Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Reflections on the Eastern Idea of Theosis (QEWSIS)

Personally, I think that QEWSIS [deification] is a doctrine that has a certain element of truth, but it is also capable of being distorted.

In the New Testament, there are scriptures that support the idea of deification
(at least, in a limited sense). 2 Pet. 1:4 speaks of Christians
becoming "partakers of the divine nature" (GENHSQE QEIAS KOINWNOI
FUSEWS). 1 John 3:2 also says that the sons of God will "see God and
be LIKE him." These Scriptures indicate that at least some Christians
will experience QEWSIS.

The doctrine of QEWSIS is a beautiful teaching insofar as it is delineated in
the NT. The only danger is that it could be misconstrued to imply that
humans will become equal to God. MH GENOITO! There is a sharp eternal
[ontological] distinction between the Creator and the creature.
For this reason, Alister McGrath has suggested that we speak
of deification as QEIWSIS rather than QEWSIS. That is,
those deified will be godlike, but not God.

At any rate, I think that QEWSIS for those Christians privileged to
inherit it, will entail being clothed with immortality and
incorruption--with self-existence. They will also share in ruling with
Christ Jesus for 1000 years, transforming the present world order into
a new age devoid of death, sickness, and crime (Revelation 20:6; 21:1-5).

My thoughts,


Note: I wrote these reflections a number of years ago. At the time I quoted McGrath but did not document where I found his distinction between QEIOSIS and QEOSIS. I went to Googlebooks, however, and found two references. See and


Βασίλειος said...

Θέωσις in the Eastern Orthodox Church is called the third level of the (supernatural) enlightenment of the soul, which is achieved by ascetit, monastic life and a kind of intense meditation. I think it's a kind of a neoplatonic heritage to the Eastern Church.

Edgar Foster said...

I'll comment on this issue later, but I agree that what you describe as the enlightenment of the soul can be found in Plato. Based on Plato's allegory or myth of the cave, Plotinus (205-270 CE) described how the mystical ascent to God works. First is purgation, followed by illumination which leads to the mystical ascent of the soul resulting in union with the divine. However, I believe that QEWSIS is somewhat based on a scriptural truth found in 2 Peter 1:4, namely, that Christians can share in the divine nature. Cf. 1 John 3:2.