I’m a former Protestant, Latin rite Catholic, but recently, especially now in Lent, I’ve been exploring the spirituality of the Eastern Rites. I’ve been focusing on Theosis, or divinization. I find this in Catholicism and protestantism as well as in the Eastern Rites and Orthodoxy, though the names, (theological lingo,) changes from one group to another, and Protestants would be scandalized if you accused them of holding the doctrine of Theosis. I suspect we in the west, both protestant and Catholic, got so involved in Tolemics after the Reformation, that we forgot the whole idea of divinization.
My question is, given the Protestant emphasis on The Bible, what role does scripture study play in Theosis in the Catholic/Orthodox traditions?
“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” - St. Jerome (who gave us the Vulgate Bible).
St. Thomas Aquinas said about the reason for seeking likeness to God:
Among all human pursuits, the pursuit of wisdom is more perfect, more noble, more useful, and more full of joy.
It is more perfect because, in so far as a man gives himself to the pursuit of wisdom, so far does he even now have some share in true beatitude. And so a wise man has said: “Blessed is the man that shall continue in wisdom” (Sirach 14:22).
It is more noble because through this pursuit man especially approaches to a likeness to God Who “made all things in wisdom” (Ps. 103:24). And since likeness is the cause of love, the pursuit of wisdom especially joins man to God in friendship. That is why it is said of wisdom that “she is an infinite treasure to men! which they that use become the friends of God” (Wis. 7:14).
(Contra Gentiles, book 1 chpt2)
Likeness is the cause of love; love your neighbor as yourself (see yourself when you see anyone - the good Samaritan said, “That is myself bleeding and dying; that must not happen!”, when he saw the one robbed on the side of the road.)
Wisdom makes me like God and there is love; with love I find my neighbor is myself, and there is love and even greater wisdom.
Just what I’ve needed, most of my readings focus on justifying, (Latin,) or explaining, (Greek,) the doctrine, rather than focusing on the “how to” of Theosis.
You are welcome; I find doing Aquinas much more enriching, also - experiencing the Lord.
While I have read the Summa Theologica a couple of times I just this week got the idea of doing Contra Gentiles. It is delightful - I found it online here: Thomas Aquinas: Contra Gentiles: English
So far easier or more relaxed reading than ST also.
But I find it makes contemplation more real rather than emotional.
Beginning stage: repentance, basic faith, mysteries of Christian Initiation, eschatological teaching. See Hebrews 5, 11- 6, 3); reward/punishment, pleasure/pain.
Middle stage: concepts and ideas, but not consistently internalized; the rational and logical psychikoi.
Mature stage: Total surrender (spirit centered pneumatikoi), in being; spirit/heart.
To realize perfection one would love God with their whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and their neighbor as themselves-a tall order and one which is possibly not fully achievable until the next life when we’ll “see” God “face to face”. This state of love constitutes justice for man; its what makes us just in God’s eyes and is simultaneously a work of His, of transforming us into His own image.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." Rom 8:28-30
"And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Cor 3:18
"Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." Col 3:9-10
"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." 1 John 3:1-3
Theosis is a free gift from God. It is not something that we can do for ourselves. That being said there are some practices that we can engage in that will be conducive to contemplation. When reading the Bible, don’t just read it for awhile and then put it away. One should read it and then think about what they have been reading. You have to be thinking about what is it that the Bible is saying to you? What is God saying to me through this Bible reading?
Another thing is to be like the blind man who sat at the side of the road and said “Lord Jesus have mercy on me, a sinner.” or like the publican who placed himself in the back of the Temple and said, “Lord have mercy on me.”
One should spend time on this.
Theosis is a Gift from God, and it is given by God to men variously prepared and unprepared… It is a direct encounter with God that most understand as the pivot event of their life, and often happens at profound personal lows…
Christianity prepares one, by repentance, for this encounter, which may or may not occur… But if it does not occur in this life, it will occur in the Age to Come at the final and last Dread Judgement of Christ, and preparation is everything… The Church disciples Her children unto this preparation, and Scripture shows and teaches how that preparation works…
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