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Deification/theosis/exaltation


Doctor Steuss

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Hi David! It's great to see you again. In point of fact, I am doing some podcasts right now on this very subject. I understand the Christian conceptualization of God is that He is a spirit, as opposed to a body, but that dichotomy is a false one.

I was down visiting Bill Hamblin this weekend, making sure his back is all right, and it is, and got a copy of his book on Solomon's Temple. (I actually went down to enjoy some time with my oldest brother, and somehow Bill just got in the way of my schedule! :P ) But in the meantime I also wandered around the BYU Bookstore for a bit, and found Stephen Finlan and Vladimir Kharlamov's book Theosis: Deification in Christian Theology, Princeton Theological Monograph Series, 2006. I haven't had time to begin it yet, but have seen the first few pages, and it looks mouthwatering! Are you familiar with it?

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[...] though certain similarities exist between non-LDS and LDS deification, one very important distinction remains, God in non-LDS thought is pure spirit while in LDS teaching He is embodied, and this distinction has certain ramifications for what deification ultimately means for both[...]

David (and/or anyone who believes G-d to be a "spirit"),

Do you believe that the anthropomorphism of man will intimately limit the extent to which he can become like G-d? In-other-words, do you believe that the embodiment of man will ultimately result in deification being limited and not â??fullâ??

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David (and/or anyone who believes G-d to be a "spirit"),

Do you believe that the anthropomorphism of man will intimately limit the extent to which he can become like G-d? In-other-words, do you believe that the embodiment of man will ultimately result in deification begin limited and not â??fullâ??

I don't believe a disembodied God would create embodied men in order to create disembodied gods.

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Hi Kerry,

You posted:

>>But in the meantime I also wandered around the BYU Bookstore for a bit, and found Stephen Finlan and Vladimir Kharlamov's book Theosis: Deification in Christian Theology, Princeton Theological Monograph Series, 2006. I haven't had time to begin it yet, but have seen the first few pages, and it looks mouthwatering! Are you familiar with it?>>

Me: Yes, I own, and have read it. It is a nice collections of essays, though some, IMHO, are better than others. Jeffrey Finchâ??s essay is my favorite of the lot for his understanding of Irenaeusâ?? theology of deification is very close to my own, one that is probably at odds with the majority (but the correct one! <GRIN>).

Grace and peace,

David

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A while back, Thunderfire mentioned briefly that his thoughts on exaltation didnâ??t jive with LDS views. Hopefully Thunderfire will stumble across this thread to provide the CoC view of deification/theosis/exaltation.

But, until he does, I would like to ask others (mostly non-LDS, as the LDS view is pretty well stated in D&C 84:38 ), what does deification/theosis/exaltation mean to you? What does it entail? Do you believe in it at all? Do you believe it will be limited? What exactly will someone who receives this most precious gift from the Father become? What will they gain? What will be the difference between someone who receives this, and someone who doesnâ??t? Is it something that will be given to all who are in heaven? -- I know, itâ??s a lot of questions; you donâ??t have to answer them all.

Iâ??m pretty sure we are all aware of the scriptures that support this Christian doctrine, as well as the many early Church fathers that taught it in one way or another. So, unless someone needs a treatise on these various scriptures/quotes, Iâ??ll leave them out of this first post for the sake of brevity.

To be in heaven is to know God perfectly, and to experience joy in God proportionate to that knowledge. Thatâ??s it. Thatâ??s the whole thing.

In the West and in the East, there are two names for the experience of God we will have in heaven. In the West, it is commonly called the Beatific (Blessed) Vision. In the East it is called theosis, or deification. These terms name the experience by different rationales, but the concept is the same, for in Catholicism, the vision of God does not simply make us like Him; the vision of God is the likeness that we have to Him. I agree with Rory that how this will transform us is unrevealed, but I think we know enough to not be wholly in the dark and up to a point it can be explained.

A few words about knowledge supply an important background. Every object of our experience is composed of two parts, matter and form. When we know a thing, the mind possesses its form but not the matter. For instance, if I see a triangular shape, my mind apprehends the triangle, and understands the thing itself according to its grasp of triangularity abstracted from the experience. The mind now possesses the same form as the thing it perceives, though in a different mode of possession. The matter, however, remains external to the mind. A good analogy for this is the example of a signet ring pressed in wax. The mind encounters its experiences as the wax does the ring, taking into itself the form of the ring, becoming like the ring but not possessing the same matter.

When we know God in heaven, the same thing holds, but with a difference. Because God is infinite, he possesses no boundaries either internal or external and is, therefore, not divided into matter and form. Therefore, when the full knowledge of God is impressed upon the mind, the mind will, by possessing the form of God, possess all of Him, including His very nature.

In this flesh, we know God in no such direct way. We understand Him through His creation, which reflects His being, but does not reveal Him as He is. That is what it means to see â??through a glass darkly.â? In heaven, we will know Him as a pure intelligible, with no intermediate experiences or even intermediate concepts. I think the best way to understand this is to suppose the idea of God removed from our minds and replaced with God Himself. This is the most intimate knowledge one can have of another person, and it absolutely presupposes that the other person is a metaphysical entity. Otherwise, He could only be seen through the barrier of sense perception and â??through a glass darklyâ? would be the only means whereby He could reveal Himself.

As with the wax and signet ring, the effect of such intimacy with God is a likeness to Him, literally a partaking of the divine nature, though it is His divine nature, not a self-possessed divine nature that we possess. That it what it means to â??partake.â?

This explains much less than it may sound like. Rory is right that the nature of our future likeness to God is unrevealed, and I believe St. John says as much:

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:1)

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Doctor Suess:

David (and/or anyone who believes G-d to be a "spirit"),

Do you believe that the anthropomorphism of man will intimately limit the extent to which he can become like G-d? In-other-words, do you believe that the embodiment of man will ultimately result in deification being limited and not â??fullâ??

This is PRECISELY what my two new podcasts are about, and will be for the next several podcasts in my Trinity series I am now producing......... The scripture nowhere teaches that God is *a* spirit. The Greek does not bear this out. The scripture correctly teaches that God is Spirit (an essentially correct Mormon doctrine also).

For David - I will read that essay first then in this fine looking book. I figured you already had it, since you are lightyears ahead of all the rest of us, you animal you!

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Doctor Suess:

This is PRECISELY what my two new podcasts are about, and will be for the next several podcasts in my Trinity series I am now producing......... The scripture nowhere teaches that God is *a* spirit. The Greek does not bear this out. The scripture correctly teaches that God is Spirit (an essentially correct Mormon doctrine also).

For David - I will read that essay first then in this fine looking book. I figured you already had it, since you are lightyears ahead of all the rest of us, you animal you!

Isn't it more tru to say that the distinction between "spirit" and "a spirit" is unknown to the Greek language, and that we limit the application of the verse by tying it down to one translation or the other?

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Hi Dr. Steuss,

Silly me, I missed your question until Lord Kerry reposted it. You asked:

>>David (and/or anyone who believes G-d to be a "spirit"),

Do you believe that the anthropomorphism of man will intimately limit the extent to which he can become like G-d? In-other-words, do you believe that the embodiment of man will ultimately result in deification being limited and not â??fullâ??>>

Me: I have spent a fair (no pun intended) amount of time in researching the doctrine of deification from numerous different aspects (Biblical, early Church Fathers, Catholic, EO, Prot, and LDS) and honestly believe pretty much all the varying positions are lacking ingredients that comprise the entire equation deification.

For instance, many Latter-day Saints focus on the glorified, resurrected body of Christ (and God the Father), but for the most part ignore the fact that Christ was fully one with God, and as such, fully GOD before He became man. Call it what you want, divine nature, divinity, light, spirit, intelligence, et al., it sure seems that ultimately what makes God GOD is His divine spirit/light which â??proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of spaceâ?. The omniâ??s of God are directly linked to His divine nature, not His body.

On the other hand, it seems that most â??orthodoxâ? Christians focus so much on Godâ??s spiritual nature that important aspects concerning the Incarnation are pretty much neglected (though there are a few important works that fight this tendencyâ??e.g. Thomas G. Weinandyâ??s, Does God Suffer?).

Enough background, on to your question: I personally do not believe that there will be a limit to deification; the Scriptures and many early Church Fathers are quite clear on this, what Christ, the Son of God, is by nature, redeemed mankind will become by adoption.

Grace and peace,

David

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A while back, Thunderfire mentioned briefly that his thoughts on exaltation didn’t jive with LDS views. Hopefully Thunderfire will stumble across this thread to provide the CoC view of deification/theosis/exaltation.

But, until he does, I would like to ask others (mostly non-LDS, as the LDS view is pretty well stated in D&C 84:38 ), what does deification/theosis/exaltation mean to you?...

Becoming one with God -- symbolically, figuratively, spiritually and literally.

My final word in that profession will no doubt give pause to my LDS brethren ---

but I mean exactly what I say.

Uncle "If Eloheim is our Heavenly Father, then who is our Heavenly Grandfather?" Dale

.

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My mostest favoritest Unka Dale replieth thusly:

Uncle "If Eloheim is our Heavenly Father, then who is our Heavenly Grandfather?" Dale

Erm, in re-reading Blake Ostler's take on what Joseph Smith meant, I have gained an insight or two into it that I had not thought of before. That's why I read the Ostlers, Hambins, Petersons, Gees, Christiansens, and Unka Dales of the world, for flashes of new insights into my rather dull cranium. Ostler notes that God the Father may *not* be in an infinite regress of Gods and Goddesses, going back into infinity, but that is an interpretation based on one of the journal records of the Prophet's Sermon in the Grove in 1844. Another one has apparently surfaced, and it says something entirely different. After all, they *were* recording by hand ya know. Anyway, I shall have to get the details for you beloved Unk, though today is the 4th of July, and I am getting ready to celebrate enjoying my freedoms.

Did you happen to listen to the absolutely blistering spanking that Keith Oberman gave the Clinton administration this morning on MSNBC? Oh my GOSH what a clarion call for freedom from the tyranny we are currently under! Whew that was powerful........ I recorded it.

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My mostest favoritest Unka Dale replieth thusly:

Erm, in re-reading Blake Ostler's take on what Joseph Smith meant, I have gained an insight or two into it that I had not thought of before. That's why I read the Ostlers, Hambins, Petersons, Gees, Christiansens, and Unka Dales of the world, for flashes of new insights into my rather dull cranium. Ostler notes that God the Father may *not* be in an infinite regress of Gods and Goddesses, going back into infinity, but that is an interpretation based on one of the journal records of the Prophet's Sermon in the Grove in 1844. Another one has apparently surfaced, and it says something entirely different. After all, they *were* recording by hand ya know. Anyway, I shall have to get the details for you beloved Unk, though today is the 4th of July, and I am getting ready to celebrate enjoying my freedoms.

i look forward to it.

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That's why I read...

The Krispy Kreeme King gets mention before I do in the list???

I protest! ---- This is blatant Mormon bias! ---- This is anti-islander slander!

I demand redress! -- my cause is just, but the mods can do nothing for me!

Did you happen to listen to the absolutely blistering spanking that Keith Oberman gave...

I once watched ten seconds of the guy (spelled with one more "l" methinks)..... when some

weirdo was filling in for Bill on the "fair and balanced" network. Ten seconds wasted.

Warning, nephew ---- watching the liberal media is the first step in eternal regression...

Yer everlovin' Unk

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Besides becoming like God, we also become one with God, even as Christ is in the Father. I believe that when God speak, He is speaking for every god throughout His lineage back to whenever. Thus when God says He has created worlds without number, greater than the sands upon the shore, He is speaking not only for Himself, but for His Father and so on up the line. When mortals partake, with God, of eternal life and exaltation, they become, as the apostle John stated, "like God." Thus when they become creators of worlds, they will add glory and honor to Christ and His Father, who also will be our Father. We, too, will be able to say the very things the Father said, and we'll be able to do so with propriety, thanks to the atonement of Christ.

I believe there are far more universes than ours throughout the cosmos, each expanding from a central point. These universes will comprise something we don't yet have a name for and I believe there will be many of them.

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Ostler notes that God the Father may *not* be in an infinite regress of Gods and Goddesses, going back into infinity, but that is an interpretation based on one of the journal records of the Prophet's Sermon in the Grove in 1844. Another one has apparently surfaced, and it says something entirely different. After all, they *were* recording by hand ya know.

Ostler bases his argument on both the KFD and the SitG. He claims that Bullock's original notes (not a newly discovered account) of the KFD do not support the common understanding that The Father has a Father who is His God. As to the SitG, inexplicitly Ostler simply ignores much of what it says on this point.

I disagree with Ostler's interpretation of the KFD and the SitG. I find his interpretation nonsensical and plainly at odds with the Prophet's teachings in these two discourses. After you have had a chance to outline the details for Unk, I will explain a little more of my disagreement.

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I am looking very forward to seeing your disagreement! Thanks.

And Unk, I apologize lavishly for puttin yer name behind ole Dr. Krispy Kreme, I fell asleep at the keyboard, I swear!

And it ain't the liberals who have flushed us this last 8 years........ :P

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Hi Kerry,

You said:

>>Dave I read Finch's chapter on Irenaeus. Most interesting! I shall discuss it with you in a little bit.>>

Looking forward to it!

BTW, downloaded your recent podcasts and hope to listen to them this weekend.

Grace and peace,

David

P.S. That bed and 15,000 volume library still awaits you at the beach! :P

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Doctor Suess:

This is PRECISELY what my two new podcasts are about, and will be for the next several podcasts in my Trinity series I am now producing......... The scripture nowhere teaches that God is *a* spirit. The Greek does not bear this out. The scripture correctly teaches that God is Spirit (an essentially correct Mormon doctrine also).

[...]

Hi Kerry,

Is there even an indefinite article in Greek that is akin to â??aâ?? Could they have even written that G-d is "a" spirit if they wanted to?

David, Soren, 3DOP, UD, et.al.,

Thank you for your replies/insights.

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Hi Kerry,

Is there even an indefinite article in Greek that is akin to â??aâ?? Could they have even written that G-d is "a" spirit if they wanted to?

David, Soren, 3DOP, UD, et.al.,

Thank you for your replies/insights.

There is no indefinite article in Greek. The thought of the indefinite is conveyed by a simple absence of the definite article "the." Translators must decide from context whether including or excluding the indefinite artcile fits any given verse. That is why my own position on whether God is "a spirit" or "spirit" is neutral, as the context supports both reasonably. I think it's fine to translate it either way as long as the conclusions we draw from it don't depend on excluding either possibility.

In the verse, Christ is teaching the Samaritan woman about God's nature and about the nature of worship proper to God. God can be worshipped in all places becasue he is "a spirit," and the manner in which he is to be worshipped is in "spirit." Thus Christ's intent contains both "spirit" and "a spirit", though the Greek really knows no distinction.

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My mostest favoritest Unka Dale replieth thusly:

Erm, in re-reading Blake Ostler's take on what Joseph Smith meant, I have gained an insight or two into it that I had not thought of before. That's why I read the Ostlers, Hambins, Petersons, Gees, Christiansens, and Unka Dales of the world, for flashes of new insights into my rather dull cranium. Ostler notes that God the Father may *not* be in an infinite regress of Gods and Goddesses, going back into infinity, but that is an interpretation based on one of the journal records of the Prophet's Sermon in the Grove in 1844. Another one has apparently surfaced, and it says something entirely different.

Is the following quote what you refer to?

"I know that my testimony is true, God never did have power to create the spirit of man at all. He could not create himself. Intelligence exists upon a self-existent principle.

Words of Joseph Smith P. 359.

I do not have the text with me so I do not know when or where these words were spoken.

osi

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I've been waiting for e=mc2 to give the details he mentioned back in post #37 before explaining my disagreement with Blake Ostler, but I know how busy life can be, so here is part of my disagreement.

On pp.444-45 of his second book, Ostler writes, â??â??Jesus said that the Father wrought precisely in the same way as His Father had done before Him. As the Father had done before? He laid down His life, and took it up the same as His Father had done before.â?? Thus, Joseph returns to the same explanatory principle that he had in the King Follett discourse. The Son as a mortal does â??precisely what the Father did before him.â??â?

Although Ostler correctly notes that Joseph Smith here uses the same â??explanatory principleâ? he used in the KFD, Ostler fails to notice that he uses it here in a different context. In the KFD Joseph Smith applied this principle to the Son doing what his Father did. But in the SitG Joseph Smith applies this principle to The Father doing what His Father did. Specifically, in the SitG Joseph Smith says that â??the Father wrought precisely in the same way as His Father had done before Him.â?

Ostler entirely ignores this change in context. In the SitG Joseph Smith has advanced the argument from the Son following The Father to The Father following HIS FATHER. That Ostler confuses these two different contexts is made obvious when he says, â??The Son as a mortal does â??precisely what the Father did before him.â??â? Although Joseph Smith was clearly speaking of The Father, not the Son, when he said the quoted words, Ostler chooses to apply these words to the Son and ignores the fact that Joseph Smith actually said them of The Father.

Here are the pertinent paragraphs:

KFD paragraph 16

Jesus said, as the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power; to do what? why what the Father did, that answer is obvious; in a manner to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus what are you going to do? To lay down my life, as my Father did, and take it up again.

SITG paragraph 16

Jesus said that the Father wrought precisely in the same way as His Father [The Fatherâ??s Father] had done before Him. As the Father had done before? He [The Fatherâ??s Father] laid down His life, and took it up the same as His Father [The Father of The Fatherâ??s Father] had done before.

One reason Ostler chooses to ignore the proper context of these words in the SitG may be because they disprove one of Ostlerâ??s beliefs. If the fact that Jesus did what The Father did (KFD,

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Thank you for your explanation. Most imteresting! I shal look into it. Yer a stud man, a pure stud. :P

And I apologize for being so pea pickin dag blasted unbelievably busy. I found more materials for my Trinity podcasts, and have been recording some today. Hopefully I can post one tonight, and the rest tomorrow. Anyways, I'm not ignoring you, I'm just ignoring you......lolol..........

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