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What does the Orthodox Church mean by “theosis?” - An
“God became man that man might become (like) God,” said St. Athanasius the Great about God’s purpose for man. “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Pet 1:4-5.
“I have said, Ye are gods; sons of the most High — all of you,” Psalm 82:4. We witness the reality that God comes into the world to restore us to communion with God so perfectly, that we become sanctified, literally Christ’s Body.
Since Christ is God and his Church is Christ, the Church is “God.” The people in it are not “God,” do not partake in the essence of the Trinity, but share in the energies of God, receiving the ability to achieve holiness.
As Archimandrite Christoforos Stavropoulos said in response to the above Psalm, “Do we hear that voice? Do we understand the meaning of the calling? Do we accept that we should in fact be on a journey, a road that leads to Theosis? As human beings we each have this one, unique calling, to achieve Theosis?”
We believe Theosis is a reality, that we partake of the divine nature, and like iron in a fire takes on the traits of the fire, so to human-beings in Christ’s baptism have the ability to become divine, or “sanctified.” We are on this journey all days of our life.
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