Theosis and Theological Anthropology

Dr. Ben C. Blackwell, PhD

Learn more about this Routledge Research Companion to Theological Anthropology and this chapter contribution!

The patristic soteriology of theosis has rightly received increasing attention because of its theologically integrative perspective, bringing together Christology and Pneumatology, protology and eschatology, soteriology and ecclesiology. In our essay we discuss theosis in light of Christology (with Maximus the Confessor) and the Trinity (with T.F. Torrance) to show how it relates to both Patristic/Byzantine theology as well as modern Protestant theology. With Maximus, we see a robust Trinitarian theology that explains guides his Christological soteriology: in the hypostatic union the transformation of Christ’s own humanity is paradigmatic for the believers who follow him. With Torrance, we see that God has opened himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit to share His love and self-knowledge with humanity, and as we encounter God we are transformed by participating in this relationship. Ultimately, we argue that the doctrine of theosis draws anthropological discussions back to the theocentric intention for humanity, redemption as union and participation, and a relational ontology of humans.

For further study

  • How do the topics of original sin and the interaction of divine and human agency inform understandings of theosis?
  • What distinguishes relational ontologies from other ontological and soteriological systems?
  • Relatively little work has been done on the categorization of patristic authors with regard to substance dualism and hylomorphism.