Divinization: Partakers of the Divine Nature

Question: What is the hope of the faithful?
Answer: To become God.

"The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature”:“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.” “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” “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.” (source: Article 460, “The Catechism of the Catholic Church”)

“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature” - 2 Peter 1:4

This doctrine is known in Christian theology as “divinization” (deification, making divine, or theosis).

Hmmm, how is that different from the Mormon doctrine of exaltation? That sounds pretty Mormon to me!

The Mormon doctrine, from my understanding, makes man ultimately equal to God. In the Catholic teaching of divinization, man becomes a partaker in God’s nature, at His digression and due to His benevolence, so we may share in His beatitude. The created vs Creator status remains; we’re always dependent on Him for our existence.

To partake (= take part) is not to become (= come to be).

Tell that to St. Athanasius who said “God became man that man might become God,” Athanasius (ca 298–373).

And St. Catherine of Genoa:

“…God became man in order to make me God; therefore I want to be changed completely into pure God…”

***- Saint Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510), Italian Catholic mystic ***

Couse the Saints are correct. We become divinized by partaking in the Divine Nature which we know through the Sacraments. Virtue of supernaturally imposed grace. And we continue to partake through “cooperation” which in fact is a responsibility to maintain the virtue.

However, divinization “note well” is in relation to the created human nature.

:thumbsup:

My point was that it is sound according to the Patristics to say that the divinized person becomes God even though we know that this does not mean any merging between what are and will remain two distinct essences.

Trust me brother your points are not in contention. Seems we entered by large into semantics of the languages by interpolation of a human three dimensional model of human comprehension in relation to God who exists contrary to the limited view. :slight_smile:

Only concern here is …(= come to be). Thus come to be is in relation to created human nature as opposed to the eternally infinite uncreated Divine Essence.

We will always be “created” that’s regardless of our cooperation with grace.

BTW I enjoyed your posts below.

Amen :thumbsup:

The Catholic and Orthodox doctrine of divinization/deification/theosis is perfectly biblical, and predates Mormonism by well over a thousand years.

I cited the Catholic Catechism. It explicitly states: “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.”

On Mount Sinai Moses asked God to tell Him who He is, His name. God said He is I am that I am. God is existence. Jesus reveals God is Three Divine Persons, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. This is who God is. We are baptized in the name of the Trinity.

There is a difference between who God is and what God is.

God is good. God is love. God is life, God is truth. God is just. God is infinite. God is omniscient. God is omnipotent. These are the infinite divine perfections, what God is. The three divine persons share the same nature.

The three persons lack nothing of what the other is. If one possessed something another lacked one would not be infinite.

All humans share human nature. We are not the same. We have unique personalities, physical characteristics, etc. In our human nature we do what we do, speak, sing, see, walk, laugh, cry, breathe, eat, drink, pray, sin. If I lacked sight I would still be human.

We can not do what a fish does, lacking fish nature.

We can do what God does. We can love, be truthful, create new life, be just, have knowledge, be merciful, etc. We are spiritual and material beings.

We can be what God is, but not who God is.

God allows us and empowers us by grace to do what He does. He shares His nature with us. In heaven you will see God who is light. On earth we see reflections of light. In heaven we will see Him face to face.

Jesus who is who God is took on human nature. He became incarnate. He took His human nature with Him when He left earth. He sits at the right hand of the Father incarnate. He is God-man, sharing our nature.

God participates in human nature so that we can participate in divine nature. He lowered Himself and raises us. This does not make us who God is. It makes us what God is.

In the person of Jesus human nature and divine nature are joined, married. God marries His creation. The two become one.

We already do participate in divine nature when we love. We participate fully in heaven.
Life here is a foretaste, or it can be so if we choose.

The father knows and loves the Son. He gives Himself to the Son entirely. Jesus says everything the Father has is mine. The Son gives Himself back to the Father. Love gives love to love. God is trinitarian.

We are made to participate in the life of the Holy Trinity.

We learn from the beginning we are made in the image and likeness of God. The temptation was to become like God. Eve already was like God, made in His image.

So are we.

The difference between God and us is we are made. Jesus is not made. He is eternally begotten of the Father.

When a woman marries a man she takes his name, at least until this confused age. The Church is the bride of Christ. The two become one. We are called by His name, Christian.

A fish can not marry a tree. In order to marry, become one with, two beings must share the same nature. God marries us.

That’s interesting.

If Jesus’ prayer is to be answered, then we are to be made one with the Father even as the Son is one with the Father. We are to become sons of God even as Jesus was a son of God. We are to become gods even as Jesus was a god.

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” - John 17:20-21

In her “Life”, St. Catherine of Genoa’s confessor described one of her ecstatic experiences of union with God.

catholicfirst.com/thefait…inegenoa2.html

She felt herself drawn with St. John, to rest on the bosom of her loving Lord, and there she discovered a sweeter way which contained in itself many secrets of the bounteous love which was consuming her, so that she was often beside herself; and in her intense eagerness, her hatred of self, and her deep contrition, she would lick the earth with her tongue, and so great was the wain of contrition, and the sweetness of love, that she knew not what she was doing; but she felt her heart lightened, occupied with unbounded, poignant grief, and the sweet ardor of love. Thus she remained for three years or more, melted with love and grief, and with the deep and burning flames that were consuming her heart.

Then she was drawn to the open wound in the side of the crucified Lord, and there she was allowed to see the Sacred heart of her Lord burning with the same flames with which her own was enkindled; at the sight of this, her heart died within her, and her strength abandoned her. This impression remained for many years which were spent by her, in continual sighs, and burning flames, so that her heart and soul were well nigh melted, and she was constrained to cry out: “I have no longer either soul or heart; but my soul and my heart are those of my Beloved;” and in him she was wholly absorbed and transformed.

Finally, her sweet and loving Lord drew her to himself, and bestowed upon her a caress, by the power of which she was entirely immersed in that sweet Divinity to which she abandoned herself exteriorly, so that she exclaimed: “I live no longer, but Christ lives in me.” She knew no longer whether her mere human acts were good or bad, but saw all things in God.

What I find remarkable about St. Catherine is that she was a married laywoman. She never became a nun nor even joined a third order as a tertiary like her husband later did.

Through grace and not by Nature. We can never lose our created human essence. Through grace we can be elevated by God supernaturally to participate in the life of the Holy Trinity and therefore become deified. However we will never lose our distinct human essence nor will we merge into the Divine Essence. It is a created sharing in the Divine Life.

Still doesn’t negate clarification as the CCC 460 is a reference point which leads to further clarification through its footnotes and deeper elaboration of the stated teaching. As also to some degree the surrounding paragraphs of 460 do. Specifically the point in question is reference to St. Athanasius, De Incar. 54, 3: PG 25, 192B

Nevertheless the next sentence referenced Thomas Aquinas which is in relation to the Sacraments thus further reading of Summa which for sure clarifies the point in question

Thus further reading clarifies what the CCC hints at. Or for example through Pope Pius XII encyclical on the Mystical Body.

ewtn.com/library/ENCYC/P12MYSTI.HTM

This is a wonderful explanation that nearly anyone can understand and makes perfect sense. The problem is that because it is a good explanation and makes perfect sense it sadly will fall on deaf ears and will be challenged. Sometimes I just scratch my head.

A particularly good description of divinization from a Latin Catholic perspective is provided by John Ruysbroeck, a Beatus of the Catholic Church who lived in 14th century Belgium, in his Little Book of Enlightenment or Clarification (also known as the Book of Supreme Truth) which can be read in its entirety here:

godconsciousness.com/bookofsupremetruth.htm

In this text he states very clearly:

Behold, I have said this: that the contemplative lover of God is united with God through means, and also without means, and thirdly, without difference or distinction; and this I find in nature, and in grace, and also in glory. Further I have said that never creature may be or become so holy that it loses its created being and becomes God; even the soul of our Lord Jesus Christ shall ever remain creature, and other than God. Yet, none the less, we must all be lifted up above ourselves into God, and become one spirit with God in love; and then we shall be blessed. And therefore mark my words and my meaning, and understand me aright as to what is the condition and the way to our eternal blessedness.

And next, I will say that all good men are united with God through means. These means are the grace of God, and the sacraments of Holy Church, and the Divine virtues, faith, hope and charity, and a virtuous life according to the commandments of God; and to these there belongs a death to sin and to the world and to every inordinate lust of nature. And through these, we remain united with Holy Church, that is, with all good men; and with these, we obey God, and are one will with Him, even as an orderly convent is united with its Superior: and without this union none can please God nor be saved. Whosoever keeps this union through these means unto the end of his life, he shall be one of those of whom Christ says unto His Father in heaven in the Gospel of St John: Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am: that they may behold My glory which Thou hast given Me. And in another place He says that His servants shall sit down to meat that is, in the richness and the fulness of those virtues which they have exercised and He will go one to another and will minister unto them of His glory which He has achieved

Further Blessed Ruysbroeck describes theosis very well from personal experience:

"…For the divine Persons embrace mutually in eternal complacency with an infinite and active love in unity. This activity is constantly renewed in the living life of the Trinity. There is continuous new birth-giving in new knowledge, new complacency and new breathing forth of the Spirit in a new embrace with a new torrent of eternal love. All the elect, angels and men from the last to the first are embraced in this complacency. It is in this complacency that heaven and earth are suspended, existence, life activity and maintenance of all creatures…

These same interior, enlightened persons have the love of God before them in their inward vision whenever they want, as drawing or calling in towards unity. For they see and feel that the Father with the Son by means of the Holy Spirit stand embraced with all the elect and are brought back with eternal love into the unity of their nature. This unity is constantly drawing or calling in all that has been born out of it naturally or by grace. And therefore these enlightened people are lifted up with free mind above reason to a bare vision devoid of images. There lives the eternal invitation of God’s unity, and with imageless naked understanding they go beyond all works and all practices and all things to the summit of their spirit. There their naked understanding is penetrated with eternal clarity as the air is penetrated by the light of the sun. The bare elevated will is transformed and penetrated with fathomless love just as iron is penetrated by the fire. And the bare elevated memory finds itself caught and established In a fathomless absence of images. Thus the created image is united threefold wise above reason to its eternal image, which is the source of its being and of its life…

Christ prayed that He should be in us, and we in Him. This we find in many passages in the Gospel. And this is the union that is without intermediary, for the love of God is not only out-flowing, but it is also drawing into unity. And those who feel and experience this become interior, enlightened men. There the faculties are raised above all practices to the bareness of their very essence. There the faculties become simplified above reason in their essence and because of this they are filled and overflowing. For in this simplicity the spirit finds itself united with God without intermediary…

For this is the inmost life of the spirit; and, in the enlightened and uplifted man, the life of the senses adheres to the spirit. And so his sensual powers are joined to God by heart-felt love, and his nature is fulfilled with all good; and he feels that his ghostly life adheres to God without means. And thereby his highest powers are uplifted to God in eternal love, and drenched through by Divine truth, and established in imageless freedom. And so he is filled with God, and overflowing without measure. In this inundation there comes to pass the essential outpouring or immersion in the superessential Unity; and this is the union without distinction, of which I have often told you. For in the superessence all our ways end. If we will go with God upon the highway of love, we shall rest with Him eternally and without end: and thus we shall eternally go forth towards God and enter into Him and rest in Him…"

- Blessed John of Ruysbroeck (1293 – 1381), The Little Book of Enlightenment

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.