Soteriology

Salvation, the concept of being saved from all encompassing sin, is a symptom of a severed relationship with a covenantal, relational God.  The bible declares that this concept of salvation is not new, nor did just come about after the fall, but was established before the creation of the world, according to Ephesians 1:4, 5, “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love; 5 Having predestined us unto the adoption of sons {children} by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.”  In the apocalyptic writings of John the revelator specifically concerning the plan of salvation, he writes in Revelation 13:8, “All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.”  The two scriptures above give us a purview of God’s plan to bring back unto GOD’S self the Crown Jewel of God’s creation through a process that includes theosis. 

Soteriology includes the means by which salvation is achieved.  According to Christian theology it includes the explanation of the fleshly ambitions of our savior, becoming a Humus (organic components of soil) man.  Explanation of the reasons for his birth, death and resurrection,. The way one comes to salvation and the sanctification process.  

Notable theologians, especially the early patristic fathers have often contemplated and debated the mystery of salvation. The early patristic fathers such as Athanasius, Ireneus, and Thomas Aquinas regarded the process of theosis as very important in humanity’s pursuit of diefiation under the umbrella of theosis.   2nd Peter 1:4, 5 reads. “4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge” This is one significant component of our Christian doctrine. There are many significant thoughts and statements concerning the matter.  Irenaeus said this “For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God” St. Athanasius said this concerning the matter. “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God” Thomas Aquinas comments regarding the mystery of salvation. “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that He, made man, might make men gods” None of these statements allude to polytheistic worldview,  but instead the incarnation of Christ and God the father’s way to bring humanity back in the right relationship with God’s self.  

It recruits humanity as conduits of blessings in various facets of salvation.  The Patristic fathers in their expression on the contributions of God the father’s approach, are all almost unanimous in their understanding of God the Son’s contribution to the imputed divinity of humanity in an expression of theosis.  In other words, God the Son became a human, constricted into flesh in an effort to adopt humanity, not to deify in an act of garnering worship but spiritual deification in partnership in the blessed hope.

Theosis 

Theosis isn’t for those professing Christians who won’t or resist the desire to get to know God in a much deeper way, but it is the schema that we all should desire in an effort to be more like God, through God’s Son Jesus the Christ.  The apostle Paul writes to the church at Philippi and says this in Philippians 2:5 KJV “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” The apostle would not give unattainable instructions.  These instructions require a life long sustained effort. He also writes in Romans 12:2 “ And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Theosis requires a change of your mind in an effort not to think worldly but a desire to bring the kingdom of God and God’s to earth. Perceptions and spiritual analysis of what we view to be natural activity must be viewed through the lenses of God. 

In the fourth verse of 2nd Peter the author speaks about a “precious promise,” the allusion to instructions if followed, can bring one to a place where humanity can escape the corruption of the flesh and partake in the divine nature of God.  We can identify this process being depicted in the Gospel of Luke with the temptation of Christ.  There are three significant areas in the temptation of Christ that we as followers of Christ will have to endure. They are known as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of Life.  Most commonly known as hedonism, egoism, and materialism. These are the three poignant tactics used against Jesus the Christ. These tactics are the very same that Adam and Eve succumb to and furthermore used against humanity.  It attacks our identity, it sudduces us into believing our value is denoted by material possessions and desires for us to be moved by the dictates of the flesh.  This is in diametric opposition to the  way of theosis.   The takeaway is this, there is a path for those to follow to theosis,  It is not just the love or righteousness but an ascension that can only be attributed to these activities that pay spiritual reward and this place of authority which must include a total submission to the spirit of God.  This discipline weakens the lust of the flesh, lust of the eye and the pride of life.  The Apostle Peter instructs us that we must be diligent in our approach; it must include faith, added virtue, knowledge and added temperance, patience, godliness and righteousness, being kind to our brethren and charity.  I believe that our Lord is the consummate tactician and in these instructions are the possibilities of divinity in humanity known as theosis.  The new testament writings inspired by the Spirit of God to the ecclesia instructs how one would attain this theosis.  It is with great diligence and intentionality we must follow these instructions.  Hebrews cites, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) There is a reward for those who seek Him in the manner detailed in the preceding paragraphs.  Peter’s writing to Jews and Gentiles alike was written to a people who had lived in a society that was wrought with idolatry, but the concept that “God became a man so we might become god” was an entirely new concept to gentiles and Jews alike.  God to them was always amorphous, unreachable and ambivalent without empathy.  Many sacrificed to whom they believed were gods but were really demons.  In many instances these sacrifices would often include children.  The concept of theosis that God became a man that would allow him himself to be the required sacrifice was all together entirely new.

The concept of theosis being introduced in the text is an unfamiliar proposition in the polytheistic worldview of the approximate time the text was written. “God became a man so that we would become god.” Michael J Christensen writes about the “The Problem the Promise and the Process of theosis.” 

The Problem of Theosis

“Theologically, human deification understood ontologically is objectionable in most western Christian traditions.  How could a human being become divine without negating the essential of divine human distinction in the classical theological reasoning?”  In the above statement author Michael J. Christensen describes the ethos of western Christianity that I would agree is paradoxical from a western view of Christianity in regards to theosis.  But I believe it is the search to get closer to God and that successive steps to achieving theosis that essentially deconstructs the western Christian ethos regarding theosis.  Those who have achieved theosis and have experienced the katharsis, theoria and illumination will no longer carry what I call a digression of this type of Soteriology.  I personally do not look at the obstacles to theosis as a problem, but more so as an obstacle that will obscure the path of theosis if one does not possess the willingness to die to self.  For example, the attainment of the characteristics of one who has achieved theosis are humility, empathetic heart, followed by signs of wonders.  We should want to attain the ability to pray for the sick and they recover and operate in signs and wonders. We should want to have the heart and mind of God to see people as God sees them. We should want to have the compassion Jesus exhibited when he operated in the heavenly capacity to defy the natural law.  The Gospel of John gives another example of not only the way of theosis but the power supplied or the connection to heaven’s power source provided by becoming like God. The author writes this12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)

The power to operate in this realm is only attained in theosis to bridge the gap between divinity and humanity.  It is definitely not to create disciples of anyone else and deify preachers in an unholy manner.  The author writes in the Gospel of John, “believe in me, if you believe in me you will want to replicate my works, these works will be greater than mine.” (John 10:38) (Jesus only had three and half years to do his work although it took thirty years of preparation.  The nature of the ministry of Jesus was paradigm shifting and life world changing which required the preparation it did).  Jesus is going to the father on humanities behalf as the man  Christ Jesus the intermediary fully qualified to do so.  This was accomplished by the embedding of Christ Jesus in the time space continuum as the son of Man through the virgin birth , therefore we have access to the authority (Exousia) through the Son, Christ Jesus the man who will in turn supply the power to glorify God through humanity.  Whatever we ask in Jesus’s name through the process of theosis, which has qualified us to operate as gods,[(Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods,”)] we have become gods through the process of theosis right here on earth.

The Promise of Theosis

“According to Jaroslav Pelikan, the promise of salvation has been understood as theosis on the basis of two principle passages of the Bible: the declaration of Psalm 82:6 “I say, you are gods,” which Jesus quoted in John 10:34-45, and the exceeding great promise in 2nd Peter 1:4, that believers would become “partakers of the divine nature and thus escape the corruption of the world and its passions.” (John 10:34) The first promise writes Pelikan, “meant that righteous men and angels would become divine,” Divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” “the second that “being united with Christ was the means for deification.” What is the precious promise of theosis? The Gospel of John writes about the promise to those that believe.  John 1:12 states, 12 But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” The promise to partake in divinity is not an abstract attribute to salvation (Sozo) but and integral part we all aspire to achieve.  It just does not environ us only being saved, but that power has been given to us to achieve theosis (become sons of God). We then have the ability to do what we see our Father do, and say what we hear the Father say. As Jesus said in John 5:19-20 “19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.  For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.” (Jn 5:19-20) This process of theosis empowers the Christian to do things that are virtually impossible without the empowering Spirit (Ruach) residing inside of us.  By obeying and following the instructions given by The Spirit we can achieve Theosis and exemplify the kingdom of God here on earth.  I believe one can only be a true representative of the heavenly kingdom through Theosis and this is how we bring the attributes of the kingdom here on earth as conduits of the character of God.

The Process of Theosis

Clement of Alexandria (150-215) understood deification as, “assimilation to God as far as possible in the progressive order of salvation. The process is identified as a prolepsis [the representation of a thing as existing before it actually does or did so, as in he was a dead man when he entered] of Christian initiation rite: being baptized we are illuminated; illuminated we become sons; being made sons, we are being made perfect, made perfect, we are made immortal. ‘I’ says He have said that ye are gods, and all the sons of the high.” Theosis is not an abstract concept that we cannot find in the scriptures.  It is absolutely an indispensable component of becoming an empowered Christian as Jesus our Lord and savior desires us to achieve.  I believe it starts with the way we think.  In the letter to the Ephesians Paul says, “23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:23-24) In the epistle to the Romans “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)  In addition there has to be an introspective approach to finding the obstacles to the process. Psalm 139: 23-24 King David wrote.“23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

 2nd Corinthians 13:5 says,Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.” When the Spirit reveals conditions of the heart that deny access to the process of theosis we must act to rectify.  Fasting brings the flesh into the purview of the spirit.  I believe an important part in the process of theosis is to be more like Jesus, as we seek moral perfection we must put the flesh under the control of our spirit.  We see these examples in the temptation of Christ in which while he fasted, Satan tempted the Holy one. He overcame the temptation while he fasted by feasting on the word.  He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Deuteronomy 8:3) This is the example I believe that encourages the consumption of the spiritual food, The Logos.  To be able to control the flesh as it wars against the spirit the Apostle Paul in his letter to Galatians wrote this. “16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” The fleshly lust over powers our ability to get closer to God, everything we do in God must be in the Spirit, by exemplifying the fruits of the Spirit.  Achieving the active working gifts of the Spirit one usually shows the fruits associated with these gifts. By this we become partakers of the blessed hope and become active in the regeneration of a fallen world.

My experience with theosis is currently ongoing.  You tend to lose some things along the way, sometimes they are relationships, worldly possessions, employment.  In my entire first year of seminary, my family and I were homeless no one knew.  In all of my writings, I have decided to be totally transparent in an effort to help future readers.  The greatest thing I have lost in the process is myself and I embrace it.  Parts of my personality that are not conducive to being completely infused with the Spirit of God.  I have also lost relationships currently involved in a divorce and sometimes you may lose family and friends.  But in my view, I see it in many instances as a necessity.  If one person can be affected by God in levels that were not possible because of the aforementioned aspects I have mentioned in this process of theosis so be it.