A profound explanation of this question. Christ’s ascension, the article says, opens a new type of existence for men. When Saint John said in the Book of Revelation, "I saw heaven opened (Rev 19:11), heaven was opened to us too. When Christ went to heaven, men were connected with heaven too, and God opens Himself with men, even in this life, as is the case, now, with the eucharist.
I read the article but I’m not seeing the point. I don’t see how Christ’s ascension to heaven increases the blessings already bestowed on us by his life, death, and resurrection.
I quit reading after the part where it said “the Eucharist leads to our deification”. Um no. We don’t become deities or on the same level with God. We experience His presence but that is not the same thing as “deification”.
Also, as far as Heaven being “opened”, I thought that happened already when Jesus descended into Hell, freed the just people who had died before him, and opened Heaven’s gates to them. vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p122a5p1.htm
“Deification” or “theosis”, i.e. the partaking/sharing of the divine nature is a major concept in orthodox Christianity, Catholicism included and especially in the East. It’s what the Catechism means when it says “man becomes God”, and “God assumed our nature… so that he, made man, might make men gods” (cf. CCC 460; 2 Peter 1:4).
No, man does not become God or a god, but in a way, he does become God because God’s very life dwells in him. It’s what gives us the power to become adopted children of God because without this “deification”, we are only creatures. We are farther in nature from God than our dog is to us. Infinitely father. To become children of God, we need to, in a way, share the nature of our adopter, which requires God to transform us by sanctifying grace.
The mystery of “deification” or “theosis” also ties in closely with the Ascension, because one of the mysteries of the Ascension is that man is now in heaven.
Read up on it. It’s a rich theological concept, and is not to be dismissed at all.
I can accept it more framed as becoming “children of God” than I can in the idea of men becoming God. I accept that it is a concept that is taught and explored in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, however it is also my understanding that the reaction to it in the Western churches has been largely negative. I think it would take a lot of careful training and deep understanding of the concept for people in Western society, which is very self-centered and tends to elevate self to the level of a god far too often, to keep from abusing the concept.
With all due respect, I think I’ll refrain from exploring it as it is not part of my tradition and I am uncomfortable with it.
With its inclusion in our Catechism, it is indeed part of our Western thought.
Discomfort should not dissuade anyone from exploring this extremely rich concept. It’s a further testament to God’s love for us. That we in Western society are self-centered is beside the point. We do not deny or reject the gift of God’s own life that he has given us.
I always put it this way. I have two dogs. I love them dearly; I feed them and play with them, and just recently I mourned the passing of one before adopting another.
We even joke that these are our babies. But I know that no matter how much I love and care for them and feed them and play with them, I could never adopt them as my children. I can never leave my inheritance to them, they will never be my heirs and they can never carry on my legacy.
Why is that?
Because they do not share my nature. I am man, they are dog.
Well, we humans are farther from God in the order of things than our dogs are from us. There is no way we creatures can ever become children of God, unless we somehow became “God” too. Partaking of the divine nature is scriptural and rooted in Tradition and is the truth, and truth cannot be rejected. This is what sanctifying grace is: the very life of God himself, and one cannot have it without being “deified” in a manner of speaking. It is the only way we can lay claim to becoming God’s children is if we first of all are transformed to share God’s divinity. This is what happens at baptism, and increases through the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist.
Divine adoption is way, way, far, far more powerful than human adoption, which is little more than a signature on paper. Divine adoption involves real, transformative power than cannot be made possible without God initiating a real, ontological change in our very nature.
Reconsider your position.
I looked up a past thread on theosis and found a very good statement from a member called Aelred Minor that summarizes my position very well:
"It’s highly mysterious and probably impossible for us to figure out in this life. The thing to keep in mind is that we as Christians are called to a very intimate communion with God, one in which we participate in but are not absorbed into God or made equal to God. "
My problem with the word “deification” as opposed to other term such as “children of God”, “sons of God” etc. is that the word can be read to suggest that man is somehow being made “equal to God” when really man is just “partaking in God’s divinity” or becoming part of a “communion” with God. I have never heard the word “deification” commonly used by a priest or a religious instructor in my faith, whereas I have heard all the other expressions I just listed many, many times and because they to me illustrate the point of Aelred Minor’s that I bolded above, I am more comfortable with that.
It may be that my brain is incapable of understanding all the dimensions of a union with God and that saints and theologians have a better handle on this but I think I will just keep thinking in terms of “child of God”, “communion with God”, “partaking in God’s divinity” (which happens to some extent whenever we receive the Eucharist) and leave it at that. I will let the experts argue about terms like “deification”.