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Early Christian Theosis Quotes


Olavarria

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We were not made gods at our beginning, but first we were made men, then, in the end, gods

Irenaeus, "Against Heresies," () Ante-Nicene Fathers 1:419, chapter 6

yea, I say, the Word of God became a man so that you might learn from a man how to become a god

Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks,

but He himself that justifies also defies, for by justifying He makes sons of God. For He has given them power to become the sons of God, (John 1:12). If then we have been made sons of God, we have also been made gods

Augustine, On the Psalms, 50:2.

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I have taken to offering a challenge with respect to the ECF belief in deification.

First, it should be mentioned that the ECF after about the middle of the 2nd century believed that God created everything (man included) ex nihilo. Since LDS reject this in favor or D&C 93, there is a different starting point in the natures of those who are deified when comparing LDS views with ECF views.

Now, having said that no ECF before the 4th century spoke of any muting of the final state of the deified man. They boldly declared the men would become gods, and did not say, â??but only in â?¦ of a way.â? After Nicea you begin to see folks who will talk about our nature never becoming the divine nature or other such things.

So my challenge is, â??No ECF before Nicea put any limits upon the final state of deified man.â?

As a believer in the apostasy (though I suggest it is a loss of authority that resulted in wrong doctrine not a change in doctrine), I generally suggest that the embracing of creation ex nihilo contributed to the God nature vs. Human nature dichotomy that was the basis for Nicea. It took a long time for creation ex nihilo (and the absolutist â??Hellenistic ideas) to so impact the Biblical theology that the final state of deified man was generally impacted.

I think the New Testament quite clearly teaches that Christ is the revelation of the Father and that Christ is the revelation of what we may become (there are other messages associated with how we become like Christ: Grace and â?¦). As the early church recognize that for Christ to be the revelation of the Father, Christ must be God; they began to refuse to still maintain that we are to become as Christ is (as the Father is). Other things such as the absolutist view of God that required immutability, impassibility, and â?¦ also contributed here and were part of the wrong turn.

Charity, TOm

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The above Early Christian Quotes can be interpretted this way (see link and Catholic teaching below)

http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p122a3p1.htm#I

460 - The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature": [2 Pt 1:4] "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God." [st. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 19, 1: PG 7/1, 939] "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God." [st. Athanasius, De inc. 54, 3: PG 25, 192B] "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods." [st. Thomas Aquinas, Opusc. 57, 1-4]

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TOmNossor,

So my challenge is, â??No ECF before Nicea put any limits upon the final state of deified man.â?

Irenaeus put a limit upon the final state of a man, see below for what he says. The Catholic Church also has a related teaching on this limitation, see below). Also, see the article below for more details on this limitation.

Irenaeus,Against Heresies,2,10:4(A.D. 180),in ANF,I:370

"For, to attribute the substance of created things to the power and will of Him who is God of all, is worthy both of credit and acceptance. It is also agreeable [to reason], and there may be well said regarding such a belief, that 'the things which are impossible with men are possible with God.' While men, indeed, cannot make anything out of nothing, but only out of matter already existing, yet God is in this point proeminently superior to men, that He Himself called into being the substance of His creation, when previously it had no existence."

ECF teachings on Ex Nihilo(Creation out of Nothing)

http://www.cin.org/users/jgallegos/exnihilo.htm

318 - No creature has the infinite power necessary to "create" in the proper sense of the word, that is, to produce and give being to that which had in no way possessed it (to call into existence "out of nothing")

http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p4.htm#brief

The Mormon concept of deification must be rejected: God is God both outside of creation and within creation; human beings can at best be joined to God and thereby become God within the confines of creation, but even here, they will not usurp the unique identity that the sole God has. Human beings will never lose their attributes as creatures, they will never be the Creator or the creative and boundless power of the Creator. Human beings will forever posses the human form and the human nature; thus, they will be limited to the confines of the created universe and never be omnipresent as the unique God is.

Can Human Beings Become God?

http://www.affcrit.com/pdfs/2002/02/02_02_a2.pdf

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I find Irenaeusâ?? view on creation interesting, given the problems it caused for his soteriology. Especially since Irenaeus thought that although G-d could create a perfect man/creation, such creation maintaining said perfection was beyond the powers of G-d.

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Johnny,

1. CCC460 provides little indication as to what me â??becoming godsâ? entails and does not entail. That is a key question that I do not believe has been irreformably established within Catholicism. If you know of some irreformable source for clarification I would be interested.

2. In context, Irenaeus is not speaking of deified men, but of men. There are numerous places were the greatness of God is contrasted with the limitedness of man.

Where Irenaeus speaks of deification, he does not limit the final state of deified men. The most clear understanding of this would be that the statements that contrast God to men would mean that the deified men are on the God-side of this comparison post deification.

Again, you need to wait really to Augustine to see the deified state of man specifically limited to less than that state possessed by God throughout all eternity. Your Irenaeus quotes have nothing to do with deified men, but rather with men.

Charity, TOm

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ECF teachings on Ex Nihilo(Creation out of Nothing)

http://www.cin.org/users/jgallegos/exnihilo.htm

Johnny,

I am unsure if you have actually followed the Creation ex Nihilo debates or not. Your link evidences no recognition of the work of Gerard May, a Protestant scholar. May deals in detail with Hermas and other pre-3rd century ECF. Hermas in particular is ambiguous if one recognizes the way Greeks and Hebrews spoke of creation ex materia.

Your link is lopsided as it does not even acknowledge that Clement of Rome and Justin Martyr embraced creation ex materia.

Next, the New Mormon Challenge does in fact deal with Gerard May and his use by LDS scholars. I was already of the opinion that they had not succeeded, but Ostler responded quite thoroughly to them. To my knowledge neither Copan or Craig have interacted with Ostlerâ??s response DESPITE follow on publications on this topic. They just ignore Ostler, but few believe that Ostler did not substantially damage their thesis in the NMC.

Johnny, have you read May? Have you read Ostler? You seem to stick to faith promoting Catholic authors and expect that LDS here will be impressed. I suggest nobody here should be.

Charity, TOm

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Johnny,

Back to Irenaeus on deification:

Feel free to read these in context and see if there is any material to suggest that the deified man is less divine than the deifier, God!

Irenaeus - Adv. Her. 3.6.1 â??God stood in the in the congregation of the gods, He judges among the gods.â? He [here] refers to the Father and the Son, and those who have received the adoption; but these are the Church. (ANF 1.419).

Irenaeus - Adv. Her. 3.19.1 He who was the Son of God became the Son of man, that man, having been taken into the Word, and receiving the adoption, might become the son of God. For by no other means could we have attained to incorruptibility and immortality, unless we had been united to incorruptibility and immortality.(ANF 1.448). [see also 3.6.1]

Irenaeus - Adv. Her. 4.Pref.4/ 4.1.1 ...there is none other called God by the Scriptures except the Father of all, and the Son, and those who possess the adoption. Since, therefore, this is sure and steadfast, that no other God or Lord was announced by the Spirit, except Him who, as God, rules over all, together with His Word, and those who receive the Spirit of adoption.(ANF 1.463).

Irenaeus - Adv. Her. 4.33.4 ... 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?(ANF 1.507).

Irenaeus - Adv. 4.20.4 Now this is His Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, who in the last times was made a man among men, that He might join the end to the beginning, that is, man to God.(ANF 1.488).[see also 4.20.5-6]

Irenaeus - Adv. Her. 4.38.3-4 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. ...man, a created and organized being, is rendered after the image and likeness of the uncreated God... we have not been made gods from the beginning, but at first merely men, then at length gods...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.(ANF 1.521-522).

Irenaeus - Adv. Her. 4.39.2 How, then, shall he be a God, who has not as yet been made a man? Or how can he be perfect who was but lately created? How, again can he be immortal, who in his mortal nature did not obey his Maker? For it must be that thou, at the outset, shouldest hold the rank of a man, and then afterwards partake of the glory of God.(ANF 1.522-523).

Irenaeus - Adv. Her. 5.Pref ...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.(ANF 1.526).

Irenaeus - Adv. Her. 5.1.1 Since the Lord thus has redeemed us through His own blood, giving His soul for our souls, and His flesh for our flesh, and has also poured out the Spirit of the Father for the union and communion of God and man, imparting indeed God to men by means of the Spirit, and, on the other hand, attaching man to God by His own incarnation, and bestowing upon us at His coming immortality durably and truly, by means of communion with God...(ANF 1.527).[see also 5.36.3]

Charity, TOm

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TOmNossor,

1. CCC460 provides little indication as to what me â??becoming godsâ? entails and does not entail. That is a key question that I do not believe has been irreformably established within Catholicism. If you know of some irreformable source for clarification I would be interested.

CCC460 gives us a clear indication of what it means â??becoming godsâ?, it means partaking of the divine nature. Men are partakers, they are finite.

2. In context, Irenaeus is not speaking of deified men, but of men. There are numerous places were the greatness of God is contrasted with the limitedness of man.

Where Irenaeus speaks of deification, he does not limit the final state of deified men. The most clear understanding of this would be that the statements that contrast God to men would mean that the deified men are on the God-side of this comparison post deification.

What Irenaeus is saying also applies to a deified men. A man that partakes in the divine nature is still a finite creature created by a infinite God.

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What Irenaeus is saying also applies to a deified men. A man that partakes in the divine nature is still a finite creature created by a infinite God.

Because you say so?

Nothing in the text suggests you are correct.

Charity, TOm

P.S. Do not forget to look at my post with more Irenaeus deification quotes.

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TOmNossor,

Johnny, have you read May? Have you read Ostler? You seem to stick to faith promoting Catholic authors and expect that LDS here will be impressed. I suggest nobody here should be.

I like to stick with Catholic authors because they are consistent with Scripture (see below).

http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p4.htm#IV

297 Scripture bears witness to faith in creation "out of nothing" as a truth full of promise and hope. Thus the mother of seven sons encourages them for martyrdom:

I do not know how you came into being in my womb. It was not I who gave you life and breath, nor I who set in order the elements within each of you. Therefore the Creator of the world, who shaped the beginning of man and devised the origin of all things, will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again, since you now forget yourselves for the sake of his laws... Look at the heaven and the earth and see everything that is in them, and recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed. Thus also mankind comes into being. [2 Macc 7:22-23, 28]

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TOmNossor,

Back to Irenaeus on deification:

Feel free to read these in context and see if there is any material to suggest that the deified man is less divine than the deifier, God!

None of the quotes you have present indicate that that the deified man will have boundless power like the Creator or will be omnipresent as the unique God is.

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I am Catholic. I don't see any reason to water down any of the passages. Along with more from the Fathers, I could quote Catholic theologians, mystics, and at least one pope who have been saying the same thing continuously for 2,000 years. To participate in the life of God is to become eternal, uncreated.

We are speaking of the central truth of all Christian soteriology that finds an organic unity with the revealed reality of the God-Man. God became man so that man could truly participate in the life of God--so that indeed in a certain sense, he could become God. The Fathers of the Church had a clear consciousness of this fact. It is sufficient to recall St. Irenaeus who, in his exhortations to imitate Christ, the only sure teacher, declared: "Through the immense love he bore, he became what we are, thereby affording us the opportunity of becoming what he is."

This truth opens up for us unlimited horizons among which we locate and pinpoint the concrete expression of our Christian life, in the light of faith in Christ, Son of God, the Word of the Father.

---italics mine

The contemporary Christian teacher I just quoted reminds us that the key to this mystery will be found in the doctrine of the Incarnation. Just as the uncreated Son of God became created man, so the created man has the potential to be uncreated God. Like Jesus Christ the natural Son of God, the adopted sons of God will also have two natures, one created, the other uncreated through "organic unity with the revealed reality of the God-Man". This helps us to see how St. Irenaeus could say that the sons of God would become uncreated.

3DOP

PS for Tom:

Of course I don't have any original ideas. If I ever had one I think I would be too scared to believe it! I still don't think he has an answer to how we can account for degrees of exaltation, but I am being slowly persuaded (by "you know who" mainly) that it is presumptious to put a limit on what God has in store for the adopted sons of God.

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3DOP,

Like Jesus Christ the natural Son of God, the adopted sons of God will also have two natures, one created, the other uncreated through "organic unity with the revealed reality of the God-Man".

Good point ... the adopted sons of God will also have two natures, one created, the other uncreated.

The deified man will still have a created nature which is finite. God is infinite. The Vatican Council declared God to be almighty, eternal, immense, incomprehensible, infinite in intellect and will and every perfection.

God cannot be limited, because, being uncreated, He is absolutely independent of external causes and conditions. If God were finite, the existence of other gods, His equals or even His superiors in perfection would be possible.

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I like to stick with Catholic authors because they are consistent with Scripture (see below).

http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p4.htm#IV

297 Scripture bears witness to faith in creation "out of nothing" as a truth full of promise and hope. Thus the mother of seven sons encourages them for martyrdom:

Protestant and Catholic authors are converging around the view that scripture does not in fact demand that God created ex nihilo.

Here are the words of Michael M. Winter a Catholic scholar concerning the creation event in Genesis:

Stanley L. Jaki, Genesis 1 Through the Ages (Royal Oak, Mich.: Real View Books, 1998), 5-6.

The caution which is in order about taking the [Hebrew] verb bara in the sense of creation out of nothing is no less needed in reference to the [English] word creation. Nothing is more natural, and unadvised, at the same time, than to use the word as if it has always denoted creation out of nothing. In its basic etymological origin the word creation meant the purely natural process of growing or of making something to grow. This should be obvious by a mere recall of the [Latin] verb crescere. The crescent moon [derived from crescere] is not creating but merely growing. The expression ex nihilo or de nihilo had to be fastened, from around 200 A.D. on, by Christian theologians on the verb creare to convey unmistakably a process, strict creation, which only God can perform. Only through the long-standing use of those very Latin expressions, creare ex nihilo and creatio ex nihilo, could the English words to create and creation take on the meaning which excludes pre-existing matter.

Now concerning your Macc. quote, that also does not teach creation ex nihilo. Gerard May (and another non-LDS author May sites) and Ostler both discuss this. Here is from Ostler:

The poster-child "scripture" to support creatio ex nihilo in Jewish sources prior to the time of Christ has always been 2 Maccabees 7:28, a text found in the apocrypha and considered scripture by the Catholic Church but not by either Mormons or Protestants. C&C assert that it "states clearly the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo."90 It reads:

I pray you son, look to heaven and earth and seeing everything in them, know that God made them from non-being (ex ouk onton epoiesen auta ho theos), and the human race began the same way.

However, this text is quite unclear as to whether creation from absolute nothing is intended. One reason that many scholars believe that 2 Maccabees teaches creation ex nihilo is because it uses the phrase ex ouk onton, which in the much later Christian apologetic in the late second century was a technical term of art signifying creatio ex nihilo. However, in this context it is inappropriate to see the phrase as a philosophical term of art - after all, it is a mother speaking to her son, not a philosopher addressing learned interlocutors. The text is probably best read as creation from non-being in the sense that "an artist, who by impressing form on matter, causes things to exist which did not exist before."91 An artist creates something completely new by using preexisting materials. Werner Forster maintains that in 2 Maccabees "the non-existent is not absolute nothing, but ... the metaphysical substance ... in an uncrystallized state."92 May states:

The best known, constantly brought forward as the earliest evidence of the conceptual formulation of the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo, is 2 Maccabees 7:28. The need for caution in evaluating this is apparent from the context in which there is talk of creation 'out of nothing.' There is no theoretical disquisition on the nature of the creation process, but a parenthetic reference to God's power.... A position on the problem of matter is clearly not expected in this context. The text implies nothing more than the conception that the world came into existence through the sovereign act of God, and that it previously was not there.93

Thus, May suggests that the words "ouk ex onton" in 2 Maccabees should be translated "not out of things being, i.e., already existent individual things." Hubler states: "Non-being [in 2 Maccabees] refers to the non-existence of heavens and earth before God's creative act. It does not express absolute non-existence, only the prior non-existence of heavens and earth. They were made to exist after not existing."94

In the above we have Hatch (the non-indicated author - Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas on Christianity, 197.), Forster, May, and Hubler; all addressing the text you have sighted and all non-LDS.

I have been overly bold and declared that the Bible was in opposition to creation ex nihilo, but that is actually overly bold. The Bible certainly does not demand creation ex nihilo even with Macc. included.

Also, from the Catholic version of the Bible:

For your omnipotent hand found no difficulty even in creating the world from formless matter (ex amouphou hyles). (Wisdom of Solomon 11:17a)

Johnny,

You are missing a great deal because you stick to Catholic â??faith promotingâ? sources. When someone who has engaged an issue you choose to comment on has enough time to demonstrate your errors the negligence you have shown in the review of positions in opposition to your own becomes obvious.

Charity, TOm

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TOmNossor,

None of the quotes you have present indicate that that the deified man will have boundless power like the Creator or will be omnipresent as the unique God is.

Johnny,

The quotes say clearly that men "become gods." What would lead you to believe that Irenaeus could have possibly intended to say "become gods" in a way different or limited. Irenaeus seems to have no fear of being misunderstood, but boldly says "become gods." I would suggest that to believe he is referring to a limited or semi-deification is to speak far outside the evidence. In the absence of clarification his words stand as men becoming gods.

Charity, TOm

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PS for Tom:

Of course I don't have any original ideas. If I ever had one I think I would be too scared to believe it! I still don't think he has an answer to how we can account for degrees of exaltation, but I am being slowly persuaded (by "you know who" mainly) that it is presumptious to put a limit on what God has in store for the adopted sons of God.

I suspect that you have more original thoughts than you might admit, but what thoughts you have/repeat you express much better than I can. And I like you must claim that much of what I think I might know comes from following the right person, perhaps you know him ???

I like the first part of your post, too. There has been nothing irreformable that has limited the final state of deified man in Catholic tradition. If the God-man Christ was fully divine and fully human, humans are called to be man-gods like Him.

As a LDS, I see Christ as the incarnate God (rather than hypostatically united two natures), but I think such things are of less importance than a recognition of what God desires for us.

Charity, TOm

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TOmNossor,

What would lead you to believe that Irenaeus could have possibly intended to say "become gods" in a way different or limited.

"become gods" has limitations ... Adam "become as one of us", yet he had limitations.

Satan is called "god", Satan had limitations.

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... God created ex nihilo

TOmNossor,

Since creation ex nihilo seems to be straying us off the topic of this thread, I will refrain from discussing creation ex nihilo any further ...

Hmmmmm!

It is interesting that you edited my comment such that it says precisely the opposite of what my view is.

I am quite comfortable with you abandoning the â??creation ex nihiloâ? part of this discussion. I ask however that the next time you engage â??creation ex nihiloâ? on this board (and perhaps on any board anywhere â?? I can dream), that you at least acknowledge some of what I have posted.

I would also recommend that you read some of the material that directly refutes your ideas. If I were Catholic I would believe that â??creation ex nihiloâ? was a developed doctrine that it consistent with, but not demanded by the scriptures. And the Wisdom of the Solomon quote I offered would be tough even then. Here it is again:

Also, from the Catholic version of the Bible:

For your omnipotent hand found no difficulty even in creating the world from formless matter (ex amouphou hyles). (Wisdom of Solomon 11:17a)

Charity, TOm

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TOmNossor,

If the God-man Christ was fully divine and fully human, humans are called to be man-gods like Him.

Men are different than the Son of God. Men can partake of the divine nature, the Son of God is the divine nature, he was fully divine. Jesus was God before his incarnation and he assumed an earthly body when he was born.

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TOmNossor,

"become gods" has limitations ... Adam "become as one of us", yet he had limitations.

Satan is called "god", Satan had limitations.

Did Irenaeus give any indication that he thought you should gauge his statements by these? I think the answer is no.

It seems Irenaeus, if he thinks as you think, was a pretty negligent apologist and gave deifiers much to crow about.

Alternatively, Irenaeus may have meant exactly what he (and so many others) said. This would make Irenaeus a good apologist, which is how he is represented in Catholic literature.

Charity, TOm

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