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Justfication as Theosis

Again, from Gorman:

Because the faithful and loving crucified Christ is the image and self-revelation of God, the paradoxical process of justification by co-crucifixion, or resurrection through conformity to the crucified Christ, means that the pisteuontes (“believers”) are those who are becoming like God and thus experiencing the process of theosis inasmuch as they embody the symbiosis of fidelity and love found in the Son of God.

What does that mean? Inasmuch as Christ’s faithful and loving death reveals the faithfulness and love of God, and justification is participation in that death, justification is participation in the faithfulness and love of God. It is, thus, a process of deification or theosis. The cruciformity that is constitutive of justification is actually theoformity, or theosis . . . This means also that to become the righteousness or justice of God in Christ is theosis. This is not primarily an individual experience, but a corporate one of communal theosis–we become, in Christ, the righteousness/justice of God. (p. 90-91)


  1. “…communal theosis–we become, in Christ, the righteousness/justice of God.” Interesting to see theosis explained in this context. I think (haven’t read the book yet) Gorman is referring to e.g. 1 Cor 5:21. The righteousness or justice of God is not something we own, is not some kind of transferred status, but something we live and embody together as community. Is it not precisely such a communal embodied righteousness that Paul describes as a “community of reconciliation” in e.g. Eph 2:11-19?

    Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 11:57 pm | Permalink
  2. bruce hamill wrote:

    ok you got me. I’ve ordered the book

    Thursday, May 7, 2009 at 12:51 am | Permalink
  3. Adrian Woods wrote:

    I guess my limited understanding of Justifcation, traditionally, is that Justification is static.

    While Theosis, as I read the patristics is fluid and evolving. So I’m thinking your title would be a better representation as, “Justification within Theosis”. Not as Theosis – Theosis necessarily implies a great deal more than Justification.

    Thursday, May 7, 2009 at 8:28 am | Permalink
  4. Halden wrote:

    Adrian, the reductive notion of justification as static is actually precisely what Gorman’s book protests. Rather than a static definition, Gorman proposes that we understand justification as “kinetic”. Hence his correlation with theosis.

    Thursday, May 7, 2009 at 8:40 am | Permalink
  5. Adrian Woods wrote:

    Thanks Halden, any move to rediscover continuity with easterners sounds good to me. As long as theosis is not reduced to justification. My guess is that you would resist that as well.

    Friday, May 8, 2009 at 5:01 pm | Permalink
  6. Phil Sumpter wrote:

    For what it’s worth, an Orthodox dialogue partner of mine recommended the following books on the subject (which I post along with his comments):

    1.) Stephen Finlan and Vladimir Kharlamov, Theosis: Deification in Christian Theology.
    2.)Michael J. Christensen and Jeffery A. Wittung, Partakers of the Divine Nature: The History and Development of Deification in the Christian Traditions
    3.) Norman Russell, The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition

    The first is the most general treatment of the three, giving a kind of overview of theosis East and West, and describing its subsequent fading from view in the West. The second is a collection of papers describing the perception of theosis in various traditions. The third, I’ve heard, is the most detailed and annotated of the three, in keeping with the Oxford Early Christian Studies series (as is the price: ouch).

    Saturday, June 6, 2009 at 5:04 am | Permalink

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