Theosis and Eschatology (For Orthodox Christians)

Hi Everyone,

My understanding of Theosis is, that is the salvific process of the believer becoming like God (I’ve even heard ‘a god’), and thus coming into union with him in nature, not essence. Please, do correct me if my broad description is in anyway faulty.

If the believer is to come into union with God, how does this work with the bodily resurrection of the saved, when heaven comes to earth and all is renewed? Clearly, I do not expect intricate details, or else you’d be a prophet. However, somehow I find theosis contrary to the distinction between God and man, if there is to be a physical resurrection. Hopefully, my question makes sense; if not, I can try again, just let me know. Thanks!

I’m not Orthodox, but why couldn’t spiritual union coincide with embodiedness?


I am Catholic, not Orthodox, but I thought it was becoming like gods by grace, not in our own nature. We share in God’s divinity. The key point is that we do not become God’s in or by our own nature.

Perhaps that is not the Orthodox position. I’d be interested in learning more.

That’s basically the Orthodox position. We share in God’s uncreated energies, but never in God’s essence.

What is the difference between “nature” and “essence” here? I often see both terms used, in this and other contexts, interchangeably.

Good question, I’ve never fully understood that either. I just heard it described that way.

I guess the way I see it is, if the body and soul are to reunite again after the resurrection, how can separate souls be conjoined.

In the Orthodox understanding of theosis, essence and nature are not interchangeable. For the Orthodox, there is the essence-energies distinction. God’s essence is–and eternally remains incomprehensible and impenetrable. On the other hand, God’s energies–his attributes, such as love, mercy, grace, and so on–are accessible to man. Those divine attributes that are particular to divinity, such as incorruptibility and immortality, are the divine nature, as I understand it.

While we as Catholics do not use the term “theosis”, a Catholic priest once told me that while we will remain human beings (essence?) and therefore be embodied; we will be “divinized” (nature?) and so acquire immortality.


I’m Catholic, and the term theosis is used at my parish very frequently. We even have a “Theosis” group.

Orthodox believe in the resurrection because Christ was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven with a perfect resurrection body. Theosis is the perfecting of man and woman, dwelling as close and in God as much as is possible. That includes the bodies which will be perfected, spiritual bodies, and the whole world which will be changed in the final judgement and resurrection.

If you understood Theosis to mean we become literally gods on level to God, then I can tell you that is not true. Also instead of nature you probably mean the essence energy distinction believed in the church. Something which is beyond me to explain however(there are plenty of resources on-line to explain it though). We would say we never become ontologically equal with the essence of God, because that would be heretical and impossible.

Way cool. Correction taken.

Perhaps you meant “Roman Catholics don’t use that term”? :wink:

"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.” (CCC §460)

Pax Christi

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