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Theosis (Ancient Greek: θέωσις), or deification (deification may also refer to apotheosis, lit. "making divine"), is a transformative process whose aim is likeness to or union with God, as taught by the Eastern Catholic Churches and the Eastern Orthodox Church; the same concept is also found in the Latin Church of the Catholic Church, where it is termed "divinization". As a process of transformation, theosis is brought about by the effects of catharsis (purification of mind and body) and theoria ('illumination' with the 'vision' of God). According to Eastern Christian teachings, theosis is very much the purpose of human life. It is considered achievable only through synergy (or cooperation) of human activity and God's uncreated energies (or operations).[1] According to Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos), the primacy of theosis in Eastern Orthodox Christian theology is directly related to the fact that Byzantine theology (as historically conceived by its principal exponents) is based to a greater extent than Latin Catholic theology on the direct spiritual insights of the saints or mystics of the church rather than the often seen more as rational thought tradition of the West.[2] Byzantine Christians consider that "no one who does not follow the path of union with God can be a theologian"[3] in the proper sense. Thus theology in Byzantine Christianity is not treated primarily as an academic pursuit. Instead it is based on applied revelation (see gnosiology), and the primary validation of a theologian is understood to be a holy and ascetical life rather than intellectual training or academic credentials (see scholasticism).[2]

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theosis_(Eastern_Christian_theology)

What is the biblical basis for Theosis?

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Genesis 1:26-27: Man is made in God's image

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Genesis 3:22 Adam/man progresses to be like God

22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”

Psalm 82:6 sons of God

“I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’

Reinforcing above, by Jesus in John 10:33-34

33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’?

Matt 5:48 commanded to be perfect like God

48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

2 Peter 1:4 promises to participate in divine nature

4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Acts 17:29 we are God's offspring, divine not man-made

29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill.

Romans 8:16–17 God's children heirs of God

16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Revelation 3:21 victorious promised to be able to sit with Christ

21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.


Early Church writings on this belief:

From The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition, Norman Russell

Gross set out to [prove]... that deification was a biblical idea. ... Discusses the deification in the Old and New Testaments...prove the ubiquity1 of the doctrine of deification

The church father Irenaeus, who died about A.D. 202, asserted that Jesus Christ2

did, through His transcendent love, become what we are, that He might bring us to be what He is Himself.

Clement of Alexandria (ca. A.D. 150–215) wrote that3

the Word of God became man, that thou mayest learn from man how man may become God.

emphasis mine, from LDS perspective but stuck to bible and non LDS sources

1 ubiquity: the fact of appearing everywhere or of being very common

2 The Ante-Nicene fathers. Translations of the writings of the fathers down to A.D. 325 1:526

3 The Ante-Nicene fathers. Translations of the writings of the fathers down to A.D. 325 2:174

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There are a number of good points of reference, but some I would begin with would be 2 Peter 1:3-4: "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him Who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature." In the same vein, St. John writes: "See what love the Father has given us, that we should become children of God; and so we are....Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 Jn 3:1-2). Both Peter and John go on in these passages to describe the moral discipline requisite upon such a hope, the hope of union with God. God had said to Moses, "you cannot see My face; for man shall not see Me and live" (Ex 33:20). But now, according to the New Testament, this vision of God that is beyond human capacity is offered to humanity, who by virtue of their union with Christ find themselves caught up into the union of His person, the union of the divine and human natures.

I think that in this light, many Scriptures that speak of this union with Jesus will apply. Ephesians 5:25-32 comes to mind:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church...husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes it and cherishes it, as Christ does the Church, because we are members of His body. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church...(cf. Gn 2:24)

In this vein one might read, as it has often been read, The Song of Solomon as a poem not merely of human love, but of the love of God for the human soul. And of course the aim, quite expressly, of the entire Song is not merely one of contemplation or exchange of vows, but the union of persons, of the lover and the beloved. This union of God and man, achieved in the Incarnation, is extended to Christians who are by union with Christ made children of God (cf. Rom 6:1-14, 8:9-17), and we hope ultimately to see Him face to face. Thus, according to St. Paul, "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us," and even "the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God" (Rom 8:18-19; cf. 1 Cor 15:28), and Jesus Himself prays to the Father on the eve of His crucifixion: "The glory which You have Given Me I have given to them...Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, to behold My glory which You have given Me in Your love for Me before the foundation of the world" (Jn 17:22,24).

A thread of "fulness" runs from the biblical description of Jesus as He in Whom "the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily" (Col 2:9), to the description of the Church as "His body, the fulness of Him Who fills all in all" (Eph 1:23), to the future hope which even creation itself joins in anticipating, "when all things are subjected to Him, [when] the Son Himself will also be subjected to Him Who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all" (1 Cor 15:28). This "fulness" is not unrelated to the fulness of grace attributed to Mary, in whom the Scriptures see a uniquely excellent fulfillment of God's exchange of love with a human person (cf. Lk 1:26-56, etc). For Mary this exchange has all the reality of pregnancy, motherhood, widowhood, bereavement, and all that she underwent and contributed throughout her life with Jesus, God her Son.

An excellent resource on this is Called to Be the Children of God: The Catholic Theology of Human Deification, edited by Fr. David Meconi and Carl E. Olson, particularly the first essay, contributed by the editors, "The Scriptural Roots of Christian Deification."

I hope this helps!

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