I came across this quotation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church in a YouTube video (by protestants) in which it tries to claim that the Catholic Church teaches a doctrine akin to Mormonism that “man may become God”:
“… The Son of God became man so that we might become God. The only-begotten Son of God wanting us to be sharers in his divinity … assumed our nature, so that he … might make men gods.” – The Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting St. Athanasius and St. Thomas Aquinas (The Wanderer Press, 1994), par. 460, p. 116, taken from Occult Invasion by Dave Hunt, p. 336.
What’s the truth about this quote? If it’s an actual quote what is the meaning behind it? I’ve heard of the term “divinization” or “theosis” before but, how is this different from the Mormon view of “exaltation” or the New Age beliefs about “becoming a god”?
Here it is.
The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature”:78 "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."79 "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God."80 "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."81
The following relate also all from the catechism:
Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte “a new creature,” an adopted son of God, who has become a "partaker of the divine nature,"69 member of Christ and co-heir with him,70 and a temple of the Holy Spirit.71
Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ’s Passion by dying to sin, and in his Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is himself:36
[God] gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature. . . . For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized. 37
I will leave it up to others to disseminate what the meanings are as I am theologically challenged but I am a good finder of stuff.
We are not divine as Jesus is divine. He was born without sin.
But, we are all God’s children, and He wants us cooperate with His Grace that we may be in Heaven with Him.
We humans must go through a baptism to remove original sin, we must be absolved of mortal sin, and we still must have temporal purification before we approach “those pearly gates.” When we are purified (purged, purgation, purgatory) from sin, we will be worthy to be in the Presence of God.
Even after our souls have been refined, we may attain the Beatific Vision, like (and with) Christ. However, we were created by God, not begotten by Him, as Jesus was.
The words of the Catechism are high theology. It wasn’t written for the laity, after all.
But it boils down to this, as I understand it: becoming “like God” simply refers to the human soul attaining eternal life in Heaven.
The idea is expressed in the words of the old Latin Mass this way:
Deus, qui humánæ substántiæ dignitátem mirabíliter condidísti, et mirabílius reformásti: da nobis per huius aquæ et vini mystérium, eius divinitátis esse consórtes, qui humanitátis nostræ fíeri dignátus est párticeps, Iesus Christus, Fílius tuus, Dóminus noster: Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti Deus: per ómnia saecula sæculórum. Amen.
O God, who, in creating human nature, didst wonderfully dignify it, and still more wonderfully restore it, grant that, by the Mystery of this water and wine, we may be made partakers of His divine nature, who vouchsafed to be made partaker of our human nature, even Jesus Christ our Lord, Thy Son, who with Thee, liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God: world without end. Amen.
These Protestants are taking it completely literally to make a strawman to beat us with. If they had honest intentions, they could easily learn what it really meant.
“It is all actually very simple. God always wanted to share all that he is with us. Take the following quotations of Sacred Scripture: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us” (John 1:1&14); “To those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12); “That you may come to share in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). Saint Athanasius summed them up thus: “The Son of God became man so that man might become God” (CCC #460).”
Joann, there is another reference that is often quoted by St. Augustine, and most recently by Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical, Sacramentum Caritatis::
36. The Eucharistic celebration, the work of "Christus Totus"
The “subject” of the liturgy’s intrinsic beauty is Christ himself, risen and glorified in the Holy Spirit, who includes the Church in his work. (109) Here we can recall an evocative phrase of Saint Augustine which strikingly describes this dynamic of faith proper to the Eucharist. The great Bishop of Hippo, speaking specifically of the eucharistic mystery, stresses the fact that Christ assimilates us to himself: "The bread you see on the altar, sanctified by the word of God, is the body of Christ. The chalice, or rather, what the chalice contains, sanctified by the word of God, is the blood of Christ.
In these signs, Christ the Lord willed to entrust to us his body and the blood which he shed for the forgiveness of our sins. If you have received them properly,** “you yourselves are what you have received.” **
This is an excellent Scripture quote to give to a Protestant who does not fully understand the difference between Catholic belief and Mormon belief:
Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
St. Paul, with the aid of grace, has fully emptied himself and is filled with Christ. He is one with the will of God.
I do believe if everyone read the Catholic Guide to the Bible from CHSS, we’d all be on the same page. (Perhaps it should be renamed 'A Guide to the M Bible" and sold at non denom bookshops, we’d could increase circulation!)
In Mormonism there is no distinction between a ‘human nature’ and ‘divine nature’, there’s only a spectrum of ‘intelligences’ which include both humans and gods. Humans and gods are all made of the same substance and so Exaltation means a mortal human can become a god. ‘Heavenly Father’ was once an imperfect, mortal human being who progressed to godhood no different than what we ourselves can attain. This is precisely why it is speculated in Mormonism that our ‘theosis’ will likely involve us taking on a creative nature since the potential for that is already endowed in us from the get go. Since I and my son are both of the exact same nature (we’re both humans) he has the potential to be exactly like me: he can move out of his parents’ house, follow a career, have and raise children, etc.
(As I understand it, please correct me if I’m wrong), in Christianity there is a stark distinction between human and divine natures. While Christ took on human form in order to perfect and raise human nature to its original perfection (prior to the Fall of Adam), humans will never be ‘gods’ in the sense of suddenly being indistinguishable from God. A perfected human is still a human, and God is still God.