Catechism Paragraph 460 Question

First, if this is in the wrong forum, please place it in the right one.

Thank you.

I know there have already been several threads about this. But none of them answer my question.

CCC para 640. 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.”

Was this written in an earlier Catechism prior to the one we have and recognize now as the Catechism of the Catholic Church, perhaps in another language?

I ask because there is so much debate between my non Catholic friends and acquaintances about this. I would like to be able to respond to their questions more fully than I am able to now. I try to tell them that it doesn’t mean we’re going to become God. But they insist that it says what it means.

Given that so many writings are translated from the original languages, I was wondering if the above was originally written in English or a different language? If a different language, which one and what did it originally say before being translated into English?

Thank you.

The simple answer; “It comes from scripture!”

By whom he hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature: flying the corruption of that concupiscence which is in the world. [2 Peter 1:4]

Meditating on this verse St. Irenaeus says, "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 partaken 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?" St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies. 3, 18, 7 Circa 150 A.D.]

This was still in living memory of the Apostles, consequently we know the faith of the Apostles held that Christ suffered so that he might commune with us some 2,000 years after the crucifixion.

“For He was made man that we might be made God” [St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word," 54 ]

So we should see as St. Thomas Aquinas;

"After this fashion, therefore, they formed the opinion that Jesus Christ was pure man, that He had had a beginning from the Virgin Mary, that by the merit of His blessed life He had received the honor of divinity above all others; and they thought that He was, like other men, a son of God by the spirit of adoption, begotten of God by grace, and by a kind of likens to God called God in Scripture not by nature, but by partaking in the divine goodness, just as it says of the saints in 2 Peter (1:4): “That by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature: flying the corruption of that concupiscence which is in the world.” Contra Gentiles, 4, 4]

As St. Thomas shows early in the Church Salvation was understood to be a grace of the incarnate Word of God, born of woman, making us “partakers of the Divine nature” as adopted sons of God.

Non-Catholics hold that the Eucharist is mere symbol, as are all the sacraments. In the Eucharist we receive the Real Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, real and eternal life. That unless you “eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.” [John 6:54]

But you had the answer the whole time. Check out the footnotes.


This! :thumbsup:


The text you quote appears in the current CCC as number 460, not 640, and the three footnotes are numbered from 573 to 575. The three excerpts – which together make up the whole of paragraph 460 with the exception of the first seven words – are drawn, respectively, from the works of Irenaeus, Athanasius, and Thomas Aquinas, as indicated…


Only the first seven words of the paragraph, “The Word became flesh to make us”, were written by the editors of the CCC. The rest of the paragraph is made up of four quotations, duly identified in the footnotes. You will see that the words “partakers of the divine nature” are from 2 Peter 1.4, while the other three excerpts are drawn, respectively, from the works of Irenaeus, Athanasius, and Thomas Aquinas, as indicated.

Here is a link to the English text of the CCC at the Vatican website. Scroll down for the footnotes. Other languages are also available, including Latin, Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.


Lily, you quoted the Catechism:

CCC para 640. The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature”:78

That “78” hanging off the end is actually a footnote that tells us where that particular teaching comes from. The footnotes should be at the bottom of each chapter. If you look at the footnote for #78 it says, 78 2 Pt 1:4.”

I do find it amusing when protestants try to tell Catholics what our Catechism “really means.”

Many non-Catholic Christians don’t have a very deep understanding of Christianity. :slight_smile:

****"And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Cor 3:18

More from the catechism:

1988 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:

[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.

398 In that sin man preferred himself to God and by that very act scorned him. He chose himself over and against God, against the requirements of his creaturely status and therefore against his own good. Constituted in a state of holiness, man was destined to be fully “divinized” by God in glory. Seduced by the devil, he wanted to “be like God”, but “without God, before God, and not in accordance with God”.

I try to tell them that it doesn’t mean we’re going to become God

They are more right than wrong in stating this.
Why is that a problem Lily?

It is not a familiar teaching to Western Catholics because it appears to be an ancient teaching/intuition of the Early Eastern Church Fathers.

Divinisation theology as has been noted below.

That is exactly what sanctifying grace does to the soul.
What a great gift from God to give us his own life so deeply that we are divinised almost as deeply as he was humanised (ie incarnated).

Yes, it occurs to me that this is a very important topic in one way-as it highlights differences between concepts of God, differences that bear on His very nature and will. God is love; He’s sheer goodness, and, as such, He wants to share in the experience of that goodness. He has awesome plans for man, beyond our ability to even begin to comprehend. And while it’s important that we grasp our lowliness and creaturely status before God, which many Scripture verses emphasize, it’s also important to know the enormous love God has for man, and even the high esteem He holds man in if we’re to begin to understand Who He is and what He wants for us, and how potentially great man is as His handiwork-to the extent that we fall in line and ultimately live up to it.

I think more so in the west, with some whole Protestant theologies practically built around it, we tend to conceive of God as being a stern taskmaster towards a bunch of worthless wretches, some of whom He simply deems to save in spite of our naturally filthy, wormy, sinful selves. But we forget that we are still creations of, even expressions of, this great and magnificent God, who wouldn’t bother creating us, and even allow us to slip into exile, into the pigsty of this world, relatively speaking, if He didn’t ultimately have some unimaginably awesome party planned for His wayward Prodigals, whom He loves so dearly, upon their returning home.

The cross, especially, is meant to drive home the brilliance of this love, because in that act, God, Himself, entered the dirtiness of His fallen world, suffering and offering His life for ours. And in His ressurection, triumphing over the death that seeks to drive us into negation, into the sin and ugliness and darkness totally separated from Him, He proves that light and goodness prevail, that His love for us is eternal, and of inestimably great worth. He proves something we can’t quite see in ourselves, of our own worth-to Him. God always loved man that way-and wanted him to share in His divinity, in Himself.

Some moving thoughts:).

The problem is that the way these non Catholics mean it isn’t the way we understand it to be. They act like the Catechism is saying that we want to BE God, take His place and have all of HIS honor, glory and worship for ourselves. You know, like Satan was trying to do before being cast out of Heaven.

Your original question was
“I try to tell them that it doesn’t mean we’re going to become God. But they insist that it says what it means.”

Yes, that is what the Catechism is saying (though not with a capital g).

Your above issue seems to be another issue - how that happens.

We all agree that Satan tried to take divinity for himself and by his own effort.
Clearly the Catechism is saying the very opposite - it is a free gift from God (hence “grace”) and communion is essential to its nature.

Its interesting that Lucifer never was in “heaven”, for the Church teaches that once in heaven it is impossible to lose the beatific vision. He was actually in a lesser celestial but created realm - still high above the earth - but not where God “dwells” in his own nature.

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