Sunday, January 15, 2006

Thoughts on Theosis

An illustration that communicates my understanding of glorification/conformation into the image of God (I see these as largely identical in Paul’s thought) is as follows:

As a spring-fed mountain top lake overflows into a depression on the mountain side, forming an identical yet non-self sustaining lake below, so too the Christ “overflows” via his Holy Spirit into the eikonic depression that is humanity, sharing his glory and nature with us and making us identical to himself in all ways save one; we are not self-sustaining. He is the head through which life comes to the body. He can live without us, but we cannot live without him. So just as Christ possesses dual natures—his divine one by right and his human one by adoption—we too possess dual natures—our divine one by adoption and our human one by right.

I am not suggesting that we become God, additional members of the Trinity, yet—dare I say it—we really do become members of the divine family. I’ve not really settled on a way to communicate this without either overreaching on the one hand, or understating my position on the other, but I want to both communicate the ontological unity that exists between us and God through Christ via the Holy Spirit, as well as the ontological diversity that forever remains. We are not, and cannot be, eternal or self-sustaining and in this way we are merley sharers in a nature that is not inherently our own, yet it is a nature that has graciously become ours through our union with Christ.

When I let myself think about this, the “weight of glory” is almost terrifying—it’s almost too much. Yet the branch is ontologically identical to the vine in all things. To be like Christ—to share in his glory and divine nature (as Peter also affirms in 1:3) yet to be ever dependant upon him—this for me is the end toward which salvation reaches.


the forester said...

Nicely written. You've always got a strong concrete image to illustrate your point. As you said, it's difficult not to overreach with this issue. At a fundamental sense we will always be the creature, not the Creator. And yet God indwells us, lives in us and allows us to live in Him. Here are mysteries that blur the division between us -- all to our immeasurable benefit.

At times I am thunderstruck by the fact that God is so good, that our ultimate fate is so good, that the very tapestry of our lives is so good, thanks to Jesus Christ. Had God been a cold and distant God, a capricious and sadistic God, He still would have been good, in the sense that all morality would have been measured by its accordance with His nature. But we are the creation of a God so merciful, so benevolent and gracious, that the inheritance He has in store for us is too sweet for us to comprehend.

Gerald said...

Well said, friend.