Deification

Reader Eric left a comment on the “What’s wrong with God-making” post, which is a favorite but also old. I figured I should promote the comment to a new post so as to bring it attention:

I always wondered what the Catholic and Greek Orthodox “officially, canonically, ex cathedra” believe about any possible post-resurrection limitations on becoming “God.” I.e., if we can become “God,” how far does that go? I’ve heard Evangelicals, Catholics, and other Christians say, “hey, we Christians have always believed we can become God, and of course, we NEVER STOPPED believing that.” Of course, this sounds revisionist in light of the fact that Joseph Smith received an extremely negative reaction from other “Christians” when he first said we can become gods. It is inarguable that Christians were angrier at Joseph’s doctrine more than non-Christians (religious or otherwise). I never heard any regular, average Catholic tell me, “hey, we Catholics believe we can become gods too.” It’s like everyone is jumping on the “deification” band-wagon because NOW it’s demonstrable that the Bible and Early Christianity clearly and specifically taught that the sons of God become, and even now are, “gods,” even heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. Sons of dogs are dogs, sons of humans are humans, so what are the sons of God? Dare we say gods? We are “gods” because we are “sons of God” (Ps 82:6; Jo 10:35-36 w/ Jo 1:12-13 & 1 Jo 3:1-9; Ro 8:17,32; Rev 21:7; Gal 4:1-7; 1 Jo 3:1-4). So just how far can be become “God” according to the Bible? We become One with God even as Christ is One with God (Jo 10:30,18 w/ Jo 17:21-23; 14:10 w/ 14:20; 2 Peter 1:4; 1 Cor 6:17; 2 Cor 3:18 w/ 2 Cor 4:4 & Heb 1:3). Enough said. But the question remains, let’s say, for sake of argument, that all of us Christians believe we can become “God”, then how far can we become “God”? Is there any limit? If there is a limit to our POST-RESURRECTION DEIFICATION, then where is such a limit “canonized” or “ex cathedra” or “in scripture”?

I can’t speak for the Greek Orthodox faith, but I’ll do what I can to speak for the Catholic faith. For the sake of convenience, I’ll split the comment up:

I’ve heard Evangelicals, Catholics, and other Christians say, “hey, we Christians have always believed we can become God, and of course, we NEVER STOPPED believing that.” Of course, this sounds revisionist in light of the fact that Joseph Smith received an extremely negative reaction from other “Christians” when he first said we can become gods. It is inarguable that Christians were angrier at Joseph’s doctrine more than non-Christians (religious or otherwise).

I’m not extremely knowledgeable when it comes to the history of Joseph Smith. Was his doctrine of deification widely known before he died? In any case, I’ve never heard of much in the way of interaction between him and the Catholic faith. Did he hold dialogue with any Catholics? Did he say anything about Catholicism? Did Catholics say anything about him or Mormonism? If you have documentation of any such thing, I’d be interested in it.

I never heard any regular, average Catholic tell me, “hey, we Catholics believe we can become gods too.”

Were the Catholics you mentioned above irregular? :P

It’s like everyone is jumping on the “deification” band-wagon because NOW it’s demonstrable that the Bible and Early Christianity clearly and specifically taught that the sons of God become, and even now are, “gods,” even heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.

That would be news to St. Thomas Aquinas (and, as my Orthodox friends would no doubt point out, Gregory of Palamas) several centuries ago. I don’t know how far back you’d be willing to grant that authors were Catholic — I’d say St. Irenaeus was, but it seems like you might disagree, based on your distinction between Catholicism and early Christianity. What about St. Augustine? At any rate, I hope you’d agree that St. Thomas Aquinas was a Catholic, and he was saying this in the 13th century:

Fifthly, with regard to the full participation of the Divinity, which is the true bliss of man and end of human life; and this is bestowed upon us by Christ’s humanity; for Augustine says in a sermon (xiii de Temp.): “God was made man, that man might be made God.”

(Summa Theologica III.1.2)

On a side note, if the clear, specific, and demonstrable beliefs in the Bible and early Christianity are important to you, you ought to believe that in the Eucharist, bread and wine become the true body and blood of Christ.

On with the comment:

Sons of dogs are dogs, sons of humans are humans, so what are the sons of God? Dare we say gods? We are “gods” because we are “sons of God” (Ps 82:6; Jo 10:35-36 w/ Jo 1:12-13 & 1 Jo 3:1-9; Ro 8:17,32; Rev 21:7; Gal 4:1-7; 1 Jo 3:1-4). So just how far can be become “God” according to the Bible? We become One with God even as Christ is One with God (Jo 10:30,18 w/ Jo 17:21-23; 14:10 w/ 14:20; 2 Peter 1:4; 1 Cor 6:17; 2 Cor 3:18 w/ 2 Cor 4:4 & Heb 1:3). Enough said.

If I agreed with the Mormon definition of what God is (or more properly, what a god is), I would have no problem with the “dogs beget dogs” logic. But I believe God created everything from nothing, by nothing but His own will and power. Men and dogs don’t create their children that way. For us, sonship is more a participation than a natural fact. God created us from nothing, and, though the Father has an eternally begotten Son, we are drawn into sonship by the fact of the Son becoming one of us. The Son’s participation in our human nature makes us able to participate in His divine nature.

But the question remains, let’s say, for sake of argument, that all of us Christians believe we can become “God”, then how far can we become “God”? Is there any limit? If there is a limit to our POST-RESURRECTION DEIFICATION, then where is such a limit “canonized” or “ex cathedra” or “in scripture”?

Based on your tone, I’ve been wondering if this response is worthwhile. I hope so.

The limit to our deification is our own limit — that we are not infinite. As created (and therefore finite) beings, we may grow in the divine life for eternity, but there will never be a point where we become what God is — self-existent, infinite, almighty, Creator of all. The limit is that there is one all-powerful God, and we aren’t Him.

You cited 2 Peter 1:4, and that’s one verse I’d point to. We become partakers of the divine nature, not possessors. God alone possesses the divine nature. We can be made to share in it, and possess it to the utmost of our existence — the extent and glory of which cannot be conceived of in this world — but by virtue of us not being God, we cannot fully possess the divine nature. I hope you don’t have to look very far in Scripture to find God saying that He alone is God.

As for “ex cathedra” teaching, what do you mean? Are you after only declarations by Popes or Councils?

92 Responses to “Deification”

  1. zerinus says:

    Then you haven’t had the pleasure of reading my blog! Here is the link:

    http://zerinus.blogspot.com/2007/07/isaiah-4310.html

    Enjoy!

    zerinus

  2. Brad says:

    Zerinus, your evidence is your interpretation of Scripture and of statements by the Fathers of the Church. I don’t see your position so clearly defined by either. For example, Eric keeps mentioning Psalm 82:6. I don’t know how it can be made clearer that judges of Israel were called “gods,” a title of respect and descriptive of their office, like “lords” in England. If God chastises a group of English lords for acting neither like English lords nor sons of the Most High, both of which He made them, our descendants would be wrong to think that God the Lord was equating them with Himself.

    Same with the patristic citations. St. Irenaeus does not believe in a plurality of gods or of beings which God is. So much should be obvious if you actually read what he writes – all of it, not fragments or sentences plucked from here and there. I’ll give you an example, which you can see for yourself here This quote begins at the end of paragraph 2, and I’ll break it up into more paragraphs for ease of reading and add my own emphases in bold, but you can follow that link to the original. In the same part of his work as is cited so much in defense of LDS doctrine, and quoted above by David, he says:

    There was nothing, therefore, impossible to and deficient in God, [implied in the fact] that man was not an uncreated being; but this merely applied to him who was lately created, [namely] man.

    3. With God there are simultaneously exhibited power, wisdom, and goodness. His power and goodness [appear] in this, that of His own will He called into being and fashioned things having no previous existence; His wisdom [is shown] in His having made created things parts of one harmonious and consistent whole; and those things which, through His super-eminent kindness, receive growth and a long period of existence, do reflect the glory of the uncreated One, of that God who bestows what is good ungrudgingly.
    For from the very fact of these things having been created, [it follows] that they are not uncreated; but by their continuing in being throughout a long course of ages, they shall receive a faculty of the Uncreated, through the gratuitous bestowal of eternal existence upon them by God. And thus in all things God has the pre-eminence, who alone is uncreated, the first of all things, and the primary cause of the existence of all, while all other things remain under God’s subjection. But being in subjection to God is continuance in immortality, and immortality is the glory of the uncreated One.

    By this arrangement, therefore, and these harmonies, and a sequence of this nature, man, a created and organized being, is rendered after the image and likeness of the uncreated God,—the Father planning everything well and giving His commands, the Son carrying these into execution and performing the work of creating, and the Spirit nourishing and increasing [what is made], but man making progress day by day, and ascending towards the perfect, that is, approximating to the uncreated One. For the Uncreated is perfect, that is, God.
    Now it was necessary that man should in the first instance be created; and having been created, should receive growth; and having received growth, should be strengthened; and having been strengthened, should abound; and having abounded, should recover [from the disease of sin]; and having recovered, should be glorified; and being glorified, should see his Lord. For God is He who is yet to be seen, and the beholding of God is productive of immortality, but immortality renders one nigh unto God.

    4. Irrational, therefore, in every respect, are they who await not the time of increase, but ascribe to God the infirmity of their nature. Such persons know neither God nor themselves, being insatiable and ungrateful, unwilling to be at the outset what they have also been created—men subject to passions; but go beyond the law of the human race, and before that they become men, they wish to be even now like God their Creator, and they who are more destitute of reason than dumb animals [insist] that there is no distinction between the uncreated God and man, a creature of today. For these, [the dumb animals], bring no charge against God for not having made them men; but each one, just as he has been created, gives thanks that he has been created.
    For we cast blame upon Him, because we have not been made gods from the beginning, but at first merely men, then at length gods; although God has adopted this course out of His pure benevolence, that no one may impute to Him invidiousness or grudgingness. He declares,”I have said, You are gods; and you are all sons of the Highest.” But since we could not sustain the power of divinity, He adds, “But you shall die like men,” setting forth both truths—the kindness of His free gift, and our weakness, and also that we were possessed of power over ourselves.
    For after His great kindness He graciously conferred good [upon us], and made men like to Himself, [that is] in their own power; while at the same time by His prescience He knew the infirmity of human beings, and the consequences which would flow from it; but through [His] love and [His] power, He shall overcome the substance of created nature. For it was necessary, at first, that nature should be exhibited; then, after that, that what was mortal should be conquered and swallowed up by immortality, and the corruptible by incorruptibility, and that man should be made after the image and likeness of God, having received the knowledge of good and evil.

    Why do I never see the phrase “the uncreated God” when Mormons cite St. Irenaeus?

    So I don’t believe that there’s indisputable evidence of current LDS belief on deification in the patristic era. And I don’t like it when people appeal to the Fathers’ authority on one matter while absolutely ignoring it on another. If Mormons, or anyone, want to embrace that which was universally taught and not disputed among the Fathers, are they proclaiming their Eucharist to be the true Body and Blood of Jesus? If not, their doctrine (and research) is regrettably deficient.

  3. BC says:

    I will restate the question:

    “Catholics clearly believe that we depend on God for any participation in the divine. God does not depend upon any outside entity for His Divinity. If you believe that God is dependent upon something else for his divinity, I would be curious to hear what that power is.”

    I expect an answer to this question. Otherwise, your proposition fails. There is no point in me continuing this discussion if this question is not answered.

    I like, Steve, have little use for arguments which consist wholly of disparate quotes from the Bible or the patristics and then claiming, apparently by fiat, that you have the correct interpretation of those citations. Catholics believe in the Bible because the Church canonized it in roughly the fifth century A.D. We do not believe in the Bible as some source of Truth independent of the Church. Claiming that your interpretation of the Bible is the correct interpretation, as opposed to the Church’s interpretation of the Bible, will not get you far with Catholics.

  4. TOmNOssor says:

    BC says:
    I will restate the question:
    “Catholics clearly believe that we depend on God for any participation in the divine. God does not depend upon any outside entity for His Divinity. If you believe that God is dependent upon something else for his divinity, I would be curious to hear what that power is.”
    I expect an answer to this question. Otherwise, your proposition fails. There is no point in me continuing this discussion if this question is not answered.

    TOm:
    Read through some of Eric’s earlier posts. He has already provided a powerful response to this IMO.
    There is only one person who is unbegotten and non-proceeding. Catholics simply must acknowledge that Christ in a sense is dependent upon God the Father. If Christ is to be God without equivocation, then being begotten, proceeding, (or dare I say adopted) cannot be prohibitive of deification.

    Charity, TOm

  5. Brad says:

    Zerinus, I removed your last comment. I had hoped your posts here would be different from Catholic Answers and CARM, but not so. I won’t let you keep ignoring or twisting what I or others say, nor make condescending assertions. Anyone who does that will wear out their welcome fast.

    I don’t want to ban you from the site completely, but please don’t participate in these discussions any more.

  6. TOmNOssor says:

    Eric,
    It is times like this that I am sad to report that I do not in fact live in Utah.
    I am happy that you have burst upon my consciousness within the Internet, and I hope your presence becomes regular. If you need fawning praise, I volunteer.
    I detect in your position something slightly different than mine. I would guess that you embrace a position similar to Dr. Peterson (though Dr. Peterson declined to carry out internet discussions in this area so perhaps I am imagining things). I on the other hand embrace a position similar to Blake Ostler.
    That being said, I think the future state of deified man is more important for the LDS and the Catholic to define. I hope to poke at some things where I think Brad and most others are being inconsistent. I think the rejection of commonality here becomes a dogged insistence to go against what the Bible and the ECF embraced. I think that there is little enough defined irreformably in Catholic thought that it would be best to let go of some of the ideas that seem to separate us. And I think that deification is a sufficiently powerful and beautiful idea that it can positively impact the life of the Catholic.
    Charity, TOm

  7. Eric Warren says:

    BRAD
    We’re going to become God, but not in every way that God is God. You call that limits; I just call it not being God…That’s kind of what I was getting at.

    ERIC
    It seems a little confusing to say “we’re going to become God,” but then turn around and say, “I just call it not being God.” To “become” God is at that point to “be” God. This reinforces my point. During the pre-Nicene period, the early Church Fathers unanimously without contradiction said, “we can become God/gods,” but none of them added, “oh, by the way, we can’t really become God/gods in the fullest sense.” There seems to be no caveats, no, “but not in every way that God is God,” nothing to suggest the contrary position until Athanasius and Augustine. The distinction Athanasius creates between how the Trinity is “God” and how the sons of God will eventually become “God” (during the post-resurrection eschatological end game) was not handed down to them by tradition, but is something they most certainly invented to fight Arianism and all remnants of pre-Nicene subordination of the pre-incarnate Logos to the Father. Most Christians now EXPLICITLY claim, “it is self-evident that we can never become God.” Really? Self-evident to whom? Pre-Nicene or Post-Nicene Christians?

    BRAD
    The problem here seems actually to be with there being only one God, creator of all

    ERIC
    Yes, the Father is the only one God, and He is the Creator of all including the Creator of the Son (Col 1:15; Rev 3:14; Heb 3:2 ‘made’ not ‘appointed'; Prov 8:22-25 JB & Ps 110:3 JB). So, using your logic, we would have to deny that the Son is “God” in essence because the Son is a “creature.”

    STEVE
    Okay, now I see what your motivation here is all about. Sorry, not interested.

    ERIC
    So we cannot abandon anything taught by the Early Church Fathers? What about God’s impassibility? The Early Church Fathers clearly taught that “the One” Most High God is IMPASSIBLE. This is what provided the difficulty with the Biblical revelation that it was “God” in essence (Jo 1:1; 3:6) who was “made flesh” in essence (Jo 1:1,14; 3:6). Steve, will you join me in at least abandoning this assumption? The idea that God the Son’s essence did not suffer is condemned in other scriptures also,

    “You can tell the spirits that come from God by this: every spirit which acknowledges that Jesus the Christ has COME IN THE FLESH is from God; but any spirit which will not say this of Jesus [footnote a, “Var. (Vulg) and strongly supported ‘which dissolves (or breaks, splits, DIVIDES) JESUS'” (pg 417, Jerusalem Bible)] is not from God, but is the spirit of Antichrist, whose coming you wre warned about. Well, now he is here, in the world…as for them, they are of the world, and so THEY SPEAK THE LANGUAGE OF THE WORLD and the world listens to them” (1 John 4:2-5 JB).

    “And so, while the Jews demand miracles and the GREEKS LOOK FOR WISDOM, here are we preaching a CRUCIFIED CHRIST; to the Jews an obstacle that they cannot get over, THE PAGANS MADNESS, but to those who have been called, whether they are Jews or Greeks, Chirst who is the power and THE WISDOM OF GOD…and in my speeches and the sermons that I gave, there were NONE OF THE ARGUMENTS THAT BELONG TO PHILOSOPHY; only a demonstration of the power of the Spirit. And I did this so that your faith should not depend on human philosophy but on the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24; 2:4-5 JB; read all of 1 Cor 1-3).

    “See to it that no one takes you CAPTIVE THROUGH PHILOSOPHY and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For IN Him ALL THE FULNESS OF DEITY DWELLS in BODILY FORM” (Col 2:8-9 NASB; 1 Tim 6:20-21; God’s ESSENCE is IN Jesus’ FLESHy BODY not OUTSIDE of Jesus’ BODY).

    The incarnation of God’s essence dwelling in Jesus (Col 2:9), the crucifixion of God’s Wisdom and Power and Essence (1 Cor 1:23-24), and resurrection of God’s essence (Acts 17:30-36) was the sheerest idiocy and madness to the Greek philosophers. Thus, the early Church Fathers compromised with the philosophy of the Greek, and claimed the Supreme God is Impassible. This leads to one of two solutions. The first semi-Arian solution is to deny that Jesus is the Supreme God. The second Trinitarian/Modalist solution is to deny that the Logos’ essence is passible and that only the human essence of Jesus suffered not the God essence. This is sheer docetism and was condemned in no uncertain terms by John (Jo 1:14; 3:6; 1 Jo 4:1-8).

    As far as I understand, creation ex nihilo, only one inhabited world, and an absolutely transcendant Trinity are not OFFICIAL CREEDAL DOCTRINES of Catholicism. I see nothing in the Nicene or Constantinoplian Creed about “creation ex nihilo,” although it does provide the philosophical backdrop for the discussion. The idea that God created one inhabited world in Trillions of Galaxies with 100 Billion Stars average is absurd (Ps 8:4-6), so I’ll leave it at that. By “absolutely transcendant” I mean the idea that God’s ESSENCE is impassible and beyond all images or likenesses. It is often said that nothing in heaven or earth is really like God because he is transcendent. This may be true of the rest of creation, but the first chapter of the Bible says Man is very much in the Image and Likeness of God (Ge 1:26-27) and is “not far from every one of us” for “we are his offspring” and “in him we live, move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28-29; Ge 1:26,27; Heb 12:9). The image is always like the original, so if God is incorporeal and impassible, so is man. If God is unorginate, so is Man. There is NOTHING in the beginning said in scripture to show any dissimilarity between God and Man (Ge 1:26-27) any more than there is dissimilarity between Adam and Seth (Ge 5:1-3).

  8. TOmNOssor says:

    Brad:
    Will you not be satisfied unless I say that if I am deified, it’ll be “Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and Brad”? Would you further say we’re supposed to give up even our identity when becoming one with God, so that me becoming one with God results simply in God (like adding to infinites)?

    TOm:
    The Father and the Son are one God (John 17 and …). The Son has not “given up even [His] identity,” why must unity be the giving up of ones identity? I would suggest that it is not. I would also point out that the Son is fully man and that this identity is not “given up.”

    Brad:
    It seems like for you to be satisfied, I have to say there’s no way at all in which I do not become God. But for that to happen at all, I need to redefine God to be something else besides the one infinite God. If I did that, I’d be getting closer to the Mormon idea of God, and we wouldn’t need to have this discussion.

    TOm:
    As I mentioned previously to Eric, I think there are strong reasons to beef up your view of deification. I think the reliance upon mystery to explain 3-in-1 and two nature Christology (not to mention mutable immutability, passable impassibility, and …) should be further invoked to speak of man’s future homoousia with God (for the Catholic what else should be read in “partakers of the divine nature).
    To refuse to go here (especially after having already gone to other “mystery”) is IMO a separation from the Bible and the patristic witness.

    Brad:
    As for the Incarnation, I think that demanding symmetry between God becoming man and man becoming God is illogical.

    TOm:
    But this is precisely what the “exchange formula” points to.

    Brad:
    The two are not the same kind of being. The nature of man is that there can be many of them, and God can participate in manhood by creating and possessing his own human nature. The nature of God is that there is only one, and while men can become men as far as their existence allows, they are not nor can be identical to Him.

    TOm:
    Actually, according to the Chalcedon, is not Christ is homoousiov with the Father concerning the theotEta (Godhead); and homoousiov with us (mankind) concerning the anthrOpotEta (Manhood). Clearly there are multiple persons who are one God.
    It should be noted that Eric seems to be and I am certainly a subordinationist. I do not believe deified man is wholly equal to God, just fully divine. I do not believe Christ is wholly equal to the Father (after all Christ is not non-begotten), just fully divine.

    Charity, TOm

  9. zerinus says:

    Brad Says:
    Zerinus, I removed your last comment. I had hoped your posts here would be different from Catholic Answers and CARM, but not so. I won’t let you keep ignoring or twisting what I or others say, nor make condescending assertions. Anyone who does that will wear out their welcome fast.

    That is allright Brad, we can still be good friends! I have posted my original reply in my own blog for those who want to read it. Good day to you.

    zerinus

  10. David Waltz says:

    Hello Brad,

    Thanks for the quote from St. Irenaeus. There is no question that “the one God” for Irenaeus is “uncreated”; and the same can be said of all the early Church Fathers. With that said, it is important to also point that “the one God” for Irenaeus was God the Father. Following the NT, Irenaeus reserves the title “the one God” for the Father; and I have yet to find any exceptions among the pre-Nicene Fathers.

    This is important, as are Tom’s following comments:

    >> There is only one person who is unbegotten and non-proceeding. Catholics simply must acknowledge that Christ in a sense is dependent upon God the Father. If Christ is to be God without equivocation, then being begotten, proceeding, (or dare I say adopted) cannot be prohibitive of deification.>>

    John Henry Newman referred to this important theological truth as the “Principatus of the Father”, and then also wrote:

    “…Athanasius, ‘We preserve One Origin of Divinity, and not two Origins’…It was for the same reason that the Father was called God absolutely, while the Second and Third Persons were designated by Their personal names of ‘the Son’ or “the Word,” and ‘the Holy Ghost’…” (see his essay I referred to earlier).

    As for a Mormon scholar who maintains that God the Father is “uncreated” and has always been God, see the following essay:

    http://tinyurl.com/2e5g5s

    Grace and peace,

    David

  11. TOmNOssor says:

    Eric:
    As far as I understand, creation ex nihilo, only one inhabited world, and an absolutely transcendant Trinity are not OFFICIAL CREEDAL DOCTRINES of Catholicism. I see nothing in the Nicene or Constantinoplian Creed about “creation ex nihilo,” although it does provide the philosophical backdrop for the discussion.

    TOm:
    I have been saying for probably a little over 1 year that “creation ex nihilo” will likely forever seal me from deciding that Catholicism is intellectually a superior solution than Mormonism.
    It would be nice if what you said above would be true, but I am quite convinced that the 4th Lateran council forever sealed Creation ex Nihilo as Catholic Dogma. This is the reason that I suggest that a Catholic should embrace this while recognizing some “mystery” that I believe develops as a result of the logic demanded by Creation ex Nihilo AND the contradictions present in the theological statement of the ECF and the Bible.
    Creation ex Nihilo, immutability, and impassibility were accepted by all sides during the Trinity and Christological debates. But, it was not until 6 centuries later that Creation ex Nihilo became the irreformable position.

    My read of history is that Creation ex Nihilo was embraced during the second half of the 2nd century. After this, the Trinity and other solutions were some of the best outcomes possible, but not optimal. David (who is more informed than I am) discourages me from becoming overly bold when I say that Creation ex Materia was the law of the land until after Justin Martyr wrote, but it would seem at the very least Creation ex Nihilo was not explicitly taught until after Justin Martyr.

    Charity, TOm

  12. Eric Warren says:

    BC
    Catholics clearly believe that we depend on God for any participation in the divine. God does not depend upon any outside entity for His Divinity. If you believe that God is dependent upon something else for his divinity, I would be curious to hear what that power is.

    ERIC
    According to the Bible, “that power” is the Father who gives life and divinity to his Son even as his Son gives life and divinity to us (Jo 5:26; 6:57; Prov 8:22-25 JB; Col 1:15-16; Rev 3:14). Are the Son and the Spirit not “truly God” then? According to Orthodox Trinitarian Theology (and the Bible I might add), the ORIGIN and EXISTENCE and DIVINITY of the Son DERIVE from the Father. This “derivation” is normally conceived as an “eternal generation.” But Catholic theology only took half of Origen’s equation. The first half is that the Son is eternally generated from the Father, but the second half is that creation is eternally created from the Father through the Son. In other words, you took half of Origen’s theology showing that the Son is co-eternal with the Father, but you threw out the other half of Origen’s theology that shows spirits are also co-eternal with the Father. This is shown in my quotation above from pg 131-132, Early Christian Doctrines, JND Kelly. Why we should accept only one half of the equation is unclear.

    But what is clear is that the Son in some sense “participates” in the nature of the Father, and the Father “communicates/pours” his ‘incommunicable attributes’ into the Son. If Jesus is the “firstborn among many brethren” (Ro 8:29,32; 2 Cor 3:18 w/ 4:4 & Heb 1:3-6; 2:11-17; 1 Cor 15:40-50; Rev 1:5; Col 1:15-18), then clearly Jesus’ “brothers” must receive as heirs of God and joint-heirs with Chirst everything that Chirst receives (Rev 8:17,32; Rev 21:7; see above for more verses), including God’s so-called incommunicable attributes (2 Pt 1:4-10; John 17:21-23 w/ 10:30,38; 14:9,10 w/ 14:20; 1 Cor 6:17 w/ Jo 3:6; Col 2:9-10 NIV w/ Eph 3:19 & 4:13).

    That being said, I don’t know any Mormons that are overly concerned with becoming “uncreated” or “wholly other” or “beyond time and space.” So if God doesn’t communicate those attributes to us, we’ll rest content. I think sometimes we don’t see the forest from the trees. If we become perfect as God is perfect, we are incapable of sinning (impeccability), we inherit everything the human part of Jesus inherits, I think every Mormon I know would be perfectly content. So maybe we just define “a God” differently.

  13. Eric Warren says:

    David,

    I find myself in the unenviable position of partially defending Brad. Although you are of course correct that Irenaeus apparently believes the Father alone is the “one true God” (not the Son or Spirit), Irenaeus’ position wasn’t the only position. Hippolytus, who was accused of believing the Father and Son are two Gods, in turn accused Popes Victor and Zephyrinus of Monarchian Modalism, or in other words, for believing the Father and Son are one individual and thus one God. Zephyrinus often used language that sounds extremely modalistic, “I know only one God, Christ Jesus, and apart from him no other who was born or could suffer.” So there clearly were some pre-Nicene ‘Catholics’ who believed the Son and Spirit are the “one true God,” but the modalism they espoused was later termed heresy because it contradicted scripture and because it stated the Father incarnated and implied the Father was passible.

    Since the Supreme God (the Father) was considered by philosophical Christians to be impassible and without form and unseeable and invisible and absolutely transcendent, the Apologists and pre-Nicene Greek Fathers tended to attribute to the Son (as a subordinate “second God”) all the anthropomorphic scriptures involving theophanies and passibility and in short an “immanent God.” But the Western Popes thought all this Eastern talk about a “second God” and “two Gods” sounded pagan, so they came up with another version of Christ termed Monarchian Modalism. The God part of Christ is the Father, and the human part of Chirst is the Son, not in any real sense “separate individuals/persons”. Oneness Pentacostals explicitly teach this in our own day, and it’s quite possible Augustine’s doctrine was Modalistic in substance if not in form. The East believed in three Gods in three separate individuals, but the West believed in one God in one individual. So, eventually they compromised, and said God is a “three-in-one individual.” Anyone throughout history (especially the Middle Ages but even to the present) who point blank consistently called them three individuals was/is labeled a “tritheist,” and the so-called tritheists could countercharge that anyone who consistently pictured them as one indiividual should be labeled a “modalist.” Since the Trinity represented a political and theological compromise between East and West, of which neither side really approved or believed in it, East and West finally split with the Great Schism in 1054 partly over the double procession and the “monarchy of the Father.” This is why the doctrine of ‘Trinity’ seems self-contradictory because it takes two contradictory positions (God is three individuals vs God is one individual) and tries to find middle ground in between. In my view, traditional Trinitarianism represents not a logical statement about God or scripture but a political compromise.

    Of course, I understand everyone has “their interpretation of scripture,” all of us on this message board included. But what constitutes a “way out” is the gift of prophecy, Apostles, and revelation. That way men of God with the keys of the kingdom can speak for Chirst and explain true knowledge of God. I don’t know what kind of inspiration is attributed to the Pope by modern Catholics, but it seems that something more along the line of prohpecy and Apostleship are gifts required by any man who wants to speak definitively for Christ. Opinions are just that, so sometimes we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously :-)

  14. David Waltz says:

    Good morning Eric,

    Thanks for responding to my post; you wrote:

    >>I find myself in the unenviable position of partially defending Brad. Although you are of course correct that Irenaeus apparently believes the Father alone is the “one true God” (not the Son or Spirit), Irenaeus’ position wasn’t the only position. Hippolytus, who was accused of believing the Father and Son are two Gods, in turn accused Popes Victor and Zephyrinus of Monarchian Modalism, or in other words, for believing the Father and Son are one individual and thus one God. Zephyrinus often used language that sounds extremely modalistic, “I know only one God, Christ Jesus, and apart from him no other who was born or could suffer.” So there clearly were some pre-Nicene ‘Catholics’ who believed the Son and Spirit are the “one true God,” but the modalism they espoused was later termed heresy because it contradicted scripture and because it stated the Father incarnated and implied the Father was passible.>>

    Me: Arrgh…I should have been a bit more clear; when I said, “I have yet to find any exceptions among the pre-Nicene Fathers”, I was excluding clearly heretical writers (i.e. modalists). Further, in affirming that the Father is “the one God”, the pre-Nicene Fathers did not exclude the Son and HG from true divinity (nor, and is importantly to the topic at hand, the deified adopted Sons), but rather, were protecting the priority of the Father as the Principatus, and the Fons Totius Divinitatis.

    I have a tendency to assume that everyone knows exactly what I am talking about; thanks much for pointing out my need to be more precise.

    Grace and peace,

    David

  15. syntaxpunk says:

    Not to venture too far off topic, but Creation Ex Nihilo was addressed in patristic writings prior to Justin Martyr:

    Hermas:

    “Believe first of all that God is one, that he created all things and set them in order and brought out of non-existence into existence everything that is, and that he contains all things while he himself is uncontained” (The Shepherd 1:1 [A.D. 140]).

    Aristides:

    “Let us proceed, then, O King, to the elements themselves, so that we may demonstrate concerning them that they are not gods, but corruptible and changeable things, produced out of the non-existent by him that is truly God, who is incorruptible and unchangeable and invisible, but who sees all things and changes them and alters them as he wills” (Apology 4 [A.D. 140]).

    God bless,
    Mike

  16. syntaxpunk says:

    Also, the reference to Gerhard May’s rejection of Creation Ex Nihilo has been refuted by Paul Copan:

    http://www.earlychurch.org.uk/article_exnihilo_copan.html

    Blessings,
    Mike

  17. TOmNossor says:

    Syntaxpunk,
    If you would be so kind as to link me to where, “Brad’s early references to Maccabees are difficult to refute (if one accepts the Deuterocanonical books as scripture – which BTW were included in the orignal KJV),” I would most enjoy attempting to refute them and addressing your Hermas and Aristides quotes.
    Gerard May IMO has quite convincingly dealt with Maccabees, Hermas, and Aristides; and I have in the past reproduced some of his (and other scholars) work on this.
    I have read Copan and Craig in the New Mormon Challenge and the link you offered. Since I had read May’s book (which is a must BTW Creatio Ex Nihilo: The Doctrine of ‘Creation Out of Nothing’ in Early Christian Thought ) before reading Copan and Craig, I was already quite convinced that they had not adequately dealt with his work. Then, I believe Ostler powerfully dismantled their arguments in these three essays:
    http://www.fairlds.org/New_Mormon_Challenge/TNMC04.html
    http://www.fairlds.org/New_Mormon_Challenge/TNMC05.html
    http://www.fairlds.org/New_Mormon_Challenge/TNMC01.html
    The first of the above 3 links is more pertinent to our current “skirting” of this issue.

    It was either Copan or Craig who published a book dealing with Creation ex Nihilo after Ostler’s critiques, but I was told that disappointingly they failed to address his arguments (thus I have not read it).

    BTW, I did earlier search for a Blog post by Brad so I could address this issue without interrupting the flow here, but I could not find it.

    Charity, TOm

  18. Brad says:

    Want a new one?

  19. Eric Warren says:

    David,

    Does anybody have a link to a non-corrupted text of the Seven Ecumenical Councils? How many Councils, and which ones, do Catholics accept as binding? The Fourth Lateran Council seems to refer to creation from nothing, but such language is also found in Hermes without necessarily implying “creatio ex nihilo” in the strict sense. Whatever “thing” begins to exist at a particular moment did “not exist” and was “no-thing” (or “nothing”) before it began to become “some-thing” or to “exist.” Such language is tautological and proves nothing. It takes little creativity to interpret the 4th Lateran Council in a ‘creation from an invisible substratum’ (Ge 1:2 LXX) direction. However, I take it for granted that that was probably not the intent of the authors who wrote that Creed.

  20. TOmNossor says:

    Eric,
    I think the case that the Greek (correct) of Hermas and the Hebrew of Maccabees should NOT be viewed as advocating (though not precluding either) Creation ex Nihilo (creation from absolutely nothing) is quite strong. This argument relies upon the common why of expressing “creation from chaos” or “by forming” or … that existed among the authors of these passages. Folks who clearly believe in creation ex materia used the same phases that most now declare must mean Creation ex Nihilo (or so May and a number of others claim).
    I can think of no parallel to this argument to deal with the Latin in the 4th Lateran Council, but in truth I never considered it.

    Here is a link to information on the 21 Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church. I think each council has a link with a translation of the text. I am not well versed in the possible “corruption” of the texts for these councils, but have generally viewed them as representative of the irreformable positions of Catholicism.
    http://www.newadvent.org/library/almanac_14388a.htm

    Brad,
    If you want to start a new post, I will certainly offer some things. I do not want to detract too much from this one either here or there.

    Charity, TOm

  21. David Waltz says:

    Hi Eric,

    Catholics accept 21 councils as “Ecumenical”; and as such, “binding”. Here is a link to all 21:

    http://www.piar.hu/councils/

    The Eastern Orthodox Church accepts only the first 7; another site for these 7, with Anglican commentary see:

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.html

    The most authority English translation I am aware of is Decrees Of The Ecumenical Councils – 2 vol., edited by Norman P. Tanner, S.J. (1990). It also includes the original language texts.

    Grace and peace,

    David

  22. Eric Warren says:

    Charity Tom,

    How’s it going? What do you think of my quote from Joseph Smith that the only “gods” he has a reverence for are the sons of God who became gods even before the foundation of the world? Doesn’t that clearly imply that you can be “god” without first obtaining a mortal body? This may not sound Orthodox, but I think it’s just an urban legend that you can’t be a “God” BEFORE you obtain a mortal body. I have seen no Official Statements to that effect. Of course, we cannot sit on the throne in heaven in our own right, and not at the Right Hand of Anyone, without obtaining a physical resurrection and a “continuation of the seeds” forever, but that seems besides the point. Our Savior obtained a fulness of divinity before he came to earth, and he is our prototype.

    Peace and Grace,
    Eric

  23. Eric Warren says:

    BRAD
    Will you not be satisfied unless I say that if I am deified, it’ll be “Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and Brad”? Would you further say we’re supposed to give up even our identity when becoming one with God, so that me becoming one with God results simply in God (like adding to infinites)?

    ERIC
    If you say we can “become God,” then you shouldn’t say, “it is self-evident we cannot become God.” The verbiage you use and the very idea that “we cannot become God” is flatly contradicted by ALL the Early Church Fathers, and you cite no DIRECT evidence that they limited the extent of our becoming “God” as you do. Nor do ANY of them say, “we cannot become God in the end.” This makes it clear that you don’t believe the same thing they do. The subject may be more complicated than that, but what I just said is true.

    This seems like semantics to you, but not to me. Irenaeus does say that newly created man is vastly different from God, something that no Mormon would disagree with because if the Father is Greater than the Son, then how much Greater than Us is the Father! But, none of the early Church Fathers say, “we cannot become God,” as you have, not even St Augustine. During the pre-Nicene period, I can’t find any early Church Father(s) that even differentiates between the “Deity/Divinity” of the Son (or the Father for that matter) and the “Deity/Divinity” that the sons of God will eventually become.

    I’m sure the pre-Nicene Fathers didn’t understand this as a destruction of the identity of the sons of God any more than the Son is “absorbed” or loses his identity in the Father. The Father and Son interpenetrate each other in the circumsession (the Father is IN the Son, and the Son is IN the Father), but clearly the sons of God and the Son also interpenetrate each other in the circumcession in the same manner (the Son is IN the sons of God, and the sons of God are IN the Son). In fact, the sons of God are also IN the Father, and the Father is of course IN them (Jo 10:30.38 w/ 17:21-23; 14:9,10 w/ 14:20; 1 Cor 6:17; Eph 3:19; 4:13; Col 2:9-10 NIV; 2 Cor 6:14-20). This hardly destroys anyone’s identity but connotes Oneness of Spirit and an Infinite Closeness of Relation parallelling a husband and wife becoming “one flesh” but instead an even closer Oneness as “one spirit” (Eph 5:24-28; 1 Cor 6:15-17; etc.).

  24. syntaxpunk says:

    Hey Eric,

    I have a question; I agree that the resurrection and a “continuation of seed” (Abrahamic covenant) is necessary for deification (both in the strong and week sense – excellent terminology, Tom!). My question for you is why a “continuation of seed” in the LDS sense is a necessary prerequisite? As a former Institute instructor, we always taught that the Endowment Ceremony (and D&C 132 in connection) could be interpreted as a renewal of a Celestial Abrahamic Covenant, for through these ordinances one receives:

    1. Priesthood
    2. Right to land (in this sense, celestial land); and
    3. continuation of seed

    If I’m on target – and please correct me if I’m wrong – isn’t the Abrahamic Covenant that was in place since Gen. 13 enough, why is a ‘continuation of seed’ in this sense for the LDS necessary? We can both agree that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ are the first fruits of theosis, but that doesn’t immediately require that we must have an increase in celestial seed.

    Forgive me if I don’t get back here for a couple of days – it’s my anniversary and we’re heading out of town. That’s a good enough excuse, isn’t it? :)

    take care,
    Mike

  25. TOmNossor says:

    Eric,
    I have reread your post #12, #37 and your recent post #72 and will offer a few thoughts.

    First, I have no problem with the presence of multiple gods at the divine council. I think it is quite clear that the ancient Hebrews embraced this idea. I think it is quite compatible with a one God concept associated with the Social Trinity. I do view the Father, Son, and Holy Sprit as supreme within this divine council and of course the Father supreme within the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    I would (and I think you probably would to) certainly qualify the term “god” if it was applied to the incarnate Moses in ways I would not qualify the term “God” if it was applied to the incarnate Christ. I find it easier to not get overly worked up over this. I think Psalms 82 is a tough passage for strong deifiers and for those who deny deification, and in truth you may be building (or referring to) a framework that offers a more consistent read than most.

    Your Joseph Smith quote in #37 and #72 is from the Sermon in the Grove. I am not wholly sure you and I would go different directions on #37 and #72, but I think post #12 indicates that we have some difference. David has already linked to Ostler’s essay “Re-vision-ing the Mormon Concept of Deity.” I think it is quite powerful. I also enjoyed this lengthy discussion with much from the Sermon in the Grove – http://www.newcoolthang.com/index.php/2006/05/the-father-has-a-father/253/

    I look to the 4 standard works for the foundation of what we should embrace. After this, the teachings of current and past General Authorities are important. Doctrinally, I think the teachings of current GA are more important than past GA. That being said, in some of the areas we are probing, there is little current teaching. The KFD is clearly important and the SitG (despite the difficulties associated with its transmission) should not be neglected. Whatever ideas we espouse must account for D&C 20:17,28; D&C 121: 28, 32; and concepts of God the Father as supreme. It is for this reason that I think Blake’s solutions are best. This is true I hope before I begin to consider what I will share shortly.

    So I understand that Dr. Peterson and probably you have a strong concept of God the Father’s Father. Irenaeus cautioned us against speculating about a God above God and Pres. Hinckley claimed we knew little about this. I follow Blake in saying, I don’t see this as the best explanation of the revelations we have.

    Now, if I do err in my concept of what I am and what God is, may I err by elevating God and lowing myself. I will not compromise with some of the things that seem to be quite clear to me. D&C 93 tells me something about God’s creation and that which I am (David has suggested that D&C 93 does not demand that “eternal intelligences” are “individual intelligences.” I think he is correct, but there seems to me to be too much tied to “individual eternal intelligences” for me to move from this). The Bible more than any of our other scriptures actually seems to clearly demand that what I am has potential that should not be denied (and in many ways to deny the potential is to limit God anyway since it is in and through Him that we are deified).

    In slight contrast to the above, I find the idea of starting with God as omnibenevolent and determining what that entails is important. Brigham Young cautioned us against worshiping power, let us always remember it is a relationship we want now and for an eternity, not a fluffy cloud with all the accoutrements. I hope to have FAITH fully in God’s real love for me, and not find myself loving Him because of what He can (or anymore because of what He has) done for me. He first loved me, but now that I know Him; I can love Him not withstanding that He first loved me.

    This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). I think this should be viewed as knowing as in having a relationship with God. As LDS we say, “Come and see.” What is offered, what I believe Aquinas found when he stopped writing and called all his work straw, is a relationship with God. Ideas like God’s impassibility may get in the way, but the God I know truly loves and will pierce such errors to initiate a relationship.

    Charity, TOm

  26. Eric Warren says:

    Charity Tom,

    I’m still reading all of Ostler’s “Revisioning.” However, I reread my post #12. What do you disagree with? Do you believe Jesus was the Firstborn Son of Heavenly Father and that Heavenly Father also beget other Sons who are Christ’s Brothers? I think that is all I said in that post. But maybe I’m missing something. To me and the pre-Nicene ECFs “begetting” can be called “creating.”

    It’s interesting that when Eusebius of Caesarea explains to his Diocese why he signed the Nicene Creed, he says the anethema against those who say “the Son was not before he was begotten” must be true because we all acknowledge that the Son existed before he was “begotten” IN THE FLESH. Ha ha ha! What a funny re-interpretation of the intention of the Nicene Creed! Of course, the fathers at Nicaea most certainly were NOT talking about Chirst’s generation in the flesh, but his generation from the Father before the world was. This shows how desperate Eusebius was to explain how he could sign a creed so at odds with his own belief. Eusebius also interprets ‘homoosious’ to mean the Son is different from all creatures NOT that he is the same substance as the Father.

    This shows that Eusebius continued to believe that the Son did not in reality exist BEFORE he was “begotten” in his pre-mortal Spirit ‘before all ages’ and ‘before the world was formed.’ Eusebius did not believe in Origen’s “eternal generation” nor did he believe in a ‘temporal generation’, but he believed in a pre-temporal punctuated/ontological generation. “Time” as we know it did not yet exist before the Son was created, so his generation could not be ‘in time’ as we know it. However, even in Genesis, it refers to ‘days’ before the sun or moon are created. So Eusebius could picture a ‘transcendent unexplicable mode of generation’ such that the Son was really begotten of the Father, but such that the Son did not exist before he was generated. Remember that in 359 AD, at the Council of Ariminum, “the whole world groaned in astonishment to find itself Arian” (Jerome). Nicaea represents the interference of a Western Emperor in Eastern affairs, and Ariminum represents an Eastern Emperor meddling in Western affairs. What goes around comes around. The point is that Euesbius’ view was Eastern Orthodoxy in the beginning of the 4th century, especially in and around Jerusalem where (Caesarea) Eusebius was Bishop.

  27. Eric Warren says:

    Tom Charity,

    I quote D&C 121 esp vs 34-46, which explain unrighteous vs righteous dominion, more than any other scripture I preach. I used to think “a time to come” in vs 28 referred to the Second Coming, but now I think differently. D&C 121 was revealed or written in 1839 while Joseph was a prisoner in Liberty Jail. The KFD and SitG were given in 1844 and clearly reveal/manifest “whether there be one God or many gods.” Therefore, the “time to come” in vs 28 may refer initially to 1844, although we believe “God will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” But D&C 121 speaks of “that which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other gods before this world was” (D&C 121:32). Notice the Council of gods existed “before this world was.” If the “Eternal God” was our Father in Heaven (perhaps with the Son and Spirit), then who are the other “gods”? No doubt they are the Sons of God like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Peter, Joseph, i.e., “He called them gods unto whom the Word of God came” (Jo 10:35; Ps 82:6). Clearly, the Sons of God such as Abraham were in the Council of the gods before the world was (Abraham 3:21-24). So, you can be a “god/God” BEFORE you obtain a mortal body on this earth.

    The Son is of course “infinite and eternal, without end” (20:28) and “from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God” (20:17), but we “worship the Father in his name” (D&C 20:29), and the sons of God “shall be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them” (D&C 132:20; 1 Cor 6:2; Heb 2:1-11), and they “are the church of the Firstborn; and they see as they are seen, and know as they are known, having received of his fulness and of his grace; and he makes them equal in power and in might and in dominion” (76:94-95; 1 Jo 3:2-4; 1 Cor 13:12; Ma 23:12 w/ Pp 2:5-14), and, “the saints shall be filled with his glory, and receive their inheritance and be made equal with him” (88:107; Ro 8:17,32; Rev 21:7; Lk 22:29,30).

    Mike,

    Are you a Mormon right now? You keep saying “LDS sense” as if you aren’t. But as to your question, I don’t understand it. Abraham was promised that his seed would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. I don’t restrict the promise given to Abraham to this earth or to mortality only. Who says Abraham isn’t still married in heaven and can’t still have children? However, the promise given to us in the temple is the same as to Abraham. Non-Mormons are not required to interpret Genesis as we do, but the Father has revealed further light and knowledge that help us understand that families can be together forever. If it was okay for Abraham to have offspring on earth, why not in heaven? If our Father In Heaven is the “One God and Father of all” (Eph 4:6; 1 Cor 8:6; Mal 2:10; Jo 20:17), including the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 1:3,17; 2 Cor 11:31; Jo 20:17; etc.), then clearly the Monarchy of the “One God” right now resides solely in the Father (not the Son or Spirit) and is constituted by us being His Offspring (Acts 17:26-29; Ge 1:26-27; Heb 12:9; Ro 8:14-17; Ma 23:9; Heb 2:11-17; Deut 32:17-18 & 32:5-8,43; Isa 1:2), Jesus being the Firstborn of the Father’s Children (Col 1:15; Heb 1:6; 2:11; Rev 3:14; Ps 110:3 JB; Prov 8:22-31 JB). If having Children is holy and good enough for Our Father In Heaven, then why not good enough for Us His Children?

  28. Eric Warren says:

    BRAD:
    The two are not the same kind of being. The nature of man is that there can be many of them, and God can participate in manhood by creating and possessing his own human nature. The nature of God is that there is only one, and while men can become men as far as their existence allows, they are not nor can be identical to Him.

    TOm:
    Actually, according to the Chalcedon, is not Christ is homoousiov with the Father concerning the theotEta (Godhead); and homoousiov with us (mankind) concerning the anthrOpotEta (Manhood). Clearly there are multiple persons who are one God.
    It should be noted that Eric seems to be and I am certainly a subordinationist. I do not believe deified man is wholly equal to God, just fully divine. I do not believe Christ is wholly equal to the Father (after all Christ is not non-begotten), just fully divine.

    ERIC
    Tom makes my point. Since Jesus is ‘homoousia’ with humanity because he took upon himself the “FORM OF A SERVANT” (Pp 2:7) and “was made in the likeness of men” (Pp 2:7, this means Jesus added “ONE EXTRA MAN” to the earth. So since Jesus is ‘homoousia’ with the Father because he was in the “FORM OF GOD” (Pp 2:5, notice Paul calls him not ‘God’ but the ‘form of God’), this must also logically imply there is “ONE EXTRA GOD” in heaven because Jesus lives there. But even if you prefer to call them ‘three persons’ inside “one God,” the idea that we can “become God” (which was stated without equivocation in the pre-Nicene Early Church Fathers) DOES imply a ‘fourth person’ in the “one God.” Jo 17:21-23 and logic suggests that if ‘three persons’ can be “one God,” then why not four or a million persons existing inside “one God”? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    “That which is born of the flesh IS FLESH” (Jo 3:6), so when Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary’s fleshy essence and was thus “made flesh” (Jo 1:14), this clearly means Jesus’s flesh is ONE IN ESSENCE with our flesh. “That which is born of the Spirit IS SPIRIT” (Jo 3:6), and God’s Essence IS SPIRIT (Jo 4:24), so we too are Born of God’s Essence when we are born of God’s Spirit (Jo 3:6-11), this clearly means the SPIRIT of the sons of God becomes ONE IN ESSENCE with God’s Spirit. Meister Eckhart was right about this, even though the Pope condemned him.

    Clearly, being homoousia with humanity adds one more human to mankind, so being homoousia with the Father logically adds one more God to the Godhead. The Cappadocians implicitly admit this when they say Peter, James, and John should be called “one man” because calling them ‘three men’ is just an imprecise colloquialism. Justin Marty, Origen, and most of pre-Nicene Eastern Orthodoxy had little problem calling God and his Son ‘two Gods’ or Jesus a ‘second God’ (see Origen, Against Celsus, V.39 ‘second God'; Origen, Dialogue with Heraclides 2.3 ‘two Gods'; Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 59, ‘another God and Lord subject to the Maker of all things…another numerically but not in will’, etc…). This means in the Christianity surrounding Jerusalem in the Near East, and even in Rome and Alexandria, many bonafied ‘Christians’ really believed Jesus was an ‘extra God’ in heaven in addition to the “one true God and Father of all”. Eusebius is fully representative of the Historical and Unequivocal Subordinationism of the Pre-Nicene Fathers in and around Palestine.

    “Since all the children SHARE the same flesh and blood, he too SHARED equally [lit ‘in like manner’] in it…It was essential that he should in this way become completely like his brothers” (Heb 2:14,17 JB). In Hebrews 2:14, the children are “partakers” (koinoneo, Strong #2841 whcih means ‘to share with others,’ and remember that 2841 is “from 2844″ according to Strong) with Chirst of one flesh and blood, then Chirst “became man.” This brings us to 2 Peter 1:4 where we are “partakers” (koinonos, Strong #2844) of the divine nature, which means we “become God.” If “partaking” (SW 2841 from 2844) of humanity makes God human (Heb 2:14), then “partaking” (SW 2844) of God’s divine nature makes man God (2 Pt 1:4). I know it’s good logic. Its just the logical conclusion of the “exchange formula” or “reverse kenosis.”

    DAVID
    I think the answer lies in the “exchange formula”; how could an infinite person become finite? Our Lord did so by adding a second nature to the first via what is termed the ‘hypostatic union’. Now, how can the finite become infinite? By adding (through grace) a second nature to the first…
    You asked: “In your view of deification, does the Creator – creature distinction remain?”
    Me: IMHO, I would have to answer yes and no. Yes in that our “person” (i.e. hypostasis) is human, and shall ever remain so; however, with the addition of the second nature, the divine one, there is a very real sense in which the “created becomes uncreated.” Keep in mind that when our Lord became man, His person, which was divine, did not cease to be divine even though he become 100% man. The “great exchange” must, IMHO, remain consistent in both directions; as such, I think you can see why I answered yes and no.

    ERIC
    It seems, IMHO, that the Catholics are free to believe a rather robust doctrine of deification in Chirst. The “hypostatic Union” implies some hesistation in calling God as God “a man” because the two natures are not confused, however, clearly the intent of this Chirstology is to say Chirst is “100% man” and “fully man” and “genuinely human.” The “exchange formula” or “reverse kenosis” says “I become God to the same extent he became man,” or “the Son became what we are so man would become what He is.” This implies the deified man ultimately becomes “100% God” and “fully God” and “genuinely God.”

    David draws out the logic of this in his own words, but let me put it this way: God’s Incarnation as a Man was done for Man’s Incarnation as a God. The two natures never become “One” in the fullest sense demanded by John 17:21-23 & 10:30, but yet they are “One Person” joined in two natures. The ‘real’ part of Jesus is the ‘God’ part, but he still is genuinely human. The ‘real’ part of the ultimate state of the deified is the ‘created man’ part, but we still genuinely become God.

    CONCLUSION
    David’s doctrine may not be the same as Mormon doctrine. But, if you start with Catholic assumptions of Creatio Ex Nihilo and a Hypostatic Union, this is probably the strongest doctrine of deification that can be stated. Some Christians have maintained that Deification means we can inherit literally everything that the human side of Jesus inherited, including thrones, glory, radiance, perfection, power, dominion, etc… Accordingly, Christ’s Resurrected Glory is the Firstfruits of Theosis, and the Immeasurable Glory and Light beaming from Christ’s Humanity on the Mount of Transfiguration is a foretaste of the Glories to Come. No Mormon I know is going to lose sleep because the attributes of ‘uncreatedness’ or ‘incorporealness’ cannot be communicated to him. Every Mormon I know would be perfectly satisfied becoming “God” in the same sense that Chirst’s Humanity is “God.” Since we ARE humans after all, what more could anyone ask for than to become perfectly “One” or Equal to Christ’s Humanity?

  29. Eric Warren says:

    “How can they be saved unless it was God who wrought out their salvation upon earth? Or how shall man pass into God, unless God has [first] passed into man?” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV.33.4). “Passed into man” no doubt refers to God’s Incarnation into Man, so Irenaeus’ counterpoint that “man pass[es] into God” implies man can Incarnate into God. Jesus is “God Incarnate” as Man, so the sons of God become “Man Incarnate” as God. Such “incarnation” need not be viewed anachronistically as a “hypostatic union” in terms of 5th century Christology, but David’s idea of a reverse incarnation or “two natures” deification is not as novel as it sounds. Catholics who ignore or discount David Waltz are ignorant. The Exchange Formula and Reverse Kenosis implies as much. “The Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who did, through His transcendent love, become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself” (Irenaeus, Against Heresides, V.pref).

  30. TOmNossor says:

    Eric,
    I am not yet sure that we do not agree on even this, but I have been hoping this thread will be mostly about the extent of deification. (It is also true that I have been away). There may be little more to respond to concerning the “extent of deification” here, so hopefully my return will not distract from such things.

    In you 8 Aug post you quoted D&C 121:32 and said:
    If the “Eternal God” was our Father in Heaven (perhaps with the Son and Spirit), then who are the other “gods”?

    It is the first part of the above sentence that is very important to me. I generally feel that our scriptures teach that God is “infinite and eternal” “from everlasting to everlasting.” This pulls me away from a post Joseph Smith concept that before God the Father was God, there was an eternity of time during which God the Father became God. I embrace Ostler’s view that God the Father, like God the Son became man through “kenotic emptying.” The KFD is built upon John 5:19 “The Son of Man can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these things doeth the Son likewise”. This IMO points us away from viewing the Father as one who progressed to divinity.

    I think the second part of your comment is very interesting and as I mentioned before probably one of the few ways to actually make sense of much of the divine council language in the Bible and other standard works. I would place a strong emphasis upon God still as the one who lifts up those called “gods,” but I could envision a way in which pre-mortal Abraham was a god in a sense.

    And of course, I find the idea that the one God is associated with those who are in communion to be vital. God is love. The Father in a sense is the fount of divinity. In another sense, the divine community unites and emerges as omni-all foundationally (even eternally IMO) consisting of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; but inviting us to be members. I do not think LDS should view divinity as ousia-based. Instead, LDS should view divinity as communion based.

    For Catholics, a consistent read of councils would seem to require that divinity is ousia-based, but the exchange formula and the Council of Chalcedon definition seems to point toward the ability (if not the requirement) to embrace a strong form of deification. I would suggest that the Catholic who argues that divinity is ousia-based and thus men cannot be made divine, are cutting themselves off from the teachings of the apostles and those who came after them. If I could be convinced that David’s view was not possible, I could probably declare that Catholicism contains internal contradictions such that it violates its own premise as the preserver of tradition and not the semi-mutable receiver of further light and knowledge through revelation.

    Charity, TOm

  31. Steve says:

    For anyone who has a genuine interest in the Catholic doctrine of deification I strongly suggest you read “Deification and Grace” by Daniel Keating. I just finished it, and it directly addresses all the ideas that have been brought up in this thread. You might even learn what the “apostles and those who came after them” actually taught.

  32. […] An awesome thread on deification Defensor Veritatis Blog Archive Deification I don’t know how much general interest it will be. Some really great thoughts by some of my favorite internet posters. Blake Ostler, who I think has a new book out, has a good paper at http://tinyurl.com/2e5g5s __________________ 24:14 (KJV) But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets I blog, therefore I am. All Hail the Hypnotoad! Chaney / Voldemort in ’08! "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." – Einstein. […]

  33. Eric Warren says:

    BRAD
    As for the Incarnation, I think that demanding symmetry between God becoming man and man becoming God is illogical.

    GREGORY NAZIANZEN ON “SYMMETRY”
    “While His inferior Nature, THE HUMANITY, BECAME GOD, because it was united to God, and BECAME ONE Person, because the Higher Nature prevailed IN ORDER THAT I TOO MIGHT BE MADE GOD SO FAR AS HE IS MADE MAN” (Orations, XXIX.19; the ACF translators admit translating “The passage is one of great difficulty”, but follow Petavius’ lead (de Incarn., IV., ix., 2, 3) in translating it as above. Who can miss the difficulty?).

    IRENAEUS ON “SYMMETRY”
    “How can they be saved unless it was God who wrought out their salvation upon earth? Or how shall man PASS INTO GOD, unless God has [first] PASSED INTO MAN?” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV.33.4). “Passed into man” no doubt refers to God’s Incarnation into Man, so Irenaeus’ counterpoint that “man pass[es] into God” implies man can Incarnate into God.

    “The Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who did, through His transcendent love, become WHAT WE ARE, that He might bring us to be EVEN WHAT HE IS HIMSELF” (Irenaeus, Against Heresides, V.pref).

    SUMMARY
    In other words, through the Incarnation of the Word, the human person BECOMES by adoption WHAT THE SON of God IS by nature. Do you realize how radical it is to become through adoption WHAT the Son of God is by nature? WHAT he is by nature is “God,” so that is WHAT we become. Mormons also believe Deification in Christ comes based on the grace of adoption and not ultimately based on man’s nature, “Forasmuch as thou art God, and I know thee, and thou hast sworn unto me, and commanded me that I should ask in the name of thine Only Begotten; thou hast made me, and GIVEN UNTO ME A RIGHT TO THY THRONE, and NOT OF MYSELF, BUT THROUGH THINE OWN GRACE” (Moses 7:59).

    If God and Man’s Essence can become One and the Same Essence in Christ’s Person, then logically it is not impossible for Man and God’s Essence to become One and the Same Essence in our persons as Christ’s Body the Church. The resurrection of Christ’s flesh also implies his resurrected body is a “spiritual body” (1 Cor 15), and thus, although tangible, must also be ‘simple’ and ‘incorruptible’, and therefore the resurrected Christ cannot have “two natures” any longer.

    In my view, if the essence of God cannot become the essence of man, there is no real Incarnation. And if the essence of man cannot become the essence of God (witness Alan Richardson), then there is no real Deification (witness Meister Eckhart). I think most true intellectuals will agree with my assessment. If you truly believe, as you have said, “God is something that nothing that isn’t Him already is ever going to be,” then why not admit you do not believe in Deification in the sense of “men can become God”?

    ECKHART PREACHES THE ULTIMATE ‘SYMMETRY’
    ‘GOD MUST BECOME I,’ Eckhart declares, ‘AND I MUST BECOME GOD.’ [“Renewal in the Spirit”, in Pfeiffer’s Mesiter Eckhart, Sermon 99, pg.320]
    “In eternity the Father begets his Son like himself. ‘The Word was with God and the Word was God,’ the same in the same nature. I say still more: he has BEGOTTEN HIM IN MY SOUL. Not only is my soul with him and he equally with my soul, but he is in my soul, and the Father begets his Son in the soul IN THE SAME WAY as he begets him in eternity and not otherwise. He must do it whether he likes it or not. The Father begets his Son without ceasing; and I say furthermore HE BEGETS ME AS HIS SON AND THE SAME SON. I say more: he begets me not alone as his Son, HE BEGETS ME AS HIMSELF AND HIMSELF AS ME–ME HIS ESSENCE AND HIS NATURE” [Pfeiffer, Sermon 65, p. 205].
    “THERE IS SOMETHING IN THE SOUL WHICH IS SO AKIN TO GOD THAT IT IS ONE WITH HIM, IT HAS NOTHING IN COMMON WITH ANYTHING THAT IS CREATED” (Eckhart)
    “Man came from God and is himself in some sense TRULY DIVINE…one of the chief difficulties, he was convinced, in arousing men’s desire for God and in bringing them to him was their mean idea of their own nature and capacities. Thinking of themselves as fallen creatures, altogether alien to the divine, to imagine that they might really become one with God and live their lives in him was quite beyond them. To meet their doubts and hesitations Eckhart proclaimed in ringing terms their divine origin and their GENUINE KINSHIP with God” (pg 361, Arthur Cushman McGiffert, A History of Christian Thought, vol 2).

    ALAN RICHARDSON
    “If a real incarnation has taken place at all, this means that God and man cannot be absolutely dissimilar in essence, since they have been brought together in the one Person of Jesus Christ. Wholly dissimilar substances can never be brought together in such a way that a real, organic union is effected…If God was incarnate in Jesus Christ, there must be that in man which is fundamentally capable of being united with Deity…God and man are FUNDAMENTALLY AKIN, as is surely implied by the belief that man was made in IN THE IMAGE OF GOD…IT IS POSSIBLE FOR ONE PERSON TO BE BOTH DIVINE AND HUMAN BECAUSE GOD INCARNATE IS HUMAN NATURE PERFECTED…[Church Fathers at Chalcedon in 451] were inclined to set too great a gulf between God and man. They tended to conceive of God and man as two substances differeing from each other in kind and having no properties in common. Of course we can now see that this tendency of their thought was principally due to the accommodation of their thinking to the current philosophy of their day…the old Greek or pagan idea of a transcendent, perfect and far-away Deity” (pg 85-88, Alan Richardson, Creeds in the Making: A Short Introduction to the History of Christian Doctrine. London: SCM, 1990).

    “What Apollinarius says about the Heavenly Man is quite normal and orthodox. God and manhood had been united. Therefore inasmuch as God had become incarnate the two elements together are properly called man; and inasmuch as the manhood had been deified the two elements together are also properly called God (frag 147 puts this point with the utmost clarity)” (pg 108, GL Presige, Fathers and Heretics. London: SPCK, 1940).

    ERIC
    Good luck with Meister Eckhart, Brad! No one is more Catholic than Eckhart, and yet no one is more Unorthodox either. Welcome to David’s world of Unorthodox Orthodoxy. If you can deny the “symmetry” of the Incarnation and Deification, then you are wiser than Irenaeus, Gregory, and perhaps all Catholic theologians who came before. Don’t forget the Communicata Idiomatum, nor forget the true circumincession whereby the Father and Son are both “in” us and we “in” them, in the SAME WAY the Father and Son are “in” each other (match Jo 10:30.38/14:9 w/ 14:12,20 & 17:21-23). I know Catholics want to challenge Mormons. But it goes both ways. I think dialogue is only fruitful if we can help each other see scripture and our experience in a new light. Behold the light!

  34. Brad says:

    Sorry Eric, my spam filter was trapping your comments for some reason.

    Of the “exchange formula,” I have no argument with what St. Gregory said. “In order that I too might be made God so far as he is made man” – God was made man while retaining fully His divine nature, and I will be made God while retaining fully my human nature. The two have very different implications.

    Looking up that statement, I was not surprised to find in the same paragraph something you’d probably never quote to support yourself:

    What He was He continued to be; what He was not He took to Himself. In the beginning He was, uncaused; for what is the Cause of God?

    As I said of St. Irenaeus, with ample evidence, your interpretation of St. Gregory ignores the most immediate context.

    If you even read my comment about St. Irenaeus, you make no indication of it; you’ve gone on saying the same things about him. I won’t have that. Either actually participate in the discussion or you will no longer be welcome to it.

  35. Eric Warren says:

    BRAD
    Of the “exchange formula,” I have no argument with what St. Gregory said. “In order that I too might be made God so far as he is made man” – God was made man while retaining fully His divine nature, and I will be made God while retaining fully my human nature. The two have very different implications.

    Looking up that statement, I was not surprised to find in the same paragraph something you’d probably never quote to support yourself:
    What He was He continued to be; what He was not He took to Himself. In the beginning He was, uncaused; for what is the Cause of God?

    ECKHART UNANSWERED
    I notice you dodged Eckhart, mmmM. Could it be that his language affirms precisely what you deny? McGiffert clearly disagrees with you about Irenaeus, “Likeness to God Clement carried so far as to speak now and then of the deification of the gnostic. The language reminds us of Irenaeus and some of the other Fathers, but Clement did not mean that THE CHRISTIAN BECOMES DIVINE IN ESSENCE OR SUBSTANCE (AS IRENAEUS DID) but in character. In other words in speaking of his deification he was only expressing in a stronger way the gnostic’s moral likeness to God which will ultimately be complete. There is no mysticism in Clement and the Irenaean conception of deification was entirely foreign to him” (pg 185,186, Arthur Cushman McGiffert, A History of Christian Thought, vol. 1). I disagree wtih McGiffert about Irenaeus, even if not Clement.

    IRENAEUS ANSWERED
    Irenaeus and Eckhart probably believed men can become divine in essence, “OVERCOMING CREATED NATURE” and obtaining a “FACULTY OF THE UNCREATED”, but I wouldn’t necessarily assume the same of Gregory. If I’m wrong, I don’t mind being corrected. But Gregory plainly agrees with Irenaeus that there is a SYMMETRY between God becoming Man and Man becoming God. My post wasn’t trying to prove the Mormon position, but just show there is “SYMMETRY” between Incarnation (Becoming Man) and Deification (Becoming God). You can’t see the forest from the trees because you guard God’s transcendence at the cost of God’s immanence and communicability.

    I didn’t answer your objection to Mormon use of Irenaeus ipsa verba because David Waltz already did. Your post 52 is answered by David’s posts 60, 10, & 23. Irenaeus believed the Father alone is the “one true God.” So, if the Father alone is “agenetos” and “unoriginate” and “unbegotten”, and if Irenaeus really believes as you claim that no “genetos” or “originate” or “begotten” nature can OVERCOME its nature and become God, then you are left with the embarrassing fact that Irenaeus would deny the true Deity of the Son. I hope we can interpret Irenaeus more creatively and constructively than that.

    Mormons have NEVER argued that any of the early Church fathers had a deification doctrine as strong as Mormons!!! So much for that straw man. But we only argue that their deification doctrine is MUCH stronger by and large than it is NOW in post-Nicene Catholicisim or Orthodoxy. WHAT IS REMARKABLE GIVEN THE APPARENT ASSUMPTION OF EX NIHILO IN THESE (POST-JUSTIN) EARLY CHURCH FATHERS IS THAT THEY SAID WE CAN “BECOME GOD” AT ALL!! The only reason for this must be because the Bible and unanimous Christian tradition taught them that this is true. You and Steve find it easy to say “it is self-evident we cannot become God,” but NONE of the early Church fathers found that self-evident. None of them EVER said “man cannot become God” as you do.

    Mixing ex nihilo with a very strong belief in ‘becoming God’ obviously sounds contradictory to you, but Irenaeus apparently held both beliefs. Those were different times, my friend! As Pelikan says, “The church could not specify what it meant to promise that man would become divine until it had specified what it meant to confess that Christ had always been divine” (pg 155, vol 1, The Emergence of Catholic tradition).
    Athanasius and Augustine watered down what it is for man to ‘become God’ in their controversy with Eusebius of Caesarea, the Prince of Arians, and the other Arians, but still couldn’t get themselves to flatly deny we can ‘become God’. Athanasius even uses the fact of our deification as proof of Christ’s Deity!

    MONOTHEISM IN THE PRE-NICENE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS
    I can’t find any early Church father BEFORE Athanasius and then later Augustine, both very controversial figures in their own day I might add, who deny we can eventually become “God” in the same sense the Son is “God.” All those pre-Nicene denials in the early Church fathers of a plurality of “Gods” with a capital “G” also deny that Christ is “God” with a capital “G”. Also, their denails of a plurality of ‘Gods’ are not in the context of the POST-RESURRECTION. The ECFs also denied that men can see God’s essence, but it’s well-known that such denials are almost always in the context of HERE AND NOW, and are not meant to deny that men can see God’s divine essence in the POST-RESURRECTION BEATIFIC VISION. Sorry, the ECFs were not always consistent with each other or with themselves, witness the inconsistencies discussed by Petavius and Bull.

    So where’s the difference between pre-Nicene deification and Catholicism now? Many of the pre-Nicenes ECFs (Origen, Eusebius of Caesarea, Hippolytus, etc…) connect Jo 10:30,38 without any equivocation to John 17:21-23, arguing rightfully, against the modern Trinity, that we can obtain the same precise Unity with God that Chirst has. This fact was later used by Arians to deny Chirst’s Full Deity, although Mormons would use it to prove Christ’s Full Deity! Both Trinitarians and Arians had a point, so we side with neither, or we might rather say we side with both (Chirst is fully God and we can become fully Christ). The attacks of Porphyry and Celsus, and even attacks by Jews, made it clear to Christians that they seemed to believe in a ‘plurality of Gods.’ Such attacks caused post-Nicene Christians to sharpen their ‘monotheism’ in a transcendental Trinitarian direction.

    But these Christians had little or no appreciation for what an infinity of worlds means. This “new” cosmology gives the Mormons another way to view ‘becoming Gods’ as not infringing in any way on the Monarchy of the One True God. When one views the Bible’s references to ‘one God’ as referring to the fact that the Father is the ‘one God’ of all his children (1 Cor 8:6; Jo 17:3; Eph 4:6; Mal 2:10; Jo 20:17; Dt 32:17,18) which includes all inhabitants of this world (was the Bible written for other worlds?), meaning the Father is the “one and only God” we worship without any rivals whatsoever, it’s no longer necessary to deny a plurality of ‘Gods’. Isa 43:10 must be compatible with Ro 8:17,32 & Ex 7:1 & Ps 82:6 & Jo 10:28,34. None of God’s Heirs, including God’s Son and Heir Jesus, rival him, but merely obtain in their own oder and respective sphere in the POST-RESURRECTION eternities their own dominions as ‘Gods’. This is not in opposition to the will of the One God, but we become God because God wills it! The Monarchy is vouchsafed, Christ being God is vouchsafed, and man becoming God is vouchsafed. What more can you ask for?

    A non-modalist Trinity (three individuals in one God) does not seem to escape the criticism of Muslims and Jews of Polytheism. We, with Trinitarians, are displeased with the semi-Arian solution of denying Christ’s full Deity, so the Mormon solution of the Father being the One God “to us” his children (1 Cor 8:6; Heb 4:12; Eph 4:6) is a plausible biblical alternative. I say biblical, because Christ said we would be given our own Kingdom and Dominion even as he received his Kingdom from the Father (Lk 22:29-30; Jo 14:2,12,20; 17:21-23; Ro 8:17,32; Rev 3:9,21; 21:7; 1 Jo 3:1-4; 2 Pt 1:4; Jo 10:34,35 w/ Ps 82:6). But what is clear is that if the pre-Nicene early Church fathers are correct that Chirst is “God” and also correct that we can become “God” in the same sense Chirst is “God”, then Chirst is either NOT “true God” OR we CAN become “true God.” Take your pick.

    GREGORY NAZIANZEN ANSWERED
    Mormons don’t believe the final purpose of the Incarnation and Atonement was to change God into Man (how trivial), but the ultimate purpose was to CHANGE MAN INTO GOD. You quote Gregory Nazianzen saying that God doesn’t cease to be God (“what he was he continued to be”), the concept of immutability which no Mormon would disagree with. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb 13:8). Your own quote ADDED “what He was not He took to Himself”, i.e., he was not Man before the Incarnation but now, especially after the resurrection, the Man part of Him BECAME GOD. Do you believe that?

    What you don’t seem to believe is the part where Gregory says, “THE HUMANITY, BECAME GOD”!!! This is where the translators have difficulty translating because it plainly states that the “higher nature” PREVAILED in the hypostatic union making the human nature into “God”, i.e., apparently the human nature BECAME or was TRANSFORMED INTO the Divine Nature. IMHO, Gregory would probably locate this in the resurrection not just the incarnation. The resurrection of Christ’s human flesh indicates that his humanity is now “one substance” with his divinity (i,.e., a tangible ‘spiritual body’, no longer composite/divisible or dualistic but ‘simple’ and ‘one’).

    Christ’s Deified Humanity is the “God” we can become. Mormons would be perfectly content receiving everything that Christ’s Deified Humanity Received. BTW, you never answered my post 16, which lays out my case in simpleness. If the ESSENCE of the Spirit is UNCREATED, and we can BECOME SPIRIT IN ESSENCE (Jo 3:6 w/ 4:24; 1 Cor 6:17; 2 Cor 3:17-18) even as Chirst BECAME CREATED FLESH IN ESSENCE (Jo 3:6 w/ 1:14; 1 Jo 4:1-3), wouldn’t that make our ESSENCE also in some sense UNCREATED? We are always ‘creatures’ but hypostatically receive a faculty of uncreatedness.

  36. Eric Warren says:

    i meant i agree with McGiffert about Irenaeus, but not about Clement

  37. Brad says:

    Eric,

    Maybe I just lost it in the immense cloud of your comment. Maybe it’s over my head. But I don’t see what contradicts my opinion that the Fathers believed that God is a one-of-a-kind being, and therefore when they said that men become God, they could not have meant that men become God in every sense that God is God. As with just about every tenet of the Faith, they did not speak with as much precision then as the Church does now. But the Church still believes that God is a one-of-a-kind being, and the Church still believes that men become God, but speaks with more precise and perhaps more muted terms about it.

    I’m unfamiliar with Meister Eckhart, which is why I didn’t address what you quoted from him. I thought it would be more appropriate anyway to address the teachings of St. Gregory, as he is a doctor of the Church.

    You say:

    Mormons have NEVER argued that any of the early Church fathers had a deification doctrine as strong as Mormons!!!

    Then what’s your point? Why appeal to them? Are you saying their belief was more Mormon, but not quite as strong? Otherwise, why bother?

  38. Eric Warren says:

    BRAD,

    We appeal to the early church fathers not to substantiate the authority of our apostles or their teachings, our doctrines and authority come by revelation of God’s grace not of man’s wisdom or works (how marked a contrast with the ECFs, for instance that poor guy Augustine didn’t even know the origin of the human soul). Because Catholic clergy and Protestant pastors (notice I leave out Orthodox) have not educated the laity about the fact that early Christians taught save men can truly and literally ‘become God,’ the Mormons are more than willing to shout this out from the mountain tops. If the idea of men ‘becoming gods’ makes us un-Christian and pagan, then all the early Church fathers must have been pagans!! The side effect of Mormon appreciation of much of early Christianity is that Christians of all stripes are becoming better informed about their own ‘Christian tradition’ and in consequence better informed about the Bible, because the ECFs based this particular doctrine on the Bible.

    The Bible teaches that saved men become “gods” because they are “righteous divine images and sons of God like Christ” (2 Pt 1:4; Jo 1:12-13; 3:6; Ps 82:6; 1 Jo 3:1-3; 1 Cor 13:12; 2 Cor 4:4 w/ 3:18; Ro 8:14-17,29,32; Rev 21:7; Gal 4:6-7; Ex 7:1; 4:16) who will judge angels and the world (1 Cor 6:2; Rev 20:4; Lk 22:29-30), and not called “gods” as some claim because they are ‘wicked human judges who are not even acting like sons of God and make bogus judgments and are actually false gods’. We can agree God is not a liar (Jo 10:35 w/ Ps 82:6), right? If you wanted your children to believe that you are the “one God” in the hyper-literal transcendant ‘nothing is like me’ sense for which Catholics claim, then why would you say the sons of God are “gods” and ‘like Christ’ and ‘partakers of the divine nature’ and ‘heirs of God’ who inherit ‘all things’ Christ inherited? God is trying to teach us something, and hardly anyone except the Mormons is listening.

    The Bible cannot sustain the notion that God is as unique as Catholics generally claim (Acts 17:29; Ge 1:26-27; Mal 2:10; Ma 23:9; 2 Pt 1:4; Jo 10:30-36; 17:21-23; 1:12-14; 3:6). Christopher Stead makes it clear that ancient Hebrew views of God were highly anthropomorphic and not metaphysically or philosophically transcendent at all. Ignorance of deification Bible passages and their patristic usage among non-Mormon Christians is a sure sign that the vast majority of Catholics and Protestants no longer teach or believe what the patristic writers said, “if we are sons of God, this makes us gods! sons of God who are like Chirst (1 Jo 3:2-3) and heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Ro 8:17,32; Rev 3:21; 21:7; Lk 22:29-30).” Catholics don’t generally emphasize or teach that men can become “gods” for the simple reason that the vast majority no longer believe it.

    When the pre-Nicene early church fathers denied a plurality of ‘Gods’ with a capital ‘G’, and specifically stated that the Father is the ‘one most high God’ above whom there is no other God, to them this meant that the Son of God is NOT ‘God’ with a capital ‘G’ since the Son has another God above him, namely the Father (Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Hippolytus, Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius of Caesarea, Cyril of Jerusalem, etc… even the Cappadocians seemed to place the Sole Absolute Monarchy in the Father). If you accept their premise that God, with a capital ‘God’, must be “agenetos” and “unbegotten” and “unoriginate”, you also must deny Christ’s Deity. Why should Mormons adopt such an obviously philosophical construct of God? It is more than apprent the pre-Nicene early church fathers were wrong about Chirst’s Deity, so we MUST abandon those assumptions that inexorably led them to deny Chirst’s Deity.

    Moreover, if “God” is a being of which nothing can be Greater and can have no God above him, then clearly Jesus is not God. “My Father is Greater than all” (Jo 10:29) and “My Father is Greater than I” (incarnate Jo 14:28; post-incarnate 1 Cor 15:28; and pre-incarnate Ex 3:2 w/ Ex 23:20), not to mention God “created” Jesus before the world was formed (Prov 8:22 Jerusalem Bible & Col 1:15 & Rev 3:14). “go tell my BRETHREN, I ascend to my God and your God, to my Father and your Father” (Jo 20:17; Heb 2:11-17; 12:9 w/ 1:6-7) who is “the One God and Father of all” (Eph 4:6) and “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 1:17,3; 4:5,6; 2 Cor 11:31; Rev 3:12; etc.). I take no discomfort with the early Church fathers denying multiple ‘Gods’. We Mormons worship One God, the Father, who has no rivals at all. God’s Son is not a rival since he is SUBORDINATE to him, Jesus never taught us to worship or pray to him as ‘God’, and Jesus even worships the same God and Father we do. We agree with the early Church fathers about WHO is the “one God” we should worship (the Father), can you say the same? They didn’t worship a Trinity, doesn’t that embarrass you at all that the NT Christians and pre-Nicene ECFs, except modalists, did not worship a Trinitarian God? and neither did the Jews in the Old Testament?

    IRENAEUS, ECKHART, AND UNORTHODOX ORTHODOXY
    Irenaeus and Eckhart were die-hard Churchman of impeccable Orthodoxy, except that papal bull against Eckhart in 1329 by Benedict XII. That’s why it’s amazing both taught that men can become God “in divine essence/nature” (At least that is what McGiffert, a non-Mormon scholar believes). This is precisely what you deny Catholics believe, do you then deny that Irenaeus or Eckhart were really Catholics? And if the Catholic Church has not made any official pronouncement on just how far deified man can ‘become God’, then isn’t it permissible to believe and teach that men can ‘become God in divine essence’? This opens up new horizons for Catholics based on Irenaen (sic) and Eckhartian tradition. Obviously their viewpoint doesn’t personally appeal to you.

    The pre-Nicene Early Church Fathers had a very robust and strong doctrine of deification and it was integral to their soteriology. Most Catholic theologians and scholars have little or NO doctrine of deification, and instead speak of salvation in mostly juridicial terms of ‘created grace’ and ‘justification’ rather than the uncomfortable patristic doctrine of ‘deification.’ But how can you say Catholics are “more precise” when most Catholics have nothing to say about deification, have almost no idea what it means to ‘become God’, and most would probably strongly deny it? When you say Catholics are “perhaps more muted,” how about Catholics, in general, flatly deny that men can ‘become God’? I can quote you and Steve both explicitly saying we cannot become God. You are a normal and genuine Catholic, but so are David, Irenaeus, and Eckhart.

    Those born outside a culture can often see things in another culture that those born to that culture cannot see because they are “born into it” and thus blind to what makes it unique or different. In all honesty, I have to say that the early church fathers spoke about ‘becoming gods’ or ‘becoming God’ much more frequently and in much more emphatic terms than Catholics do now. Jordan Vajda, a Dominican Priest who wrote a book comparing Mormon and Orthodox views of deification, and his subsequent conversion to Mormonism, both bear eloquent testimony that Catholicism has, by and large, abandoned the patristic doctrine of deification. To me this is a huge “loss”. However, Catholicism believes in “development”, it has records of many patristic and post-patristic Churchman of amazing Orthodoxy who taught extreme versions of deification, and no Council has ruled against these ideas. Therefore, the idea of deification is one area Catholics can go a long way in “returning to the fathers,” and Mormons want to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers. The virtual unanimous testimony among the patristic writers that men can “become God”, and no contradictory testimony that men can “not become God”, and the fact that their doctrine was backed-up by unanimous tradition and unimpeachable Bible passages, indicates that Catholics have an awesome opportunity of returning to their roots.

  39. Brad says:

    So… you want Catholics to believe and teach deification in stronger terms, such as how you perceive the Fathers did, but then even if they did they wouldn’t be strong enough (not being Mormon doctrine)?

    You can misunderstand or ignore modern and ancient thought on the Trinity, on nature, or on person all you want, quote whatever interpretation of Scripture and patrology agrees with you, and drop verse-bombs everywhere. Like I said before, this really boils down to the existence of one (1), single, unique, big-G God, whose essence we may share to unimaginable extent, but from which we are ultimately distinct.

    I’m sorry, Eric, I’ve tried to be patient. But I can’t allow any more of your carpet-bombing approach, your overbearing advancements of your own opinion or interpretation as self-evident fact, and your misrepresenting or altogether ignoring current or ancient Christian thought. Don’t post here again.

  40. Eric Warren says:

    Brad,

    It’s hard to follow me if I write too much, granted. In your opinion, David “misrepresents” ancient Christian thought, and David and I may think you are ignorant of ancient Christian thought. So what’s new? I honestly just wanted to discuss the Bible, Councils, and Ex Cathedra. I love to analyze issues to death. If I wrote too much, I apologize. At least I’m not plagiarizing others! I have much respect for my Catholic friends. I also have a great respect for so many of the early Church fathers. I wish we had more of their writings, but its remarkable how much has survived and how great their faith was. Mormons are taught “apostasy” so much that they often miss out on so many great examples of true disciples of Christ.

  41. syntaxpunk says:

    Although there is much interesting discussion in this thread, I have to agree w/ Brad that it is difficult to process many of the lengthy posts. Perhaps a more appropriate arena for such volumunous contributions would be a debate between Eric (or anyone else, sorry to point you out) and someone from a Catholic perspective.

  42. Brad says:

    Eric:

    I removed your newer comment. Again, you’re either not listening or not understanding what I say. Either way, it’s counter-productive to try to have any kind of discussion.

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