Theosis in

Western Christianity



Catholic theology (including Latin and Eastern Churches)

The importance of divinization (theosis) in Roman Catholic teaching is evident from what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says of it:

The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature": "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God." "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God." "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."[Primary 17]

  The Roman Rite liturgy expresses the doctrine of divinization or theosis in the prayer said by the deacon or priest when preparing the Eucharistic chalice by mixing water into the wine in the chalice.:

 "Per huius aquae et vini mysterium eius efficiamur divinitatis consortes, qui humanitatis nostrae fieri dignatus est particeps"

("By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.") ZE04062921

"In that sin man preferred himself to God and by that very act scorned him. He chose himself over and against God, against the requirements of his creaturely status and therefore against his own good. Constituted in a state of holiness, man was destined to be fully 'divinized' by God in glory. Seduced by the devil, he wanted to 'be like God', but 'without God, before God, and not in accordance with God'." ("Catechism of the Catholic Church 1: 2: 1: 1: 7: 3: 398." The Holy See. The Holy See, n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2014.)

"The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness: 'Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.' 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.' On the mountain of the Transfiguration, the Father commands: 'Listen to him!' Jesus is the model for the Beatitudes and the norm of the new law: 'Love one another as I have loved you.' This love implies an effective offering of oneself, after his example. The Word became flesh to make us 'partakers of the divine nature': 'For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.' 'For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.' 'The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.'" ("Catechism of the Catholic Church 1: 2: 2: 3: 1: 1: 459-460." The Holy See. The Holy See, n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.)

"Christ and his Church thus together make up the 'whole Christ' (Christus totus). The Church is one with Christ. The saints are acutely aware of this unity: Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God's grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man. ... The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does 'head and members' mean? Christ and the Church. 'Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to himself.' 'Head and members form as it were one and the same mystical person.' A reply of St. Joan of Arc to her judges sums up the faith of the holy doctors and the good sense of the believer: 'About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they're just one thing, and we shouldn't complicate the matter.'" ("Catechism of the Catholic Church 1: 2: 3: 9: 2: 2: 795." The Holy See. The Holy See, n.d. Web. 29 Aug. 2014.)

 "Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ's Passion by dying to sin, and in his Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is himself: '[God] gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature. ... For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized.' ... The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification: 'Therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself.'" ("Catechism of the Catholic Church 3: 1: 3: 2: 1: 1988, 1999." The Holy See. The Holy See, n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2014.)

"We can adore the Father because he has caused us to be reborn to his life by adopting us as his children in his only Son: by Baptism, he incorporates us into the Body of his Christ; through the anointing of his Spirit who flows from the head to the members, he makes us other 'Christs.' God, indeed, who has predestined us to adoption as his sons, has conformed us to the glorious Body of Christ. So then you who have become sharers in Christ are appropriately called 'Christs.' The new man, reborn and restored to his God by grace, says first of all, 'Father!' because he has now begun to be a son." ("Catechism of the Catholic Church 4: 2: 2: 2: 2782" The Holy See. The Holy See, n.d. Web. 29 Aug. 2014.)

Thomas Aquinas.

Although the doctrine of theosis came to be neglected in the Western Church in the recent years, it was clearly taught in the Roman Catholic tradition as late as the 13th century by Thomas Aquinas.

Aquinas taught that: "full participation in divinity which is humankind's true beatitude and the destiny of human life"  (Summa Theologiae 3.1.2).


Pope John Paul II (1920 to 2005 CE)

"Father Gemelli sees in the Catholic University the privileged place in which it would be possible to throw a bridge between the past and the future, between the ancient classical culture and the new scientific culture, between the values of modern culture and the eternal message of the Gospel. From this fruitful synthesis there would be derived - he rightly trusted - a most effective impulse towards the implementation of a full humanism, dynamically open to the boundless horizons of divinization, to which historical man is called." (Pope John Paul II. "Catholic University of the Sacred Heart." The Holy See. The Holy See, 8 Dec. 1978. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.(http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/speeches/1978/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_19781208_univ-sacro-cuore.html )

"Sacramental life finds in the Holy Eucharist its fulfillment and its summit, in such a way that it is through the Eucharist that the Church most profoundly realizes and reveals its nature. Through the Holy Eucharist the event of Christ's Pasch expands throughout the Church. Through Holy Baptism and Confirmation, indeed, the members of Christ are anointed by the Holy Spirit, grafted on to Christ; and through the Holy Eucharist the Church becomes what she is destined to be through Baptism and Confirmation. By communion with the body and blood of Christ the faithful grow in that mysterious divinization which by the Holy Spirit makes them dwell in the Son as children of the Father."
(Pope John Paul II, and Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas. "Common Declaration of His Holiness John Paul II and His Holiness Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas."
The Holy See. The Holy See, 23 June 1984. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.(http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/anc-orient-ch-docs/rc_pc_christuni_doc_19840623_jp-ii-zakka-i_en.html)

"If he has eternally willed to call man to share in the divine nature, it can be said that he has matched the 'divinization' of man to humanity's historical conditions, so that even after sin he is ready to restore at a great price the eternal plan of his love through the 'humanization' of his Son, who is of the same being as himself." (Pope John Paul II. "Redemptoris Mater." The Holy See. The Holy See, 25 Mar. 1987. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.)

"An essential aspect of your apostolic charge is to strengthen your brother priests in faith and to confirm them in their identity as 'other Christs', who offer their lives in union with Christ for the salvation of the world."
(Pope John Paul II. "To the Bishops of Zambia on Their 'Ad Limina' Visit."
The Holy See. The Holy See, 5 May 1988. Web. 29 Aug. 2014.)

"As Saint Augustine so strikingly phrased it, Christ 'wishes to create a place in which it is possible for all people to find true life'. This 'place' is his Body and his Spirit, in which the whole of human life, redeemed and forgiven, is renewed and made divine."
(Pope John Paul II. "8th World Youth Day, Message of the Holy Father."
The Holy See. The Holy See, 12 Aug. 1992. Web. 29 Aug. 2014.)

"In divinization and particularly in the sacraments, Eastern theology attributes a very special role to the Holy Spirit: through the power of the Spirit who dwells in man deification already begins on earth; the creature is transfigured and God's kingdom inaugurated. The teaching of the Cappadocian Fathers on divinization passed into the tradition of all the Eastern Churches and is part of their common heritage. This can be summarized in the thought already expressed by Saint Irenaeus at the end of the second century: God passed into man so that man might pass over to God. This theology of divinization remains one of the achievements particularly dear to Eastern Christian thought. On this path of divinization, those who have been made 'most Christ-like' by grace and by commitment to the way of goodness go before us: the martyrs and the saints. ... In the Eucharist, the Church's inner nature is revealed, a community of those summoned to the synaxis to celebrate the gift of the One who is offering and offered: participating in the Holy Mysteries, they become 'kinsmen' of Christ, anticipating the experience of divinization in the now inseparable bond linking divinity and humanity in Christ. ... In Christ, true God and true man, the fullness of the human vocation is revealed. In order for man to become God, the Word took on humanity. Man, who constantly experiences the bitter taste of his limitations and sin, does not then abandon himself to recrimination or to anguish, because he knows that within himself the power of divinity is at work. Humanity was assumed by Christ without separation from his divine nature and without confusion, and man is not left alone to attempt, in a thousand often frustrated ways, an impossible ascent to heaven. There is a tabernacle of glory, which is the most holy person of Jesus the Lord, where the divine and the human meet in an embrace that can never be separated. The Word became flesh, like us in everything except sin. He pours divinity into the sick heart of humanity, and imbuing it with the Father's Spirit enables it to become God through grace."
(Pope John Paul II. "Orientale Lumen."
The Holy See. The Holy See, 2 May 1995. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.)

"Do not forget that you, in a very special way, can and must say that you not only belong to Christ but that 'you have become Christ'!"
(Pope John Paul II. "Vita Consecrata."
The Holy See. The Holy See, 25 Mar. 1996. Web. 29 Aug. 2014.)

"All people and all societies have one absolute need: they need Christ, the Way, and the Truth, and the Life! With truly Catholic hearts, take him to others, and strive to live as 'other Christs' in every circumstance." (Pope John Paul II. "Angelus." The Holy See. The Holy See, 13 July 1997. Web. 29 Aug. 2014.)

"The Holy Spirit's presence truly and inwardly transforms man: it is sanctifying or deifying grace, which elevates our being and our acting, enabling us to live in relationship with the Holy Trinity. This takes place through the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, 'which adapt man's faculties for participation in the divine nature'."
(Pope John Paul II. "General Audience."
The Holy See. The Holy See, 22 July 1998. Web. 26 Aug. 2014.)

"Dear friends, in fulfilment of the Petrine 'munus', I intend to strengthen your faith in the identity of Christ and in your own identity as 'other Christs'. Take holy pride in being 'called', and be especially humble before so great a dignity, in the awareness of your human weakness." (Pope John Paul II. "Fourth International Meeting of Priests." The Holy See. The Holy See, 19 June 1999. Web. 29 Aug. 2014.)

"In seeing you here today - as the chosen representatives of this local Church - I see my visit repaid: you have come to the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles in a spirit of prayer and penance to implore pardon and forgiveness, and to renew your dedicated commitment to that work of divinizing humanity which began 2,000 years ago with the birth of the God made man."
(Pope John Paul II. "To the 'Cursillos de Cristiandad' Movement."
The Holy See. The Holy See, 29 July 2000. Web. 26 Aug. 2014.)

"Jesus is 'the new man' who calls redeemed humanity to share in his divine life. The mystery of the Incarnation lays the foundations for an anthropology which, reaching beyond its own limitations and contradictions, moves towards God himself, indeed towards the goal of 'divinization'. This occurs through the grafting of the redeemed on to Christ and their admission into the intimacy of the Trinitarian life. The Fathers have laid great stress on this soteriological dimension of the mystery of the Incarnation: it is only because the Son of God truly became man that man, in him and through him, can truly become a child of God." (Pope John Paul II. "Novo Millennio Ineunte." The Holy See. The Holy See, 6 Jan. 2001. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.)

"Having been enabled to see the world through God's eyes, and become ever more configured to Christ, religious men and women move towards the ultimate end for which man was created: divinization, sharing in the life of the Trinity." (Pope John Paul II. "Pilgrimage to the Holy Monastery of Rila." The Holy See. The Holy See, 25 May 2002. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.)

"It is told in the Book of Genesis: God created man and woman in a paradise, Eden, because he wanted them to be happy. Unfortunately, sin spoiled his initial plans. But God did not resign himself to this defeat. He sent his Son into the world in order to give back to us an even more beautiful idea of heaven. God became man - the Fathers of the Church tell us - so that men and women could become God. This is the decisive turning-point, brought about in human history by the Incarnation."
(Pope John Paul II. "17th World Youth Day, Address at the Welcoming Ceremony."
The Holy See. The Holy See, 25 July 2002. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.)


Pope Benedict XVI

"Only if God is great is humankind also great. With Mary, we must begin to understand that this is so. We must not drift away from God but make God present; we must ensure that he is great in our lives. Thus, we too will become divine; all the splendour of the divine dignity will then be ours. Let us apply this to our own lives."
(Pope Benedict XVI. "Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary."
The Holy See. The Holy See, 15 Aug. 2005. Web. 29 Aug. 2014.)

"The meaning of this final gesture of Jesus is twofold. In the first place, ascending on high, he clearly reveals his divinity: he returns to where he came from, that is, to God, after having fulfilled his mission on earth. Moreover, Christ ascends into heaven with the humanity he has assumed and which he has resurrected from the dead: that humanity is ours, transfigured, divinized, made eternal."
 (Pope Benedict XVI. "Regina Caeli."
The Holy See. The Holy See, 21 May 2006. Web. 26 Aug. 2014.)

"In this way we begin to understand why the Lord chooses this piece of bread to represent him. Creation, with all of its gifts, aspires above and beyond itself to something even greater. Over and above the synthesis of its own forces, above and beyond the synthesis also of nature and of spirit that, in some way, we detect in the piece of bread, creation is projected towards divinization, toward the holy wedding feast, toward unification with the Creator himself."
(Pope Benedict XVI. "Solemnity of Corpus Christi."
The Holy See. The Holy See, 15 June 2006. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.)

"However, this treasure that is destined for the baptized, does not exhaust its radius of action in the context of the Church: the Eucharist is the Lord Jesus who gives himself 'for the life of the world' (Jn 6: 51). In every time and in every place, he wants to meet human beings and bring them the life of God. And this is not all. The Eucharist also has a cosmic property: the transformation of the bread and the wine into Christ's Body and Blood is in fact the principle of the divinization of creation itself."
(Pope Benedict XVI. "Ecclesia in Medio Oriente."
The Holy See. The Holy See, 18 June 2006. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.)

"Having become a man, Christ gave us the possibility of becoming, in turn, like him. Nazianzus exhorted people: 'Let us seek to be like Christ, because Christ also became like us: to become gods through him since he himself, through us, became a man. He took the worst upon himself to make us a gift of the best'." (Pope Benedict XVI. "General Audience." The Holy See. The Holy See, 22 Aug. 2007. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.)

"Christ is the epitome of all things, he takes everything upon himself and guides us to God. And thus he involves us in a movement of descent and ascent, inviting us to share in his humility, that is, in his love for neighbour, in order also to share in his glorification, becoming with him sons in the Son. Let us pray the Lord to help us conform to his humility, to his love, in order to be rendered participants in his divinization."
(Pope Benedict XVI. "General Audience."
The Holy See. The Holy See, 22 Oct. 2008. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.)

"This union of reason and charity, of faith and charity, must be brought into being within us and thus, transformed into charity to become, as the Greek Fathers said, divinized. I would say that in the development of the world we have this uphill road, leading from the first created realities to the creature, man. But the ascent has not yet been completed. Man must be divinized and thus fulfilled. The unity of the creature and of the Creator: this is the true development, arriving with God's grace at this openness. Our essence is transformed by charity. If we speak of this development, we always think of the final goal, where God wants to arrive with us."
(Pope Benedict XVI. "Reflection of His Holiness Benedict XVI during the First General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops."
The Holy See. The Holy See, 5 Oct. 2009. Web. 26 Aug. 2014.)

"... in this act 'not my will but your will' Jesus recapitulates the whole process of his life, of leading, that is, natural human life to divine life and thereby transforming the human being. It is the divinization of the human being, hence the redemption of the human being, because God's will is not a tyrannical will, is not a will outside our being but is the creative will itself; it is the very place where we find our true identity. God created us and we are ourselves if we conform with his will; only in this way do we enter into the truth of our being and are not alienated. On the contrary, alienation occurs precisely by disregarding God's will, for in this way we stray from the plan for our existence; we are no longer ourselves and we fall into the void. Indeed, obedience, namely, conformity to God, the truth of our being, is true freedom, because it is divinization." (Pope Benedict XVI. "Lectio Divina." The Holy See. The Holy See, 24 Feb. 2010. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.)

"The Gospel of the Transfiguration of the Lord puts before our eyes the glory of Christ, which anticipates the resurrection and announces the divinization of man."
(Pope Benedict XVI. "For Lent 2011."
The Holy See. The Holy See, 4 Nov. 2010. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.)

"Thus Jesus tells us that it is only by conforming our own will to the divine one that human beings attain their true height, that they become 'divine'; only by coming out of ourselves, only in the 'yes' to God, is Adam's desire - and the desire of us all - to be completely free."
(Pope Benedict XVI. "General Audience."
The Holy See. The Holy See, 1 Feb. 2012. Web. 29 Aug. 2014.)

"In the context of the Christian faith, 'communion is the very life of God which is communicated in the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ'. It is a gift of God which brings our freedom into play and calls for our response. It is precisely because it is divine in origin that communion has a universal extension. While it clearly engages Christians by virtue of their shared apostolic faith, it remains no less open to our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters, and to all those ordered in various ways to the People of God. The Catholic Church in the Middle East is aware that she will not be able fully to manifest this communion at the ecumenical and interreligious level unless she has first revived it in herself, within each of her Churches and among all her members: Patriarchs, Bishops, priests, religious, consecrated persons and lay persons. Growth by individuals in the life of faith and spiritual renewal within the Catholic Church will lead to the fullness of the life of grace and theosis (divinization). In this way, the Church's witness will become all the more convincing."
(Pope Benedict XVI. "Angelus."
The Holy See. The Holy See, 14 Sept. 2012. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.)


Out of the English Reformation, an understanding of salvation in terms closely comparable to the Orthodox doctrine of theosis was recognized in the Anglican tradition, J. Bloor examines deification/theosis in the late Anglican Priest and theologian Canon A. M. (Donald) Allchin, but it is also explored in the writings of Lancelot Andrewes, who described salvation in terms vividly reminiscent of the early fathers:

Whereby, as before He of ours, so now we of His are made partakers. He clothed with our flesh, and we invested with His Spirit. The great promise of the Old Testament accomplished, that He should partake our human nature; and the great and precious promise of the New, that we should be "consortes divinae naturae", "partake his divine nature," both are this day accomplished. C.S. Lewis, speaking on his personal belief in the subject of literal deification, stated as follows:

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship.  In a more complete statement on his beliefs in literal deification, C.S. Lewis stated in his book, "Mere Christianity" as follows:

“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.”

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship. . . “—C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

“The object of our salvation, according to Orthodoxy, is not simply salvation from sin, but a mystical union between the believer and Christ (see John 17:21-23 and 2 Pet. 1:4). This is part of the theology of divine ascent, called "deification" or "theosis", whereby the believer is drawn up into the grace and "energies" (but not the essence) of God. This is not simply an eschatological destination, but a present process which is made evident in the Divine Liturgy. One may find similar ideas in the west, but you must dig deep to find them. In Anglicanism there are a number of thinkers and devotional writers from the seventeenth century including the Cambridge Platonists and Henry Scougal ("The Life of God in the Soul of Man") that come to mind. The modern evangelical emphasis on having a "personal relationship with Christ" conveys a similar reality. By comparison, though, it lacks depth, mystery, and theological grounding in the church Fathers. Clearly, the Orthodox notion of "theosis" can enrich our understanding of salvation by focusing our attention upon the ultimate purpose of God's grace. One can only wonder what western theology would look like if controversies over faith, works, and justification had not consumed its attention for so many centuries. Though these are crucial issues and needed to be addressed, from an eastern perspective, we have too often lost sight of the forest through the trees.”

("Anglo-Orthodoxy": Why some Episcopalians are turning to Eastern Orthodoxy for spiritual enlightenment by William DiPuccio, Ph.D

Quakers are members of a group with Christian roots that began in England in the 1650s. The formal title of the movement is the Society of Friends or the Religious Society of Friends. The Quaker movement was founded in the 17th century by George Fox.  Fox was a reluctant starter of a new sect, his idea was to try and transform the existing structures to a more accurate following of Christ.  For this he, and his followers, were persecuted by Cromwell's Puritan government and then the "restored" Charles II Catholics.  Fox argued, based on the teachings of Peter (Acts 2 & 3), for an egalitarian, spirit-filled Christianity that would not be oppressive of people on account of race, sex, or class.  The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) was the first corporate body in Britain and North America to fully condemn slavery as both ethically and religiously wrong in all circumstances.

In 1988 the society had 200,260 members, with heavy concentrations in the United States (109,000), East Africa (45,000) and Great Britain (18,000). Quakers unite in affirming the immediacy of Christ's teaching; they hold that believers receive divine guidance from an inward light, without the aid of intermediaries or external rites. Meetings for worship can be silent, without ritual or professional clergy, or programmed, in which a minister officiates.

Although their antecedents lie in English PURITANISM and in the ANABAPTIST movement, the Society of Friends was formed during the English Civil War. Around 1652, George Fox began preaching that since there was "that of God in every man," a formal church structure and educated ministry were unnecessary. His first converts spread their faith throughout England, denouncing what they saw as social and spiritual compromises and calling individuals to an inward experience of God. In spite of schism and persecution, the new movement expanded during the Puritan Commonwealth (1649-60) and after the restoration of the monarchy (1660). By openly defying restrictive legislation, Friends helped achieve passage of the Toleration Act of 1689.

There is “that of God in every man”

“Perfection was a key component oF Early Quaker soteriology.“‘. Perfection was the culmination. the telios of the process of salvation, which begins with justification. The seventeenth century Quaker theologian Robert Barclay defined justification as “a holy, pure, and spiritual birth, bringing forth holiness, righteousness. purity, and all these other blessed fruits ...” The “holy birth“ he defined as ‘Jesus Christ formed within us, and working his works in us" (2002, 167) and perfection as “this pure and holy birth...fully brought forth” (2002, 205). Perfection is thus the goal of spiritual formation (“Christ formed within us") and through this process of formation “....also comes that communication of the goods of Christ unto us, ‘by which we come to be made partakers of the divine nature’ as saith Peter, 2 Pet. 1:4, and are made one with him, as the branches with the vine” (2002., I75, 208). (Sec 2.5 for further discussion of Barclay’s doctrine of perfection.)


Perfection is thus participation in God through Christ or in classical mystic terminology union with God. …


The word For perfection in early Christianity was rendered in Greek as theosis (god-likeness. or deification. In seventeenth century England in the Puritan cradle where Quakerism was born, perfection was the equivalent to the theological term for the concept of theosis .  Theosis was the culmination of the spiritual life,  and although the Greek term was not used by Quakers, they regularly employed its English equivalent, divine indwelling. For early Quakers, seeking perfection became the terminology of personal transformation.”

Holiness: The Soul of Quakerism: An Historical Analysis of the Theology of Quaker Movement

By Carole Dale Spencer

George Fox wrote:

"The scriptures saith God will dwell in men, and walk in men … Doth not the Apostle say, the saints were partakers of the divine nature? And that God dwells in the saints, and Christ is in them, except they be reprobates? And do not the saints come to eat the flesh of Christ? And if they eat his flesh, is it not within them?"



, or the Methodist movement, is a group of historically related denominations of Protestant Christianity which derive their inspiration from the life and teachings of John Wesley, George Whitefield and John's brother Charles Wesley

Theosis as a doctrine developed in a distinctive direction among Methodists, and elsewhere in the pietist movement which reawakened Protestant interest in the asceticism of the early Catholic Church, and some of the mystical traditions of the West. Distinctively, in Wesleyan Protestantism theosis sometimes implies the doctrine of entire sanctification which teaches, in summary, that it is the Christian's goal, in principle possible to achieve, to live without any (voluntary) sin (Christian perfection). In 1311 the Roman Catholic Council of Vienne declared this notion, "that man in this present life can acquire so great and such a degree of perfection that he will be rendered inwardly sinless, and that he will not be able to advance farther in grace" (Denziger §471), to be a heresy. Thus this particular Protestant (primarily Methodist) understanding of theosis is substantially different from that of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican Churches. This doctrine of Christian perfection was sharply criticized by many in the Church of England during the ministry of John Wesley and continues to be controversial among Protestants and Anglicans to this day.[Primary 25]

More recently, the Finnish school of Lutheran thought has drawn close associations between theosis and justification. Primarily spearheaded by Tuomo Mannermaa, this line of theological development grew out of talks between the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Russian Orthodox Church between 1970 and 1986. Mannermaa argues in his book, Christ Present in Faith, that the real exchange between Christ and sinful humanity, a theme prevalent in Luther's writing, is synonymous with Eastern views of theosis. It is in this real exchange which Mannermaa says "the union between Christ and the believer makes the latter a ‘completely divine [person]." While this departure from traditional Lutheran thought is sometimes hailed as "the threshold of a third Luther Renaissance," other Lutheran scholars disagree and argue that the idea of theosis violates Luther's theology of the cross principles by ignoring the real distinction that is axiomatic for not only Luther, but for orthodox Christianity as a whole. One of the most prominent scholars is Robert Kolb, who primarily roots this critique in Luther's use of marriage metaphors concerning the Christian's relationship with God. Kolb writes "This view ignores the nature of the ‘union’ of bride and bridegroom that Luther employed so far."

The eastern tradition maintains that theosis, the “way” into this deifying union or restoration of the imago dei, comes by way of the mysterious coinciding of a gift of divine energy and human freedom. This transforming union with God, “is not (says Lossky) the result of an organic or unconscious process: it is accomplished in persons by the cooperation of the Holy Spirit and our freedom.”


It is just such an understanding of theosis which Wesley seems to employ as the organizing principle of his ordo salutis. And, as Wesley wrote his ordo salutis to the tune of theosis, it is probably better to understand it as a via salutis: that is to say, we are becoming “like” God by the energy of love (coinciding with our freedom) as He was becoming what we are in condescending love.


Although these two perspectives are not mutually exclusive, they have quite often functioned that way. And many have attempted, some times quite deliberately, to overshadow the motifs of participation and pardon precisely at the point of the correlation (whether eastern or western) of the doctrines of incarnation and redemption. It was Albert Outler who first proposed the thesis that Wesley‟s legacy and “place” in the Christian tradition lay in his “third alternative,” his synthesis of pardon and participation as “pardon in order to participation,” a synthesis of sola fide and holy living “


Episcopal Church.

However there is the vestiges of theosis even in the Episcopal Church.

The following collects are illustrative of theosis within the Episcopal Church.

· O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for the Second Sunday after Christmas).

· Almighty and everliving God, you have given us a new revelation of your loving providence in the Coming of your Son Jesus Christ to be born of the Virgin Mary: Grant that as he shared our mortality, so we may share his eternity in the glory of your kingdom; where he lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for Station at a Creche).

· O God our Creator, to restore our fallen race you spoke the effectual word, and the Eternal Word became flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Mercifully grant that as he humbled himself to be clothed with our humanity, so we may be found worthy, in him, to be clothed with his divinity; who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for Station at a Creche).

 Christian universalist theology

The Christian form of this belief, instead of saying everyone is saved is better understood as the belief that everyone will be saved, eventually– not because all flights lead to Rome but because all will eventually turn to Christ. This view often maintains a belief in hell, but with the belief that hell is for the purpose of refining instead of eternal punishment– almost more of a Catholic purgatory than a Southern Baptist hell. Some do not maintain a concept of hell but rather see the “fire” as being metaphorical for God’s love which will purify everything.

There has been a modern revival of the concept of theosis (often called "manifest sonship" or "Christedness") among Christians who hold to the doctrine of universal reconciliation or apocatastasis, especially those with a background in the charismatic Latter Rain Movement or even the New Age and New Thought movements. The statement of faith of the Christian Universalist Association includes theosis in one of its points.

In 1899 the Universalist General Convention, later called the Universalist Church of America, adopted the Five Principles: the belief in God, Jesus Christ, the immortality of the human soul, the reality of sin, and universal reconciliation.

The inclusion of theosis as a sixth point is found in the statement of faith adopted in 2007 by the Christian Universalist Association. In the context of Christian Universalism, theosis—which can be translated as divinization or the process of being made more God-like—means to be made more Christ-like, or that all souls will ultimately be reconciled and conformed to the image of the glorified resurrected Christ.

A minority of charismatic Christian universalists believe that the "return of Christ" is a corporate body of perfected human beings who are the "Manifested Sons of God" instead of a literal return of the person of Jesus, and that these Sons will reign on the earth and transform all other human beings from sin to perfection during an age that is coming soon (a particularly "universalistic" approach to millennialism). Some liberal Christian universalists with New Age leanings share a similar eschatology.

Mormonism includes a belief in the doctrine of exaltation, by which is meant a literal divinization. According to Mormon scholars, there are similarities between the Mormon belief of eternal progression and the beliefs found in the patristic writings of the first, second, and third centuries A.D.

According to Mormonism's founder, Joseph Smith, through obedience to Christ and the gradual acquisition of knowledge, the faithful may eventually become heirs of God in the afterlife and "inherit all things" as Christ himself "inherited all things." Mormons believe they will continue to worship and be subject to God the Father in the name of Christ in the afterlife.

Mormons do not characterize the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in terms of an immaterial, formless substance or essence that sets godhood apart as a separate genus from humanity. They believe this classification of divinity was originated by post-apostolic theologians, whose speculations on God were influenced by Greek metaphysical philosophers[66] such as the Neoplatonists, who described their notions of deity in similar terms of a divine substance/essence (ousia)—i.e., terms which were unknown to the pre-Nicean Christian world. Mormons believe that through modern day revelation, God restored the doctrine that all humans are spiritually begotten (Hebrews 12:9, Acts 17:28–29) sons and daughters of Heavenly Father,[67] and thus are all part of the same heavenly family. Because humans are literally God's children, they can also be heirs of his glory, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ (Romans 8:16–17).[68] Mormons believe that the "glory of God is intelligence, in other words, light and truth" (D&C 93:36), therefore the process of inheriting his glory is a process of learning. As a crucial step in this process, all of God's spirit children had the choice to come to earth in order to receive a body and continue their development. Mormons believe that the fallen state of humanity (mortality) was not the result of an unplanned cancellation of God's plan for an eternal earthly paradise, rather it was a crucial step that provides the opportunity to learn and grow in the face of opposition (2 Nephi 2:11, 25). Thus, the purpose of earth life is to gain knowledge and experience—which includes overcoming trials and mistakes through the atonement of Jesus Christ, and using the lessons learned to become stronger and wiser, more like their Heavenly Father (D&C 98:3). Those who endure to the end (Matthew 24:13, Mark 13:13) while in mortality, as well as those who accept the gospel after death (see baptism for the dead), will be able to dwell in the presence of God, where they can continue to grow in light and truth, which "light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day" (D&C 50:24). Mormons believe that the Father and the Son both possess glorified, immortal bodies (D&C 130:22), and that thanks to Christ's resurrection, humans will also resurrect and inherit this same type of body (Philippians 3:21).

To make matters worse the The Church of the Latter Day Saints even go as far as to suggest that the current God who created the Heavens and Earth was once a man like us on earth who grew into the current status.That mere mortal men have the capacity to eventually become Gods is a doctrine that has been defended by LDS leaders since the early years of the Mormon Church. At the root of this concept is the idea that mankind is the literal offspring of God. Speaking in the Tabernacle on August 8, 1852, Brigham Young stated,

“The Lord created you and me for the purpose of becoming Gods like Himself; when we have been proved in our present capacity, and been faithful with all things He puts into our possession. We are created, we are born for the express purpose of growing up from the low estate of manhood, to become Gods like unto our Father in heaven. That is the truth about it, just as it is” (Journal of Discourses 3:93). 

Again to expand on it Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt explains:

“Each God, through his wife or wives, raises up a numerous family of sons and daughters; indeed, there will be no end to the increase of his own children: for each father and mother will be in a condition to multiply forever and ever. As soon as each God has begotten many millions of male and female spirits, and his Heavenly inheritance becomes too small, to comfortably accommodate his great family, he, in connection with his sons, organizes a new world, after a similar order to the one which we now inhabit, where he sends both the male and female spirits to inhabit tabernacles of flesh and bones. Thus each God forms a world for the accommodation of his own sons and daughters who are sent forth in their times and seasons, and generations to be born into the same. The inhabitants of each world are required to reverence, adore, and worship their own personal father who dwells in the Heaven which they formerly inhabited” (The Seer, p. 37).

 The Mormons are very explicit in their "scriptures" that there are many Gods; for example, the three persons of the Trinity are regarded as three "Gods."  Since they believe that many Gods exist but at present worship only one -- God the Father -- at least one Mormon scholar has admitted with qualifications that their doctrine could be termed "henotheistic."  Henotheism is a variety of polytheism in which there are many gods, but only one which should be worshiped. Thus, the meaning of deification in Mormonism is radically different than that of the church fathers who used similar terms, despite Mormon arguments to the contrary.


So we can understand why the west is reluctant to use the terms deification, theosis, divinizations etc. But misuse of theological terms is not an explanation for rejecting the basic concepts.

Again this is simply either a misunderstanding of the early fathers or a distortion. Orthodox theology emphasizes that there is a clear distinction — in the current phraseology “an ontological gap” — between God the Creator and the creation which He has made. This “gap” is bridged by divine love, supremely through the Incarnation, but it is not abolished. The distinction between the uncreated and the created still remains. The Incarnation is a unique event. “Deification,” on the Orthodox understanding, is to be interpreted in terms of the distinction between the divine essence and the divine energies. Human beings share by God’s mercy in His energies but not in His essence, either in the present age or in the age to come. That is to say, in theosis the saints participate in the grace, power, and glory of God, but they never become God by essence.  

Based on this possibility of misunderstanding by the lay people most western theologian try to downplay the theosis idea or use the term progressive justification and sanctification.  


Herbert W. Armstrong (1892 -1986)

Herbert W. Armstrong (31 July 1892 – 16 January 1986) founded the Radio Church of God which was incorporated 21 October 1933 and was renamed Worldwide Church of God 1 June 1968, as well as starting Ambassador College (later Ambassador University) 8 October 1947. He was an early pioneer of radio and tele-evangelism, first taking to the airwaves on 7 January 1934 from the 100-watt station KORE Eugene, Oregon. Armstrong preached what he claimed was the comprehensive combination of doctrines in the entire Bible, in the light of the New Covenant scriptures, which he maintained came directly from the Bible.[3] These theological doctrines and teachings have been referred to as Armstrongism by non-adherents. His teachings included the interpretation of biblical prophecy in light of British Israelism,[4] and required observance of parts of the Mosaic Law including seventh-day Sabbath, dietary prohibitions, and the covenant law "Holy Days".

The God Family doctrine holds that the Godhead is not limited to God (the Creator) alone, or even to a trinitarian God, but is a divine family into which every human who ever lived may be spiritually born, through a master plan being enacted in stages. The Godhead now temporarily consists of two co-eternal individuals  Jesus the Messiah, as the creator and spokesman (The Word or Logos), and God the Father.

According to this doctrine, humans who are called by God's Holy Spirit to repentance, who [accept], hope to inherit, the gift of eternal life made possible by Jesus' sacrifice, who commit to live by "every word of God" (i.e. biblical scripture), and who "endure to the end" (i.e. remain faithful to live according to God's way of life until either the end of their own lifetime or the second coming of Jesus) would, at Jesus' return, be "born again" into the family of God as the literal spiritual offspring or children of God. Armstrong drew parallels between every stage of human reproduction and this spiritual reproduction. He often stated that "God is reproducing after his own kind— children in his own image." Whatever the changes brought about by this new entrance of humans into God's family, God the Father will always be the omnipotent sovereign and sustainer of both the universe and the spiritual realm, forever to be worshipped as God by the children of God. Jesus, as the creator of the universe and savior of God's children, will always rule the Kingdom of God, which will ultimately grow to fill the entire universe, and he likewise will forever be worshipped as God by the children of God.

Positive Confession
PMA - Prosperity Gospel & The New Age
Word of Faith Movement

 Positive Confession's basic beliefs can be summarized as follows:

1. Faith is a force that both God and man can use: "Faith is a force just like electricity or gravity" (Copeland), and it is the substance out of which God creates whatever is (Capps). God uses faith, and so may we in exactly the same way in order to produce the same results through obedience to the same "laws of faith" (Capps) that God applied in creation. "You have the same ability [as God has] dwelling or residing on the inside of you" (Capps). "We have all the capabilities of God. We have His faith" (Copeland).

2. Faith's force is released by speaking words: "Words are the most powerful thing in theuniverse" because they "are containers" that "carry faith or fear and they produce after their kind" (Capps). God operates by these very same laws. "God had faith in His own words ... God had faith in His faith, because He spoke words of faith and they came to pass. That faith force was transported by words ... the God-kind-of-faith ... is released by the words of your mouth" (Hagin). "Creative power was in God's mouth. It is in your mouth also" (Capps).

3. Man is a "little god" in God's class: "Man was designed or created by God to be the god of this world" (Tilton, Hagin, Capps). "Adam was the god of this world ... [but he] sold out to Satan, and Satan became the god of this world" (Hagin). "We were created to be gods over the earth, but remember to spell it with a little 'g'" (Tilton, Hagin, Capps). "Adam was created in God's class ... to rule as a god ... by speaking words" (Copeland). "Man was created in the God class ... We are a class of gods ... God himself spawned us from His innermost being ... We are in God; so that makes us part of God (2 Cor 5:17)" (Copeland).

4. Anyone -- occultist or Christian -- can use the faith force: Because man is a little god "in God's class: very capable of operating on the same level of faith as God" (Capps), and "because all men are spirit beings" (Hagin), therefore anyone, whether Christian or pagan, can release this "faith force" by speaking words if he only believes in his words as God believes in His (Hagin). "God is a faith God. God releases His faith in Words, [and we must do the same:] ... Everything you say [positive or negative] will come to pass" (Capps). "Spiritual things are created by WORDS. Even natural, physical things are created by WORDS" (Hagin).

5. You get what you confess: The vital key is confessing, or speaking aloud, and thereby, releasing the force of faith. "You get what you say" (Hagin, Hunter). "Only by mouth confession can faith power be released, allowing tremendous things to happen" (Cho). "Remember, the key to receiving the desires of your heart is to make the words of your mouth agree with what you want" (Copeland). "Whatever comes out of your mouth shall be produced in your life" (Tilton). "They're [his two children] 30-some years of age today, and I don't believe I prayed more than half a dozen times for both of them in all these years. Why? Because you can have what you say -- and I had already said it!" (Hagin).

6. Never make a negative confession: The tongue "can kill you, or it can release the life of God within you ... whether you believe right or wrong, it is still the law" (Capps). There is power in "the evil fourth dimension" (Cho). If you confess sickness you get it, if you confess health you get it; whatever you say you get" (Hagin). "Faith is as a seed ... you plant it by speaking it" (Capps). "The spoken word ... releases power -- power for good or power for evil" (Bashan). Therefore, it is very important never to speak anything negative but only to make a positive confession -- hence the name of the Positive Confession movement.

-  Positive Confession leaders have a wrong view of faith: Instead of trust in God as its object, it is a metaphysical force they trust. They have a wrong view of God: He is not sufficient in Himself, but can only do what He does by using this universal faith-force in obedience to certain cosmic laws. They have a wrong view of man: He is a little god in God's class who has the same powers as God and can use the same force of faith by obedience to the same laws that God also must obey. They also have a wrong view of redemption and the cross of Christ.