The fundamental vocation and goal of each and every person is to share
in the life of God. We have been created by God to live in fellowship
with Him. The descent of God in the Person of Jesus Christ has made
possible the human ascent to the Father through the work of the Holy
Spirit. Orthodoxy believes that each Christian is involved in a
movement toward God which is known as theosis or deification.
Theosis describes the spiritual pilgrimage to which each person
becomes ever more perfect, ever more holy, ever more united with God.
It is not a static relationship, nor does it take place only after
death. On the contrary, theosis is a movement of love toward God
which begins for each Christian with the rites of Baptism and which
continues throughout this life, as well as the life which is to come.
Salvation means liberation from sin, death and evil. Redemption means
our repossesion by God. In Orthodoxy, both salvation and redemption
are within the context of theosis.
This rich vision of Christian life was expressed well by Saint Peter
when he wrote in the early pages of his second Epistle that we are
called "to become partakers of the divine nature." It was affirmed by
Saint Basil the Great when he described man as "the creature who has
received the order to become a god."
These are certainly bold affirmations which must be properly
understood. The Orthodox Church understands theosis as a union with
the energies of God and not the essence of God which always remains
hidden and unknown.
However, the experience of the Church testifies that this is a true
union with God. It is also one which is not pantheistic, because in
this union the divine and the human retain their unique
characteristics. In this sense, Orthodoxy believes that human life
reaches its fulfillment only when it becomes divine.
Rev. Demetrios Vakarios
Aspects of the Treasures of Orthodoxy
For Visitors of Saint Demetrios' Church of Thessaloniki Greece
1985, Philoptochos of Saint Demetrios' Greek Orthodox Church