Salvation By Christ: A Response to the Credenda/Agenda
A Response to Credenda / Agenda on Orthodoxys Teaching of Theosis and the Doctrine of Salvation
by Carmen Fragapane
This if part of a series in response to the Protestant Reformed publication
Credenda / Agenda
What does the Orthodox Church intend to convey when it speaks of
"deification" or "divinization" (from the Greek words theosis or
theopoieto make divine)? Because such terminology is used by
groups that espouse non-orthodox teachings, such as Mormonism, qualification is necessary
to avoid the possibility of misunderstanding. The Orthodox doctrine of theosis
neither impugns Trinitarian doctrine, nor entails a loss of humanity. Robert M. Bowman,
Jr., a Protestant, explains: "In keeping with monotheism, the Eastern Orthodox do not
teach that men literally become "gods" (which would be polytheism). Rather, as
did many of the church fathers, they teach that men are "deified" in the sense
that the Holy Spirit dwells within Christian believers and transforms them into the image
of God in Christ, eventually endowing them in the resurrection with immortality and
Gods perfect moral character" [1; see also Note-B].
Historically, the word theosis was employed both in
pre-Christian Greek antiquity, and also in pagan quarters existing contemporaneously with
the early Christian Church, as F.W. Norris notes: "The use of theosis was
daring. Non-Christians employed it to speak of pagan gods deifying creatures. The
philosophers Iamblichus and Proclus, the poet Callimachus and the dreaded Julian the
Apostate had used theoo in that way. It was not first a Christian word nor always
employed by only Christians after they made it central. From within his deep contemplative
life and from previous Church Tradition the Theologian picked it up, cleaned it up and
filled it up with Christian sense. He and his fellow theologians took it captive and used
it to speak about Christian realities" .
So the Church Fathers were careful to contrast their views with those
of pagan thinkers who spoke in similar language (see Note-C).
For example, St. Athanasius, who, as we shall see, testifies to theosis on
innumerable occasions in his writings, notes that "We are as God by imitation, not by
nature" ; and "Albeit we cannot become like God in
essence, yet by progress in virtue imitate God" . Jaroslav
Pelikan, Church historian, Sterling Professor Emeritus of History at Yale University and
recent convert to Orthodoxy, explains that: "All of this Christian language about a
humanity made divine was a part of a total Cappadocian system in which the Classical
religion of deified men and women and of anthropomorphic gods and goddesses was described
as the superstition of polytheism and as the error of those mere mortals who
had turned aside the honor of God to themselves. Therefore, the Cappadocians
insisted that it was as essential for theosis as it was for the incarnation itself
not to be viewed as analogous to Classical theories about the promotion of human beings to
divine rank, and in that sense not to be defined by natural theology at all; on such
errors they pronounced their Anathema!" .
Despite all of this, however, Douglas Jones, in
the Volume 6 No. 5 issue of Credenda / Agenda, unambiguously rejects the
Eastern Orthodox incorporation of theosis into its understanding of salvation,
arguing that: "by making Neoplatonism central to their doctrine of salvation, they
come into direct conflict with apostolic warnings against mixing pagan and Christian
thought (Col. 2:8)." He outlines his reasons for believing that elements of Hellenic
philosophy has caused Orthodoxy to apostatize from the Christian Faith in the Non Est
article "Salvation by Plotinus" (hereafter SBP), but also touches on it in the Thema
piece "Eastern Heterodoxy" (hereafter EH). This paper will focus on the claims
made in SBP, with particular attention given to the historic Christian witness to theosis
and its relationship to grace and justification by faith.
According to the thesis of SBP, it is the understanding of salvation as
coming from the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross that has been compromised by theosis,
and to this charge we shall soon turn in detail. A good bit of the problem in SBP is that
Jones translates the Orthodox emphasis on theosis and the transfigured life into a
harmful neglect of the saving work of Christ on the Cross. This is reminiscent of the
popular misconception that the Eastern Church is the Church of the Transfiguration and
Resurrection; exalting the divinity of Christ, whereas Western Christianity is the Church
of the Cross; exalting His humanity. Historically speaking, it is possible that this
notion has been fueled by the fact that it was in the Christian East where the conflict
with the fourth century Arian heresy, which denied the full divinity of Christ, was waged.
Orthodox Christian opposition, culminating in the First cumenical Synod (325), was to
leave an indelible imprint upon Eastern Christian consciousness. We can see why, then, to
this day Christ is often referred to in the Divine Liturgy as "Christ our God."
But it must not be forgotten that it was also in the Christian East
where Synods assembled (fifth through seventh centuries) to set forth orthodox doctrine
concerning the full humanity of Christ; insisting on a true human nature, soul and will.
Moreover, when one carefully sifts through the Eastern spiritual tradition, much more
balance than often supposed between the Cross and the Resurrection is found to exist. To
be certain, Orthodoxy is absolutely clear that our salvation is secured for us on Calvary,
as Fr. Georges Florovsky, eminent priest, theologian and scholar rightly notes:
"Salvation is completed on Golgotha, not on Tabor, and the Cross of Jesus was
foretold even on Tabor (Cf. Luke 9:31)." Indeed, "the Tabor light which
surrounds the risen Christ in His glorious victory over death, i.e., in His saving
resurrection, is the light which enters the world by way of the cross, and no other
way" . As we shall see later, the liturgical service books
employed in Orthodox worship are packed with references to the redemptive work of Christ
on Calvary. Most Western Christians are accustomed to catechisms, and while they do not
play as great a role in Orthodoxy, they nonetheless exist, and easily provide
corroboration of this. For example, in A New Style Catechism on the Eastern Orthodox
Faith for Adults, after quoting 1 John 2:2He is the expiation of our sins,
and not for ours only but for the sins of the whole worldit states: "The
Sacrifice of Christ is offered because of His love for mankind. He replaced the penalties
of man, and by His Sacrifice reconciled man with God. Mans finite mind cannot
comprehend the economy of this God-saving deed, which remains a mystery of the
ages in that the highest penalty was imposed on the Innocent One instead of the
Moreover, Orthodoxy, in discussions of redemption, in fact employs many
other salvific metaphors besides theosis, and in doing so follows an eclectic
approach that, as we shall see later, one finds operative in the early Church. Evangelical
Professor and scholar Daniel Clendenin offers some much needed corrective to the distorted
picture given in SBP: "Theosis and other biblical metaphors for the work of
Christ need not be understood as contradicting one another. There is no reason that they
cannot be seen as complementary. The East emphasizes the crucial idea of mystical union
and divine transformation, while the West tends to stress the believers juridical
standing before a holy God. Both conceptions, and others beside, find biblical support and
deserve full theological expression" . It will be shown in
this essay that themes of theosis and justification not only are not mutually
exclusive, but in fact flow one from the other.
Reading SBP, the reader hears echoes of nineteenth century liberal
Protestant scholar Adolf Von Harnacks contention that Christianitys encounter
with the surrounding Hellenic culture in its formative years compromised Christian dogma
to the point of obscuring the basic truths of the Gospel (see Note-A).
Harnack argued that this was especially true of the Eastern Orthodox Church, as its
theology was expounded largely by theologians shaped by Hellenic modes of thought, such as
St. Athanasius, St. Gregory of Nazianzus and St. Basil the Great. The utilization of Greek
philosophy to help enunciate matters of faith naturally led Harnack to reject the dogmas
of the cumenical Synods that convened to address heterodox christology and pneumatology.
Despite the surface similarities between Harnack and Jones, however, the latter does not
treat theosis and the accompanying charge of hellenization in a systematic way as
the former did, as neither topic is addressed within the context of the Church Fathers.
But those who have argued that a hellenization of Eastern Christianity occurred have
always framed their assertions within the context of the early Church, and Jones
failure to address his claims in like manner only serves to weaken the foundation of the
charges made against Orthodoxy in his paper.
So despite the fact that "Deification, as Gods greatest gift
to man and the ultimate goal of human existence, had always been a prime consideration in
the teachings of the Church Fathers on salvation" , one
could read SBP and be quite unaware that the theme of theosis is interwoven
throughout the Patristic writings. This was explicitly stated as early as the second
century by St. Irenaeus, who was the spiritual grandson of the Apostle John. In his famous
work Against Heresies he writes in the preface of the fifth discourse that "If
the Word is made man, it is that men might become gods" .
Jones includes several quotes pertinent to theosis, but without exception
they are drawn from contemporary Orthodox writers; for example, Bishop Kallistos (Ware).
Of course, the emphasis is on Orthodoxy selling out the Faith to Plotinus, and so the
reader is left to interpret Jones statement that theosis is "drawn from
a long development of Eastern/Hellenistic theological reflection" accordingly.
It is not difficult to understand why Protestant statements relative to
theosis are not addressed in the context of the Church Fathers: this "long
development" includes Saints that many Evangelicals hold up as pillars of the Faith.
Many will, in fact, attempt to demonstrate that the Fathers were doctrinally synonymous
with their own teachings on any number of subjects. Jones and the editors of
Credenda/Agenda are no exception, devoting sections (Patres and Verbatim)
that include selected quotes from the Fathers that relate to a particular issues
theme (see Note-Q). But it is woefully inadequate to
merely cut and paste statements made by the Fathers, as if to suggest that these Fathers
had the same phronema, or mindset. As Georges Florovsky pointed out: "The
Church always stresses the identity of her faith throughout the ages. This identity and
permanence, from Apostolic times, is indeed the most conspicuous token and sign of right
faith. In the famous phrase of Vincent of Lérins, in ipsa item catholica ecclesia
magnopere curandum est ud id teneamus quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum
est. However, antiquity by itself is not yet an adequate proof of the true
faith. Archaic formulas can be utterly misleading. Vincent himself was aware of
The true tradition is only the tradition of truth, traditio veritatis.
And this true tradition, according to St. Irenaeus, is grounded in, and
guaranteed by, that charisma veritatis certum, which has been deposited from
the very beginning in the Church and preserved in the uninterrupted succession of
Apostolic ministry: qui cum episcopatus successione charisma veritatis certum
acceperunt (Adv. Haereses IV.40.2). Thus, tradition in the Church is not
merely the continuity of human memory; the permanence of rites and habits. Ultimately,
tradition is the continuity of divine assistance, the abiding presence of the
Holy Spirit. The Church is not bound by the letter. She is constantly moved
forth by the Spirit. The same Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, which spake
through the Prophets, which guided the Apostles, which illumined the Evangelists, is
still abiding in the Church, and guides her into the fuller understanding of the divine
truth, from glory to glory" . Credenda / Agendas
use of the Fathers amounts to little more than a "sola Patera" exercise, for
when the Fathers are stripped from their traditional, ecclesial context, they can be made
to say anything.
Jones levels some heavy indictments against Orthodoxy for its adoption
of theosis. One who has read the Fathers in context wonders why he does not level
the same charges against many of the Fathers which are quoted approvingly in the
Credenda/Agenda issue in question. For example, St. Athanasius could hardly escape
blame, since theosis figured prominently in his soteriology .
In his masterpiece On the Incarnation of the Word of God (54:3), he wrote
the classic statement for theosis: "He, indeed, assumed humanity that we might
become God" . In fact, theosis was used by him in
his defense of the full deity of Christ against the Arians: "The Word could never
have divinized us if He were merely divine by participation and were not Himself the
essential Godhead, the Fathers veritable image" . He
argues in like manner against the Tropici sect concerning the Holy Spirits divinity,
stating that "If, by a partakability of the Spirit we shall become partakers of the
divine nature, it would be madness then afterwards to call the Spirit an originated
entity, and not of God; for on account of this also those who are in him are made divine.
But then if he makes man divine, it is not dubious to say his nature is of God" 
Of course, others have realized the implications of all of this, as
Bowman explains: "It should not be argued that anyone who speaks of
deification necessarily holds to a heretical view of man. Such a sweeping
judgment would condemn many of the early churchs greatest theologians (e.g.
Athanasius, Augustine), as well as one of the three main branches of historic orthodox
Christianity in existence today" . This statement truly
cuts to the heart of the matter. There is no logical reason why charges of pagan
perversion should be leveled against the Orthodox Churchwhich has preserved
unadulterated the teaching of these Holy Fathers, but not against the Fathers themselves.
It is a glaring inconsistency to label Orthodoxy apostate and ignore the centuries of
theological formulation of the very doctrines one is attacking. In fact, from a scholarly
perspective, it is nothing short of baffling how the Orthodox Church could even be
doctrinally studiedlet alone condemnedoutside of a Patristic context. No
reputable Church historian could dispute the theological continuity between the Eastern
Church of the first eight centuries and the present Eastern Orthodox Church.
Moreover, it is this essential unity that provides the very basis for
understanding how Orthodox doctrine flows from a right understanding of who Christ is as
God and Man (see Note-S). Pelikan, commenting on the
importance of Ephesus and Chalcedon, observes that "a false understanding of the
relation between the divine and human in Christ deprived human nature of the hope of
salvation, for salvation could have come only through a distinct human hypostasis" . It is no accident, then, that theosis was discussed by the
Fathers within the context of the early christological and pneumatological heresies that
culminated in the cumenical Synods that convened to address them. We have seen how theosis
formed a part of Nicene theology; St. Gregory of Nyssa likewise did with regard to later
christological issues: "The God who was manifested mingled himself with the nature
that was doomed to death, in order that by communion with the divinity human nature may be
deified together with him" . Vladimir Lossky, one of the
premier Orthodox theologians of the twentieth century of Blessed Memory, sums up this
all-important point: "The Fathers of the Christological centuries, though
they formulated a dogma of Christ the God-Man, never lost sight of the question concerning
our union with God. The usual arguments they bring up against unorthodox doctrines
refer particularly to the fullness of our union, our deification, which becomes impossible
if one separates the two natures of Christ, as Nestorius did, or if one only ascribes to
Him one divine nature, like the Monophysites, or if one curtails one part of human nature,
like Appolinarius, or if one sees in Him a single divine will and operation, like the
Monothelites. What is not assumed, cannot be deified this is the
argument to which the Fathers continually return" [19; see also Note-R].
Now, many Evangelicals accept the dogmatic definitions of these
cumenical Synods that set forth orthodox doctrine on the Person of Christ
definitions which Harnack and others have denounced as eclipsing the "Biblical"
Christ. Now if this is not true, then why say the same thing about Orthodoxy? Is there a
departure in Orthodoxys christology or trinitarianism from that which we find in
them? Of course not, and in EH Jones even acknowledges Orthodoxys strict adherence
to the work of these Synods. It would seem that Jones is so intent on portraying Orthodoxy
as a Neoplatonic cult that he has not taken time to mull over the implications of his
assertions. As Pelikan notes, "There are many writers, and not only skeptical
writers, but Christian theologiansincluding, indeed, the most important school of
German theology in recent timeswho hold that the great controversies of the early
Church about the Trinity and the Incarnation were
about subtleties introduced by
Greek philosophy into the Christian religion" . The burden
of proof is upon Jones to demonstrate how oft-cited Fathers like Sts. Athanasius, Basil
the Great and Augustineall of whom accepted theosis and utilized Greek
philosophical elements in their theologycan evade his own thesis that these elements
"come into direct conflict with apostolic warnings against mixing pagan and Christian
thought (Col. 2:8)." Actually, Jones Calvinist tradition is not entirely immune
from this charge, for "Indirectly, through the works of Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose,
Augustine, Pseudo-Dionysius and others Neoplatonism exerted great influence not only on
medieval Christianity but on all Christians who ever since, consciously or not, have been
indebted to these thinkers" .
And yet according to Jones (EH), any such presence of Hellenic concepts
within Orthodox theology renders the Godhead a "paganized deity." Jones is
evidently unaware that this accusation would impugn St. Augustine, for he used some of
Plotinus ideas about three hypostases in his own trinitarian theology, and others
besides, as J.P. Farrell notes: "As in Neoplatonism, where the being, will and
activity of the One were wholly indistinguishable, so it is in Saint Augustine
when he considers what the definition of simplicity implies for the attributes. The
essence and attributes of God are identified: The Godhead, he writes, is
absolutely simple essence, and therefore to be is then the same as to be wise. But
Saint Augustine carries the logic beyond this to insist also on the identity of the
attributes amongst themselves" .
Despite the admission in SBP that the Orthodox "reject simplicity
as a basis for Gods unknowability and Plotinus exclusive concern for the
intellect," all Jones can say of this is that "By claiming that such trifling
adjustments remove Hellenism from their theology, these thinkers show how deeply ingrained
their neo-Platonism truly is" (see Note-A). Jones
also appears to be unaware that the Greek concept of the simplicity of God is not a minor
issue: "Emil Brunner considers that the most perilous of all Greek concepts is that
of the absolute simplicity of God, derived from Neo-Platonism by way of
Pseudo-Dionysius. Strictly speaking, this concept not only forbids all anthropomorphism in
the idea of God (such as is common in the Old Testament) but all distinguishable
attributes whatsoever. It tends, we may say, to replace the God Paul preached to the
Athenians with the Unknown God they had ignorantly worshipped before hearing
the Gospel at all" .
It would seem that the hapless pursuit of a "pure"
Christianity that only acknowledges its Hebraic roots (see Note-O)
must be taken into consideration here. This, of course, is
historically untenable on a number of counts. First, it is clear from the New Testament
that Judaism also posed a threat to some of the emerging church communitiesjust as
St. Paul warned the nascent church community at Collosae about the potential dangers of
Greek philosophy (Col. 2:8), so too did he warn the Galatians about slipping back into
Judaic practices (Gal. 3). Secondly, the very core dogmas of Christianity concerning the
nature of God were formulated amidst a Hellenic culture in light of previous monotheistic
beliefs inherited from Judaism, as Pelikan explains: "The congruence of Cappadocian
trinitarianism, this chief dogma, with Cappadocian apologetics, was summarized
in their repeated claim that the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity was located
between the two conceptions of Hellenism and Judaism, by invalidating
both ways of thinking, while accepting useful components of each. Gregory of Nyssa
put this claim boldly: The Jewish dogma is destroyed by the acceptance of the Logos
and by belief in the Spirit, while the polytheistic error of the Greek school is made to
vanish by the unity of the [divine] nature abrogating this imagination of plurality.
In sum, therefore, Of the Jewish conception, let the unity of the nature stand; and
of the Hellenic, only the distinction as to the hypostases, the remedy against a profane
view being thus applied, as required, on either side" .
Similarly, Lossky notes that "It required the superhuman efforts of an Athanasius of
Alexandria, of a Basil, of a Gregory of Nazianzen and of many others, to purify the
concepts of Hellenistic thought, to break down the watertight bulkheads by the
introduction of a Christian apophaticism which transformed rational speculation into a
contemplation of the mystery of the Trinity" .
The twin experiences of Judaism and Hellenism in the history of
Orthodoxy are masterfully counterbalanced by Lossky: "Christianity at once fulfills
and scandalizes. But whatever may be the attitude of the Greeks and the
Jews who deny Christ, in the Churchthat is to say in the body of this
Word which reclaims all things, makes anew, purifies and puts every truth in its proper
placethere should be no difference between Greek and Jew. Two dangers appear here:
the first is that the theologian may be a Greek in the Church, that he may
allow himself to be dominated by his forms of expression to the point of intellectualizing
revelation, and to lose at once the biblical sense of the concrete and this existential
character of the encounter with God which is concealed in the apparent anthropomorphism of
Israel. To this danger, which goes from the Scholastics to the intellectuals of the
nineteenth century, corresponds in our age an inverse danger: that of a somewhat
structured biblicism which wishes to oppose the Hebrew tradition to
Greek philosophy, and attempts to remake theory in purely Semitic categories.
But theology must be of universal expression. It is not by accident that God has placed
the Fathers of the Church in a Greek setting; the demands for lucidity in philosophy and
profundity in gnosis have forced them to purify and to sanctify the language of the
philosophers and of the mystics, to give the Christian message, which includes but goes
beyond Israel, all its universal reach" .
Theosis Used in the Western Church
Although theosis is presented in Jones articles as a
strictly Eastern Christian phenomenon, it is important to note that the doctrine is found
in several Western Church Fathers, as well as in isolated strands of Western Christian
thought throughout the ages . St. Hilary of Poitiers, known as
the "Athanasius of the West" and the most respected Latin theologian of the
mid-fourth century, writes in his work On the Trinity that "the assumption of
our nature was no advancement for God, but His willingness to lower Himself is our
promotion, for He did not resign His divinity but conferred divinity on man." He
further writes that our Lord came to earth for the purpose "that man might become
God" . St. Jerome testifies "That we are gods is not
so by nature, but by grace. But to as many as receive Him he gave power of becoming
sons of God" .
The second century Latin theologian Tertullian provides an interesting
case, for although arguing against any synthesis of Christianity and philosophy (in
similar manner to Jones), asking "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?"
nonetheless has no problem with a concept of theosis! In the fifth chapter of his
writing Against Hermogenes, he states that "Truth, however maintains the unity
of God in such a way as to insist that whatever belongs to God Himself belongs to Him
alone. For so will it belong to Himself if it belong to Him alone; and therefore it will
be impossible that another god should be admitted, when it is permitted to no other being
to possess anything of God. Well, then, you say, we ourselves at that rate possess nothing
of God. But indeed we do, and shall continue to doonly it is from Him that we
receive it, and not from ourselves. For we shall be even gods, if we, shall deserve to be
among those of whom He declared, I have said, Ye are gods, and God
standeth in the congregation of the gods. But this comes of His own grace, not from
any property in us, because it is He alone who can make gods."
A very significant Patristic witness against Jones conception of theosis
as an exclusively Hellenized view of salvation is the fourth century "lyre of the
Holy Spirit," St. Ephrem the Syrian. As Sebastian Brock points out: "It has
sometimes been said that the divinization, or theosis, of humanity is something
that crept into Christianity, especially Eastern Christianity, under Hellenic influence.
It is clear, however, that St. Ephraim, whom Theodoret described as unacquainted
with the language of the Greeks, and whose thought patterns are essentially semitic
and biblical in character, is nonetheless an important witness to this teaching. Moreover
in this context it should be recalled that, since the term son of implies
belonging to the category of, the title children of God to which
Christians attain at baptism would suggest to the Semitic mind that they had, potentially,
the characteristics of divine beings, in other words, immortality. Once again the
theological content of St. Ephraims poetry is remarkably similar to his Greek
contemporariesonly the mode of expression is different. Just as St. Athanasius
expressed this mystery epigrammatically (God became man so that man might become
God), so too, in his own way, does St. Ephraim: He gave us Divinity, we gave
Him humanity" (Hymn on Faith V.17). Similarly, St. Ephrem writes in his
Genesis commentary that, had Adam and Eve not disobeyed Gods command, "they
would have acquired divinity in humanity." And from the hymn "On
Virginity": "Divinity flew down and descended to raise and draw up humanity. The
Son has made beautiful the servants deformity, and he has become a god, just as he
St. Augustine has historically enjoyed wide admiration within
Protestantism. And while his views of grace and predestination are most familiar to
Protestants, he is nonetheless an important witness to theosis (see Note-E),
as Gerald Bonner explains: "There is, however, in
Augustines spirituality another element, perceived as a consequence of Christs
taking human nature upon himself; for it is in Christ and through Christ, and only in and
through Christ, that man becomes a partaker of Gods nature: He who was God was
made man to make gods those who were men (serm. 192.1, 1). These words, which
parallel the more-often-quoted words of St Athanasius in his De Incarnatione, show
that Augustine did not shrink from using the language of deification, often said to be
peculiar to the Greek Fathers" . In fact, as G.W.H. Lampe
points out, "Augustine repeats more often, perhaps, than any of the Greek
theologians, the theme of the interchange of places. The Word, he
says, became what we are that we might attain what we are not. For we are not God; but we
can see God with the mind and interior eye of the heart
God hates you as
you are, in order to make you what you are not yet. You will be what he is; but
Augustine hastens to add that this means that we shall be Gods image in the sense in
which a mans reflection in a mirror is his image inasmuch as it is like him,
not in the sense in which a mans son is his image inasmuch as he is actually
what his father is according to substance" .
Bonner stresses that "the notion of deification is to be found in
Augustine, not as something added to his system as an afterthought, but as an integral
whole. In itself, the notion of deification is no more than what is implied by the New
Testament term uiothesia sonship by adoption by grace, that is to
say, and not by nature. It is, indeed, the consequence of human flesh being assumed by the
divinity in the Incarnation: that flesh has been taken into heaven by the ascended Christ,
and if men participate in Him through membership of the Church, the Body of Christ, they
too may hope, after death, to enjoy the divinisation effected by His flesh-taking. So
Augustine writes, in the last chapter of the last book of The City of God: We
ourselves shall become that seventh day [i.e. the eternal Sabbath], when we have been
replenished and restored by His blessing and sanctification. There we shall have leisure
to be still, and we shall see that He is God, whereas we wished to be that ourselves when
we fell away from Him, after listening to the seducer saying: You will be like gods.
Then we abandoned the true God, by whose creative help we should have become gods, but by
participating in Him, not by deserting Him" .
C.S. Lewis (1898 1963), the popular author of numerous
apologetic, theological and fictional works, provides a good example of a contemporary
Western writermuch beloved of Evangelicalswho makes use of the idea of theosis.
In his famed Mere Christianity, he basically recites the famous Athanasian theosis
statement into more modern language: "He came to this world and became a man in order
to spread to other men the kind of life He has by what I call good
infection. Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of
becoming a Christian is simply nothing else" . He spells
this out more succinctly a little later in the book: "The command Be ye perfect
is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us
into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were
gods and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him for we can
prevent Him, if we choose He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god
or goddess, dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy
and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which
reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless
power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but
that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said .
Finally, Lewis talks about God "turning you permanently into a different sort of
thing; into a new little Christ, a being which, in its own way, has the same kind of life
as God; which shares in His power, joy, knowledge and eternity" .
As we have already seen in Evangelicals like Daniel Clendenin and
Robert Bowman, the attitude taken by many scholars within this tradition to theosis
is quite different than that of Jones. Robert Rakestraw of Bethel Theological Seminary
testifies that: "I am convinced that we may receive considerable benefit from a
judicious understanding and appropriation of the doctrine," and calls attention to
the eminently Scriptural witness to theosis: "The most significant benefit is
that the concept as a whole, if not the specific terminology, is biblical. Pauline
teaching supports much that is emphasized by theosis theologians. In 2 Corinthians
3, Paul writes that Christians, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lords
glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes
from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17-18). The Christian who experiences
this transformation develops a remarkable God-given assurance that she is actually
thinking the thoughts of God, doing the works of God, and, at times, even speaking the
words of God. These energies and ministries of God in the Christian yielded to her Lord
are the natural outcome of the life of God in the soul." Rakestraw goes on to discuss
theosis in several other Scriptural contexts as well (1 Cor. 2:13, 16; 1 Thes.
2:13; 1 Pet. 4:11; Col. 1:15, 28, 2:9-10, 3:3-4; Gal. 2:20, 4:19, 1 John 4:16, etc.) .
So while theosis has historically been a much more prominent
Eastern Christian theme, is has been voiced by Western Christians since ancient times. In
addition to the individuals sampled above, theosis has been a part of Anabaptist
spirituality ; it formed a part of Wesleys views on
sanctification , and as we shall see in the next section, it has
also been found to exist in Martin Luthers writings. Theosis has recently
been experiencing a rediscovery of sorts by many within the Protestant
tradition, who find it to be a neglected yet significant means of understanding the
salvation we have in Christ. Norris correctly notes that "Because significant Western
theologians confess this deep sense of sharing in the divine nature and others like John
Calvin and Bernard of Clairvaux speak of the beautific vision and mystical union with God,
deification should be viewed by Protestants not as an oddity of Orthodox theology but as
an ecumenical consensus, a catholic teaching of the Church, best preserved and developed
by the Orthodox" .
Justification vs. Theosis?
In SBP Jones sets theosis over and against themes of
justification by faith, atonement, etc., insisting that they are mutually incompatible.
The first point that could be made is that nowhere in early Christian history (East or
West) do we find anyone arguing against the teaching of theosis. Secondly, the
notion that redemption should be rigidly interpreted in one particular way is itself
foreign to early Christian thought: "The seven ecumenical councils avoided defining
salvation through any [one model] alone. No universal Christian consensus demands that one
view of salvation includes or excludes all others" . J.N.D.
Kelly further explains: "Scholars have often despaired of discovering any single
unifying thought in the Patristic teaching about the redemption. These various theories,
however, despite appearances, should not be regarded as in fact mutually incompatible.
They were all of them attempts to elucidate the same great truth from different angles;
their superficial divergences are often due to the different Biblical images from which
they started, and there is no logical reason why, carefully stated, they should not be
regarded as complimentary" . And this is precisely what we
find in Orthodoxy: "While insisting in this way upon the unity of Christs
saving economy, the Orthodox Church has never formally endorsed any particular theory of
atonement. The Greek Fathers, following the New Testament, employ a rich variety of images
to describe what the Savior has done for us. These models are not mutually exclusive; on
the contrary, each needs to be balanced by the others. Five models stand out in
particular: teacher, sacrifice, ransom, victory and participation" .
In fact, the entire cleavage of justification and sanctification into
two different themesthe former said to occur instantly, and the latter being a
life-long processis of relatively recent origin in the history of the Church. It was
only in the first era of the Reformation, as the eminent Protestant scholar Allister
McGrath points out, that "A deliberate and systematic distinction is made between the
concept of justification itself (understood as the extrinsic divine pronouncement
of mans new status) and the concept of sanctification or regeneration
(understood as the intrinsic process by which God renews the justified sinner)." He
goes on to explain that: "The significance of the Protestant distinction between iustificatio
and regeneratio is that a fundamental discontinuity has been introduced into the
western theological tradition where none had existed before
understanding of the nature of justification as opposed to its mode
must therefore be regarded as a genuine theological novum .
Interestingly enough, this unjustifiable cleavage has never been a part
of Orthodoxy. After discussing the subject of theosis, Bishop Kallistos (Ware)
explains: "By this time it will be abundantly clear that, when we Orthodox speak
about salvation, we do not have in view any sharp differentiation between justification
and sanctification. Indeed, Orthodox usually have little to say about justification as a
distinct topic. I note, for example, that in my own book The Orthodox Church,
written thirty years ago, the word justification does not appear in the index,
although this was not a deliberate omission. Orthodoxy links sanctification and
justification together, just as St. Paul does in 1 Cor. 6:11: You were washed, you
were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit
of our God. The references to justification in the opening chapters of Romans (for
example 3:20, 24, 28), we understand in the light of Romans 6:4-10, which describe our
radical incorporation through baptism into Christs death, burial and resurrection.
We Orthodox, then, see justification and sanctification as one
one continuous process, to use the words of the Common Statement
issued by the Lutheran-Orthodox Dialogue in North America" .
Even St. Augustine, despite the proto-Protestant conception of him held
by many within the Calvinist tradition, had this view [see Note-D].
McGrath notes that it is "the Augustinian understanding of justification as both
event and process, embracing the beginning, continuation, and perfection of the Christian
life, and thereby subsuming regeneration under justification .
More specifically, St. Augustine integrated theosis within his concept of
justification, as Lampe explains: "Augustine makes much use of the idea of
deification which he equates with sonship towards God. Justification implies deification,
because by justifying men God makes them his sons; if we have been made sons of God (Jn.
1:12) we have also been made gods, not through a natural begetting but through the grace
of adoption." In Augustines one words, "God wishes to make you a god, not
by nature like him whom he begat, but by his gift and adoption. For as he through humanity
became partaker of your mortality, so through exaltation he makes you partaker of his
immortality" (serm. 166.4) . And similarly: "It
is clear that He (i.e. God) calls men gods through their being deified by His grace
and not born of His substance. For He justifies, who is just of Himself and not of
another; and He deifies, who is God of Himself and not by participation in another. Now He
who justifies, Himself deifies, because by justifying He makes sons of God. For to them
gave He power to become the sons of God. If we are made sons of God, we are also made gods;
but this is by grace of adoption, and not by generation (Ennar. In Ps. 49, 2)
Perhaps one might expect that Martin Lutherwho led the
"justification by faith" battle cry in the sixteenth centurywould have
pointed out the apostate nature of theosis in the Fathers and in what he called
"the Greek Church." His writings indicate a familiarityalbeit a
superficial onewith the Greek patristic tradition. Yet we find no such censures; in
fact, theosis imagery is testified to in his very writings! This has been known for
some time. As Marc Lienhard pointed out nearly twenty years ago: "One is not able to
exclude entirely the idea that the theme of divinization was present to a certain extent
in the mind of Luther. The contrary would have been astonishing when one remembers how
familiar he was with the patristic writings" . Indeed,
"For Luther deification is the movement between the communicatio idiomatum and
the beatum commercium. This leads straight into the heart of the concept of
justification by faith. This faith has to be understood as taking part in the life of
Christ and through Christ in the life of God. Luther designates this movement as deiformitas,
in which the believer becomes identical in shape with God justifying her or
him in Christ. Herewith is underlined that deification and justification assume, amplify,
and deepen each other" .
In his commentary on Galatians 3:9, Luther unequivocally states that
"The one who has faith is a completely divine man, a son of God, the inheritor of the
universe. He is the victor over the world, sin, death, and the devil" .
It is in Luthers Dictata super Psalterium that a group of Finnish
scholars have focused much attention recently, finding within it strong deification
imagery. Spearheading this new scholarship is Simo Peuras groundbreaking Mehr als
ein Mensch?, which traces the theme of deification in Luther between the time period
1513 1519. Taking a critical look at this effort, Beilfeldt [see Note-G]
summarizes some of the findings in the Dictata. In the scholion on Psalm 117
(118):12, Luther writes concerning the Christian: "On account of faith in Christ who
dwells in him, he is God, the son of God and infinite (est deus, dei filius et
infinitus), for God already is in him." And "In the commentary on Psalm 84
(85) Luther speaks of a mystical incarnation of Christ in the new people
of faith" and that "he uses an image strongly associated with deification.
The righteousness of Christ looking down from heaven actually elevates believers by
making them heavenly (coelestus): Therefore Christ came to the
earth so that we might be elevated to heaven." In a final sample, Beinfeldt
explains that "If Luther were interested in deification at all, it can hardly be
imagined that he would miss the opportunity provided by verse 6 of Psalm 81 (82) (Dii
estis, et filii Excelsi omnes). In the interlinear gloss he distinguishes
between being gods and being sons of God: I say to you who
are good: You are gods because you are born of God from the Holy Spirit, not through
nature: and you are all sons through the adoption of the most high God the Father.
To be a god is thus to be born from the Holy Spirit, the spirit which makes one just
before God. Luther adds in the marginal gloss that here the speaker passes from the
deceitful body to the true one; he moves from his own goodness to that of
Gods. The imagery of the scholion is even stronger:
you are of God and
are not men
gods and sons of the most high are recalled by him to his own condition (statum).
To be deified is to be called back from human sinfulness to Gods own state. Through
the birth of the Holy Spirit in the believer, God adopts the person, and brings them up to
his own state" .
Indeed, there have been recent fruitful discussions between Lutheran
and Orthodox scholars on the subject of salvation (see Note-H)
that reach the exact opposite of Jones conclusion in SBP that theosis is
incompatible with justification. The Rt. Rev. Michael C.D. McDaniel testifies that
"the Lutheran emphasis on justification in light of the Orthodox emphasis on
deification has revealed that, while Lutherans speak of faith and Orthodox
speak of theosis, both understand the Christians hope as belonging to
God. The Lutheran concern to specify the means of salvation and the Orthodox concern
for its meaning are two insights into the one unspeakably wonderful reality that God, by
grace alone, for the sake of Christ alone, has forgiven our sins and given us everlasting
salvation" . Echoing these sentiments, Paul Hinlicky
testifies that "As a Lutheran, I want to say that the Orthodox doctrine of theosis
is simply true, that justification by faith theologically presupposes it in the same way
that Paul the Apostle reasoned by analogy from the resurrection of the dead to the
justification of the sinner." He further explains that "The Lutheran doctrine of
justification offers an Eastern answer to a Western question: Jesus Christ, in his person
the divine Son of God, is our righteousness. He is the one who in obedience to his Father
personally assumed the sin and death of humanity and triumphed over these enemies on
behalf of helpless sinners, bestowing on then his own Spirit, so that, by the ecstasy of
faith, they become liberated children of God in a renewed creation" .
Dialogue between the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Russian
Orthodox Church concluded that "the traditional Lutheran doctrine of justification
contains the idea of the deification of man. Justification and deification are based on
the real presence of Christ in the word of God, the sacraments and in worship" . "When justification and sanctification are properly
modulated," Henry Edwards explains, "neither excluding justification by faith
alone nor the fruits of that faith, a coherent message results which can be translated
into the Orthodox term theosis
The Lutheran catechisms, the Augsburg
Confession, its Apology, and the Formula of Concord all contain
statements compatible with theosis" .
Essentially, Orthodoxys understanding of salvation fails
Jones criterion of orthodoxy for the following reasons: (1) salvation is not
exclusively explained in the juridical/forensic language inherent to Calvinism; (2) it is
tacitly assumed that theosis can in no wise exist alongside such legal categories,
and (3) the misunderstanding that Orthodox only understand salvation in terms of theosis.
As for point (1), it is first worth pointing out that "a case cannot be made for the
patristic provenance of the Protestant concepts of imputed righteousness or forensic
justification" [57; see also Note-I]. Nevertheless,
juridical languagealthough not used nearly as much as in Western traditionscan
be found in Orthodox writers. Vladimir Lossky, for example, states that "The very
idea of redemption assumes a plainly legal aspect: it is the atonement of the slave, the
debt paid for those who remained in prison because they could not discharge it. Legal also
is the theme of the mediator who reunited man to God through the cross"
. Conversely, participation imagery is not entirely foreign to Calvin, as
Clendenin explains: "the West has a well-developed concept of the Pauline idea of
union with Christ. In the opening pages of book 3 of his Institutes Calvin, for
example, before he raises the issue of justification by faith, speaks of believers
being engrafted into or bonded with Christ through the secret energy of the Holy
The work of scholars within Evangelicalism and other Protestant
traditions amply demonstrates the falsity of point (2). As Clark Pinnock correctly notes,
"The key thing is that salvation involves transformation. It is not cheap grace,
based on bare assent to propositions, or merely a change of status. Romans 5 with its
doctrine of justification is followed by Romans 6 with its promise of union. It is not
just a matter of balancing two ideas; it is a matter of never conceiving of the former
without its goal in the latter. For the justified person is baptized into the death and
resurrection of Jesus Christ. If there is no newness of life, if there is no union with
Christ, if there is no coming out from under the dominion of sin, there is no
salvation" . Concerning (3), we saw the reluctance in
Orthodoxy to formally endorse any one model or metaphor for our salvation which of
course would include theosis. In fact, in a reversal of (3), Orthodox Karmiris
"warns about overemphasizing theosis," as does Stanilaoe .
According to Clendenin, "We can say, then, that in addition to theosis Eastern
theologians affirm any number of biblical metaphors for salvation, including juridical
ones. They acknowledge that the work of Christ cannot be reduced to any single metaphor.
Thus, while legal metaphors are truly Pauline and should be affirmed, they should not be
allowed to dominate, but should be relocated among the host of other biblical
Thomas Torrance provides in conclusion an interesting Protestant
perspective on the fundamental unity of Christs saving work and the appropriation of
that work to us: "It becomes clear, therefore, that what we require to recover is an
understanding of justification which really lets Christ occupy the centre, so that
everything is interpreted by reference to who He was and is. After all, it was not the death
of Jesus that constituted atonement, but Jesus Christ the Son of God offering Himself in
sacrifice for us. Everything depends on who He was, for the significance of His
acts in life and death depends on the nature of His Person. It was He who died for
us, He who made atonement through His one self-offering in life and death.
Hence we must allow the Person of Christ to determine for us the nature of His saving
work, rather than the other way around. The detachment of atonement from incarnation is
undoubtedly revealed by history to be one of the most harmful mistakes of Evangelical
Churches. Nowhere is this better seen, perhaps, than in a theologian as good and great as
James Denney who, in spite of the help offered by James Orr and H.R. Mackintosh, was
unable to see the essential interconnection between atonement and incarnation, and so was,
on his own frank admission, unable to make anything very much of St. Pauls doctrine
of union with Christ. This has certainly been one of the most persistent difficulties in
Scottish theology. In Calvins Catechism we read: Since the whole affiance of
our salvation rests in the obedience which He has rendered to God, His Father, in order
that it might be imputed to us as if it were ours, we must possess Him: for His blessings
are not ours, unless He gives Himself to us first. It is only through union
with Christ that we partake of His benefits, justification, sanctification, etc. That is
why in the Institutes Calvin first offered an account of our regeneration in Christ
before speaking of justification, in order to show that renewal through union with Christ
belongs to the inner content of justification; justification is not merely a judicial or
forensic event but the impartation to us of Christs own divine-human righteousness
which we receive through union with Him. Apart from Christs incarnational union with
us and or union with Christ on that ontological basis, justification degenerates into only
an empty moral relation. That was also the distinctive teaching of the Scots Confession.
But it was otherwise with the Westminster Confession, which reversed the order of things:
we are first justified through a judicial act, then through an infusion of grace we live
the sanctified life, and grow into union with Christ. The effects of this have been
extremely damaging in the history of thought. Not only did it lead to the legalizing, or
(as in James Denneys case) a moralizing of the Gospel, but gave rise to an
evangelical approach to the saving work of Christ in which atonement was
divorced from incarnation, substitution from representation, and the sacraments were
detached from union with Christ; sooner or later within this approach where the
ontological ground for the benefits of Christ had disappeared, justification became
emptied of its objective content and began to be re-interpreted along subjective
Salvation Without the Cross?
Due to the acceptance of points (1-3) outlined above, in SBP it is put
forth that Orthodoxys emphasis on union with Christ via theosis, "omits
or minimizes a justifying Cross." In fact, Jones goes so far as to say that
"Christs substitutionary sacrifice, the hallmark of Christian faith, plays no
central role." Of course, we shall see in this section that the truth of the matter
is otherwisethat "the cross [has] the very deepest expiatory significance that "mans life in its totality, and indeed the life
of the entire world and the whole of creation, finds its source and fulfillment, its
content and purpose in the cross of Christ" . Another
reason that Jones is led to these conclusions is because theosis is often discussed
within the context of the Incarnation. But this very same conception is found in the
Fathers of the Church, as Panagiotes Chrestou notes: "According to Patristic thought,
the Incarnation of the Divine Word granted theosis to mankind" .
This idea is found even in St. Augustine, as Bonner explains: "Augustines view
of deification is conditioned by his understanding of what the Incarnation has done. By
the union of the two natures of God and man in himself, Christ brought about an elevation
of the humanity which he assumed, and by being made members of Christ, who was a partaker
of our human nature, men may be made partakers of the divine nature (ep. 140.4,
While Jones will only consider the Cross as having salvific importance,
this is a marked departure from early Christian understanding. "The Fathers," as
Stanilaoe explains, "do not make the death of Christ into a saving event independent
of the resurrection and incarnation" . St. Athanasius, for
example, notes that "The Savior granted both benefits by the Incarnation: on the one
hand, he abolished death from our midst and, on the other hand, he renewed us" . However, "Both Athanasius and Gregory of Nyssa, while viewing
mans restoration as essentially the effect of the incarnation, were able to find a
logical place for the Lords death conceived as a sacrifice" .
In the minds of the Fathers, "the emphasis on the incarnation was not intended
to exclude the saving value of Christs death. The emphasis was simply the offshoot
of the special interest which the theologians concerned had in the restoration in which,
however conceived, the redemption culminates" . And
commenting on the Orthodox, Rakestraw similarly notes that "Orthodox churches also
work more with the incarnation than with the crucifixion of Christ as the basis of
mans divinization. This is not to say that Christs atonement is minimized in
the work of redemption, but that the intention of the Father in creating humanity in the
first place, and of joining humanity to divinity in the incarnation, is so that human
beings might assume Godlikeness, and be imagers of God in his divine life, character and
The soteriological dimension of the Incarnation, so far from confusing
the fruits of the Cross or fostering neglect of it, rather deepens and illuminates its
meaning, as Emilianos Timiadis explains: "Death would be impossible without
presupposing the reality of the incarnation. All of the events of Christs earthly
life are inseparable. The benefits of salvation are expounded in the life of our Savior
taken as a whole. All of our sufferings were laid on him who could not suffer, and he
destroyed them. He destroyed death by death and all human weakness by his human
actions. This is the way to understand the representative character of Christs
death and sacrifice and the possibility of mans salvation in Christ. Christ was born
for us, lived on earth for us, died for us, and rose for us and for the confirmation of
our resurrection. Christs death was due not to his weakness but to the fact that he
died for mans salvation. While Athanasius speaks of the incarnation and insists that
God became man that we might become gods, he says at the same time that
Christ offered the sacrifice on behalf of all, delivering his own shrine to death in
of all, that he might set all free from the liability of the original transgression,
and he speaks of Christs sacrifice offered for the redemption of our sins and for
mens deliverance from corruption. For Athanasius, Christs death retains a
place of importance in the pan of salvation. Immortality came to men through death. Christ
paid our debt for us. In Athanasius we meet with the synthesis of the two ideas of
immortality or reconstitution of our nature and the idea of expiation of our death" .
"Of course," notes Chrestou, "death is the summit of the
work of economy because it marks the extreme point of the Incarnation. In this course, the
death of the God-man (not an ordinary death, but a death on the cross which is the most
miserable death for man) is the lowest point of Gods kenosis and is, consequently,
the ultimate point of the Incarnation. It is precisely at this point that economy
was fulfilled or, in other words, that the salvific work done on mans behalf
was accomplished" . In a similar vein, Fr. Georges
Florovsky notes that: "The Incarnation is the quickening of man, as it were, the
resurrection of human nature. But the climax of the Gospel is the Cross, the death of the
Incarnate. Life has been revealed in full through death." Elaborating
further, he explains that "the climax of this life was its death. And the Lord
plainly bore witness to the hour of death: For this cause came I unto this
hour [John 12:27]. The redeeming death is the ultimate purpose of the
Orthodox soteriology, then, "with its characteristic breadth,
includes the whole work of economy" . It is the
understanding of Orthodoxy, according to Bishop Kallistos, that "we are saved through
the total work of Christ, not just by one particular event in his life. The cross is
central, but it can only be understood in the light of what goes before of
Christs taking up into himself of our entire human nature at his birth and
likewise in the light of what comes afterwards, the resurrection, ascension and second
coming. Any theology of salvation that concentrates narrowly on the cross, at the expense
of the resurrection, is bound to seem unbalanced to Orthodoxy" . It
should be noted that some Evangelicals have a better sense of this unity .
So despite St. Pauls determination "not to know anything
Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2), he also stated emphatically that
"if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!" (1
In EH Jones writes that in Orthodoxy "discussions of
substitutionary atonement and propitiation are virtually absent from their published
explanations of salvation." Of course, the reader is meant to interpret this
statement as a virtual denial of these themes, but a more informed understanding
would instead reveal that Orthodoxy possesses a much broader conception of salvation than
that found in traditional Western Christian thought. Moreover, there is an imminently Biblical
reason for this "virtual absence" (see Note-M).
Jones should also consider that ransom language is used throughout the liturgical texts of
the Orthodox Church. If, on the other hand, it is a catechism that he has in mind,
Metropolitan Philaret of Moscows has this to say about the term propitiation:
"An expression which is close in meaning to the present term [satisfaction], but
which is more complete and is authentically Biblical, and gives a basis for the Orthodox
understanding of the work of Redemption, is the word propitiation (tr. from
the Greek ilasmos-), which we read about in the First Epistle of John:
Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be
the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10).
In fact, references to justification, atonement and propitiation in
contemporary Orthodox writings are far more numerous than Jones apparently realizes. Greek
Orthodox Metropolitan Isaiah states unequivocally that "Christ remitted our sins. He
paid for them, in other words, when He died on the Cross. Christ our lord redeemed us by
paying for our sins with His blood and His death on the Cross. It was this act which
abrogated the old covenant and put into effect the New Covenant (Hebrews 9:16-18). Christ
our God made reparation for our sins by giving His very life" .
According to Anthony Coniaris, "Man will never know who he is until he meets Jesus at
the Cross. It is here that man comes to realize his true identity: that he is loved by
God, that he belongs to God, that he is worth to God as much as the blood of His only
Son" . Timiadis exclaims that "the fact of the
redemption, that Christ gave his life as ransom for many (Matt. 20:28), is at
the center of the churchs faith" . Fr. Georges
Florovsky writes that "In the blood of Jesus is revealed the new and living way, the
way into that eternal Sabbath, when God rests from His mighty deeds" .
And Fr. Thomas Hopko, Dean of St. Vladimirs Orthodox Theological Seminary, states
that: "For being God, he became man, and being man, he became a slave; and being a
slave, he became dead and not only dead, but dead on a cross. From this deepest
degradation of God flows the eternal exaltation of man. According to the scriptures,
mans sins and the sins of the whole world are forgiven and pardoned by the sacrifice
of Christ, by the offering of His life-His body and His blood, which is the blood of
God (Acts 20:28)upon the cross. This is the redemption, the
ransom, the expiation, the propitiation spoken about
in the scriptures which had to be made so that man could be at one with God.
Christ paid the price which was necessary to be paid for the world to be
pardoned and cleansed of all iniquities and sins (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23)" . These are, of course, just a few samples; but they amply demonstrate
the utter falsity of the claim that Orthodoxy "cannot permit New Covenant
justification" (see Note-J). Nor are these
examples of "lip service" as Jones charges, for these very ideas constitute the
center of corporate worship in the life of the Orthodox Church, as we shall soon see.
Jones then connects his ideas to the participation of the faithful in
the sacramental life of the Church, and makes the erroneous statement in SBP that "In
Plotinuss system, one can be redeemed/deified without any need of sacrificial
atonement. Similarly, in the Eastern synthesis, the incarnation and sacraments could do
the trick alone." Of course, it is all too easy to demonstrate the falsity of this
charge (see Note-K). "Without the cross of
Christ," as Stanilaoe explains, "salvation would never have been achieved" . Fr. Thomas Hopko completely contradicts Jones claim when he
says that: "Orthodox spiritual and sacramental life is a life not only under the
cross, but within the cross. The supreme expression of Gods mercy and
kindness and love for man is that He enables His people to share in the sufferings of
Christ and to be co-crucified with Him for the life of the world" .
Moreover, participation in the sacraments avails us nothing except judgment and
condemnation if we have not first embraced the Cross and take up our own, as Fr. Thomas
stresses: "We invoke the Holy Spirit to come upon us and our gifts of bread and wine,
and say this is the body broken, and the blood shed. But if we are not loving with the
love that God has loved us, and our bodies are not broken and our blood is not spilled, we
are not saved, nor will we be saved" . No Orthodox
Christian who knows his or her faith could ever assent to the efficacy of mere mechanical,
ritualistic participation in Church life, without inner conversion.
One of the fundamental problems with Jones critique is that he
expects Orthodoxy to practice and to expound Christianity using the same methodology and
terminology of Protestantism. However, it must be understood that unlike the Western
confessions whether Roman Catholic or Protestant one will not discover the
essence of Orthodoxy in dogmatic works or systematic treatises, as Clendenin explains:
"Except for the monumentally important work Exposition of the Orthodox Faith (De
fide orthodoxa) by John of Damascus (675-754), almost no Eastern theologians have
written what we in the West have come to know as systematic theologies. In Eastern
theology we find nothing at all that would compare with Aquinass Summa
theologica, Calvins Institutes of the Christian Religion, or Karl
Barths Church Dogmatics" .
There may be some truth to Jones statement in SBP that "one
searches in vain for serious Eastern explanations of justification, atonement,
propitiation, etc;" however, this lies not in some supposed neglect of these themes,
but for the very legitimate reasons given above. Simply put, Jones has not grasped the
Patristic dictum "the rule of prayer and worship is the rule of faith and
doctrine." This has always been the Orthodox approach to the Faith, and this
statement of St. Prosper of Aquitaine shows forth the falsity of Jones charge (SBP)
that in Orthodoxy, "Christs substitutionary sacrifice, the hallmark of
Christian faith, plays no central role." Were he to examine the service books used by
the Orthodox Church in celebrating its liturgical services throughout the year, Jones
would find innumerable references to the saving Cross of Christ, and the benefits from it
exalted and praised. He would also discover that references to the Cross are much more
frequent than to theosis. Additionally, the two themes are sometimes connected, as
in the Great Vespers hymn of the Feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Precious and
Livegiving Cross, which states that it is the Cross "by which we earthborn
creatures are deified" . This is a good example of how the
Liturgy demonstrates Jones misrepresentation on this point; specifically the
statement in EH that "deification is grounded in the Incarnation rather than the
atonement." Aside from the service books, Orthodox prayer books are also replete with
references to the saving power of the Cross.
The redeeming death of the Savior is at the very heart of Orthodox
worship. "Being baptized and sealed," Fr. Thomas Hopko explains, "we eat
and drink the Lords broken body and shed blood at the table in His Kingdom during
the Divine Liturgy in order to bear His passion and suffering in our lives, so that dying
with Him we can live with Him, and enduring with Him we can reign with Him in the Kingdom
which has no end. Communing with the crucified, victorious Lord, we are anointed with the
grace of His Spirit so that our sufferings in the flesh can avail to the salvation of our
lives, and so that our very death can be, with that of Christ crucified, unto the
forgiveness of our sins, the healing of our souls and bodies, and life everlasting" .
Indeed, we witness in the eucharistic celebration the intimate
relationship between the Cross and theosis. Christians since the earliest times
have understood theosis in the context of the participation in, and our subsequent
uniting with, the broken Body and spilled Blood of Jesus. Kelly explains that "the
eucharist for the Fathers was the chief instrument of the Christians divinization;
through it Christs mystical body was built up and sustained
example, argues that, since he receives Christs veritable flesh, the Saviour must be
reckonded to abide in him; hence he becomes one with Christ, and through Him with the
Father. He is thus enabled to live here below the divine life which Christ came fro heaven
to give to men. Ambrose writes similarly, Forasmuch as one and the same Lord Jesus
Christ possesses Godhead and a human body, you who receive His flesh are made to
participate through that nourishment in His divine substance
According to Cyril
of Jerusalem, We become Christ-bearers, since His body and blood are distributed
throughout our limbs. So, as blessed Peter expressed it, we made partakers of the divine
nature. The essence of communion, states John Chrysostom, is the uniting of the
communicants with Christ, and so with one another: the union is complete, and
eliminates all separation. Thus we feed on Him at Whom angels gaze with
We are mingled with Him, and become one body and one flesh with
Of course, this relationship between the Cross and theosis has
also been pointed out in the broader context of the Christian life (see Note-K),
as Fr. Thomas explains: "If we are really called to be divine, then we are called to
be crucified, because if God ultimately reveals Himself on the Cross, then that is where
we have to reveal ourself too. If God fulfills Himself on the Cross, then that is where we
fulfill ourself too. If He reveals His Godness in a broken Body and shed Blood, then these
things have to take place in our life too" . In his article
The Tree of the Cross, Fr. Thomas again links the Cross and theosis:
"The cross gathers in itself the entire mystery of salvation, and as such, embraces
the entire mystery of the spiritual life. To take up the cross and to live within its
power is salvation. It is the Kingdom of God, defined by the Apostle as the peace
and the joy and the righteousness in the Holy Spirit. It is theosis,
deification, the becoming God by grace that is the center and goal of human being and
life" . No less than St. Athanasius himself attested to the
unity of the Cross and theosis: "The Word became flesh in order both to offer
this sacrifice and that we, participating in His Spirit, might be deified" .
Salvation by Grace or Works?
"Christian life," says Fr. Thomas Hopko in his lecture The
Church & Liturgy, "is a miracle of grace." The Orthodox Church
definitively teaches and believes that a person is saved entirely by the grace of God. But
at the same time, this movement of God towards us does not overwhelm or abolish the human
will, as Bishop Kallistos (Ware) notes: "We should consider that the work of our
salvation is totally and entirely an act of divine grace, and yet in that act of divine
grace we humans remain totally and entirely free." Or, as the second century Epistle
to Diognetes puts it: "God sent his Son to save us to persuade us but not
to compel: for force is alien to God." While Calvin said that the capacity of humans
to choose good was destroyed after the Fall, Orthodoxy would say that the will has become
distorted and sickly, but not altogether dead. On the Orthodox understanding of the fall
and its consequence, humans retaining as they do the divine image retain
also the freedom to choose between right and wrong" .
Historically there has been much suspicion among Protestants as to the
role of human will in our salvationi.e., synergy, or cooperation with Gods
grace (see Note-T). The understanding of the Orthodox
position is further complicated because the Pelagian controversy (see Note-P)
was a Western phenomenon, and this in turn makes it all too easy to transfer
Western presuppositions onto Orthodoxy. As Hinlicky explains: "In the Western
context, Lutherans were allergic to the term synergy because of the Pelagian
connotation it had for them, suggesting a self-initiated movement to God that, as such,
could merit the grace of justification. This allergic reaction rendered them incapable of
grasping or utilizing it in its Eastern sense to describe the new person of faith, who
works with the Spirit in the battle against the flesh" . Theosis
and justification working together can help shed light on the subject of synergy:
"Integrating these two anthropologies [Lutheran doctrine of divine righteousness and
Orthodox theosis], we see that justifying faith wholly involves the human will and
its uncoerced participation, yet not in any Pelagian sense in which the will retains its
Adamic form of autonomy over against God. Justifying faith is the concrete, nonmeritorious
synergy of the new person in Christ with the Holy Spirit, inasmuch as on this side of the
reign of Gods coming in fullness, the new person in Christ is nothing other than the
sinner whom the Lord Jesus mercifully and effectively claims by the Spirit. In this light,
the apparent dispute about the freedom of the will is shown largely to be the fruit of
conceptual confusion" .
Essentially, in Orthodoxy grace and free will are not separated or
discussed in isolation, thus preventing doctrinal imbalance, as occurred with Pelagius.
Free will and our cooperation with God is always understood to be an act of grace.
Bishop Kallistos is again helpful here. His comments offer a response to Jones
question in SBP, in which he queries,"how do the Eastern Orthodox attempt to
explain that salvation is not of yourselves?" His Grace would reply:
"When we speak of cooperation, it is not to be imagined that our initial
impulse towards good precedes the gift of divine grace and comes from ourselves alone. We
must not think that God waits to see how we shall use our free will, and then decides
whether He will bestow or withhold His grace. Still less would it be true to suggest that
our initial act of free choice somehow causes Gods grace. All such notions of
temporal priority or of cause and effect are inappropriate. On the contrary, any right
exercise of our free will presupposes from the start the presence of divine grace, and
without this prevenient grace we could not begin to exercise our will aright.
In every good desire and action on our part, Gods grace is present from the outset.
Our cooperation with God is genuinely free, but there is nothing in our good actions that
is exclusively our own. At every point our human cooperation is itself the work of the
Holy Spirit" . This is a far cry from the assertion in SBP
that in Orthodoxy "the beginning of salvation is purely by
grace but the completion of the process is by human effort."
And Clendenin notes that "Interestingly enough, we can say that
for the writers of the Philokalia, the gift of theosis comes by grace
through faith, and not by works (see also Note-L). Especially
significant here is Mark the Ascetics On Those Who Think That They Are Made
Righteous by Works. On the contrary, we are, insist Maximus and Peter of Damascus,
deified by grace. We become god through union with God by
faith" . Orthodoxy teaches, then, that the process of
theosis, accompanied as it is by prayer, fasting, almsgiving, the sacramental life,
etc., is totally grace drivenit is only made possible because of grace, as it
is the life of God within us that provides the strength to sustain these spiritual
efforts. When St. Paul writes that "if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of
the body, you will live" (Rom. 8:13), this obviously presupposes conscious effort on
our part but it flows from the Spirit, as the epistle says. Similarly, he counsels
the Colossians to "Put to death therefore your members on earth; fornication,
uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness which is idolatry" (Col. 3:5).
Jones does not seem to allow for a concept of "will" and
"working" that is found in the thought of St. Paulthe kind that is
predicated upon grace. He also writes to the Corinthians: "I labored more abundantly
than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Cor. 15:10). We
can follow St. Pauls directive to the Philippian church to "work out your
salvation in fear and trembling" because it is now "God who works in you both to
will and to do for His good pleasure" (Php. 2:12-13). His use of the analogy of a
runner competing in a race to the life-long process of salvation is another prime example
of how we co-operate with the grace of God (cf. 1 Cor. 9:24-27). These Scriptures, and
others besides (cf. Eph. 2:8-10), form the core understanding of "work" and
"effort" in the Orthodox spiritual tradition . But
again, even this conception is evidently anathema to Jones, for he asserts that
"climbing up the chain of being, even when aided by grace, is Plotinus again, not New
Covenant faith." This is simple misrepresentation, and we can turn to Clendenin again
for a more informed explanation concerning the nature of the effort exerted within the
life of the Christian: "In Pauline language, we labor and strive, but only through
the empowering grace of God working in us (Phil. 2:12-13; 1 Cor. 15:10-11). What
direction, exactly, does the human effort take? At the risk of oversimplification, we can
summarize the Philokalia and the human means of theosis in one Greek word, nepsisthat
is, vigilance, watchfulness, intensity, zeal, alertness, attentiveness, or spiritual
wariness. The neptic mind-set recognizes the reality of our spiritual warfare,
that our Christian life is a strenuous battle, fierce drama, or open contest (Theoretikon),
and responds accordingly" .
The Orthodox concept of synergism, far from being a departure from
Apostolic Faith, is attested to in Scripture and repeated throughout the centuries.
"It is for God to grant His grace," said St. Cyril of Jerusalem; "your task
is to accept that grace and to guard it" . St. John
Chrysostom exclaims, "All depends indeed on God, but not so that our free-will is
hindered. [God] does not anticipate our choice, lest our free-will be outraged. But when
we have chosen, then great is the assistance He brings to us." St. Augustine himself
witnesses to a synergism between God and Man, as Thomas Oden explains: "Though not
the first, Augustine was the most brilliant exponent of how the action of grace can be
both from the will of man and from the mercy of God. Thus we accept the
dictum, It is not a matter of human willing or running but of Gods showing
mercy, as if it meant, The will of man is not sufficient by itself unless
there is also the mercy of God. But by the same token the mercy of God is not
sufficient by itself unless there is also the will of man." Commenting on Romans
9:16, St. Augustine states that "If any man is of the age to use his reason, he
cannot believe, hope, love, unless he will to do so, nor obtain the prize of the high
calling of God unless he voluntarily run for it." Finally, Oden notes "That the
synergy of grace and freedom became the consensual teaching of the believing church is
clear from the Third Ecumenical Council, held in Ephesus in A.D. 431: For He acts in
us that we may both will and do what He wishes, nor does He allow those gifts to be idle
in us which He has given to be used and not to be neglected, that we also may be
cooperators with the grace of God" .
The Orthodox doctrine of synergy came to its fullest and most refined
articulation with the Sixth cumenical Synod (680-681). This Synod declared that Christ
has both a divine and a human will, and that these two wills co-operated synergistically.
This has tremendous ramifications for Christian anthropology. Those who have been
organically united to Christ in Holy Baptism (Gal. 3:27) have the Spirit of God living in
them; and this Spirit quickens our soul and makes it alive unto God. Our own will then
freely co-operates with this newly given Divine Energy which is ever renewed in us through
ascetic struggle and participation in the Mystery of His Body and Blood. Thus, the
cumenical Synods that defined and refined the doctrine of the Person of Christ set forth
that, for us who are made in His image, it is not only Gods will that is operative
in us (this would be a monoenergistic anthropology one held by many Reformed
Protestants), nor is it our own will working apart from God (this would be Pelagianism),
but rather it is the two working together in harmony, neither overwhelming the other (cf.
The Orthodox Church unquestionably and definitively affirms that we are
saved by grace through faith. It would be expedient to close this section with an excerpt
from an essay on the subject of grace authored by Fr. Thomas Hopko, for in it he concisely
summarizes the themes discussed in this section: "We would say that Gods
speaking and acting in our world, and Gods entrance into our creaturely being and
life is a free gift of Gods mercy and love for us, that there is nothing that we can
do to earn or deserve it, and nothing that we can do to stop or prevent it. We would say
that there is no human life without participation in Gods self-manifesting activity,
and that we human beings are who and what we are because we are made in the image and
likeness of God, male and female, for unending divine life. We would say that it is not a
matter of God choosing us without or against our will, nor of our choosing or rejecting
God. The mystery of God-with-me and I-with-God depends wholly on God to the extent that
there is no I without God. When I am with God, then I am who and what I am.
When I am against God, I am struggling to destroy who and what God creates and saves me to
be. This struggle is futile; I cannot rid myself of Gods presence in my being and
life. To persist in it is madness and hell. It must be clearly affirmed, nevertheless,
that I am not God and God is not me. Without God, I am nothing and can do nothing. With
God, I am who I am and can do all things through God who vivifies, illumines and
strengthens me. Through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in the Church, through the
preaching of the Word and the celebration of the sacraments, the presence and power of God
is given as a gift: pressed down, running over, lavished upon us. All is given by God
whether we like it or not, whether we want it or not. When we like it and want it, it is
paradise. When we resist it, it is the hell whose very pain is the presence and power of
God who is love and truth, peace and joy, beauty and bliss. God is with us. This, simply
put, is the meaning of grace. Gods gift of divinity to human persons is undeserved
and unmerited, unconditional and unstoppable. It cannot be resisted, yet it may be madly
unsuccessfully resisted from our side forever" .
In his zeal to paint Orthodoxy as a pagan perversion of the Christian
faith, Jones omits several key elements. He disregards the consensual teaching of the
Fathers and unwittingly ends up impugning them in his very conclusions, for the Holy
Fathers testify in their writings to the very things that Jones condemns in his
articlesnamely theosis! Their utilization of Greek philosophy to clarify and
explain dogmas of the Christian faith is another truth utterly absent from SBP. Perhaps
the greatest irony in Jones criticism of Neoplatonism is that one of its chief
Christian synthesizers is St. Augustine the watershed thinker for Western
Christianity! Known as one of the great "Christian Platonists," St.
Augustines appropriation of Neoplatonism is a fact that has been well known and
documented by scholars [see Note-F]. "It
[Neoplatonism] left a permanent impress upon Christianity, partly through Augustine of
Hippo, partly through its share in shaping Christian thought in general, and especially in
its contributions to Christian mysticism" .
Jones assertion that the Apostolic teaching of salvation by grace
is confounded by the understanding of Man co-working with God is patently false. It arises
from a complete misunderstanding of the Orthodox understanding of synergy, and an
unwarranted transplantation of Latin notions of merit into their critique of Orthodoxy.
Fortunately, there are within the Evangelical tradition individuals who have taken
the time to familiarize themselves with Orthodox teaching [see Note-U].
And as with so many other areas, Clendenin sets the record straight on this subject:
"As God works in us, we work out our salvation, not by self-effort or by any inherent
ability (Pelagius), but by the transforming grace of God that works in us to will and to
do his will (Phil. 2:12-13).
The Orthodox emphasis on the importance of the human
response toward the grace of God, which at the same time clearly rejects salvation by
works, is a healthy synergistic antidote to any antinomian tendencies that might result
from (distorted) juridical understandings of salvation" .
The charge of neglecting the Cross or not holding to the efficacious
work of the Savior is a flagrant error, and the liturgical texts, catechisms and
contemporary writings amply demonstrate the outrageous misrepresentation of Orthodoxy on
this point. In SBP, the charge is made against Orthodoxy that "It [the Cross] cannot
accomplish anything definitively, because redemption/deification is a process."
Actually, the last part of this statement is quite true"redemption/deification
is a process," but one cannot speak of this, let alone achieve it, outside of
the context of the Cross, as Jones supposes Orthodoxy to teach. It is difficult to imagine
a greater antithesis between the assertion that in Orthodox theology "the Cross
cannot accomplish anything definitively" with the actual truth, which Fr.
Thomas Hopko enunciates so well, defining the Cross as "the ultimate, definitive,
absolute, total, perfect, unsurpassable act, word, revelation, manifestation of God,"
and "beyond the Cross, there is nothing more God can do. Beyond the Cross, there is
nothing more God can say. Beyond the Cross, there is nothing more to be revealed" . Orthodox Christians pray this way in the Liturgy. During the
Paschal season the Church sings: "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death
by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life"Christs death
on Calvary destroyed death itselfthe flaming swords of Eden are parted, and
communion is restored with God.
But the Scriptural teaching is that we must take Christs Cross
and actualize it in our own life, and become what He is (holy, loving, generous, merciful,
etc.) by putting to death in us all that which barricades the transforming power of the
Cross this is theosis. "Genuine Orthodox spirituality," as Fr.
Thomas notes, "is always a spirituality of the cross. When the tree of the cross is
removed from the center of our lives we find ourselves cast out of paradise and deprived
of the joy of communion with God. But when the cross remains planted in our hearts and
exalted in our lives, we partake of the tree of life and delight in the fruits of the
Spirit, by which we live forever with our Lord. Rejoice, O lifegiving Cross!" .
A See Jaki, Stanley L. 1978. The
Road of Science and the Ways to God. Gifford Lectures at Edinburgh 1974/76. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press. In these lectures, Dr. Jaki calls attention to "the
enormous difference which there is between Platonism and Christian Platonism" . I would also highly recommend Jaroslav Pelikans Christianity
and Classical Culture: The Metamorphosis of Natural Theology in the Christian Encounter
with Hellenism, as well as Constantine Cavarnos Hellenic-Christian
Philosophical Tradition, a collection of essays on ancient Greek philosophy and its
utilization by the Church Fathers (I would like to thank Patrick Barnes for bringing this
particular work to my attention).
B It is interesting, in light of SBPs thesis that theosis
is a pagan teaching incompatible with Christianity, that the early Christians could on the
one hand disparage the ultimate barrenness of Greek philosophy, as St. Gregory of Nyssa
did, and yet write so readily of theosis. St. Athanasius devoted a whole book; Contra
Gentes (Against the Heathen) to the errors and fallacies of Greek
paganism, and yet, as we have seen, theosis was a major soteriological theme for
him. Of course, this occurred becauseas was stressed earlier in this papertheosis
was for them, as it is for the Orthodox of today, understood to be inexorably bound up in
christological considerations; that it flows from a right understanding of who Jesus
C See articles on theosis and theopoie in Lampe, G.W.H., A Patristic
Greek Lexicon. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1961-1968.
D Jones understanding of justification is not
nearly as synonymous with St. Augustines as his comments in Credenda/Agenda suggest.
According to McGrath, it is not Calvin, but "Martin Luther who is closest to
Augustine in his teaching on justification." Where they differed was that "the
notion of the imputation of the iustitia Christi is simply not present in
Augustines theory of justification in the sense that Luther required
justification, man is made righteous. For Luther, however, the righteousness of
Christ is always external to man, and alien to him . For St.
Augustine, as McGrath summarizes, "Justification is about being made
justand Augustines understanding of iustitia is so broad that
this could be defined as being made to live as God intends man to live, in every
aspect of his existence, including his relationship with God, with his fellow men,
and the relationship of his higher and lower self (on the neo-Platonic anthropological
model favored by Augustine). That iustitia possesses legal and moral overtones will
thus be evident; but this must not be permitted to obscure its fundamentally theological
orientation. By justification, Augustine comes very close to understanding the restoration
of the entire universe to its original order, established at creation, an understanding
not very different from the Greek doctrine of cosmic redemption. The ultimate object of
mans justification is his cleaving to God, a cleaving which
awaits its consummation and perfection in the new Jerusalem, which is even now being
established" . And von Loewenich points out that
"justification is not understood by Augustine in a highly forensic manner, but as a
process with perfection as its goal" .
E See Bonner, Gerald, "Augustines Conception
of Deification". Journal of Theological Studies, n.s., 37, October
1986, p. 369-386.
F For further information on the subject of St.
Augustines use of Platonic and Neoplatonic elements, see the following resources:
Anton, J. "Plotinus and the Neoplatonic Conception of Dialectic", Journal
of Neoplatonic Studies 1 (1992): 3-30; Armstrong, H. Plotinian and Christian Studies.
London: Variorum Reprints, 1979; Brown, P. Augustine of Hippo, Berkeley: University
of California Press, 1967; Clark, M. "Augustines Theology of the Trinity: Its
Relevance". Dionysius (19XX): 70-84; Deck, J. Nature,
Contemplation, and the One. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1967; DuRoy, O. L
Intelligence de la Foi en lat Trinite selon Saint Augustin. Paris, 1966; Hadot, P. Plotinus
or the Simplicity of the Vision. Trans. Michael Chase. Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1993; Henry, P. Plotin et lOccident. Louvain, 1934; McGroarty, K.
"Plotinus on Sources of Augustines Illumination Theory," Augustinian
Studies 2 (1971): 47-66; OConell, R., Saint Augustines Platonism.
Philadelphia: Villanova University Press, 1984; ____. "Where the Difference
Lies", Augustinian Studies 21 (1990): 139-152; J. OMeara,
"Plotinus and Augustine: Exegesis of Contra Academicos II. 5": Review of
International Philosophy 24 (1970): 321-337; J. Sleeman and G. Pollet, Lexicon
Plotinianum. Leiden: Brill, 1980; Teske, R., "The World Soul and Time in St.
Augustine". Augustinian Studies 14 (1983): 75-92. It has also been called to
my attention that in a relatively recent issue (undisclosed) of Augustinian Studies,
M. Barnes has an article on St. Augustine and the Trinity; see also B. Studers
article in the same review. I would like to thank Fr. Allan Fitzgerald of Villanova
University for providing the above sources.
G Beinfeldt concludes his critical look at the Finnish
effort by stating that "I believe Peura correctly perceives that significant
deification imagery does occur within the Dictata. However, I am not as sanguine as
he that divinization plays such a central role in the document," and "I have
suggested that the deification imagery Luther employs in the Dictata is not
uncommon within the Augustinian tradition of the time. That the mature Augustine operated
within a theological framework not antithetical to deification has been richly documented.
Perhaps Luther does occasionally pick up on the Augustinian motif of human participatory
adoption through divine grace" .
H For further reading on the positive relationship
between justification and theosis, as well as theosis imagery present in
Martin Luther, see Aden, Ross, "Justification and Sanctification: A Conversation
Between Lutheranism and Orthodoxy", St. Vladimirs Theological Quarterly 38:1
(1994), p. 96-98; Mannermaa, Tuomo, The Christ Present in Faith: Justification and
Deification: The Ecumenical Dialogue (Hanover, 1989); the following papers from Luther
Digest; from Vol. 3, (1995), Part III "Luther and Theosis":
McDaniel, Michael C.D., "Salvation as Justification and Theosis"; Asendorf,
Ulrich, "The Embeddedment of Theosis in the Theology of Martin Luther";
Posset, Franz, "Deification in the German Spirituality of the Late Middle Ages and in
Luther: An Ecumenical Historical Perspective"; Kretschmar, Georg, "The Reception
of the Orthodox Teaching of Divinization in Protestant Theology"; Mannermaa, Tuomo,
"Theosis as a Theme of Finnish Luther Research". And from Vol. 5 (1997), Part V
"Theosis Revisited": Bakken, Kenneth L., "Holy Spirit and Theosis:
Toward a Lutheran Theology of Healing"; Peura, Simo, "The Deification of
Man as Being in God"; Saarinen, Risto, "The Presence of God in Luthers
I On the question of the forensic nature of
justification in St. Pauls letters, see Robert Brows article "Did Paul Teach Law
He notes, for example, that "The words in the original Greek might
allow, but never require a judicial interpretation. Since the time of Chrysostom it has
been pointed out in the Greek Church that dikaioo could equally well be translated
make upright or righteous". See also "The Exegesis of Romans
5:12", St. Vladimirs Theological Quarterly, Vol. 27.3, p. 133ff.,
(1983); Vol. 27.4, p. 187ff. (1983) & Vol. 28.1, p. 231ff. (1984). Joachim Jeremias
also notes that there are instances in the Bible when dikaioo is used in
non-judicious contexts (see The Central Message of the New Testament, 1965).
Spicq and Ernest note in their Lexicon that "He [God]
infuses the believer with a dikaiosis zoes (Rom. 5:18), the infusion of a pneuma
zoe dia dikaiosynen (Rom. 8:10; Gal. 3:2, 5). It is consequently a gift received (dorea,
Rom. 5:17), a real justice/righteousness (4:4-5) that a person possesses beginning in the
present, thanks to Christ
Understood thus, justice/righteousness by faith cannot be
forensic. The sinner is transformed within, is prepared to live with God, prepared for
eternal life (Rom. 5:21; 8:10), granted a power (5:17) that allows him to triumph over sin
(6:18ff.; 2 Cor. 6:4), outfitted with the weapons of justice/righteousness
(Rom. 6;13; 2 Cor. 6:7; Eph. 6:14). Since the object of this initial justification is a
living being; it must continue as an unending process; so in concrete terms it is
identified with the Christian life (1 Pet. 2:24; 1 John 3:10) and with
Significantly, McGrath states that one of the chief
discontinuities between the Reformation era and the early Church "is the
understanding of justification as a forensic concept, distinguished, if only conceptually,
from regeneration. It is of the greatest interest to consider what the origins of the
concept of forensic justification might be. As we have argued elsewhere, it is possible
that Melanchthon may have derived the idea from Erasmus Novum Instrumentum of
1516, in which the forensic overtones of the notion of imputation are
specifically noted, using Roman jurisprudence as a model
It is quite possible that
the distinguishing feature of Protestant doctrines of justification may owe its
inspiration to humanism. The doctrines of justification associated with the Lutheran and
Reformed Confessions may be concluded to constitute genuine theological nova .
J Fr. Thomas gave an excellent lecture a few years back
entitled The Word of the Cross, and it is heartily recommend to anyone who doubts
that the Cross is central to Orthodox life and experience. Also recommended is his The
Tree of the Cross, which forms one of the essays in Orthodox Synthesis: The Unity
of Theological Thought. Another helpful source would be The Death of Christ,
presented by Fr. Paul Tarazi, Professor of Old Testament at St. Vladimirs Seminary,
and also available from St. Vladimirs Seminary Press.
K Osborn notes: "deification of man is linked,
especially in Clement [of Alexandria], with a theology of the cross. It is the martyr who
is perfect man and at the same time divine; he speeds straight to the immediate presence
of God; he is the true philosopher who has practised death. Persecution produces a
theology of glory as well as a theology of the cross, for persectution means promotion,
not punishment." .
L Osborn, commenting on St. Clement of Alexandrias
soteriology, notes: "The themes of deification and assimilation to God are linked
with the insistence that there is none good but God. Only the good God can save sinful man
and he can only save by giving himself to man. Man finds no goodness outside of God.
Christ is his only righteousness. To the extent that we are saved, we are deified. In the
language of the second century, deification means sola gratia" .
M Constantine Tsirpanlis sheds further light on
Jones mistaken conclusions regarding the relative lack of judicial language in
discussions of salvation within Orthodoxy: "The conception of Soteria
[salvation] in the Eastern Church and Patristic tradition is broader and more inclusive
than the Roman Catholic emphasis on redemption and the Protestant
justification. The Orthodox Church prefers to use the term soteria also
because the New Testament uses that term (about forty times) in order to describe the work
accomplished by Jesus Christ (and the title given to Christ: soter-about twenty
N In the second note featured in the source section of
SBP, Jones takes exception to the use of 2 Peter 1:4 as a proof-text for theosis,
stating that the verse would go beyond even that which Orthodoxy teaches; namely that we
cannot participate in the nature, or essential being, of God. Yet this observation hardly
constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to the Orthodox doctrine of theosis. In
fact, John Breck makes precisely the same point: "As Orthodox, we often content
ourselves with quoting the late and problematic affirmation of 2 Peter 1:4, to show that
the doctrine of theosis is, in fact, taught by Holy Scripture. But this is hardly
adequate. The Fathers, after all, never held that we become participants of the divine
nature, taken in the sense of essence". Breck prefers to
approach theosis within the context of tripartite statements in the New Testament
"that associate God, Jesus and the Spirit in terms of their hypostatic
interrelationships as well as their economia, their saving work on behalf of the
Church and the world" . Of course, 2 Peter 1:4 was
nonetheless used by the Fathers, who, as we have seen, always noted the chasm between
Creator and creature.
Approaching 2 Peter 1:4 from another angle, Evangelical Thomas C. Oden,
as Rakestraw explains, "notes that the traditional distinction between incommunicable
and communicable attributes clarifies how the soul may partake of the divine nature: there
can be godlikeness by participation in the communicable attributes, such as grace, mercy,
and longsuffering, but there is no possibility of finite creatures being made infinite,
invisible, pure spirit, etc." . Additionally, Al Wolters,
who like Jones opts for a covenantal reading of 2 Peter 1:4, nonetheless notes: "My
point is not that the traditional interpretation is philologically impossible but rather
that another interpretation is both possible and preferable" . Similarly,
David Cairns (see The Image of God in Man. New York: Philosophical Library, 1953),
although disapproving of theosis (because he mistakingly believes it to mean a
fusion of the Christian with Christ (see p. 41-43), does admit that 2 Peter 1:4 teaches
that believers actually share in the nature of God, and that Galatians 2:20 comes close to
saying this also. He dismisses Peters statement, nevertheless, as an "off the
record" remark (p. 42) .
One very important Scripture not mentioned in SBP that forms the
underlying foundation for theosis is Genesis 1:26, which speaks of mankinds
creation in the image and likeness of God. As Rakestraw explains, "The Greek Fathers
taught that, in the fall, humanity lost the likeness but retained the image
the focus is placed on the image of God being restored, or whether one sees these terms as
synonymous, the concept of the Christians reintegration into the life of God remains
central in all understandings of theosis" (cf. 1 Cor. 15:49; pH. 3:16-19;
O Fr. Thomas Hopko wrote a very informative article
entitled "The Fountain of Israel" which completely dispels Douglas Wilsons
comment in the Similitudes section of C/A Vol. 6 No. 5 that "The Orthodox
Church is part of the modern movement to detach the church from its apostolic,
Hebraic, covenantal, Abrahamic roots." According to Fr. Thomas, "there is a
radical continuity between Israel and the Church
Spiritually, we are all Jewish. We
are grafted to their covenant. We have access to the God of Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob, and sociologically speaking, He was the God of those people. And we are in
their covenant. I think that is something that has to be really stressed." He
explains further: "According to the New Testament Scriptures and particularly
according to Saint Paul, the Church is in complete continuity with Israel, to the
point that with all the emphasis in the New Testament on newnessthe New Covenant,
the new creation, the new heaven, the new earthwe dont see the expression,
new Israel. Therefore, when Saint Paul says, upon the Israel of
God (Galatians 6:16), he is speaking of the Church. Because of this emphasis,
Orthodox Christians believe that the Church is historic Israel as it continues, at
least according to the theology of the New Testament. Jesus is a Jew, His Mother is a Jew,
all the Apostles are Jews, Paul certainly flaunts that he is a Jew. The human form and
fabric of the Christian Faith is that of Israel. You cant even understand who Christ
is without the Passover Exodus, the Temple, the Law, the prophetic utterances, the blood,
the goats, the priesthood, the prophecy, the kingship, the land, Jerusalem and the New
Jerusalem, and so on. Its just part of Christian totality" .
P Pelagianism, a fifth century heresy promulgated by the
British monk Pelagius, held that Man can approach God through his will alone, and that
divine grace merely facilitates what the will can do itself. It was condemned by the
cumenical Synod of Ephesus in 431.
Q In the Verbatim section of Vol. 6 No. 5,
several Church Fathers are cited to support Credenda / Agendas belief in sola
scriptura. Of course, it is well known that Sts. Athanasius, Chrysostom, Cyril of
Jerusalem and many others declared the Scriptures sufficient in doctrinal matters. Even in
more recent times, however, such language can be found in Orthodoxy. For example,
Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow stated in the nineteenth century that "The only pure
and all-sufficient source of the doctrines of the faith is the revealed word of God" . However, the conception of Scriptural sufficiency that exists in
the Fathers and in contemporary Orthodoxy is a far cry from that championed by
The missing operative in the Protestant approach is that of a
traditional hermeneutical (interpretive) function grounded in the living, Spirit-inspired
Church. St. Vincent of Lérins, in his Commonitory (2), perhaps best encapsulated
this notion: "Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and sufficient of itself for
everything, and more than sufficient, what need is there to join with it the authority of
the Churchs interpretation? For this reason because, owing to the depth of
Holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its
words in one way, another in another; so that it seems to be capable of as many
interpretations as there are interpreters
Therefore, it is very necessary, on account
of so great intricacies of such various error, that the rule for the right understanding
of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of
ecclesiastical and catholic interpretation." For St. Vincent, as Florovsky notes,
"Tradition was, in fact, the authentic interpretation of Scripture. And in this sense
it was coextensive with Scripture. Tradition was actually Scripture rightly
understood. And Scripture for St. Vincent was the only, primary, and ultimate canon
of Christian truth" .
R In the Definition of Faith of Constantinople II
(680-681) we read: "For in the same way that his all holy and blameless animate flesh
was not destroyed in being made divine but remained in its own limit and category, so his
human will as well was not destroyed by being made divine, but rather was preserved,
according to the theologian Gregory [Nazianzus], who says: For his willing, when he
is considered as saviour, is not in opposition to God, being made divine in its
S Many more examples could be cited. Both sides of the
debate over the propriety of icons had recourse to christological arguments. The
iconoclasts argued against them from the aspect of the portrayal of the two natures of
Christ. It was impossible to portray His divine nature, and the portrayal of the human
nature apart from the divine was a Nestorian error. However, "The iconoclasts had
failed to recognize a third option, that an icon does not represent His divinity or
His humanity, but His Person, which inconceivably unites in itself these two nature
without confusion and without division, as the Chalcedonian dogma defines it" . Another good example is Mariology. It is not accidental that the
only Marian dogma that exists in the Orthodox Church is that she is truly the Mother of
God. The orthodox Fathers of the Third cumenical Synod in 431 insisted on calling Mary Theotokos
because they recognized its christological implicationsnamely, that the One
whom Mary bore was God in the flesh.
T Fr. Georges Florovsky wrote a very important essay
entitled "The Ascetic Ideal and the New Testament"
in which he carefully sifts through the entire New Testament and demonstrates that the
doctrine of synergy is suffused throughout.
U For a fair, representative and informed Protestant
evaluation of Orthodoxy, see Harold O.J. Browns contribution to the Christian
History issue dealing with Orthodoxy (#54), as well as Daniel Clendenins. Clendenins
Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective is also a
very good source.
 Bowman, Jr., Robert M., "Ye
Are Gods? Orthodox and Heretical Views on the Deification Of Man". Christian
Research Journal, Winter/Spring 1987 (18).
 Norris, F.W., "Deification: Consensual and Cogent". Scottish
Journal of Theology, 49, No. 4, 1996.
 St. Athanasius, Orat 3.20.
 St. Athanasius, Ad Afros 7
 Pelikan, Jaroslav, Christianity and Classical Culture. Yale
University Press, 1993, p. 318.
 Allen, Joseph J. (ed.), Orthodox Synthesis: The Unity of
Theological Thought. St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1981, p. 162.
 Mastrantonis, George, A New-Style Catechism on the Eastern
Orthodox Faith for Adults. The OLOGOS Mission, 1969, p. 90.
 Clendenin, Daniel, Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western
Perspective. Baker Books, 1994, p. 159.
 Mantzaridis, Georgios I., The Deification of Man. SVS Press,
1984, p. 12.
 Adv. Haer V (pref), in Clendenin, p. 127.
 Florovsky, Georges, "Following
the Holy Fathers: Father Georges Florovsky and the Patristic Mindset".
 St. Athanasius, Ad Serap 1.24; De decret 14; Vita
Ant 74; Orat 1.38-39; Orat 3.38-39.
 St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word of God (54:3).
 St. Athanasius, Contra Arianos 2.24-6; 2.29f, (in Kelly,
J.N.D. Early Christian Doctrines (Rev. Ed.), Harper & Row, 1978, p. 243).
 St. Athanasius, Ad Serap 1.24.
 Bowman, Ye Are Gods?
 Pelikan, Jaroslav, The Spirit of Eastern Christendom
(600-1700), University of Chicago Press, 1974, p. 46.
 Coniaris, Anthony, These Are the Sacraments. Light &
Life Publishing, 1981, p. 126.
 Lossky, Vladimir, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church.
SVS Press, 1976, p. 154-155.
 Pelikan, Christianity
, p. 21.
 OMeara, Dominic J. (ed.), Neoplatonism and Christian
Thought. International Society for Neoplatonic Studies; SUNY Press, Albany, 1982,
 Farrell, Joseph P. (Tr.), Saint Photios: The Mystagogy of the
Holy Spirit. Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1987, p. 26-27.
 Horton, Walter M., Christian Theology: An Ecumenical Approach. New
York, Harper, 1955, p. 94.
 Pelikan, Christianity
, p. 244-245.
 Lossky, Mystical
, p. 50.
 Lossky, Orthodox Theology: An Introduction. SVS Press,
1978, p. 30-31.
 Clendenin, p. 124.
 Rakestraw, Robert V., "Becoming Like God: An Evangelical
Doctrine of Theosis". Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society,
n11-12. [NOTE: I was only able to acquire this article through an Inter-Library Loan
service. At the time of preparation, this source was listed as forthcoming,
being cited on page 268 of the bibliography of Clark Pinnocks Flame of Love: A
Theology of the Holy Spirit (InterVarsity Press, 1996).
 Homilies of St. Jerome. Washington DC: The Catholic
University of America Press, 1964, p. 106-107.
 Brock, Sebastian (Tr.), Saint Ephrem the Syrian: Hymns on
Paradise. St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1990, p. 73-74.
 Bonner, Gerald, Gods Decree & Mans Destiny:
Studies in the Thought of Augustine of Hippo. Variorum Reprints, London, 1987, p. 157.
 Cunliffe-Jones, Hubert (ed.), A History of Christian Doctrine.
Fortress Press, 1978, p. 153-154.
 Bonner, p. 291-292.
 Lewis, Clive Staples, Mere Christianity. Macmillan
Publishing Co., 1952, p. 153.
 ibid., p. 174-175.
 ibid., p. 164.
 Rakestraw, p. 1-3; 14-17.
 "Anabaptism and Eastern Orthodoxy: Some Unexpected
Similarities" in Journal of Ecumenical Studies 31 (1994) p. 67-91.
 McCormick, K. Steve, "Theosis in Chrysostom an Wesley: An Eastern
Paradigm on Faith and Love".
 Norris, F.W., p. 422.
 ibid., p. 412.
 Kelly, J.N.D., p. 376.
 (Ware), Kallistos, How Are We Saved? The Understanding of
Salvation in the Orthodox Tradition. Light & Life Publishing, 1996, p. 48-49.
 McGrath, Alister E., Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of
Justification-Vol. 1. Cambridge University Press, 1986, p. 182, 184, 186-187.
Saved?, p. 66-67.
 McGrath, Alister, Forerunners of the Reformation? Harvard Theological
Review 75:2 (1982), p. 225.
 Cunliffe-Jones, p. 153-154.
 Bonner, p. 512.
 Bielfeldt, Dennis, Deification as a Motif in Luthers Dictata super
psalterium. Sixteenth Century Journal, 28/2, 1997, p. 405.
 Zwanepol, Klaas. "Luther and Theosis". Luther
Digest, Vol. 5 (1997), p. 179.
 Pelikan, Jaroslav (ed.), Luthers Works, Lectures on
Galatians, 1535, Vol. 26, Concordia Publishing House, 1963, p. 247.
 Bielfeldt, p. 408, 410-411, 412-413.
 Meyendorff, John & Tobias, Robert (eds.), Salvation in
Christ-A Lutheran-Orthodox Dialogue. Augsburg Fortress, 1992, p. 83.
 Hinlicky, Paul R., "Theological Anthropology: Toward
Integrating Theosis and By Faith". Journal of Ecumenical Studies,
34:1, Winter 1997,p. 38, 62.
 ibid., p. 62, n59.
 Edwards, Henry, "Justification, Sanctification, and
the Eastern Orthodox Concept of Theosis". Luther Digest, Vol. 5
 McGrath, Forerunners
?, p. 236.
 Lossky, Mystical
, p. 111.
 Clendenin, p. 124.
 Pinnock, Clark, Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit.
InterVarsity Press, 1996, p. 156-157.
 Clendenin, p. 125, n20.
 ibid., p. 124
 Torrance, Thomas F., God and Rationality. Oxford University
Press, 1971, p. 64-65.
 Verhovskoy, Sergei, The Light of the Word. SVS Press, 1982, p. 35.
 Allen, Joseph, p. 153.
 Chrestou, Panagiotes, Partakers of God. Holy Cross Orthodox
Press, 1984, p. 45.
 Bonner, p. 157.
 Stanilaoe, Dumitru, Theology and the Church. SVS Press, 1980, p.
 Chrestou, p. 44.
 Kelly, J.N.D., p. 384.
 ibid., p. 376.
 Rakestraw, p. 9.
 Timiadis, Emilianos, The Nicene Creed: Our Common Faith.
Fortress Press, 1983, p. 69.
 Chrestou, p. 43.
 Florovsky, Georges, Creation and Redemption. Nordland
Publishing Co., 1976, p. 96, 99.
 Chrestou, p. 42.
Saved?, p. 48-49.
 Irons, Lee, "Raised for Our Justification",
Modern Reformation, 1996.
 The Christian Activist (Vol. 9) Fall/Winter 1996, p. 30.
 Coniaris, Anthony, Orthodoxy: A Creed for Today. Light
& Life Publishing, 1972, p. 135.
 Timiadis, p. 70.
 Florovsky, Creation & Redemption, p. 131.
 Hopko, Thomas, The Orthodox Faith (Vol. 1). Dept. of
Religious Education, Orthodox Church in America, 1981, p. 88, 95-96.
 Stanilaoe, p. 194.
 Hopko, in Orthodox Synthesis, p. 165-166.
 Hopko, The Church & Salvation (lecture), SVS Press,
 Clendenin, p. 53.
 Hopko, in Orthodox Synthesis, p. 154.
 ibid., p. 165.
 Kelly, J.N.D., p. 450.
 Hopko, The Word of the Cross (lecture), SVS Press, 1989.
 Hopko, in Orthodox Synthesis, p. 162.
 St. Athanasius, De decret 14, in Kelly, J.N.D, p. 377.
Saved?, p. 32, 40, 44.
 Hinlicky, p. 62.
 ibid., p. 38.
Saved?, p. 42-43.
 Clendenin, p. 135.
 Hopko, The Church & Liturgy (lecture), SVS Press, 1996.
 Clendenin, p. 136.
 Cat. Orat. 1.4, in (Ware), The Orthodox Church (new
ed.), Penguin Books, 1993, p. 222.
 Oden, Thomas C., The Transforming Power of Grace. Abingdon
Press, 1993, p. 97-98.
 Hopko, Thomas, "About Gods Grace". The
Living Pulpit, January-March 1995.
 Latourette, K.S., A History of Christianity (Vol. 1).
Harper San Francisco, 1975, p. 95.
 Clendenin, p. 158.
 Hopko, The Word of the Cross
 Hopko, in Orthodox Synthesis, p. 166.
 Pelikan, Christianity
, p. 20.
 McGrath, Forerunners?
, p. 230-232.
 McGrath, Iustitia Dei
(Vol. 1), p. 36.
 McGrath, Forerunners?
, p. 230.
 Bielfeldt, p. 404, 420.
 Spicq, C. & Ernest, J (Tr.), Theological Lexicon of the
New Testament, 1:335-6 & 336 n69. Hendrickson Publishers, 1995.
 McGrath, Forerunners?
, p. 241.
 Osborn, Eric, The Beginnings of Christian Philosophy.
Cambridge University Press, 1981, p. 117-118.
 ibid., p. 117.
 Tsirpanlis, Constantine, Introduction to Eastern Patristic
Thought and Orthodox Theology. The Liturgical Press, 1991, p. 61.
 Breck, John, The Power of the Word in the Worshiping Church.
SVS Press, 1986, p. 142-184.
 Rakestraw, p. 19, n14.
 Wolters, Al, Partners of the Deity: A Covenantal Reading of 2
Peter 1:4, Calvin Theological Journal 25 (1990): p. 43, n. 73].
 Rakestraw, p. 22, n50.
 ibid., p. 1-2.
 Hopko, The Fountain of Israel. Again Magazine,
Vol. 19, No. 4, Dec. 96/Jan. 97.
 (Ware), Praying With the Orthodox Tradition. SVS Press,
 Florovsky, Bible, Church, Tradition (Vol. 1), 1972, p. 75;
cf 51, 79.
 Tanner, Norman P., Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils (Vol.
1), p. 128-129, Sheed & Ward and Georgetown University Press, 1990].
 Clendenin, p. 93.
A Note of Personal Thanks
Barnes, who provided painstaking editing and plenty of helpful comments and suggestions. I
would also like to thank Fr. Deacon John Whiteford for helpful suggestions.