Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Summary of Partakes of the Divine Nature

The last chapter of Partakers of the Divine Nature should actually be the first, in my opinion. In it, Gösta Hallonsten makes an important distinction between a theme of theosis and a doctrine of theosis: “if the doctrine of theosis according to the Greek Fathers or present-day Orthodox theology is examined, it will be realized that deification as doctrine is not solely about the final goal but is conceived of as a comprehensive doctrine encompassing the whole economy of salvation.” (page 284) In other words, there might be a theme of theosis in Western theology, but it is a theme that is an undercurrent because it is a scriptural theme. But, in Eastern theology, it is more than a theme, rather “[t]he whole structure implies that creation and human beings from the very beginning are endowed with an affinity and likeness that potentially draws them to God.” (page 285). And “[i]n the East, creation from its very beginning is seen as a participation in God; hence grace cannot be separated from creation, but inhere in it and potentially leads us to union with God...The world and human beings are seen as caused by God in the sense of formal causality, whereas in the Western view efficient causality takes its place: God and the world are distinct beings, even if the world participates in Being in an analogical sense.” (page 286).

If this chapter had been first, it would have framed the whole book differently. After reading this chapter, it was appears that some of the claims of a doctrine of theosis in Western theology earlier in the book fall flat; it was not a doctrine, but a biblical theme that was used to buttress the main arguments the theologian in question was making. But, perhaps I am being too harsh.

I highly recommend the book; it should give the person reading it some food for thought, at the very least, and it might transform one's outlook on the importance of theosis for Christian life and theology.

OK, Jon, now you can borrow the book and read it :)


Joel Brueseke said...

I'd like to borrow the book as well! Thanks for posting these various portions of the book. I've enjoyed them.

jps said...


Send me your address (j s p i n t i @ e i s e n b r a u n s . c o m) and after Jon finishes it, I can send it to you :)