''Alternative spellings: Theiosis, Theopoiesis''
== Orthodox theology ==
The statement by
[[Saint|St. ]] [[Athanasius of Alexandria]], "The Son of God became man, that we might become God", indicates the concept beautifully. II Peter 1:4 says that we have become " . . . partakers of divine nature." Athanasius amplifies the meaning of this verse when he says theosis is "becoming by grace what God is by nature" (''De Incarnatione'', I). What would otherwise seem absurd, that fallen, sinful man may become holy as God is holy, has been made possible through [[Jesus ]] [[Christ]], who is God incarnate. Naturally, the crucial Christian assertion, that God is One, sets an absolute limit on the meaning of ''theosis'' - it is not possible for any created being to become, [[ontology|ontologically]], God or even another god.
Through ''[[theoria]]'', the knowledge of God in Jesus Christ, human beings come to know and experience what it means to be fully human (the created image of God); through their communion with Jesus Christ God shares Himself with the human race, in order to conform them to all that God is in knowledge, righteousness and holiness. ''Theosis'' also asserts the complete restoration of all people (and of the entire creation), in principle. This is built upon the understanding of the [[atonement]] put forward by [[Irenaeus]], called "recapitulation"
For many fathers, ''theosis'' goes beyond simply restoring people to their state before the Fall of [[Adam and Eve]], teaching that because Christ united the human and divine natures in his person, it is now possible for someone to experience closer fellowship with God than Adam and Eve initially experienced in the Garden of Eden, and that people can become more like God than Adam and Eve were at that time. Some Orthodox theologians go so far as to say that Jesus would have become [[Incarnation|incarnate]] for this reason alone, even if Adam and Eve had never sinned.
All of humanity is fully restored to the full potential of humanity because the Son of God took to Himself a human nature to be born of a woman, and takes to Himself also the sufferings due to sin (yet is not Himself a sinful man, and is God unchanged in His being). In Christ, the two natures of God and human are not two persons but one; thus, a union is effected in Christ, between all of humanity and God. So, the holy God and sinful humanity are reconciled in principle, in the one sinless man, Jesus Christ. (See Jesus's prayer as recorded in [[Gospel of John|John]] [http://drbo.org/cgi-bin/d?b=drb&bk=50&ch=017 17].)
== Comparative considerations ==
Union with God, East and West === In Western Catholic theology, ''theosis'' refers to a specific and rather advanced phase of contemplation of God. [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10663b.htm] The process of arriving to such a state, or moving toward it (as arrival there is not necessary for [[salvation]]), involves different types of prayer which are recognized as beneficial. Various stages of prayer life are recognized as being likely to occur should a person respond to faith by moving along the purgative, illuminative, and unitive ways. See [[ascetical theology]].
Western writers refer to theosis using the same implications given above (e.g., [http://ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ184.HTM], [http://www.kensmen.com/catholic/purgatory.html]). It is common to find western writings that suggest that eastern spirituality manifests ''theosis'' and that by implication the West is lacking in this regard, but this is a case of rhetoric obscuring fact: under different terminology the western spiritual traditions, which also reach to the origins of Christianity ( in the East), share the objective of sharing in the life of God. It is also necessary to recall that in the west there is a problematic form of ''[[ecumenism]]'' in vogue, in which people are quick to deny their own truths in order to appear to exalt the ''other''. Some Catholic writers consider it lamentable that the term ''theosis'' is not used more extensively in western theology. [http://www.kensmen.com/catholic/solafide. html]
The Protestant conceptions of [[praxis]], [[phronema]], [[ascetical theology]], and [[sacrament]]s are quite different from Catholic and Orthodox understandings, but the use of the term ''theosis'' may <!-- only "may" because the conception of perfection may reflect a radical difference, depending upon the theological tract being compared-->illustrate a commonality of objective or hope.
===Deification in Mormonism===The doctrine of theosis or deification in [[
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints|The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints]] differs significantly from the '''theosis''' of Orthodox Christianity. In Mormonism it is usually referred to as '' [[exaltation ]]'' or ''eternal life''. While the primary focus of Mormonism is on the [[atonement ]] of Jesus Christ, the reason for the [[atonement ]] is exaltation which goes beyond mere [[salvation]]. All men will be saved from [[sin ]] and [[death]], but only those who are sufficiently [[obedient]] and accept the atonement of Jesus Christ before the [[judgment]] will be exalted.
[[Book of Moses |Moses]] 1:39 God tells [[Moses]], "this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" . In that chapter God shows Moses a vision depicting some of God's vast creations including a vast number of worlds created for other people—a sampling of what God created in the past and what he will continue to do forever. Each world was prepared and peopled by God for the purpose of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of humankind. By immortality is meant personal [[resurrection]] so that each individual can continue to enjoy a perfect, physical body forever. By eternal life is meant becoming like God both in terms of holiness or godliness and in glory. It is commonly believed by members of the Church that, like God, an exalted human being is empowered with the privilege to create worlds and people in an endless process of exalting humankind.
Of all the Mormon doctrines including
[[Plural Marriage (Mormonism)|polygamy ]], critics generally deem this doctrine the most offensive or even blasphemous. Some Mormons argue that even assuming mainstream Christianity's definition of God's [[omnipotence]] and [[omnibenevolence]], not only can God exalt mortal man, but God must do so. The argument is that if God is all-powerful, then God is capable of exalting man, and if God is all-good, then God should or must exalt man. They also point to comments by Christ and Psalmists among others that refer to the Divine nature and potential of humans as children of God. Some Mormons also suggest that discussions of theosis by early Church fathers show an early belief in the Mormon concept of deification, although they disagree with much of the other theology of the same Church fathers, most notably the doctrine of the Trinity.
The Mormons' belief
has absolutely nothing in common with the Orthodox belief in deification. Deification always acknowledges a timeless Creator versus a finite creature who has been glorified by the grace of God. The Mormons are clear promoters of polytheism and the Church Fathers have absolutely no commonality with their view
* Stavropoulos, Archimandrite Christoforos. ''Partakers of Divine Nature''. trans. by Stanley Harakas (ISBN 0937032093) [http://www.light-n-life.com/shopping/order_product.asp?ProductNum=PART100]
* Kärkkäinen, Veli-Matti. ''One With God: Salvation As Deification And Justification''. (ISBN 0814629717)
* Alexander, Donald L., ed. ''Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification''. (ISBN 0830812784)* Gundry, Stanley, ed. ''Five Views on Sanctification''. (ISBN 0310212693)
* [http://www.affcrit.com/archives/ac_02_02.html Deification] - online issue of ''Affirmation & Critique'' devoted entirely to the topic of ''theosis''
* ''The Divinization of the Christian According to the Greek Fathers'', by Gules Gross (ISBN 0736316000)
* [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/arbible/message/25368 Q&A: About Orthodox Theosis]
* [http://www.monachos.net/patristics/clement_intro.shtml Theosis and the Work of Christ: A beginner's introduction to the thought of Clement of Alexandria]