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Thread: Christian Divinization?

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    Christian Divinization?

    There were many different references to divinization in the writings of the Church Fathers.Athanasius of Alexandria was an author of the phrase about Jesus Christ which has become popular in Christmas homilies: "He was made human so that he might make us gods" (De incarnatione 54,3, cf. Contra Arianos 1.39)

    In the second century, Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons (c. 130–202) said that God had "become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself."[3] He added:

    Do we cast blame on him [God] because we were not made gods from the beginning, but were at first created merely as men, and then later as gods? Although God has adopted this course out of his pure benevolence, that no one may charge him with discrimination or stinginess, he declares, "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are sons of the Most High." ... For it was necessary at first that nature be exhibited, then after that what was mortal would be conquered and swallowed up in immortality.[Irenaeus, Against Heresies 4.38 (4); compare 4.11 (2): "But man receives progression and increase towards God. For as God is always the same, so also man, when found in God, shall always progress towards God.]

    There were many different references to divinization in the writings of the Church Fathers.

    In the second century, Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons (c. 130–202) said that God had "become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself."[Adversus haereses, book 5, preface - Factus est quod sumus nos, uti nos perficeret quod et ipse.] He added:
    Do we cast blame on him [God] because we were not made gods from the beginning, but were at first created merely as men, and then later as gods? Although God has adopted this course out of his pure benevolence, that no one may charge him with discrimination or stinginess, he declares, "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are sons of the Most High." ... For it was necessary at first that nature be exhibited, then after that what was mortal would be conquered and swallowed up in immortality.[4]

    Augustine of Hippo (354–430) said: "But he himself that justifies also deifies, for by justifying he makes sons of God. 'For he has given them power to become the sons of God' [referring to John 1:12]. If then we have been made sons of god, we have also been made gods."[12] "To make human beings gods," Augustine said, "He was made man who was God" (sermon 192.1.1). Augustine goes on to write that "[they] are not born of His Substance, that they should be the same as He, but that by favour they should come to Him... (Ibid)".

    Other references to divinization in the writings of the Church Fathers include the following:

    Irenaeus (c. 130-200)
    "[T]he Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who did, through His transcendent love, become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself."[Primary 2]

    "'For we cast blame upon [God], because we have not been made gods from the beginning, but at first merely men, then at length gods; although God has adopted this course out of His pure benevolence, that no one may impute to Him invidiousness or grudgingness he declares, "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are sons of the Most High." "[Primary 3]

    "For it was necessary, at first, that nature should be exhibited; then, after that, that what was mortal should be conquered and swallowed up by immortality, and the corruptible by incorruptibility, and that man should be made after the image and likeness of God."[Primary 3]

    Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215)
    "[T]he Word of God became man, that thou mayest learn from man how man may become God."[Primary 4]

    "For if one knows himself, he will know God; and knowing God, he will be made like God"[Primary 5]
    "[H]is is beauty, the true beauty, for it is God; and that man becomes God, since God so wills. Heraclitus, then, rightly said, "Men are gods, and gods are men." For the Word Himself is the manifest mystery: God in man, and man God"[Primary 5]

    "[H]e who listens to the Lord, and follows the prophecy given by Him, will be formed perfectly in the likeness of the teacher—made a god going about in flesh."[Primary 6]

    "And to be incorruptible is to participate in divinity..."[Primary 7]
    Justin Martyr (c. 100-165)
    "[Men] were made like God, free from suffering and death, provided that they kept His commandments, and were deemed deserving of the name of His sons, and yet they, becoming like Adam and Eve, work out death for themselves; let the interpretation of the Psalm be held just as you wish, yet thereby it is demonstrated that all men are deemed worthy of becoming "gods," and of having power to become sons of the Highest."[Primary 8]

    Theophilus of Antioch (c. 120-190)
    "For if He had made him immortal from the beginning, He would have made him God. Again, if He had made him mortal, God would seem to be the cause of his death. Neither, then, immortal nor yet mortal did He make him, but, as we have said above, capable of both; so that if he should incline to the things of immortality, keeping the commandment of God, he should receive as reward from Him immortality, and should become God..."[Primary 9]

    Hippolytus of Rome (c. 170-235)
    "And you shall be a companion of the Deity, and a co-heir with Christ, no longer enslaved by lusts or passions, and never again wasted by disease. For you have become God: for whatever sufferings you underwent while being a man, these He gave to you, because you were of mortal mould, but whatever it is consistent with God to impart, these God has promised to bestow upon you, because you have been deified, and begotten unto immortality."[Primary 10]

    "If, therefore, man has become immortal, he will also be God. And if he is made God by water and the Holy Spirit after the regeneration of the later he is found to be also joint-heir with Christ after the resurrection from the dead."[Primary 11]

    Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 296-373)
    "Therefore He was not man, and then became God, but He was God, and then became man, and that to deify us"[Primary 12]

    "for as the Lord, putting on the body, became man, so we men are deified by the Word as being taken to Him through His flesh."[Primary 13]

    "For He was made man that we might be made God."[Primary 14]

    Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-395)
    "Since the God who was manifested infused Himself into perishable humanity for this purpose, viz. that by this communion with Deity mankind might at the same time be deified, for this end it is that, by dispensation of His grace, He disseminated Himself in every believer."[Primary 15]

    "For just as He in Himself assimilated His own human nature to the power of the Godhead, being a part of the common nature, but not being subject to the inclination to sin which is in that nature (for it says: "He did no sin, nor was deceit found in his mouth), so, also, will He lead each person to union with the Godhead if they do nothing unworthy of union with the Divine."[Primary 16]

    Augustine of Hippo (c. 354-430)
    "'For He hath given them power to become the sons of God.'[John 1:12] If we have been made sons of God, we have also been made gods."[Primary 17]

    Maximus the Confessor
    "Nothing in theosis is the product of human nature, for nature cannot comprehend God. It is only the mercy of God that has the capacity to endow theosis unto the existing... In theosis, man (the image of God) becomes likened to God, he rejoices in all the plenitude that does not belong to him by nature, because the grace of the Spirit triumphs within him, and because God acts in him."[13]

    Cyril of Alexandria
    "[H]e came down into our condition solely in order to lead us to his own divine state."[14]
    "It follows, therefore, that He Who Is, The One Who Exists, is necessarily born of the flesh, taking all that is ours into himself so that all that is born of the flesh, that is us corruptible and perishing human beings, might rest in him. In short, he took what was ours to be his very own so that we might have all that was his."[15]
    "For we too are sons and gods by grace, and we have surely been brought to this wonderful and supernatural dignity since we have the Only Begotten Word of God dwelling within us."[16]

    Gregory of Nazianzus
    implores humankind to "become gods for (God's) sake, since (God) became man for our sake."[citation needed].
    Likewise, he argues that the mediator "pleads even now as Man for my salvation; for He continues to wear the Body which He assumed, until He make me God by the power of His Incarnation." [17]

    "Through the medium of the mind he had dealings with the flesh, being made that God on earth, which is Man: Man and God blended. They became a single whole, the stronger side predominating, in order that I might be made God to the same extent that he was made man."[18]

    Basil of Caesarea stated that "becoming a god is the highest goal of all"

    source Wikipedia[19]


    I have a strong suspicion there is much valentian gnostic thinking and wishful thinking that went into these thoughts. Did the early church fathers believe the afterlife endowed godhood?
    John 1:1-2 εν αρχη ην ο λογος At the beginning, it was a word; και ο λογος ην προς ο θεος and a word, it was unto a God; και θεος ην ο λογος and the God, it was.. A word 2 ουτος a-such... 2 ην εν αρχη προς ο θεος ... it was at the beginning unto a God.

    Yahweh is a word of God, not just Christ!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Omniskeptical View Post
    Did the early church fathers believe the afterlife endowed godhood?
    I don't know if the early church fathers believed that they would become gods in the world to come.

    I can only answer that the Bible supports the idea that believers will become gods or godlike in the world to come.


    1 John 3:2
    2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.



    We can go into heresy like the Mormons and assume that we will each become God of our own worlds.
    We can deny the verse and assume that only God YHVH is Divine and we will never be gods or godlike.
    We can interpret the Bible literally and assume that somehow we will become gods or godlike, but that our understanding is not yet great enough to know what that will be like.
    Learn to read what is written.

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    The people who are supposed to be experts and who claim to understand the science are precisely the people who are blind to the evidence.
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    Quote Originally Posted by genuineoriginal View Post
    I don't know if the early church fathers believed that they would become gods in the world to come.

    I can only answer that the Bible supports the idea that believers will become gods or godlike in the world to come.


    1 John 3:2
    2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.



    We can go into heresy like the Mormons and assume that we will each become God of our own worlds.
    We can deny the verse and assume that only God YHVH is Divine and we will never be gods or godlike.
    We can interpret the Bible literally and assume that somehow we will become gods or godlike, but that our understanding is not yet great enough to know what that will be like.
    I think their goal was to become like god in this life. Irenaeus not knowing himself to be a Valentinian confused the the father with the son. This idea of an avatar fixing a divine mess is also part of Valentinian theology.

    Thus it is no surprise Heggissipus, Polycarp, Papias, and Clement Rome have no such quotes.

    If we wish no to be idolater, we must question the doctrines of the Early Church Fathers.
    John 1:1-2 εν αρχη ην ο λογος At the beginning, it was a word; και ο λογος ην προς ο θεος and a word, it was unto a God; και θεος ην ο λογος and the God, it was.. A word 2 ουτος a-such... 2 ην εν αρχη προς ο θεος ... it was at the beginning unto a God.

    Yahweh is a word of God, not just Christ!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Omniskeptical View Post
    If we wish no to be idolater, we must question the doctrines of the Early Church Fathers.
    We should first question the doctrines of the modern Christian denominations by holding their teachings up to the light of the Bible.
    Learn to read what is written.

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    Quote Originally Posted by genuineoriginal View Post
    We should first question the doctrines of the modern Christian denominations by holding their teachings up to the light of the Bible.
    Yes, but I have to use the Greek to do so. This is a nice starting point. The Early Church Fathers thought they were becoming Gods. It became associated with suffering though. Hence, the Eastern Orthodox version of Divinization.
    John 1:1-2 εν αρχη ην ο λογος At the beginning, it was a word; και ο λογος ην προς ο θεος and a word, it was unto a God; και θεος ην ο λογος and the God, it was.. A word 2 ουτος a-such... 2 ην εν αρχη προς ο θεος ... it was at the beginning unto a God.

    Yahweh is a word of God, not just Christ!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Omniskeptical View Post
    This is a nice starting point. The Early Church Fathers thought they were becoming Gods. It became associated with suffering though. Hence, the Eastern Orthodox version of Divinization.
    I checked out the Wikipedia page that highlighted the Eastern Orthodox version of Divinization.
    It looks like the Eastern Orthodox doctrine becomes muddled and confused when it comes to trying to reconcile apotheosis with Monotheism and the belief in a Trinity.

    Looking at it objectively, there were sons of God among the heavenly beings before the flood and in the account of the testing of Job's faith.
    The teaching of the New Testament says that we are adopted as sons of God and that we will undergo a transformation from a mortal being into an immortal being, effectively becoming a god or becoming godlike.
    The New Testament also teaches us that we will be put into a position where we will judge the world and judge angels.
    The Old Testament teaches that there are other gods but that there is only one Supreme God.
    If we put these concepts together, we believers will become lesser gods or become godlike in some manner in the Resurrection, without any possibility of us supplanting YHVH as the Supreme God.

    This fits in with a concept known as Henotheism.

    Henotheism (from Greek ἑνός θεοῦ (henos theou), meaning 'of one god') is the worship of a single god while not denying the existence or possible existence of other deities.

    Learn to read what is written.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Omniskeptical View Post
    I think their goal was to become like god in this life.
    What sayeth the scriptures?

    "Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy." (Eph 4:24 NLT)

    "Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him." (Colossians 3:10 NLT)

    "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 3:18

    "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4).

    "We know that when Christ appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is." (1 John 3:2)

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    Quote Originally Posted by User Name View Post
    What sayeth the scriptures?

    "Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy." (Eph 4:24 NLT)
    and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

    "Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him." (Colossians 3:10 NLT)

    "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 3:18

    "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4).

    "We know that when Christ appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is." (1 John 3:2)
    I stated the goal knowing that the goal eastern "orthodox" is deification through suffering. Now if we supposed to be like the messiah, are we supposed to become like the father and be gobbled up like many claim of Christ. We don't have our own trinity either if we were to become like God. These doctrines are related to post-apostolic Hellenistic early church thinking. sorry about the word salad.

    I believe the testimony of the early post-apostolic church is not good. We have Polycarp, for example, testifying about John being in bath houses even though he already seen Christ. Polycarp is even one of the more sane early post-apostolic fathers.
    John 1:1-2 εν αρχη ην ο λογος At the beginning, it was a word; και ο λογος ην προς ο θεος and a word, it was unto a God; και θεος ην ο λογος and the God, it was.. A word 2 ουτος a-such... 2 ην εν αρχη προς ο θεος ... it was at the beginning unto a God.

    Yahweh is a word of God, not just Christ!

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    Quote Originally Posted by User Name View Post
    What sayeth the scriptures?
    I think out of all the Bible authors, John most clearly laid out the concept of union with Christ. (There are so many wild ideas around divinization that I like to talk of it in terms of union, since this is more descriptive.) He hits it hard in John 1, emphasizing that Jesus is the Word. Said another way, Jesus is embodied in His teachings. And verse 14 reveals that this Word is the one-and-only Son of God.

    But here is a fascinating conundrum: if Jesus is the one-and-only Son of God, how then can you and I be called children of God? Thankfully John reveals the secret in verse 12, "To as many as received Him [the Word], to them He gave the right to be called sons of God, to as many as believe in His name [which is "the Word"]." They have the right to be called sons of God because they are united to the only Son of God. Because they have His words dwelling in them, they have Him dwelling in them, to the point that He considers them part of who He is - members of His body.

    I just recently shared a video on YouTube about these amazing ideas from John 1. Check it out for more info on this topic, plus an object lesson about how a backpacking stove illustrates that union with Christ.

  10. The Following User Says Thank You to Jeff Wickham For Your Post:

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Wickham View Post
    They have the right to be called sons of God because they are united to the only Son of God. Because they have His words dwelling in them, they have Him dwelling in them, to the point that He considers them part of who He is - members of His body.
    As Jesus said in John 6, "He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him. As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he who eats of this bread shall live for ever."

    Likewise, Paul reiterated, "For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones."

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