The theosis as purpose of human life

  1. Lemma
  2. Ἡ θέωσις, ὡς σκοπὸς τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου
  3. English
  4. Koutalis, Vangelis
  5. Ethics - Orthodox Anthropology - Ecumenism and dialogue > Education - Ecumenism and dialogue > Dialogue between churches - Ecumenism and dialogue > Westernism and anti-westernism - Orthodox theological tradition and practice > Cult and spirituality
  6. 06-01-2018
  7. Kapsanes, Georgios [Author]. The theosis as purpose of human life
  8. Ἡ θέωσις, ὡς σκοπὸς τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου - Mount Athos: Holy Monastery of Saint Gregorios, 1998.
  9. Anthropocentrism - anthropology - Divine energies - essence-energies distinction - theosis (divinization in Christ) - deification - spiritual progress (deification / theosis)
    1. <p>Kapsanes, G. [Καψάνης, Γ.] (1998). <em>Ἡ θέωσις, ὡς σκοπὸς τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου</em>. Mount Athos: Holy Monastery of Saint Gregorios.</p>
    1. Archimandrite Georgios Kapsanes, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Saint Gregorios, in Mount Athos, in this book, which itself is the outcome of the reworking of a series of oral lectures, presented in various Greek cities, delves into the topic of theosis, of the deification of the human being, as the central tenet of an Orthodox anthropology. Created in the image and in the likeness of God, the human being should not strive merely for its personal moral improvement, but also, and above all anything else, for its transformation from a being bearing the divine image, and possessing the divine gifts of rational thinking, consciousness, self-determination, freedom, creativity, love and yearning for the unconditional and for God, into a being that fulfills itself in the likeness of God.

      Theosis has been rendered possible by virtue of the incarnation, the humanization of God. Through the hypostatical union of the two natures in the person of Christ, a second communion between humanity and God has been accomplished. The first one was that enjoyed by Adam and Eve in Paradise, before the Fall. Christ is the new Adam, and Holy Mary, the first human person who achieved deification, is the new Eve. The union with Christ, and through Christ, with God the Father, can only take place in the body of Christ, that is, in the Orthodox Church, which far from being a social, cultural or historical institution, similar to the existing secular institutions, forms the space wherein the new reality that Christ brought into the world can be actively experienced.

      The human being does not unite itself with God through the divine nature, but through the uncreated divine energies. This doctrine, which acknowledges that God is both essence and energy, as developed by Saint Gregory Palamas is one of the major differences between the Orthodox theology and the Roman Catholic theology. A Christian is not a Christian in so far as he or she can speak of God. He or she is a Christian in so far as he or she is able to experience God, to enter into a mystical union with God, owing to the uncreated divine grace.

      According to the author, there are certain requirements in the ascending course of becoming in the likeness of God, and they all involve the awareness that theosis is a gift of God, that we suffer the theosis, whereas God operates the theosis: a) humility, b) ascesis, and c) the holy sacraments and the prayer. The experience of theosis is analogous to that of purification. Initially, repentance and the deep peace that follows on, open the path for human deification. The second stage of theosis, called ‘theoria’, the illumination by the Holy Spirit, comes next. Finally, there is the highest experience of the divine grace, which is the vision of the uncreated divine light.

      The failure of many human beings to reach theosis can be attributed to the attachment to the daily living concerns, to the preponderance of a spirit of moralism, which confines Christian spirituality to a narrow moral horizon, and to the domination of an anthropocentric humanism. The Orthodox Church, instead, through the Holy Liturgy, the Patristic theology, and Monasticism, provides an education of theosis, which is theocentric, having Christ at its center.