I noticed that the Word of Faith movement is under a lot of fire for the "little g" god doctrine, but it appears to me that it is almost, if not exactly, the same as the deification/divinization doctrine taught by the early church fathers and still maintained as Eastern Orthodox doctrine today.

What is the difference between the Eastern Orthodox doctrine of deification/divinization and the "little g" god doctrine of the Word of Faith movement?

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    Not even remotely similar. It would take a book to explain the underlying differences between the assumptions inherent in Eastern vs. Western Christianity (I gave it a shot once). The main difference in my mind is that WoF = we become gods with creative power, often the power of spoken words. In Orthodoxy we become God, i.e. partakers of the One Divine Nature, and only He has all power and authority. I'll try to answer if I find time.
    – Dan
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 18:33
  • A Related Question Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 18:25

1 Answer 1


[NOTE: At the time I answered this question, where the title and third paragraph now refer to "Eastern Orthodox", they formerly specified "orthodox protestantism", and my answer was tailored to the question as it then stood (that is, after the first revision of the question by Flimzy. Bruisedreed's claim in his explanation for his editing the question subsequent to my answer is made with no support of the assertion that the reference to protestantism was an error by the original poster.]

The difference is that orthodox Protestant doctrine is that there is one God, who is manifested in three persons, and that humans, through baptism, are made part of what Paul calls the Body of Christ (cf. Romans 12:12, 1 Corinthians 12:12, and other places) not that each person is a separate "little god".

One of the proponents of the "Word of Faith" movement, Kenneth Hagin, wrote (in Zoe: The God-Kind of Life (Kenneth Hagin Ministries, Inc., 1989) that God "made us in the same class of being that he is himself," and that the believer is "called Christ" because "that's who we are, we're Christ!", and earlier, in the article, "The Virgin Birth" (Word of Faith Magazine, December 1977) that by being "born again", the believer becomes "as much an incarnation as Jesus of Nazareth". An orthodox protestant view denies that God made humans in the same class as himself. And while orthodox protestantism accepts that the company of believers is the "body of Christ", and therefore individual believers are members of that body, this is not the same as saying that the company is Christ, since the body without the head is not the same as the head.

The "body of Christ" is not an incarnation in the sense that Jesus of Nazareth was an incarnation, "begotten of his father before all worlds".

  • +1 But since he was actually asking about Eastern Orthodox doctrine of theosis, not orthodox Protestantism, you should at least add that their doctrine of theosis posits that we become like God in the end (you know, in heaven) not while we're still on earth, and that is a very big difference. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theosis_%28Eastern_Orthodox_theology%29 Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 0:03
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    david, I last saw the question before bruised reed's edit, and at that time, although the question had the tag "orthodoxy", both the title to the question and the second paragraph made an explicit reference to "orthodox protestantism". References to Eastern Orthodoxy were made explicit, and the references to protestantism were removed by an edit subsequent to my question. I concede my answer to the question is defective as it stands, but it was consistent with the question as it stood when I made the answer.
    – brasshat
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 3:42
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    Apologies for not explaining the rationale for that edit more clearly, but I did think that there were enough clues in the OP to make a confident ruling on what was meant: The references to a doctrine that was taught by the early church fathers (ie theosis) and knowing that this doctrine is taught in Eastern Orthodoxy but either down-played or denied by most Protestants helped clarify (in my mind at least) who the OP was referring to. Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 5:00
  • It sometimes happens that when uses what is in theology a technical term associated either with Roman Catholics or Orthodox, that protestants deny that they support the particular concepts with which the term is associated. But, if asked if they believe some concept without the technical term, they are more likely top agree. I think that is the case here: if asked if they believe in theosis, I believe most protestants would deny it. If the idea were explained without the word, I suspect that many would enthusiastically embrace it.
    – brasshat
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 5:37
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    @brasshat In general terms, you're probably right, however perceived 'heretical' doctrines of those such as Word of Faith are a complication in an area like this. Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 8:49

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