God became man so that man may become God.
I believe this is actually a statement made by one of the ancient Fathers of the Church.
God became man so that man may become God.
I believe this is actually a statement made by one of the ancient Fathers of the Church.
I know, that’s why I mentioned it. Another, similar quote which I debated also including was “God became man so that man may become God.” I’m pretty sure one of those quotes is by St. Jerome and one by another Father, but I’d have to look it up. I think both are given in the Catechism of the Catholic Church somewhere, or at least one of them.
Edit: I mentioned the one that says “gods”; I just noticed your quote is the one that says “God”.
It was stated by St. Irenaeus and St. Athanasius, among others.
Maybe it wasn’t St. Jerome. Anyway, here’s a bunch of cut and pasted quotes from Wikipedia. :o
2 Peter 1:4 explicitly speaks of becoming “partakers of the Divine nature”. Closely allied are the teachings of Paul the Apostle that through the Spirit we are sons of God (as in chapter 8 of his Epistle to the Romans) and of the Gospel according to John on the indwelling of the Trinity (as in chapters 14-17).. In John 10:34, Jesus himself quoted Psalms 82:1 in saying “Ye are gods.”
St. Irenaeus of Lyons stated that God “became what we are in order to make us what he is himself.”
St. Clement of Alexandria says that “he who obeys the Lord and follows the prophecy given through him . . . becomes a god while still moving about in the flesh.” 
St. Athanasius wrote that “God became man so that men might become gods.”
St. Cyril of Alexandria says that we “are called ‘temples of God’ and indeed ‘gods’, and so we are.”
St. Basil the Great stated that “becoming a god” is the highest goal of all.
St. Gregory of Nazianzus implores us to “become gods for (God’s) sake, since (God) became man for our sake.”
It quotes Athanasius: “The Word became flesh … that we, partaking of his Spirit, might be deified” (De Decretis, 14); and Cyril of Alexandria: “We have all become partakers of Him, and have Him in ourselves through the Spirit. For this reason we have become partakers of the divine nature” (In Ioannem, 9).
Saint Augustine pictured God telling him: “I am the food of grown men, grow, and thou shalt feed upon Me, nor shalt thou convert Me, like the food of thy flesh, into thee, but thou shalt be converted into Me.” “To make human beings gods,” Augustine said, “He was made man who was God” (sermon 192.1.1) This deification, he wrote, is granted by grace, not by making part of the divine essence: “It is clear that he called men gods being deified by his grace and not born of his substance. For he justified, who is just of himself and not from another, and he deifies, who is god of himself and not by participation in another. … If we have been made sons of god, we have been made gods; but this is by grace of adoption and not of the nature of our begetter” (en. Ps. 49.1.2).
There are more quotes in the article but I don’t want to break CAF rules about long posts consisting mostly of quotes.
Is any of this the same as Sanctification?
It is indeed a traditional teaching, taught by St Iraeneus, St Athanasius, St Gregory of Nyssa, St Thomas Aquina, St John of the Cross etc
From the RCCC art 1129 The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation.51 “Sacramental grace” is the grace of the Holy Spirit, given by Christ and proper to each sacrament. the Spirit heals and transforms those who receive him by conforming them to the Son of God. the fruit of the sacramental life is that the Spirit of adoption makes the faithful partakers in the divine nature52 by uniting them in a living union with the only Son, the Savior.
From the Summa Theologica III q1 a2
*for Augustine says in a sermon (xiii de Temp.): "Go was made man, that man might be made God.
theosis = partaking in the divine nature.
But divinisation does not mean that our substance changes and literally fusionates with God, but that you become like “transparent” to God
Read this page of the Ascent of Mount by St John of the Cross where he explains what is theosis
6. In order that both these things may be the better understood, let us make a comparison. A ray of sunlight is striking a window. If the window is in any way stained or misty, the sun’s ray will be unable to illumine it and transform it into its own light, totally, as it would if it were clean of all these things, and pure; but it will illumine it to a lesser degree, in proportion as it is less free from those mists and stains; and will do so to a greater degree, in proportion as it is cleaner from them, and this will not be because of the sun’s ray, but because of itself; so much so that, if it be wholly pure and clean, the ray of sunlight will transform it and illumine it in such wise that it will itself seem to be a ray and will give the same light as the ray. Although in reality the window has a nature distinct from that of the ray itself, however much it may resemble it, yet we may say that that window is a ray of the sun or is light by participation. And the soul is like this window, whereupon is ever beating (or, to express it better, wherein is ever dwelling) this Divine light of the Being of God according to nature, which we have described.
Also from The Apostolic Letter Oriental Lumen
These features describe the Eastern outlook of the Christian. His or her goal is participation in the divine nature through communion with the mystery of the Holy Trinity. In this view the Father’s “monarchy” is outlined as well as the concept of salvation according to the divine plan, as it is presented by Eastern theology after Saint Irenaeus of Lyons and which spread among the Cappadocian Fathers.(12)
Participation in Trinitarian life takes place through the liturgy and in a special way through the Eucharist, the mystery of communion with the glorified body of Christ, the seed of immortality.(13) In divinization and particularly in the sacraments, Eastern theology attributes a very special role to the Holy Spirit: through the power of the Spirit who dwells in man deification already begins on earth; the creature is transfigured and God’s kingdom inaugurated.
The teaching of the Cappadocian Fathers on divinization passed into the tradition of all the Eastern Churches and is part of their common heritage. This can be summarized in the thought already expressed by Saint Irenaeus at the end of the second century: God passed into man so that man might pass over to God.(14) This theology of divinization remains one of the achievements particularly dear to Eastern Christian thought.(15)
On this path of divinization, those who have been made “most Christ - like” by grace and by commitment to the way of goodness go before us: the martyrs and the saints.(16) And the Virgin Mary occupies an altogether special place among them. From her the shoot of Jesse sprang (cf. Is 11:1 ). Her figure is not only the Mother who waits for us, but the Most Pure, who - the fulfillment of so many Old Testament prefigurations - is an icon of the Church, the symbol and anticipation of humanity transfigured by grace, the model and the unfailing hope for all those who direct their steps towards the heavenly Jerusalem.(17)*
A very similar prayer is said by the Priest in the Roman Liturgy while pouring the water into the Chalice in which there is already wine:
“By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”
So the concept isn’t unique to East and West, but the terminology is different.
I don’t want to derail the thread, but the book you are quoting from is called the Catechism of the Catholic Church, commonly abbreviated CCC. I can only guess what your “R” might stand for and your motivations for introducing it. In any case the letter does not appear anywhere in the title of the book (except in “Church”), and using it could cause confusion as to what you are quoting from.
i thought it was roman catholic catechism of the catholic church
english is not my first language
“I can only guess what your “R” might stand for and your motivations for introducing it”
what are you talking about ? Am i being suspected of anything ?
Don’t worry, I didn’t accuse you of anything because I know this is the internet and it’s hard to figure people out. Some people add the word “Roman” to anything Catholic out of anti-Catholic (and perhaps also anti-Roman) motivations, but I presume that wasn’t your intent. Maybe even the book is published under a different title in French, besides the language difference of course.
The problem is there is another, quite distinct and older work called the Roman Catechism, and there has been confusion on this site about the two before, so it’s good to keep the English titles straight.
Sorry for the side conversation. Now back on topic folks!
Theosis is a process by which we participate in Our Lord’s Divine nature. Here’s how it happens. Without this, as Peter said, it won’t happen
2 Pet 1:
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5 For this very reason,* make every effort to add to your faith goodness;* and to goodness,** knowledge**; 6 and to knowledge,* self-control*; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance,*** godliness***; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection***, lo**ve*. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But *whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. *10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Peace and God bless!
I was thinking of the Cappadocian Fathers: I had no idea such a wide range of Fathers had said similar things. One of the many reasons I’d love to learn more Patristics, but I have no idea where to start, and the few things I can find are ridiculously expensive and incomplete (say, a few homilies by a father for $10, or a work of philosophy or theology for $40). I looked in to the Ancient Christian Commentary series but it was expensive, and lousy. I’m stuck with mainly St Vladimir’s Seminary Press’s Popular Patristics Series and some of the books of the “Theology and Life” series, but I’d love to read, if I could find them, the original writings of Origen, Athanasius, Augustine, Ambrose, Anselm, more Thomas Aquinas (esp. his commentaries on Aristotle), Cyril, Jerome, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Basil, the two Gregories, etc.: I can’t find them either in the original Greek or Latin or in English translation (I can handle the Greek and Latin if necessary). Or the Philokalia, of which much of the Greek is unreadable to me. I’m especially interested in all of the philosophy, theology, history, and writings of the individuals and heresiarchs involved in the controversies, heresies, orthodoxy, and finally defined resolutions of the ancient Ecumenical Councils.
It’s very easy to find all of the works of the latter Doctors and Fathers, not so much the earlier ones.
I found a four-volume set of the Sentences of Petrus Lombardus and think it’s outstanding - learning theology the way it was taught to the Angelic Doctor himself - and the best Patristic resource I’ve yet to come across.
That’s a really difficult question, for me anyway. I’ve usually thought about the two ideas separately. I’ll try and work it out here and now.
For one thing we need to realize that there are two things going on in theosis. St. John of the Cross’s analogy of the window that someone gave already could be a good way to look at it. On the one hand there’s the light coming through the window, and on the other hand there’s the cleaning of the window. If we take the window analogy too far it starts to fail (like any analogy) because how you clean a window would have nothing to do with the source of light whereas our purification is by God’s grace, but the point there is our own purification and the experience of God’s grace, and experience divine presence which increases with that purification.
The purification would be the result of the synergy between actual grace and our free will, so no, I’d say that part is not the same as sanctification in the Catholic sense (as opposed to the Wesleyan sense of the word). But what about the actual work of sanctifying grace?
Here for good measure we should probably make another distinction, whether or not it turns out to be necessary to answer the question. Some theologians (Scotus I think was one) equated the Divine Indwelling with sanctifying grace, but Aquinas, and the mainstream thought of the Western Church I think, have distinguished between the two. Divine Indwelling is the special presence of the Holy Spirit (actually of the whole Trinity) in the soul while sanctifying grace is the gift of habitual holiness which always accompanies that presence.
Now, theosis would be the process by which we come to participate in the divine nature. Would final theosis or divinization only be able to happen at the Beatific Vision, when we see God “face to face”? I would think so. But certainly there are lesser degrees of spiritual perfection and even mystical experience that may be made available here and now.
Hmm, and there’s another complication- mystical experiences. In both Eastern and Western Catholicism there have been those who have described mystical experiences of God that in the West we call “infused contemplation”. Where does this fit in to the picture?
My best guess is that theosis would be an umbrella term to include personal purification (through the interaction of actual grace and free will), the gift of habitual holiness through sanctifying grace (obtained through the sacraments, especially baptism and the Eucharist), the Divine Indwelling, and finally the mystical vision of God, possibly through partial experiences in this life and then more fully in the life to come. Or at least a term to describe the later, “unitive” stages of this journey.
I just worked that out as I was writing it and may come to change my mind, but that’s my guess for now.
Are you familiar with this website?
Thank you Aelred Minor, I’ll have to spend some time studying your answer.
Another part of my original question(s) was: Does this begin at baptism and continue after death? Which I guess the answer to second part is yes. This is where prayers for the dead in this process is efficacious.
It is isn’t it.
Have you checked out CCEL? Philip Schaff’s series on the antenicene and postnicene Fathers is a good place to start (and you can read it for free on CCEL).
There are plenty of others, like St. Athanasius, St. John of Damascus, and a bunch of the Early Latin Fathers. You can find a list of all of his works here: ccel.org/ccel/schaff?show=worksBy