participants of the divine nature

His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and excellence. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust and may become participants of the divine nature.

2 Peter 1:3-4; NRSVue

Divinization (not to be confused with divination) or Theosis is the Christian teaching that by God’s grace in Christ, humans partake of and participate in the divine nature. In Christian teaching, humans are still distinct from God, yet are changed in that their/our humanity is “divinized” or imbued we might say with God’s nature, maybe we could say with godness. We strictly speaking don’t become gods in any primary sense so that for example we somehow become part of the Trinity. But instead we share in the life of the Trinity as humans, somehow taken up into that very life, while still remaining only human. God becoming flesh is a union with deity and humanity, so that we might say that the Trinity in and through the Son became united with humanity. The Trinity is indeed human in the Son. So that we could become “divinized” and participate in “theosis” in and through Jesus.

This takes on practical meaning for us. We are not yet glorified, and still have indwelling sin, if I understand scripture and Christian teaching and tradition correctly. But we also have godness in us as well. We’re participants of the very nature of God. So that we’re no longer what we were before faith and baptism. By the Spirit we share and participate in the very life and nature of God. This is what salvation for us as individuals consists of. Along with forgiveness of our sins, sin itself is actually both dealt with and being dealt with in our lives. A death blow to sin through Christ’s death, so that we live in a new life. And we live accordingly from that.

Yes, we still have plenty of mess in ourselves, and we can fall prey to this and that. If you read the entire letter of 2 Peter quoted above, you can see that clearly. There is what is called synergy in that there is both a divine and human interactivity in this. God works in us and we’re to work on or work out of that (cf: Philippians 2:12b-13). Essentially, we’re changed. That is why we can move in God’s direction and follow Christ. God is present with us, helping us, and giving us God’s very nature so that we are God’s children in our hearts. So that we want to remain there, and line up in our entirety completely according to that reality. In and through Jesus.

(Catch Eastern Orthodoxy and Nonviolence with Andrew Klager and Bradley Jersak parts one and two from the Inverse Podcast. Anabaptist thought on this included.)