pantheism", affirming instead the personal nature of God, the "absolute" oneness of God in His being, and the Creator/creature distinction. Further, Ratzinger/Benedict XVI's anthropology and soteriology lies within the bounds of the Catholic tradition, and Scripture itself. The charge that Ratzinger/Benedict XVI is a pantheist is without merit.

Grace and peace,


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Deification in the Bible - Part 1 (Introduction)

Before delving into passages from the Bible that are directly related to the doctrine of deification, I would like to start with an 'introduction' of sorts. The following material is from a preliminary draft of one of the chapters from a book I have been working on—all rights reserved.


"Deification in the Bible" (by David Waltz)

Chapter abstract: The terminology used to describe the doctrine of deification in the New Testament has many points of contact with the terminology used to describe the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. The terminology used to describe this relationship between God the Father and God the Son has convinced the vast majority of Christians down through the ages of the Church to conclude that because Jesus Christ shares so deeply in the nature and divine life of God, He too must be of the same order of being as God the Father. One must water down the motifs of “image of God”, "Son of God", “immortality”, “heir”, “kingly rule”, etc. in order to avoid the clear teaching that Jesus Christ truly shares in God the Father’s “divine nature.” If the same terminology used to describe this relationship between God the Father and God the Son is used to describe the relationship between Jesus Christ and God’s adopted Sons, what should are conclusions be?

Phase one: The New Testament

I am fully convinced that the foundational source of the doctrine of theosis lies within the pages New Testament.[i] Although some interesting parallels exist in the writings of the some of the ancient Greek philosophers[ii] and Mystery Cults[iii] (and that some intimations of the doctrine can be read into the Old Testament and inter-Testament writings[iv]), there is no question that the early Church Fathers believed (and rightfully so) that the doctrine was clearly taught by Jesus Christ and His apostles, and as such, is to be found the New Testament writings.

One modern scholar who certainly seems to agree with this assessment is David L. Balás—Balás penned the following:

The real sources of the doctrine of divinization are found in the Bible. In the Old Testament, the teaching of the creation of the human couple in the image and likeness of God and the call of the chosen people through the covenant to a closer communion with God prepared for the theme. The New Testament’s central teaching on God’s Son becoming man in order to make human beings in and through himself adopted children of God animated by God’s Spirit is theologically elaborated primarily in the Pauline letters and later in the Fourth Gospel. Whereas the doctrinal foundations of the theme of divinization are thus broad in the New Testament, the literary antecedents are limited to a few texts.[v]

For the first 25 years of my life, the very thought that redeemed mankind could “become God[vi]” never crossed my mind, and for a good reason: I was an Arian[vii] through and through. I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness (4th generation), and their strict, absolute monotheistic theology placed a filter on my mind that would never allow such a concept to be examined, let alone seriously studied.

However, shortly after 1975 (a date predicted by Jehovah’s Witnesses as the second coming of Jesus Christ in judgment of the world, and the ushering in of His millennial kingdom[viii]) I, for the first time, started to have grave doubts about my faith, and began an independent study of the Bible. My personal Biblical studies soon compelled me to reject my Arian theology, for I had come to believe the Bible taught that Jesus Christ was fully divine. But I was not content to limit my studies to just the Bible, and began devouring theological books, especially books concerning the doctrine of the Trinity and the early Christian church. This led to my purchase of the 38-volume set of the American (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) reprint of the famous Edinburgh edition of the Ante-Nicene and Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers series. I was now ‘hooked’, such that my studies of the Church Fathers now consumed a sizable portion of my study time. As my knowledge grew, I began to sense a need to share my personal studies with others.

In October 1992, I presented my first public lecture at a conference promoted by Northwest Bible Conferences (a public forum started by a group of former Jehovah’s Witnesses back in 1979). From 1992 through 1999 I ended up delivering a total of nine public lectures. My third lecture (delivered in the spring of 1994) was titled: “Deification in the Bible” (see appendix for the notes of that lecture). I have chosen to include this personal, historical excursus, for the simple reason that the seeds of this chapter were planted in early 1994 as I prepared for my upcoming lecture that spring.


Before proceeding onto what scripture has to say about the destiny of redeemed mankind, it is important to begin with an examination of the relationship between God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. For as we shall shortly see, there is a direct correlation between that relationship, and the relationship that Jesus Christ[x] has with God’s adopted Sons.

One important doctrine (rarely discussed in theological literature) is the Biblical teaching that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, owes His very existence to the Father. In John 5:26 we read, “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself” (KJV), and 6:57, “As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father” (ASV). One New Testament scholar wrote the following about John 5:26:

God is eternally living and lifegiving (see  ζῶν πατὴρ ‘the living Father’, 6:57) and the Son possesses his life in its fullness and power. The formula with διδόυαι in the aorist indicative is distinctively Johannine. God does not give his life externally, like a gift, to his Son, but grants him a share in his own inner possession, without himself losing anything of the fullness of his life. Both the Father and the Son equally have ‘life in themselves’, but the Father is the one from whom the movement of life goes out.[xi]

A respected Evangelical scholar when commenting on the same verse wrote:

None but God the Father, unbegotten and uncreated, inherently possesses life-in-himself. He is in his very being ‘the living God’…To the Son alone, begotten but not created, has the Father imparted his own prerogative to have life-in himself.[xii]

And in the first volume of the new Foundations of Evangelical Theology Series – The Doctrine of God we read that, “Jesus says that the Father has life within himself, and has given to the Son to have life in himself.”[xiii]

The famous Reformed theologian, Jonathan Edwards (whom many consider the greatest American theologian of all time), provided an excellent summation of this teaching:

The Father is the deity subsisting in the prime, unoriginated and most absolute manner, or the deity in its direct existence. The Son is the deity generated by God’s understanding, or having an idea of Himself and subsisting in that idea…Hereby we see how the Father is the fountain of the Godhead, and why when He is spoken of in Scripture He is so often, without any addition or distinction, called God which has led some to think that He only was truly and properly God.[xiv]

And finally, from the pen of the equally famous 17th century British Reformed theologian, John Owen, we read:

Now the Son receives all from the Father, and the Father nothing from the Son. Whatever belongs unto the person of the Son, as the person of the Son, he receives it all from the Father by eternal generation: “For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given unto the Son to have life in himself:” John v. 26. He is therefore the essential image of the Father, because all the properties of the divine nature are communicated unto him together with personality—from the Father.[xv]

That the Son, Jesus Christ, owes His existence to God the Father is well attested in the Church Fathers[xvi], starting before the end of the first century. The patristic evidence will be explored in greater depth in chapter 3, but at this time I will cite one Church Father who is representative of so many others:
(We believe) in one Father, the beginning, and cause of all: begotten of no one: without cause or generation, alone subsisting…All then that the Son and the Spirit have is from the Father, even their very being: and unless the Father is, neither the Son nor the Spirit is…because of the Father’s existence, the Son and the Spirit exist.[xvii]

Due to the fact that Jesus Christ owes His existence to the Father, we see a strong emphasis of the Father/Son motif through out the New Testament. The generative import of this motif is further emphasized when we read that Jesus Christ is “the only begotten”[xviii] Son of God.

Fundamentally linked to the Father/Son motif, is the phrase “image of God” when used in direct reference to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the “the image of God”, “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), and “the very image of his substance”[xix] (Heb. 1:3). Concerning precisely how one is to understand the usage of this phrase we read:
Image is not to be understood as a magnitude which is alien to the reality and present only in the consciousness. It has a share in the reality. Indeed, it is the reality. Thus εἰκὼν does not imply a weakening or a feeble copy of something. It implies the illumination of its inner core and essence.[xx]

Just as Seth bore the image of his father Adam (Gen. 5:3), so too, Jesus bears the image of His Father. In addition, and this importantly, Seth, begotten in the image of father, shares without any loss, the full nature of his father. The same can be said of the pre-existent Jesus, for He shares, without any loss, the divine nature of His heavenly Father. Keeping the above in mind, we shall now move on to the Biblical verses that teach the doctrine of theosis.


[i] Other treatments on this topic include: Jules Gross, trans. Paul A. Onica, The Divinization of the Christian (Anaheim, CA: A & C Press, 2002) pp. 61-69, 80-92; Keith E. Norman, Deification: The Content of Athanasian Soteriology – FARMS Occasional Papers, Vol. 1, 2000 (Provo, Utah: Foundation For Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2000) pp. 5-9; and Norman Russell, The Doctrine of Deification In The Greek Patristic Tradition (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2004) pp. 79-89.
[ii] The most important figure of this group being Plato.
[iii] Some of the more important of which include the cult of Eleusis, the cult of Isis, the cult of Dionysus, and Orphism.
[iv] Two important collections of these writings in English are: The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, 2 volumes, edited by Martínez and Tigchelaar (Grand Rapids, MI: Brill and William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., vol. 1, 1997; vol. 2, 1998 – paperback edition 2000); and The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 2 volumes, edited by James H. Charlesworth (Garden City, NY; Doubleday & Company, Inc., vol. 1, 1983; vol. 2, 1985).
[v] David L. Balás, “Divinization”, in Encyclopedia of Early Christianity – Second Edition, Everett Ferguson editor (New York, NY: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1997, 1999) p. 338.
[vi] To “become God” was the phrase used by some important Church Fathers to describe the doctrine of theosis.
[vii] Arianism is the name given to theology promoted by a Catholic presbyter of Alexandria named Arius (d. 336) in the early 4th century. Arius explicitly taught for the first time (at least from the extant writings that have come down to our time) that the Son of God was created ex nihilo by God the Father. Noted patristic scholar, R.P.C. Hanson wrote, “The part of Arius’ doctrine which most shocked and disturbed his contemporaries was his statement that the Father made the Son ‘out of non-existence’. [The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1998), p. 24.] Many Catholic bishops, including Arius’ own bishop of Alexandria, Alexander, believed that Arius was teaching heresy, yet despite their early efforts to quench Arius and his teachings, many lay and clerical members of the Catholic Church embraced nascent Arianism. This led to the first “general/universal” council of the Catholic Church: the Nicene Council of 325. Arius’ and his teachings were condemned at this council, and the vast majority of bishops who attended the conference endorsed the first draft of what is now known as the Nicene Creed (the final form of this creed was expanded and ratified at the first Council of Constantinople of 381). Because Jehovah’s Witnesses fully embrace the doctrine that the pre-existent Jesus Christ (Michael the archangel) was non-existent before he was created ex nihilo by Jehovah (God the Father), they are classified (rightfully) as Arianians.
[viii] For a scholarly assessment of the importance of the 1975 date and it’s apocalyptic implications see M. James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1985, second edition 1997), pp. 91-126.
[ix] Latin for: “the source of the whole divinity”.
[x] I am going to be using the name “Jesus Christ” to refer to the pre-incarnate and incarnate (earthly and post-resurrection) person known by such names/titles as “His Son” (τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ – Gal. 4:4), “firstborn” (πρωτότοκος – Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:6), “only begotten” (μονογενὴς – John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1Jn. 4:9), “the Word” (ὁ λόγος – John 1:1, 14; Rev. 19:13), “Lord” (κύριος – numerous texts), and “God” (θεὸς – on the controversial issue of whether on not the term God is used unequivocally as a name/title for Jesus Christ see Murray J. Harris, Jesus as God, Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Book House, 1992).
[xi] Rudolf Schnackenburn, The Gospel According to St John (New York, NY: Crossroad, 1987), vol. 2, p. 112 – emphasis mine.
[xii] F.F. Bruce, The Gospel of John (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1983) p. 132.
[xiii] John S. Feinberg, No One Like Him (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001) p. 212.
[xiv] Jonathan Edwards, “An Essay On the Trinity”, in Treatise On Grace and other posthumously published writings (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 1971) pp. 118, 122.
[xv] John Owen, The Works of John Owen, Volume 1 (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965, 3rd printing 1981) pp. 71, 72.
[xvi] For an excellent summary of the patristic evidence on this topic see Yves Congar’s, I Believe In the Holy Spirit, trans. by David Smith (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Co., 1983, 2001) vol. 3, pp. 133-143.
[xvii] John of Damascus, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, I.8, in NPNF2, IX.6, 9.
[xviii] John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9 (John 1:14 reads “the only begotten from the Father”). Though many modern commentators had tried to weaken the generative sense of the term “only begotten” [some translating it as simply “only” (NJB, RSV, NRSV), or “the One and Only” (NIV)], one must not lose sight that of the fact that the term still retained much of it’s generative sense during the NT period, and this is reflected in its early ecclesiastical usage by many of the Church Fathers [see G.W.H. Lampe, ed., A Patristic Greek Lexicon (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1961, 17th impression 2003), pp. 880-882; Gerhard Kittel, ed., English translator and editor, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1967), vol. IV, pp. 740-741; and John V. Dahms, “The Generation of the Son”, in Journal of the Evangelical Society, vol. 32.4 (Dec. 1989) p. 496.] Particularly insightful are Clark’s comments, “the two verbs themselves are derived from an earlier common stem…the genes in monogenes derives immediately from genos”; and then importantly that the word genos, “as a matter of fact suggests begetting and generation, as much as if it had been derived from gennao”, Gordon H. Clark, The Trinity (Jefferson, MD: The Trinity Foundation, 1985) p. 120. On the somewhat controversial issue of whether “only begotten Son” or “only begotten God” is the best reading of John 1:18 see Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary On The Greek New Testament (London – New York: United Bible Societies, 1971, corrected edition, 1975), p. 198.
[xix] χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ.
[xx] Gerhard Kittel, ed., English translator and editor, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1967), vol. II, p. 389.


Grace and peace,


Friday, November 12, 2010

Deification In The Church Fathers

As I have noted in past comments, I have been deeply studying the Church Fathers since the early 1980s. It did not take long for me to notice that the concept of deification (Gr. theosis—i.e. man becoming God), was a prominent theological theme found in many of the Church Fathers. The following list of selections from the Church Fathers on deification is from my ever expanding file on the subject—I am letting the Fathers speak for themselves without commentary.


- The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 1979 Eerdmans reprint

- The Nicene, and Post-Nicene Fathers, (first and second series), 1979 Eerdmans reprint

(last update 01-19-09)

Ignatius - To the Ephesians 4.2 It is therefore good for you to be in perfect unity, that you may at all times be partakers (μετεχητε) of God. (Fathers of the Church - The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 1, p. 89.)

Justin - 1st Ap. 21 And we have learned that those only are deified who have lived near to God in holiness and virtue. (ANF 1.170).

Justin - Dial. 124 ...thereby it is demonstrated that all men are deemed worthy of becoming "gods", and of having power to become sons of the Highest. (ANF 1.262).

Justin - Discourse To The Greeks 5 The Word exercises an influence which does not make poets: it does not equip philosophers nor skilled orators, but by its instruction it makes mortals immortal, mortals god. (ANF 1.272)

Irenaeus - Adv. Her. 3.6.1 “God stood in the in the congregation of the gods, He judges among the gods.” He [here] refers to the Father and the Son, and those who have received the adoption; but these are the Church. (ANF 1.419).

Irenaeus - Adv. Her. 3.18.7
Therefore, as I have already said, He caused man (human nature) to cleave to and to become, one with God. For unless man had overcome the enemy of man, the enemy would not have been legitimately vanquished. And again: unless it had been God who had freely given salvation, we could never have possessed it securely. And unless man had been joined to God, he could never have become a partaker of incorruptibility. For it was incumbent upon the Mediator between God and men, by His relationship to both, to bring both to friendship and concord, and present man to God, while He revealed God to man. For, in what way could we be partakers of the adoption of sons, unless we had received from Him through the Son that fellowship which refers to Himself, unless His Word, having been made flesh, had entered into communion with us? Wherefore also He passed through every stage of life, restoring to all communion with God. (ANF 1.448)

Irenaeus - Adv. Her. 3.19.1 To whom the Word says, mentioning His own gift of grace: “I said, Ye are all the sons of the Highest, and gods; but ye shall die like men.” He speaks undoubtedly these words to those who have not received the gift of adoption, but who despise the incarnation of the pure generation of the Word of God, defraud human nature of promotion into God, and prove themselves ungrateful to the Word of God, who became flesh for them. For it was for this end that the Word of God was made man, and He who was the Son of God became the Son of man, that man, having been taken into the Word, and receiving the adoption, might become the son of God. For by no other means could we have attained to incorruptibility and immortality, unless we had been united to incorruptibility and immortality. (ANF 1.448). [See also 3.6.1]

Irenaeus - Adv. Her. 4.Pref. - 4.1.1 ...there is none other called God by the Scriptures except the Father of all, and the Son, and those who possess the adoption. Since, therefore, this is sure and steadfast, that no other God or Lord was announced by the Spirit, except Him who, as God, rules over all, together with His Word, and those who receive the Spirit of adoption, that is, those who believe in the one and true God, and in Jesus Christ the Son of God. (ANF 1.463).

Irenaeus - Adv. Her. 4.33.4 can they be saved unless it was God who wrought out their salvation upon earth? Or how shall man pass into God, unless God has [first] passed into man? (ANF 1.507).

Irenaeus - Adv. 4.20.4
Now this is His Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, who in the last times was made a man among men, that He might join the end to the beginning, that is, man to God. (ANF 1.488).

Irenaeus - Adv. 4.20.5, 6a These things did the prophets set forth in a prophetical manner; but they did not, as some allege, [proclaim] that He who was seen by the prophets was a different [God], the Father of all being invisible. Yet this is what those [heretics] declare, who are altogether ignorant of the nature of prophecy. For prophecy is a prediction of things future, that is, a setting forth beforehand of those things which shall be afterwards. The prophets, then, indicated beforehand that God should be seen by men; as the Lord also says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” But in respect to His greatness, and His wonderful glory, “no man shall see God and live,” for the Father is incomprehensible; but in regard to His love, and kindness, and as to His infinite power, even this He grants to those who love Him, that is, to see God, which thing the prophets did also predict. “For those things that are impossible with men, are possible with God.” For man does not see God by his own powers; but when He pleases He is seen by men, by whom He wills, and when He wills, and as He wills. For God is powerful in all things, having been seen at that time indeed, prophetically through the Spirit, and seen, too, adoptively through the Son; and He shall also be seen paternally in the kingdom of heaven, the Spirit truly preparing man in the Son of God, and the Son leading him to the Father, while the Father, too, confers [upon him] incorruption for eternal life, which comes to every one from the fact of his seeing God. For as those who see the light are within the light, and partake of its brilliancy; even so, those who see God are in God, and receive of His splendor. But [His] splendor vivifies them; those, therefore, who see God, do receive life. And for this reason, He, [although] beyond comprehension, and boundless and invisible, rendered Himself visible, and comprehensible, and within the capacity of those who believe, that He might vivify those who receive and behold Him through faith. For as His greatness is past finding out, so also His goodness is beyond expression; by which having been seen, He bestows life upon those who see Him. It is not possible to live apart from life, and the means of life is found in fellowship with God; but fellowship with God is to know God, and to enjoy His goodness.

Men therefore shall see God, that they may live, being made immortal by that sight, and attaining even unto God; which, as I have already said, was declared figuratively by the prophets, that God should be seen by men who bear His Spirit [in them], and do always wait patiently for His coming. (ANF 1.488, 489.)

Irenaeus - Adv. Her. 4.24.2 ...and that His Word, invisible by nature, was made palpable and visible among men, and did descend “to death, even the death of the cross;” also, that they who believe in Him shall be incorruptible and not subject to suffering (Latin: impassiblies – impassible), and shall receive the kingdom of heaven. (ANF 1.495)

Irenaeus - Adv. Her. 4.38.3-4 His wisdom [is shown] in His having made created things parts of one harmonious and consistent whole; and those things which, through His super-eminent kindness, receive growth and a long period of existence, do reflect the glory of the uncreated One, of that God who bestows what is good ungrudgingly. For from the very fact of these things having been created, [it follows] that they are not uncreated; but by their continuing in being throughout a long course of ages, they shall receive a faculty of the Uncreated, through the gratuitous bestowal of eternal existence upon them by God., a created and organized being, is rendered after the image and likeness of the uncreated God... we have not been made gods from the beginning, but at first merely men, then at length gods...He shall overcome the substance of created nature. 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, having received the knowledge of good and evil. (ANF 1.521-522).

Irenaeus - Adv. Her. 4.39.2 How, then, shall he be a God, who has not as yet been made a man? Or how can he be perfect who was but lately created? How, again can he be immortal, who in his mortal nature did not obey his Maker? For it must be that thou, at the outset, shouldest hold the rank of a man, and then afterwards partake of the glory of God. (ANF 1.522-523).

Irenaeus - Adv. Her. 5.Pref ...the Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who did, through His transcendent love, become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself. (ANF 1.526).

Irenaeus - Adv. Her. 5.1.1 Since the Lord thus has redeemed us through His own blood, giving His soul for our souls, and His flesh for our flesh, and has also poured out the Spirit of the Father for the union and communion of God and man, imparting indeed God to men by means of the Spirit, and, on the other hand, attaching man to God by His own incarnation, and bestowing upon us at His coming immortality durably and truly, by means of communion with God...(ANF 1.527). [see also 5.36.3]

Irenaeus – Adv. Her. 5.6.1 Now God shall be glorified in His handiwork, fitting it so as to be conformable to, and modeled after, His own Son. For by the hands of the Father, that is, by the Son and the Holy Spirit, man, and not [merely] a part of man, was made in the likeness of God. Now the soul and the spirit are certainly a part of the man, but certainly not the man; for the perfect man consists in the commingling and the union of the soul receiving the spirit of the Father, and the admixture of that fleshly nature which was molded after the image of God. For this reason does the apostle declare, “We speak wisdom among them that are perfect,” terming those persons “perfect” who have received the Spirit of God, and who through the Spirit of God do speak in all languages, as he used Himself also to speak. In like manner we do also hear many brethren in the Church, who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men, and declare the mysteries of God, whom also the apostle terms “spiritual,” they being spiritual because they partake of the Spirit, and not because their flesh has been stripped off and taken away, and because they have become purely spiritual. For if any one take away the substance of flesh, that is, of the handiwork [of God], and understand that which is purely spiritual, such then would not be a spiritual man but would be the spirit of a man, or the Spirit of God. But when the spirit here blended with the soul is united to [God’s] handiwork, the man is rendered spiritual and perfect because of the outpouring of the Spirit, and this is he who was made in the image and likeness of God. (ANF 1.531)

Irenaeus – Adv. Her. 5.32.1 Inasmuch, therefore, as the opinions of certain [orthodox persons] are derived from heretical discourses, they are both ignorant of God’s dispensations, and of the mystery of the resurrection of the just, and of the [earthly] kingdom which is the commencement of incorruption, by means of which kingdom those who shall be worthy are accustomed gradually to partake of the divine nature (capere Deum)…(ANF 1.561)

Theophilus - To Autolycus 27 Was man made by nature mortal? Certainly not. Was he, then, immortal? Neither do we affirm this. ...He was by nature neither mortal nor immortal. For if He had made him immortal from the beginning, He would have made him God. ... keeping the commandment of God, he should receive as a reward from Him immortality, and should become God. (ANF 2.105).

Tertullian - Adv. Hermogenes 5 Well, then, you say, we ourselves possess nothing of God. But indeed we do, and shall continue to do—only it is from Him that we receive it, and not from ourselves. For we shall be even gods, if we shall deserve to be among those of whom He declared, "I have said, Ye are gods," and "God standeth in the congregation of the gods." But this comes of His own grace, not from any property in us, because it is He alone who can make gods. (ANF 3.480).

Tertullian - Adv. Marcion Book II.25 Now, although Adam was by reason of his condition under law subject to death, yet was hope preserved to him by the Lord's saying, "Behold, Adam is become as one of us;" that is, in consequence of the future taking of the man into the divine nature [hominis in divinitatem].(ANF 3.317).

Tertullian - Adv. Hermogenes 5 Well, then, you say, we ourselves at that rate possess nothing of God. But indeed we do, and shall continue to do—only it is from Him that we receive it, and not from ourselves. For we shall be even gods, if we shall deserve to be among those of whom He declared, “I have said, Ye are gods,” and “God standeth in the congregation of the gods.” But this comes of His own grace, not from any property in us, because it is He alone who can make gods. (ANF 3.480).

Clement of Alexandria - Exhortation 1 ...the Word of God became man, that thou mayest learn from man how man may become God. (ANF 2.174).

Clement of Alexandria - Exhortation 11 But since Thou leadest me to the light, O Lord, and I find God through Thee, and receive the Father from Thee, I become “Thy fellow-heir,” since Thou “wert not ashamed of me as Thy brother.” Let us put away, then, let us put away oblivion of the truth, viz., ignorance; and removing the darkness which obstructs, as dimness of sight, let us contemplate the only true God, first raising our voice in this hymn of praise: Hail, O light! For in us, buried in darkness, shut up in the shadow of death, light has shone forth from heaven, purer than the sun, sweeter than life here below. That light is eternal life; and whatever partakes of it lives. But night fears the light, and hiding itself in terror, gives place to the day of the Lord. Sleepless light is now over all, and the west has given credence to the east. For this was the end of the new creation. For “the Sun of Righteousness,” who drives His chariot over all, pervades equally all humanity, like “His Father, who makes His sun to rise on all men,” and distills on them the dew of the truth. He hath changed sunset into sunrise, and through the cross brought death to life; and having wrenched man from destruction, He hath raised him to the skies, transplanting mortality into immortality, and translating earth to heaven… having bestowed on us the truly great, divine, and inalienable inheritance of the Father, deifying man by heavenly teaching, putting His laws into our minds, and writing them on our hearts. (ANF 2.203)

Clement of Alexandria - Exhortation 12 For I want, I want to impart to you this grace, bestowing on you the perfect boon of immortality; and I confer on you both the Word and the knowledge of God, My complete self. This am I, this God wills, this is symphony, this the harmony of the Father, this is the Son, this is Christ, this the Word of God, the arm of the Lord, the power of the universe, the will of the Father; of which things there were images of old, but not all adequate. I desire to restore you according to the original model, that ye may become also like Me. I anoint you with the ungent of faith, by which you throw off corruption, and show you the naked form of righteousness by which you ascend to God… And if what belongs to friends be reckoned common property, and man be the friend of God — for through the mediation of the Word has he been made the friend of God — then accordingly all things become man’s, because all things are God’s, and the common property of both the friends, God and man.

It is time, then, for us to say that the pious Christian alone is rich and wise, and of noble birth, and thus call and believe him to be God’s image, and also His likeness, having become righteous and holy and wise by Jesus Christ, and so far already like God. Accordingly this grace is indicated by the prophet, when he says, “I said that ye are gods, and all sons of the Highest.” For us, yea us, He has adopted, and wishes to be called the Father of us alone, not of the unbelieving. Such is then our position who are the attendants of Christ. (ANF 2.205, 206)

Clement of Alexandria - The Instructor 3.1 It is then, as appears, the greatest of al lessons to know one's self. For if one know himself, he will know God; and knowing God, he will be made like God...But that man with whom the Word dwells does not alter himself, does not get himself up: he has the form which is of the Word; he is made like to God...and that man becomes God, since God so wills. Heraclitus, then, rightly said, "Men are gods, and gods are men." (ANF 2.271).

Clement of Alexandria - Strom. 4.23 On this wise it is possible for the [true] Gnostic already to have become God. “I said, Ye are gods, and sons of the highest.” (ANF 2.437).

Clement of Alexandria - Strom. 6.14 By thus receiving the Lord's power, the soul studies to be God; ...To the likeness of God, then, he that is introduced into adoption and the friendship of God, to the just inheritance of the lords and gods is brought; if he be perfected, according to the Gospel, as the Lord himself taught. (ANF 2.506).

Clement of Alexandria - Strom. 7.10 ...they are called by the appellation of gods, being destined to sit on thrones with the other gods that have been first put in their places by the Saviour. (ANF 2.539).

Clement of Alexandria - Strom. 7.13 What, then, shall we say of the [true] Gnostic himself? “Know ye not”, says the apostle, “that ye are the temple of God?” The [true] Gnostic is consequently divine, and already holy, God-bearing and God-borne. (ANF 2.547).

Clement of Alexandria - Strom. 7.16 But he who has returned from this deception, on hearing the Scriptures, and turned his life to the truth, is, as it were, from being a man made a god. (ANF 2.551)

Hippolytus - Refutation of All Heresies 5.29 The Creator did not wish to make him a god, and failed in His aim; nor an angel,—but a man. For if He had willed to make thee a god, He could have done so. Thou hast the example of the Logos. His will, however, was, that you should be a man, and He has made thee a man. But if thou art desirous of also becoming a god, obey Him that has created thee. (ANF 5.151).

Hippolytus - Refutation of All Heresies 5.30 And thou shalt 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 thou hast become God: for whatever sufferings thou didst undergo while being a man, these He gave to thee, because thou wast of mortal mould, but whatever it is consistent with God to impart, these God has promised to bestow upon thee, because thou hast been deified, and begotten unto immortality. ...For the Deity, (by condescension,) does not diminish aught of the dignity of His divine perfection; having made thee even God unto His glory! (ANF 5.153).

Hippolytus - Discourse on the Holy Theophany 8 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. (ANF 5.236).

Novatian – Treatise on the Trinity 15 But immortality is the associate of divinity, because both the divinity is immortal, and immortality is the fruit of divinity. For every man is mortal; and immortality cannot be from that which is mortal. Therefore from Christ, as a mortal man, immortality cannot arise. “But,” says He, “whosoever keepeth my word, shall not see death for ever;” therefore the word of Christ affords immortality, and by immortality affords divinity. But although it is not possible to maintain that one who is himself mortal can make another immortal, yet this word of Christ not only sets forth, but affords immortality: certainly He is not man only who gives immortality, which if He were only man He could not give; but by giving divinity by immortality, He proves Himself to be God by offering divinity, which if He were not God He could not give. (ANF 5.624)

Origen - Comm. on John 2.2,3 ...the Savior says in His prayer to the Father, "That they may know Thee the only true God;" but that all beyond the Very God is made God by participation in His divinity...And thus the first-born of all creation, who is the first to be with God, and to attract to Himself divinity, is a being of more exalted rank than the other gods beside Him, of whom God is the God, as it is written, "The God of gods, the Lord, hath spoken and called the earth." It was by the offices of the first-born that they became gods, for He drew from God in generous measure that they should be made gods, and He communicated it to them according to His own bounty. The true God, then, is "The God", and those who are formed after Him are gods, images, as it were of Him the prototype. ...Now it is possible that some may dislike what we have said representing the Father as the one true God, but admitting other beings besides the true God, who have become gods by having a share of God. They may fear that the glory of Him who surpasses all creation may be lowered to the level of those other beings called gods. We drew this distinction between Him and them that we showed God the Word to be to all the other gods the minister of their divinity. (ANF 10.323).

Origen - De Principiis 4.1.36 Every one who participates in anything, is unquestionably of one essence and nature with him who is partaker of the same thing...the nature of Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, of whose intellectual light alone all created things have a share, is incorruptible and eternal, it is altogether consistent and necessary that every substance which partakes of that eternal nature should last for ever, and be incorruptible and eternal, so that the eternity of divine goodness may be understood also in this respect, that they who obtain its benefits are also eternal.(ANF 4.381) [see also Origen - De Principiis 3.6.1,3 (ANF 4.344-345]

Origen - De Principiis 4.1.32 As now by participation in the Son of God one is adopted as a son, and by participating in that wisdom which is in God is rendered wise, so also by participation in the Holy Spirit is a man rendered holy and spiritual. For it is one and the same thing to have a share in the Holy Spirit, which is (the Spirit) of te Father and the Son, since the nature of the Trinity is one and incorporeal. And what we have said regarding the participation of the soul is to be understood of angels and heavenly powers in a similar way as of souls, because every rational creature needs a participation in the Trinity. (ANF 4.379).

Origen - Against Celsus 3.28 ...they see that from Him [Christ] there began the union of the divine with the human nature, in order that the human, by communion with the divine, might rise to be divine, not in Jesus alone, but in all those who not only believe, but enter upon the life which Jesus taught, and which elevates to friendship with God and communion with Him every one who lives according to the precepts of Jesus. (ANF 4.475).

Cyprian - Treatise 6.11 Therefore of this mercy and grace the Word and Son of God is sent as the dispenser and master, who by all the prophets of old was announced as the enlightener and teacher of the human race. He is the power of God,He is the reason, He is His wisdom and glory; He enters into a virgin; with the co-operation of the Holy Spirit, He is endued with flesh; God is mingled with man. This is our God, this is Christ, who, as the mediator of the two, puts on man that He may lead them to the Father. What man is, Christ was willing to be, that man may be what Christ is. (ANF 5.468).

Methodius - On the Passion of Christ 2 For the Word suffered, being in the flesh affixed to the cross, that He might bring man, who had been deceived by error, to His supreme and godlike majesty. (ANF 6.400).

Lactantius - The Divine Institutes 2.9 He produced a Spirit like to Himself, who might be endowed with the perfections of God the Father. ...Then He made another being, in whom the disposition of the divine origin did not remain. ...For he envied his predecessor, who through his steadfastness is acceptable and dear to God the Father. This being,, who from good became evil by his own act, is called by the Greeks diabolus: we call him accuser, because he reports to God the faults to which he himself entices us. God, therefore, when He began the fabric of the world, set over the whole work that first and greatest Son, and used Him at the same time as a counsellor and artificer, in planning, arranging, and accomplishing, since He is complete both in knowledge, and judgement, and power. (ANF 7.52-53).

Lactantius - The Divine Institutes 6.23 If anyone can incline toward this and strive after it, the Lord will own him as a servant, the Master will acknowledge this man as His disciple. The man will triumph over the earth. He will be exactly similar to God (hic erit consimilis Deo) who has embraced the virtue of God. (ANF 7.190).

Athanasius - De Incarnation 54 For He was made man that we might be made God. (NPNF, second series, 4.65).

Athanasius - Defence of the Nicene Definition 3.14 ...the Word was made flesh in order to offer up this body for all, and that we, partaking of His Spirit, might be deified, a gift which we could not otherwise have gained than by His clothing Himself in our created body, for hence we derive our name of "men of God" and "men in Christ." But as we, by receiving the Spirit, do not lose our own proper substance, so the Lord, when made man for us, and bearing a body, was no less God; for He was not lessened by the envelopment of the body, but rather deified it and rendered it immortal. (NPNF, second series, 4.159).

Athanasius - Contra Arians 1.11.38 ...but rather He Himself has made us sons of the Father, and deified men by becoming Himself man. (NPNF, second series, 4.329).

Athanasius - Contra Arians 1.11.39 Therefore He was not man, and then became God, but He was God, and then became man, and that to deify us...And how can there be deifying apart from the Word and before Him? (NPNF, second series, 4.329).

Athanasius - Contra Arians 1.11.45 For He who is the Son of God, became Himself the Son of Man; and, as Word, He gives from the Father, for all things which the Father does and gives, He does and supplies through Him; and as the Son of Man, He Himself is said after the manner of men to receive what proceeds from Him, because His Body is none other than His, and is a natural recipient of grace, as has been said. For He received it as far as His man’s nature was exalted; which exaltation was its being deified. But such an exaltation the Word Himself always had according to the Father’s Godhead and perfection, which was His. (NPNF, second series, 4.333).

Athanasius - Contra Arians 2.21.70 Whence the truth shews us that the Word is not of things originate, but rather Himself their Framer. For therefore did He assume the body originate and human, that having renewed it as its Framer, he might deify it in Himself, and thus might introduce us all into the kingdom of heaven after His likeness. For man had not been deified if joined to a creature, or unless the Son were very God; nor had man been brought into the Father’s presence, unless He had been His natural and true Word who had put on the body. And as we had not been delivered from sin and the curse, unless it had been by nature human flesh, which the Word put on (for we should have had nothing common with what was foreign), so also the man had not been deified, unless the Word who became flesh had been by nature from the Father and true and proper to Him. For therefore the union was of this kind, that He might unite what is man by nature to Him who is in the nature of the Godhead, and his salvation and deification might be sure. (NPNF, second series, 4.386).

Athanasius - Contra Arians 3.25.23 And the work is perfected, because men, redeemed from sin, no longer remain dead; but being deified, have in each other, by looking at Me, the bond of charity. (NPNF, second series, 4.406).

Athanasius - Contra Arians 3.25.25 ...and as we are sons and gods because of the Word in us, so we shall be in the Son and in the Father, and we shall be accounted to have become one in Son and in Father...(NPNF, second series, 4.407).

Athanasius - Contra Arians 3.26.33 longer do these things touch the body, because of the Word who has come in it, but they are destroyed by him, and henceforth men no longer remain sinners and dead according to their proper affections, but having risen according to the Word's power, they abide ever immortal and incorruptible. Whence also, whereas the flesh is born of Mary Bearer of God [θεοτόκου], He Himself is said to have been born, who furnishes to others an origin of being; in order that He may transfer our origin into Himself, and we may no longer, as mere earth, return to earth, but as being knit into the Word from heaven, may be carried to heaven by Him. Therefor in like manner not without reason has He transferred to Himself the other affections of the body also; that we, no longer as being men, but as proper to the Word, may have share in eternal life. For no longer according to our former origin in Adam do we die; but henceforward our origin and all infirmity of flesh being transferred to the Word, we rise from the earth, the curse form sin being removed, because of Him who is in us, and who has become a curse for us. And with reason; for as we are all from earth and die in Adam, so being regenerated from above of water and Spirit, in the Christ we are all quickened; the flesh no longer earthly, but being henceforth made Word [λογωθείσης της σαρκός - this strong term is here applied to human nature generally; it is also used to describe our Lord's flesh], by reason of God's Word who for our sake 'became flesh.' (NPNF, second series, 4.412)

Athanasius - Contra Arians 3.28.48 For now the flesh had risen and put off its mortality and been deified. (He is here speaking of Christ's flesh). (NPNF, second series, 4.420).

Athanasius - Letter 60 And if God sent His Son brought forth from a woman, the fact causes us no shame but contrariwise glory and great grace. For He has become Man, that He might deify us in Himself, and He has been born of a woman, and begotten of a Virgin, in order to transfer to Himself our erring generation, and that we may become henceforth a holy race, and ‘partakers of the Divine Nature,’ as blessed Peter wrote. And ‘what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.’ (NPNF, second series, 4.576)

Hilary of Poitiers - De Trinitate 9.38 For the object to be gained was that man might become God. But the assumed manhood could not in any wise abide in the unity of god, unless, through unity with God, it attained to unity with the nature of God. Then, since God the Word was in the nature of God, the Word made flesh would in its turn also be in the nature of God. (NPNF, second series, 2.9.167)

Hilary of Poitiers - De Trinitate 10.7 For when God was born to be man the purpose was not that the Godhead should be lost, but that, the Godhead remaining, man should be born to be God. Thus Emmanuel is His name, which is God with us, that God might not be lowered to the level of man, but man raised to that of God. (NPNF, second series, 2.9.183-184)

Gregory of Nyssa - Against Eunomius 6.4 For, as he says that He Who was crucified has been made Lord, so Paul also says that He was “highly exalted,” after the Passion and the Resurrection, not being exalted in so far forth as He is God. For what height is there more sublime than the Divine height, that he should say God was exalted thereunto? But he means that the lowliness of the Humanity was exalted, the word, I suppose, indicating the assimilation and union of the Man Who was assumed to the exalted state of the Divine Nature. (NPNF, second series, 2.5.189)

Gregory of Nyssa - The Great Catechism 25 That Deity should be born in our nature, ought not reasonably to present any strangeness to the minds of those who do not take too narrow a view of things. For who, when he takes a survey of the universe, is so simple as not to believe that there is Deity in everything, penetrating it, embracing it, and seated in it? For all things depend on Him Who is nor can there be anything which has not its being in Him Who is. If, therefore, all things are in Him, and He in all things, why are they scandalized at the plan of Revelation when it teaches that God was born among men, that same God Whom we are convinced is even now not outside mankind? For although this last form of God’s presence amongst us is not the same as that former presence, still His existence amongst us equally both then and now is evidenced; only now He Who holds together Nature in existence is transfused in us; while at that other time He was transfused throughout our nature, in order that our nature might by this transfusion of the Divine become itself divine... (NPNF, second series, 2.5.494, 495)

Gregory of Nyssa - The Great Catechism 38 …since the God who was manifested infused Himself into perishable humanity for this purpose, viz. that by this communion with Deity mankind might at the same time be defied. (NPNF, second series, 2.5.506)

Gregory of Nyssa - Orationes de beatitudinibus 7 Man transcends [ekbainei] his own nature, he who was subject to corruption in his mortality becomes immune from it in his immortality, becomes eternal instead of being stuck in time—in a word, from a man he becomes God [theos ex anthrōpou ginomenos]. (Translation by Jaroslav Pelikan, in his Christianity and Classical Culture, p. 318.)

Gregory Nazianzen - Oration 1 “On Easter and His Reluctance” (5) Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us. Let us become God’s for His sake, since He for ours became Man. He assumed the worse that He might give us the better; He became poor that we through His poverty might be rich; He took upon Him the form of a servant that we might receive back our liberty; He came down that we might be exalted; He was tempted that we might conquer; He was dishonored that He might glorify us; He died that He might save us; He ascended that He might draw to Himself us, who were lying low in the Fall of sin. Let us give all, offer all, to Him Who gave Himself a Ransom and a Reconciliation for us. But one can give nothing like oneself, understanding the Mystery, and becoming for His sake all that He became for ours. (NPNF, second series, 2.7.203)

Gregory Nazianzen - Oration 2 “In Defense of His Flight to Pontus” (23) This is the wish of our schoolmaster the law, of the prophets who intervened between Christ and the law, of Christ who is the fulfiller and end of the spiritual law; of the emptied Godhead, of the assumed flesh, of the novel union between God and man, one consisting of two, and both in one. This is why God was united to the flesh by means of the soul, and natures so separate were knit together by the affinity to each of the element which mediated between them: so all became one for the sake of all, and for the sake of one... (NPNF, second series, 2.7.209)

Gregory Nazianzen - Oration 2 “In Defense of His Flight to Pontus” (73) Who can mold, as clay-figures are modeled in a single day, the defender of the truth, who is to take his stand with Angels, and give glory with Archangels, and cause the sacrifice to ascend to the altar on high, and share the priesthood of Christ, and renew the creature, and set forth the image, and create inhabitants for the world above, aye and, greatest of all, be God, and make others to be God? (NPNF, second series, 7.226)

Gregory Nazianzen - Oration 7 “Panegyric On His Brother S. Caesarius” (23)
Would that I might mortify my members that are upon the earth, would that I might spend my all upon the spirit, walking in the way that is narrow and trodden by few, not that which is broad and easy. For glorious and great are its consequences, and our hope is greater than our desert. What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? What is this new mystery which concerns me? I am small and great, lowly and exalted, mortal and immortal, earthly and heavenly. I share one condition with the lower world, the other with God; one with the flesh, the other with the spirit. I must be buried with Christ, arise with Christ, be joint heir with Christ, become the son of God, yea, God Himself. See whither our argument has carried us in its progress. I almost own myself indebted to the disaster which has inspired me with such thoughts, and made me more enamored of my departure hence. This is the purpose of the great mystery for us. This is the purpose for us of God, Who for us was made man and became poor, to raise our flesh, and recover His image, and remodel man, that we might all be made one in Christ, who was perfectly made in all of us all that He Himself is... (NPNF, second series, 2.7.237)

Gregory Nazianzen - The Third Theological Oration (29.19) While His inferior Nature, the Humanity, became God, because it was united to God, and became One Person because the Higher Nature prevailed ... in order that I too might be made God so far as He is made Man. (NPNF, second series, 7.308)

Gregory Nazianzen - The Fourth Theological Oration (30.3) What greater destiny can befall man's humility than that he should be intermingled with God, and by this intermingling should be deified. (NPNF, second series, 7.310)

Gregory Nazianzen - The Fourth Theological Oration (30.14) For there is One God, and One Mediator between God and Man, the Man Christ Jesus. For He still pleads even now as Man for my salvation; for He continues to wear the Body which He assumed, until He make God by the power of His Incarnation. (NPNF, second series, 7.315)

Gregory Nazianzen - The Fourth Theological Oration (30.21) These names however are still common to Him Who is above us, and to Him Who came for our sake. But others are peculiarly our own, and belong to that nature which He assumed. So He is called Man, not only that through His Body He may be apprehended by embodied creatures, whereas otherwise this would be impossible because of His incomprehensible nature; but also that by Himself He may sanctify humanity, and be as it were a leaven to the whole lump; and by uniting to Himself that which was condemned may release it from all condemnation, becoming for all men all things that we are, except sin; — body, soul, mind and all through which death reaches — and thus He became Man, who is the combination of all these; God in visible form, because He retained that which is perceived by mind alone. He is Son of Man, both on account of Adam, and of the Virgin from Whom He came; from the one as a forefather, from the other as His Mother, both in accordance with the law of generation, and apart from it. He is Christ, because of His Godhead. For this is the Anointing of His Manhood, and does not, as is the case with all other Anointed Ones, sanctify by its action, but by the Presence in His Fullness of the Anointing One; the effect of which is that That which anoints is called Man, and makes that which is anointed God. He is The Way, because He leads us through Himself; The Door, as letting us in; the Shepherd, as making us dwell in a place of green pastures, and bringing us up by waters of rest, and leading us there, and protecting us from wild beasts, converting the erring, bringing back that which was lost, binding up that which was broken, guarding the strong, and bringing them together in the Fold beyond, with words of pastoral knowledge. The Sheep, as the Victim: The Lamb, as being perfect: the Highpriest, as the Offerer; Melchisedec, as without Mother in that Nature which is above us, and without Father in ours; and without genealogy above (for who, it says, shall declare His generation?) and moreover, as King of Salem, which means Peace, and King of Righteousness, and as receiving tithes from Patriarchs, when they prevail over powers of evil. They are the titles of the Son. Walk through them, those that are lofty in a godlike manner; those that belong to the body in a manner suitable to them; or rather, altogether in a godlike manner, that thou mayest become a God, ascending from below, for His sake Who came down from on high for ours. In all and above all keep to this, and thou shalt never err, either in the loftier or the lowlier names; Jesus Christ is the Same yesterday and today in the Incarnation, and in the Spirit for ever and ever. Amen. (NPNF, second series, 7.317, 318)

Gregory Nazianzen - The Fifth Theological Oration (31.4) If He is not from the beginning, He is in the same rank with myself, even though a little before me; for we are both parted from Godhead by time. If He is in the same rank with myself, how can He make me God, or join me with Godhead? (NPNF, second series, 7.319)

Gregory Nazianzen - The Fifth Theological Oration (28, 29) For if He [Holy Ghost] is not to be woshipped, how can He deify me by Baptism? But if He is to be worshipped, surely He is an Object of adoration, and if an Object of adoration He must be God…good, upright, princely, by nature not by adoption…That deifieth… (NPNF, second series, 7. 327.)

Gregory Nazianzen - Oration 34 “On the Arrival of the Egyptians” (12) I dare to utter something, O Trinity; and may pardon be granted to my folly, for the risk is to my soul. I too am an Image of God, of the Heavenly Glory, though I be placed on earth. I cannot believe that I am saved by one who is my equal. If the Holy Ghost is not God, let Him first be made God, and then Him deify me His equal. (NPNF, second series, 7.337)

Gregory Nazianzen- Oration 39 “Oration on the Holy Lights” (17) And how is He not God, if I may digress a little, by whom you too are made God? (NPNF, second series, 7.358)

Gregory Nazianzen - Oration 40 “Oration on Holy Baptism” (45) ...impassible in His Godhead, passible in that which He assumed; as much Man for your sake as you are made God for His. (NPNF, second series, 7.377)

Gregory Nazianzen - Oration 43 “The Panegyric On St. Basil” (61)
...Christ, who made Himself poor in the flesh for our sakes, that we might enjoy the riches of His Godhead (NPNF, second series, 7.415)

Basil - On the Spirit 9.23 Hence comes foreknowledge of the future, understanding of mysteries, apprehension of what is hidden, distribution of good gifts, the heavenly citizenship, a place in the chorus of angels, joy without end, abiding in God, the being made like to God, and, the highest of all, the being made God. (NPNF, second series, 8.16)

Ephraim the Syrian - Hymns On The Nativity Hymn 1 In this day in which the Rich became poor for our sakes, let the rich man make the poor man share with him at his table. On this day to us came forth the Gift, although we asked it not! Let us therefore bestow alms on them that cry and beg of us. This is the day that opened for us a gate on high to our prayers. Let us open also gates to supplicants that have transgressed, and of us have asked [forgiveness.] Today the Lord of nature was against His nature changed; let it not to us be irksome to turn our evil wills. Fixed in nature is the body; great or less it cannot become: but the will has such dominion, it can grow to any measure. Today Godhead sealed itself upon Manhood, that so with the Godhead’s stamp Manhood might be adorned. (NPNF, second series, 2.13.226 - also Western Spiritual Classics - Ephrem The Syrian: Hymns p. 74.)

Ephraim the Syrian – Homily on our Lord 2 This is He Who was begotten from the Godhead according to His nature, and from manhood not after His nature, and from baptism not after His custom; that we might be begotten from manhood according to our nature, and from Godhead not after our nature, and by the Spirit not after our custom. He then was begotten from the Godhead, He that came to a second birth; in order to bring us to the birth that is discoursed of, even His generation from the Father: — not that it should be searched out, but that it should be believed; — and His birth froth the woman, not that it should be despised, but that it should be exalted. (NPNF, second series, 2.13.305.)

Ephraim the Syrian – Homily on our Lord 10 Glory be to Him Who received from us that He might give to us; that through that which is ours we might more abundantly receive of that which is His! (NPNF, second series, 2.13.309.)

Ephraim the Syrian – Nisbene Hymns XLVIII.17-18 Divinity flew down and descended to raise and draw up humanity. The Son has made beautiful the servant’s deformity, and he has become a god, just as he desired. (St. Ephrem The Syrian – Hymns On Paradise, trans. Sebastian Brock, p. 73.)

Ephraim the Syrian – Nisbene Hymns LXIX.12 The Most High knew that Adam wanted to become a god, so He sent His Son who put him on in order to grant him his desire. (St. Ephrem The Syrian – Hymns On Paradise, trans. Sebastian Brock, p. 73.)

Ephraim the Syrian - Hymns On Faith V.17 He gave us divinity, we gave Him humanity. (St. Ephrem The Syrian – Hymns On Paradise, trans. Sebastian Brock, p. 73.)

Ephraim the Syrian - Hymns On Virginity 48.14-18 Our freedom does not cease to pervert. His grace does not cease to make straight. Freedom made hateful the beauty of Adam that he might be god…But grace adorned its flaws, and God came to be human. Divinity flew down to rescue and lift up humanity. Behold the Son adorned the servant’s flaw, so that he became god as he had desired. (Ephrem the Syrian – Hymms, trans. Kathleen E. McVey, p. 455.)

Ambrose - On The Christian Faith 5.14 As, then, He was made sin and a curse not on His own account but on ours, so He became subject in us not for His own sake but for ours, being not in subjection in His eternal Nature, nor accursed in His eternal Nature. “For cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” Cursed He was, for He bore our curses; in subjection, also, for He took upon Him our subjection, but in the assumption of the form of a servant, not in the glory of God; so that whilst he makes Himself a partaker of our weakness in the flesh, He makes us partakers of the divine Nature in His power. But neither in one nor the other have we any natural fellowship with the heavenly Generation of Christ, nor is there any subjection of the Godhead in Christ. But as the Apostle has said that on Him through that flesh which is the pledge of our salvation, we sit in heavenly places, though certainly not sitting ourselves, so also He is said to be subject in us through the assumption of our nature. (NPNF, second series, 2.10.306.)

Augustine - Letters 140.4 This is called adoption. For we were something before we were the sons of God, and we received the benefit of becoming what we were not, just as the one who adopted, before adoption, was not yet the son of the one who adopts him; still, he was one who could be adopted. From this begetting by grace we distinguish that son who, although He was the Son of God, came that He might become what He was not; nevertheless, He was something else, and this something was the Word of God, by whom all things were made, and the true light which enlightens every man, and God with God. Still, we were something, and this same something was much lower, that is sons of men. He therefore descended that we might ascend, and, while remaining in His own nature, became a sharer in our nature, so that we, while remaining in our own nature, might become sharers in His nature; but not in the same way, for He did not become worse by sharing in our nature, but we become better by sharing in His, (Fathers of the Church, volume 11, pp. 64, 65.)

Augustine - Letters 140.4 Make the exchange; become spirit and dwell in him who became flesh and dwelt among you. No longer need we despair of becoming children of God by participation in the Word, because by participation in the flesh the divine Son became a human son. (Duffy, The Dynamics of Grace, p. 79 – see Fathers of the Church, volume 11, p. 66, for alternate translation.)

Augustine - The City of God 21.16 Accordingly vices are then only to be considered overcome when they are conquered by the love of God, which God Himself alone gives, and which He gives only through the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who became a partaker of our mortality that He might make us partakers of His divinity. (NPNF, first series, 2.465)

Augustine – On Forgiveness of Sins, and Baptism 2.38 He goes on to add, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us;” as much as to say, A great thing indeed has been done among them, even that they are born again to God of God, who had before been born of the flesh to the world, although created by God Himself; but a far more wonderful thing has been done that, although it accrued to them by nature to be born of the flesh, but by the divine goodness to be born of God, — in order that so great a benefit might be imparted to them, He who was in His own nature born of God, vouchsafed in mercy to be also born of the flesh; — no less being meant by the passage, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” Hereby, he says in effect, it has been wrought that we who were born of the flesh as flesh, by being afterwards born of the Spirit, may be spirit and dwell in God; because also God, who was born of God, by being afterwards born of the flesh, became flesh, and dwelt among us. For the Word, which became flesh, was in the beginning, and was God with God. But at the same time His participation in our inferior condition, in order to our participation in His higher state, held a kind of medium in His birth of the flesh; so that we indeed were born in sinful flesh, but He was born in the likeness of sinful flesh, — we not only of flesh and blood, but also of the will of man, and of the flesh, but He was born only of flesh and blood, not of the will of man, nor or the will of the flesh, but of God: we, therefore, to die on account of sin, He, to die on our account without sin. So also, just as His inferior circumstances, into which He descended to us, were not in every particular exactly the same with our inferior circumstances, in which He found us here; so our superior state, into which we ascend to Him, will not be quite the same with His superior state, in which we are there to find Him. For we by His grace are to be made the sons of God, whereas He was evermore by nature the Son of God; we, when we are converted, shall cleave to God, though not as His equals; He never turned from God, and remains ever equal to God; we are partakers of eternal life, He is eternal life. He, therefore, alone having become man, but still continuing to be God, never had any sin, nor did he assume a flesh of sin, though born of a maternal flesh of sin. For what He then took of flesh, He either cleansed in order to take it, or cleansed by taking it. His virgin mother, therefore, whose conception was not according to the law of sinful flesh (in other words, not by the excitement of carnal concupiscence), but who merited by her faith that the holy seed should be framed within her, He formed in order to choose her, and chose in order to be formed from her. How much more needful, then, is it for sinful flesh to be baptized in order to escape the judgment, when the flesh which was untainted by sin was baptized to set an example for imitation? (NPNF, first series, 5.59, 60.)

Augustine – On Nature and Grace 37 But God forbid that we should meet him with such an assertion as he says certain persons advance against him: “That man is placed on an equality with God, if he is described as being without sin;” as if indeed an angel, because he is without sin, is put in such an equality. For my own part, I am of this opinion that the creature will never become equal with God, even when so perfect a holiness shall be accomplished in us, that it shall be quite incapable of receiving any addition. No; all who maintain that our progress is to be so complete that we shall be changed into the substance of God, and that we shall thus become what He is, should look well to it how they build up their opinion; for myself I must confess that I am not persuaded of this. (NPNF, first series, 5.134)

Augustine – On the Gospel of John Tractate 48.9 But now He includes the psalms also under the name of the law, where it is written, “I said, Ye are gods. If He calleth them gods, to whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken: say ye of Him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world. Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” If the word of God came to men, that they might be called gods, how can the very Word of God, who is with God, be otherwise than God? If by the word of God men become gods, if by fellowship they become gods, can He by whom they have fellowship not be God? If lights which are lit are gods, is the light which enlighteneth not God? If through being warmed in a way by saving fire they are constituted gods, is He who gives them the warmth other than God? Thou approachest the light and art enlightened, and numbered among the sons of God; if thou withdrawest from the light, thou fallest into obscurity, and art accounted in darkness; but that light approacheth not, because it never recedeth from itself. If, then, the word of God maketh you gods, how can the Word of God be otherwise than God? (NPNF, first series, 7.259)

Augustine - On the Psalms 50.2 It is evident then, that He hath called men gods, that are deified of His Grace, not born of His Substance. For He doth justify, who is just through His own self, and not of another; and He doth deify who is God through Himself, not by the partaking of another. But He that justifieth doth Himself deify, in that by justifying He doth make sons of God. "For He that given them power to become sons of God". If we have been made sons of God, we have also been made gods: but this is the effect of Grace adopting, not of nature generating. For only the Son of God, God, and one God with the Father, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, was in the beginning the Word, and the Word with God, the Word God. The rest that are made gods, are made by His own Grace, are not born of His Substance, that they should be the same a He, but that by favour they should come to Him, and be fellow-heirs with Christ. ..."But we know," he saith,"that when He shall have appeared, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." The Only Son is like him by birth, we like by seeing. (NPNF, first series, 8.178.)

Augustine - On the Psalms 53.5 For this thing God doth, out of sons of men He maketh sons of God: because out of Son of God He hath made Son of Man. See what this participation is: there hath been promised to us a participation of Divinity: He lieth that hath promised, if He is not first made partaker of mortality. For the Son of God hath been made partaker of mortality, in order that mortal man may be made partaker of divinity. He that hath promised that His good is to be shared with thee, first with thee hath shared thy evil: He that to thee hath promised divinity, showeth in thee love. N(PNF, first series, 8.204.)

Augustine - On The Psalms 119.79 Indeed, it is He who above also hath interposed His own words, saying, “I am a partaker with all them that fear Thee.” Because He was made sharer in our mortal state, that we might also become par-takers in His Divine Nature, we became sharers in One unto life, He a sharer in many unto death. (NPNF, first series, 8.573.)

Augustine - On the Psalms 139.1 For the Psalms were sung long before the Lord was born of Mary, yet not before He was Lord: for from everlasting He was the Creator of all things, but in time He was born of His creature. Let us believe that Godhead, and, so far as we can, understand Him to be equal to the Father. But that Godhead equal to the Father. was made partaker of our mortal nature, not of His own store, but of ours; that we too might be made partakers of His Divine Nature, not of our store, but of His. (NPNF, first series, 8.635.)

Augustine - Sermon 81 But in order to lift them out of these iniquities, to redeem, to cure, to heal, to change the sons of men, he gave them the power and right to become sons of God. So what’s so surprising about this text? You were men, if you were sons of men; you were all liars, because every man is a liar. The grace of God came to you, it gave you the power and right to become sons of God. Listen to the voice of my Father saying, I said you are gods, and all of you sons of the Most High (Ps. 82:6). Because you are sons of men, you are liars, if you are not sons of the Most High, because every man is a liar. If you are sons of God, if redeemed by the grace of the Savior, if bought by his precious blood, if born again by water and the Spirit, if predestined to the heavenly inheritance, then of you are sons of God. Son you are already gods. (The Works of Saint Augustine - Part III - Sermons, vol. 3, p. 363.)

Augustine - Sermon 166 God you see, wants to make you a god; not by nature of course, like the one whom he begot; but by his gift and by adoption. For just as he through being humbled came to share your mortality; so through lifting you up he brings you to share his immortality...and thus the whole man being deified and made divine may cleave forever to everlasting and unchangeable truth. (The Works of Saint Augustine - Part III - Sermons, vol. 5, pp. 210, 211.)

Augustine - Sermon 229G But what sort of gods can men be? What sort of gods? Equal to the angels of God. We’ve been promised that, don’t let’s look for anything more; because we won’t be equal to God, ever. (The Works of Saint Augustine - Part III - Sermons, vol. 6, p. 290.)

Augustine - Sermon 23B We carry mortality about with us, we endure infirmity, we look forward to divinity. For God wishes not only to vivify us, but also to deify us. When would human infirmity ever have dared to hope for this, unless divine truth had promised it? But divine truth did promise this, as we have said; and that we are going to be gods, not only did it promise this—and because it made the promise, it is of course true, because such a faithful maker of promises does not deceive, and such and omnipotent giver is not prevented from fulfilling what he has promised. Still, it was not enough for our God to promise us divinity in himself, unless he also took on our infirmity, as though to say, “Do you want to know how much I love you, how certain you ought to be that I am going to give you my divine reality? I took to myself your mortal reality.” We mustn’t find it incredible, brothers and sisters, that human beings become gods, that is, that those who were human beings become gods. More incredible still is what has already been bestowed on us, that on who was God should become a human being. And indeed we believe that that has already happened, while we wait for the other thing to happen in the future. The Son of God became a son of man, in order to make sons of men into sons of God…Our God, the true God, the one God, has stood up in the synagogue of gods, many of them of course, and gods not by nature but by adoption, by grace. There is a great difference between God who exists, god who is always God, true God, not only God but also deifying God; that is if I may so put it, god-making God, God not made making gods, and gods who were made, but not by a craftsman…You worship the God who makes you into gods; while they worship gods they make, and by making and worshiping them they lose the chance of becoming gods themselves. (The Works of Saint Augustine - Part III - Sermons, vol. 11, p. 37, 38)

Jerome - Homily 14 ...That we are gods, not so by nature, but by grace. "But as many as received him he gave power of becoming sons of God." I made man for that purpose, that from men they may become gods. "I said: You are gods, all of you sons of the most High."(The Fathers of the Church, 48.106)

Hilary of Arles (Archbishop of Arles b. 403 d. 449) - Introductory Commentary on 2 Peter Just as God stepped out of his nature to become a partaker of our humanity, so we are called to step out of our nature to become partakers of his divinity. (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture - New Testament XI, p. 133.)

John Chrysostom - Homilies on the Acts #32 ...the man can become God, and a child of God. For we read, “I have said, Ye are gods, all of you are the children of the Most High.” (Ps. lxxxii. 6) And what is greater, the power to become both God and angel and child of God is put into his own hands. (NPNF, first series, 11.205)

John Chrysostom - Homily 2 “Eutropius, and the Vanity of Riches” What kind of names hath He received from me, and what kind hath He given to me? He Himself is God, and He hath called me God; with Him is the essential nature as an actual fact, with me only the honor of the name: “I have said ye are gods, and ye are all children of the most highest.” Here are words, but in the other case there is the actual reality. He hath called me God, for by that name I have received honor. (NPNF, first series, 9.257)

John Chrysostom - Homilies on John #3 What then do they say when we assert what we have asserted? “That the words, “in the beginning was the Word,’ do not denote eternity absolutely, for that this same expression was used also concerning heaven and earth.” What enormous shamelessness and irreverence! I speak to thee concerning God, and dost thou bring the earth into the argument, and men who are of the earth? At this rate, since Christ is called Son of God, and God, Man who is called Son of God must be God also. For, “I have said, Ye are Gods, and all of you are children of the Most High.” (Psalm 82:6) Wilt thou contend with the Only-Begotten concerning Sonship, and assert that in that respect He enjoys nothing more than thou? “By no means,” is the reply. And yet thou doest this even though thou say not so in words. “How?” Because thou sayest that thou by grace art partaker of the adoption, and He in like manner. For by saying that He is not Son by nature, thou only makest him to be so by grace. (NPNF, first series, 14.11)

Mark the Ascetic - Letter to Nicolas The Logos become man, so that man might become Logos. Being rich he became poor for our sakes, so that through his poverty we might become rich. (cf. 2 Cor. 8:9) In His great love for man He became like us, that through every virtue we might become like Him. (The Philokalia 1.155)

Aphrahat - Select Demonstrations For the venerated name of Godhead has been applied also to righteous men, and they have been worthy to be called by it. (NPNF, second series, 13.387)

Aphrahat - Select Demonstrations The great and honorable name of Godhead He withheld not from His righteous ones. (NPNF, second series, 13.388)


Grace and peace,