Ep56-Logical Problems of Deification - Of God and Gods Ch 10



Topics Discussed:
• What Is the Divine Nature in Which We Share?
• The Logic of Deification: The Exchange Formula
• Deification and Justification by Faith Alone
• Failure of the Distinction between Communicable and Incommunicable Properties
• Monotheism, Simplicity, and Deification



Show Notes:

LOGICAL PROBLEMS OF DEIFICATION

What Is the Divine Nature in Which We Share?

“The essence of the concept of “deification” is the glorified life of God in which we participate through the incarnation of Christ.”

“When the natural or animal life force is replaced with the divine life, we share in the very immortal and incorruptible life of God. To share this life in common is to be in a certain kind of relationship of close communion because we share the same life-force. It is truly divine life that gives us life, and we are transformed by it. By analogy, it is as if our human blood is transfused by God’s blood. So the life that is sustained by the mortal blood is exchanged for a life sustained by God’s life-giving force or energy carried in the blood. The notion that God’s own life-energy dwells in us gives rise to sharing life in an intimate way. This notion of “life-giving-energy” is the essential meaning of deification. This energy transforms our human nature to be like God’s nature; and to the extent that it imparts righteousness to us, it makes us righteous.”

“Deification essentially entails these three characteristics: (1) What was lost in the Fall of Adam has been restored and the relationship with God, damaged in the Fall, has been healed; (2) A new life dwells in the disciple to restore the divine image and to effect progression from one glory to another to be like God; (3) The shared life leads to glorious union with God. What was lost in the Fall is immortal and incorruptible life in close relationship with God”

“Deification is more than just the restoration of what was lost in the Fall and, hence, more than a return to the status of the pre-Fall Adam. It is more than just being forgiven of sin and therefore being justified. It entails a dynamic and ongoing process of growth in relationship with God beyond what was enjoyed by the pre-Fall Adam.”

“If all of the properties of divine nature are so different from properties essentially possessed by humans that no human could truly have a divine property, then human sharing in the divine nature is logically impossible. However, that is where the incarnation comes into play. Christ is a concrete instance of a single person who possessed both human and divine nature in common. Therefore, full and complete humanity and full and complete divinity must be logically compatible within a single person”

“Now here is where LDS deification goes beyond the conventional view of deification; by our participating in the divine life, the intelligence, glory and power of God are also imparted to us. We share as one in God’s own experience of all reality. Here is the reasoning: The relationship of the Father and the Son is such that what the Father knows, the Son also knows. What the Father wills, the Son also wills. What the Father does, the Son does in unison. When we enter into the same union of indwelling love with them, then what Father and Son know, we also know. What the Father and Son will, we also will. What the Father and Son do, we also do. We share as co-knowers and co-creators with the divine persons in the Godhead. Thus, the divine properties that are communicated to humans through the union of deification entail that we also share their divine knowledge, power, presence, and co-creativity.”

“In Mormon thought, there is a weak but not a strong ontological difference between humans and God. It is not possible for humans to be gods or to realize inherent divinity unless there is a physical change actuated by entering into a relationship of indwelling unity with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; but there is no logical impossibility in such a change.”

The Logic of Deification: The Exchange Formula

“(1) By being united with Christ, we share the same essence/substance/nature as Christ.
(2) Christ is the same essence/substance/nature as the Father.
(3) Therefore, by being united with Christ, we share the same essence/substance/nature as the Father.”

Discuss the various forms

Deification and Justification by Faith Alone

“It is common among Protestant exegetes to claim that the doctrine of justification by faith alone is the hallmark of Christian belief. It is therefore easy to detect why Protestants would be uneasy with the doctrine of deification. It entails the denial or rejection of the most central doctrine of the Reformation. It is precisely here where Protestants must part company with the doctrine of deification.”

“The Orthodox view of salvation as deification is a very different complex of beliefs. First, the Orthodox reject anything like original sin and maintain that the image of God with which God created us remains intact despite Adam’s sin. The image of God includes free will as a constitutive element of human existence. To be human is to be free. It also includes an orientation toward God. Thus, the Orthodox view maintains that we are free to accept the transforming life of Christ to dwell in us by an act of will. Because it is our own will that accepts this life-giving”

“we can define deification in the Protestant tradition as follows:
Protestant Deification (PD): A person S shares the divine nature to the extent that S:
(1) through faith given as a gift through participation in Christ’s immortal life;
(2) is thereby extrinsically justified by grace and thus regarded as righteous based on the faith; and
(3) Christ’s righteousness dwells within S and continues to grow in S through the process of sanctification until S is fully glorified by the divine glory in communion with God.”

“For Wesley, justification occurs in a moment and opens the door to gradual growth in Christ to become holy or sanctified. Here is the Wesleyan ordo salutis or order of salvation: (1) Every person has a gift that constitutes our shared humanity in the imago dei to choose to accept God; (2) God grants convincing grace to bring us to freely exercise this gift of freedom to accept God; (3) When we choose to accept Christ we are justified by grace; (4) When we accept this gift and are justified, Christ enters into us and restores the image of our pre-Fall righteousness; (5) This regenerated image allows us to work cooperatively with God to become increasingly righteous and holy in the process known as sanctification.”

“Robert Rakestraw, who assessed the doctrine of deification from the perspective of evangelical theology, stated:
Perhaps the most obvious deficiency is the terminology itself. To speak of divinization, deification, and human beings “becoming God” seems to violate the historic Christian understanding of the essential qualitative distinction between God and the creation. “Becoming like God” appears to express more biblically the concept of the Christian’s union and communion with God in sanctification. Why use terminology that, at first glance at least, will alienate those unfamiliar with this line of thinking in Christian theology, and thus miss what might be of benefit to them? Some may reply, however, that the shock value of the terms may be just what is needed to awaken lethargic or defeated Christians to the truth of their union with Christ.28

Yet it is passing strange to suggest that we ought to give up theological accuracy and truth for the sake of “shock value.” Indeed, Rakestraw is correct that, for the entire tradition that adopts creation ex nihilo, the terms “deification,” “divinization,” “theosis,” “becoming gods,” and so forth are theologically misleading and logically unsound. The reason this approach is unsound is that, while it is accurate “to say that we become “like God” in a remote and barely recognizable way, we do not become deified or partake of the divine nature. The ways in which we can participate in God’s nature must be so attenuated, given the great ontological gulf between Creator and creatures, that the entire notion of “partaking of the divine nature” is impossible.”

Failure of the Distinction between Communicable and Incommunicable Properties

“we can define Orthodox deification as follows:
Orthodox Deification (OD): We share the divine nature to the extent that:
(1) God graciously changes our corrupt nature to conform to divine righteousness of the pre-fall Adam; and
(2) We share God’s life by having the energies of God dwell within us and thus share the unity of the divine life in a sense appropriate to humans; and
(3) We share in the divine properties to the extent that they are communicable to humans through participation in the energies of God such as goodness, holiness, love, justice, and mercy.”

“The incommunicable properties, or God’s essence that we cannot share, include the negative attributes such as atemporality, immutability, impassibility, simplicity, and aseity or self-sufficiency. The incommunicable properties also include the so-called metaphysical or “omni-attributes” such as omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience.”

“In The Attributes of God, Volume 1 of Exploring Mormon Thought, I argued that none of these negative attributes is true of God if God enters into interpersonal relationships of the kind characterized in scripture. I also argued that none of these negative properties can be accepted if it is true that Christ is both fully human and also fully divine. For anything that is fully human cannot possess the negative divine properties. Yet these attributes are commonly accepted as definitive of God in the Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant traditions—though they have been modified or rejected more recently by many in these traditions.”

“The assertion that we participate in the divine nature by sharing such divine attributes as immortality, incorruption, righteousness, and holiness is effectively negated by the doctrine of creation ex nihilo because our mode of possessing such attributes is ontologically different than God's”

Monotheism, Simplicity, and Deification

“The most common argument against any view that humans possess divine attributes in a way that is univocal with God is that it violates monotheism.33 If the “monotheism” at issue is “metaphysical monotheism,” then this argument is clearly correct”

“If the notion of metaphysical monotheism is adopted, then a coherent notion of the Trinity or Godhead appears to be impossible to formulate. Similarly, a consistent Christology also seems to be impossible to develop if one is committed to a view requiring God to be essentially different than a human can possibly be.”

“if God is simple in the Thomistic or Augustinian sense that all of his properties or property-instances are identical, then there is nothing in God but the simple divine nature.”

“Here is a formal statement of the logical dilemma:
(1) God’s essence is metaphysically simple. (DSS)
(2) A simple essence has no parts of which it is composed in the sense that all of God’s attributes are identical to each other (from 1).
(3) God is essentially loving, and the divine love is expressed to us through his energies; thus, the energies are included within God’s simple essence (energies/essence distinction).
(4) Humans cannot share in God’s incommunicable properties such as being uncreated, immutable, impassible, timeless, omnipotent, and omniscient.
(5) God’s love and energies are identical to God’s incommunicable properties (from 1–3).
(6) Thus, God’s love and energies are incommunicable to humans (from 4–5).
(7) Humans participate in the divine nature by having the love and energies of God communicated to them.
(8) Therefore, the divine nature cannot be communicated to humans (from 6–7).”


“the Son of God cannot really be even “other” in relation to the Father. Perhaps this conclusion can also be supported by an argument:
(C1) Human nature is such that, for each person S who possesses human nature, S is essentially created in some respects.
(C2) Divine nature is such that, for each person S who possesses divine nature, S is essentially uncreated in all respects included within divine nature.
(C3) A nature defines what is essential to the kind that an individual is.
(C4) It is impossible for a single person S to possess both human (created in at least some essential respects) and also divine (uncreated in all essential respects) natures because a thing cannot be both essentially created in some respects and also uncreated in all respects (from 1–3).
(C5) Christ possessed both human and divine natures. (CT)
(C6) Premise (C4) entails the denial of (C5); therefore, one of them is false.”

“In fact, it is the LDS view that humans are created with respect to their mortal bodies and yet uncreated with respect to their eternal spirits. The disagreement is now no longer one of logic but what the scriptures say. If it is possible for Christ to be created in his human nature and yet uncreated in his divine nature, then it is also possible for one possessing a human nature to be created and uncreated, but in different respects.”

“A consistent Christology requires rejecting the entire pantheon of absolutist attributes. Christology also requires rejecting the vast ontological gulf between human nature and divine nature as a matter of metaphysical necessity. Only a view that allows for the unity of divine nature and human nature in the same person at the same time can truly claim to be Christian.”

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