Theosis - Christian Deification of Man



Also See:
Is the Deification of Man an Unchristian, Unbiblical Doctrine?
by Kerry Shirts

Orthodox Doctrine of Theosis

"Partakers of the Divine Nature" (2 Peter 1:4) in the Byzantine Tradition

Theosis: Partaking of the Divine Nature

Fellow Workers with God: Orthodox Thinking on Theosis

"Asked about the Orthodox Christian doctrine of salvation, many people will hastily tell you that it has to do with “theosis” or “deification.” But few can explain what “theosis” actually means, and fewer still can do so with a broad and deep knowledge of the Church Fathers. Drawing on ancient and modern sources, and building on his magisterial study, The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition, Norman Russell here presents this teaching with breathtaking clarity without compromising its genuine complexity. This book stands out from others on the subject as a model of lucidity and reliability, and will enthrall specialists and non-specialists alike."

The author, Norman Russell

"...and greater works than these shall he do."

Mormon critic like to say that we believe that we will become gods and have our own planet. I'm not sure where they got that part where we will have our planet because we, in fact, do not believe it nor is it taught as one of our beliefs. On the other hand we do believe in becoming gods, so did the ancient Christians also believe this. It's taught in the Bible, the Church Fathers teach this doctrine and I can see how one could deduct that ones would have their own plant although that is not ever stated explicitly in their writings nor in Mormon writings.
Jesus taught that “he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do”(John 14.12).
What is meant by, "...and greater works than these shall he do."

Protestants and Evangelicals Admit Their Theology is Incomplete

It's very interesting when Evangelical scholars admit "their theology is incomplete" and that they need to change it.
For an Evangelical Theosis: A Historical Theology of Theosis in Athanasius's De Incarnatione Verbi De
"If Protestants truly desire to have fellowship with Catholics and engage in ecumenical dialogue, integrating theosis into our atonement theories is a significant first step.
"The second major area that I believe theosis will benefit modern Evangelical theology is providing a rehabilitation for what may be potentially a flawed soteriological model. I say that it is flawed not so much because the components of the model are incorrect. Rather, it seems to me that they are incomplete."
"....it seems to me that they [their theology] are incomplete."

If theosis was never lost to Protestants and Evangelicals then why are they trying to rehabilitate their beliefs to fit with this ancient belief?

First, Mormons are berated for believing that "man can become a god." When shown that this ancient Christian doctrine is taught in the Bible we get accused of misrepresenting the Bible. When it's shown that the Church Fathers also taught this doctrine then we were accused of quoting the Church Father's in the wrong context. When shown that the Greek Orthodox have preserved this doctrine as did the Catholics only with less emphasis we are accused that their doctrine of theosis is different than our doctrine of thosis (exaltation) by using a completely different subject of the trinity to blur the issues which the Mormons do differ in this area...apples and oranges. Now we get Protestants and Evangelicals proving the claims of the Mormons and writing today on how they are missing this ancient Christian doctrine.

These quotes speak to this thought that this ancient doctrine is missing from the traditional Protestant and Evangelical Christian Churches.

…the concept of deification has been a popular one from the beginning of the Christian church. And modern writers are in fact beginning to ask why their church is not teaching it as doctrine. Lutheran scholar Robert Jenson, in an article in a Lutheran journal on the very topic of theosis, concludes by asking:“Perhaps the question has at least become a bit more urgent: The patristic church proclaimed deification; why do not we?”(Robert W. Jenson,“Theosis,” in Dialog: A Journal of Theology 32 (St. Paul, Minn: 1993): 108-112, at page 112.)

Robert Rakestraw, writing in the journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, after covering some of the evidence from the Greek fathers, as well as from Luther, and Charles Wesley, then writes:“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…. The strengths of theosis theology outweigh these weaknesses, however. The most significant benefit is that the concept as a whole, if not the specific terminology, is Biblical.”(Rakestraw, op. cit., 266-7.)
It's perfectly ironic that Protestants and Evangelicals today are now beginning to reach back into their own history to show that they have indeed "had" a past in the belief of theosis in their theological tradition that "man can become god." It's unfortunate that this has been one of the issues anti-Mormons have used to berat the LDS Church as a false gospel.

(scroll down to find)

Other Gods

This is what the ancient Church Father, Origen had to say about theosis:

"Now it is possible that some may dislike what we have said representing the Father as the one true God, but admitting other beings besides the true God, who have become gods by having a share of God. They may fear that the glory of Him who surpasses all creation may be lowered to the level of those other beings called gods. We drew this distinction between Him and them that we showed God the Word to be to all the other gods the minister of their divinity.... As, then, there are many gods, but to us there is but one God the Father, and many Lords, but to us there is one Lord, Jesus Christ...." (Origen (ca. AD 185-251), Commentary on John 2:3, in ANF 10:323.)

“The Father, then, is proclaimed as the one true God; but besides the true God are many who become gods by participating in God.” (Origen in Bettensen, Henry. The Early Christian Fathers, 324)

1 Corinthians 8: 5

Bible has this to say about other gods:

The Lord God of gods, the Lord God of gods, he knoweth, and Israel he shall know; if it be in rebellion, or if in transgression against the Lord,(save us not this day,) Josh. 22:22

For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: Deut. 10:17

O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.  Ps. 136:2

The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.  Dan. 2:47

And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. Dan. 11:36

See Also:
"God of gods"

Man in the Image of God

A belief in human deification does not mean that the LDS believe their worship is or will be properly directed at anyone but God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Non-LDS church historian Ernst Benz insisted that the doctrine of deification was present in the early Church, and pointed out a potential risk for those who do not understand it:
"Now this idea of deification could give rise to a misunderstanding—namely, that it leads to a blasphemous self-aggrandizement of man. If that were the case, then mysticism would, in fact, be the sublimist, most spiritualized form of egoism. But the concept of imago dei, in the Christian understanding of the term, precisely does not aspire to awaken in man a consciousness of his own divinity, but attempts to have him recognize the image of God in his neighbor. Here the powerful words of Jesus in Matthew 25:21–26 are appropriate and connected by the church fathers to imago dei...
"Hence, the concept of imago dei does not lead toward self-aggrandizement but rather toward charity as the true and actual form of God's love, for the simple reason that in one's neighbor the image of God, the Lord himself, confronts us. The love of God should be fulfilled in the love toward him in whom God himself is mirrored, in one's neighbor. Thus, in the last analysis, the concept of imago dei is the key to the fundamental law of the gospel—"Thou shalt love . . . God . . . and thy neighbor as thyself" (Luke 10:27)—since one should view one's neighbor with an eye to the image that God has engraven upon him and to the promise that he has given regarding him." (Ernst W. Benz, "Imago Dei: Man in the Image of God")
Ernst Benz (1907-1982) was a world renowned German professor of Theology at the University of Marburg, the world's first and oldest protestant university.

Quotes on Theosis & Monothesism

"The Father is the one true God. This thing is certain: no one will ever ascend above Him; no one will ever replace Him. Nor will anything ever change the relationship that we, His literal offspring, have with Him. He is Elohim, the Father. He is God. Of Him there is only one. We revere our Father and our God; we worship Him." (Elder Boyd K. Packer, current President of the LDS Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.)

5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)
6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. (1 Corinthians 8: 5-6)

"One can think what one wants of this doctrine of progressive deification, but one thing is certain: with this anthropology Joseph Smith is closer to the view of man held by the ancient Church than the precursors of the Augustinian doctrine of original sin." (Non-LDS church historian Ernst Wilhelm Benz (1907-1978), world renowned Christian Theologian and Historian, stated the previous concerning the Latter-day Saints.)

The idea of theosis is that God and humanity progressively achieve a union in Christ which in the end both blurs and preserves the distinction between Creator and creation, as in a mirror perfectly reflecting the source of its image.

Man is Divine and Can Become LIKE God

“If you wish to go where God is, you must be like God, or possess the principles which God possesses...” (Joseph Smith; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 216.)

“Give me that state where the active faculties of man—where the intellectual powers will never become weary, when they will be like God who rules the universe, whose eye is ever upon the works of His hands; every moment discerning the intents and thoughts of our hearts, and who governs creation with His power. Let us look forward to that state of more advanced happiness when this mortal shell shall be laid off; and when we, in the spiritual state, shall be enabled to enjoy those enlarged powers of locomotion which we have reason to expect.” (Orson Pratt; Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, No. 14; October 1854.)

“…what is necessary to enable us to be one in following out those virtues and principles which are Godlike, and which are calculated to make us one, that we also may become like God. This is our duty and our privilege—to be Godlike, in our ways, to imitate the virtuous, the true, and the good, and, inasmuch as it is possible, to become ultimately as pure and holy as our Father and God. This is the privilege of the human race in our day and generation. We have the light of revelation to guide the souls of men aright—to make ourselves like our Father in heaven.” (Daniel H. Wells; Journal of Discourses, Vol. 8, No. 91; April 1861.)

“A great many have supposed that God the Eternal Father, whom we worship in connection with his Son, Jesus Christ, was always a self-existing, eternal being from all eternity, that he had no beginning as a personage. But in order to illustrate this, let us inquire, What is our destiny? If we are now the sons and daughters of God, what will be our future destiny? The Apostle Paul, in speaking of man as a resurrected being, says, “Who (Jesus) shall change our vile body, that it might be fashioned like unto his glorious body,” which harmonizes with what John says, “It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him.” Our bodies will be glorified in the same manner as his body is; then we shall be truly in his image and likeness, for as he is immortal, having a body of flesh and bone, so we will be immortal, possessing bodies of flesh and bones. Will we ever become Gods? Let me refer you to the answer of the Savior to the Jews when accused of blasphemy because he called himself the Son of God. Says he, “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If ye called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the Scriptures cannot be broken.” This clearly proves to all Bible believers that in this world, in our imperfect state, being the children of God, we are destined, if we keep his commandments, to grow in intelligence until we finally become like God our Father. By living according to every word which proceeds from the mouth of God, we shall attain to his likeness, the same as our children grow up and become like their parents; and, as children through diligence attain to the wisdom and knowledge of their parents, so may we attain to the knowledge of our Heavenly Parents, and if they be obedient to this commandment they will not only be called the sons of God, but be gods.” (Orson Pratt; Journal of Discourses, Vol. 18, No. 36; November 1876.)

Christ - a God Maker!!

One of the reasons why Christ was rejected by many of the Jews of his time, and after that time, was that he was seen as a man who sought to make himself a God, thus, he was rejected for being a "GOD MAKER!" Some of the Jews acknowledged Christ good works, but rejected Christ's claims: "...For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, maketh thyself God." Jesus reminded them of their own law that said "ye are Gods" (Psalms 82:6). This scriptures was used by a number of early to later Christians as proof texts for their own particular versions of the doctrine of deification.

The Bible Teaches That We Can Be LIKE God

Michael W. Fordham in his article, Do We Have the Potential to become Like God? list the Bible verses that teach the concept that we can be LIKE God.

In conclusion, when the Bible tells us that . . .
• We were created in the image of God [Genesis 1:26]
• God is the father of our spirits [Hebrews 12:9]
• We are the offspring of God [Acts 17:28]
• Christ calls us gods [Psalms 82:6]
• Man has become as God [Genesis 3:22]
• We will inherit all things [Revelation 21:7]
• We will be co-heirs with Christ of all things [Romans 8:14-18]
• We will have glory [John 17:20-23]
• We will have thrones [Revelation 3:21]
• We will be filled with the fullness of God [Ephesians 3:19]
• We will be partakers of the divine nature of God [Peter 1:3-4]
• We will be one with God [John 17:20-23]
• We shall be like Him [1 John 3:2]
• Our bodies will be fashioned like His glorious body [Phillipians 3:21]
• We can gain perfection [Matthew 5:48]
Fordham sums it up thus:
"....yes, I believe we have the potential to become a god ourselves. It is tradition that teaches these things are not true. It is the councils of men that teach these things are not true; it is the Christian Creeds that teach these things are not true. It is the Holy Bible that teaches these things are true. I choose to believe what the Bible teaches."
The term theosis gives meaning to the term ‘godliness’. GOD-LIKE-NESS.

Why aren't others teaching deification (theosis)?

The subject of deification has attracted the attention of scholars from various Christian traditions, from the beginning, both East and West; in fact, probably least of all from LDS scholars. And for good reason: the Latter-day Saints do not defend their belief in the exaltation and deification of humankind on the basis of what the early Church Fathers wrote. They do so on the basis of what a modern prophet has taught. The reason they cite the early Fathers is not for the purpose of defending their own doctrines, but rather for the purpose of asking their detractors why they are not themselves teaching the doctrine (or dogma, for such it was for the earliest Christians). (Edward T. Jones, ‘Mormonism and the Christian Doctrine of Deification.’)

…the concept of deification has been a popular one from the beginning of the Christian church. And modern writers are in fact beginning to ask why their church is not teaching it as doctrine. Lutheran scholar Robert Jenson, in an article in a Lutheran journal on the very topic of theosis, concludes by asking: “Perhaps the question has at least become a bit more urgent: The patristic church proclaimed deification; why do not we?” (Robert W. Jenson, “Theosis,” in Dialog: A Journal of Theology 32 (St. Paul, Minn: 1993): 108-112, at page 112.)

Catholic scholar Hans Kung has even suggested that the Pelagian affair caused Augustine to replace the earlier deification theory with the doctrine of grace; Orthodox scholar Paul Evdokimov agrees. (Hans Kung, Justification. The Doctrine of Karl Barth and a Catholic Reflection (Westminster Press 1981; 1st German 1957) ):

Frederick W. Norris, a member of the Church of Christ, and professor of Church History at Emmanuel School of Religion in Tennessee, wrote that “in a world which yearns for spirituality…Christians ought to speak of deification.” (F. W. Norris, op. cit., 413.)

Robert Rakestraw, writing in the journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, after covering some of the evidence from the Greek fathers, as well as from Luther, and Charles Wesley, then writes: “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…. The strengths of theosis theology outweigh these weaknesses, however. The most significant benefit is that the concept as a whole, if not the specific terminology, is Biblical.” (Rakestraw, op. cit., 266-7.)

MORMONISM AND THE CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE OF DEIFICATION

One of the finest and most indept papers I have ever seen written on the subject of Deification or Theosis is MORMONISM AND THE CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE OF DEIFICATION by Edward T. Jones.
"The primary concern of [his] paper is to investigate the concept of deification, or divinization, as well as the secondary concepts of eternal progression and the various degrees of glory, as they were taught by the Fathers of the early Christian church, and compare them with the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As the paper progresses it will become evident that the subjects were also taught by many of the Reformers, and that deification continues to be taught by the Eastern Orthodox Churches. It will also demonstrate that what the Latter-day Saints teach is very much like that which was taught by some, if not by all, of the earliest Church authors. The LDS Church claims to be a restoration of the ancient gospel; if that is so, then we should expect to see evidence in the earliest writings for at least some of what the Latter-day Saints teach. The paper seeks to demonstrate that that is the case." (Edward T. Jones,)

The Ladder as a Symbol of Deification

Ladders to heaven represent the souls ascension towards "Christian moral perfection," and sometimes include other symbols of deification too, such as crowns, or hand or wrist grips. Monastic Orders used illustrations of ladders, where each rung up the ladder represents a Christ like trait, such as love, charity, kindness, etc., etc. The further up the ladder you go, the closer you are to reaching "moral Christian perfection."

The LDS version of the ladder to perfection, was explained by President Spencer W. Kimball who taught that "each command we obey sends us another rung up the ladder to perfected manhood and toward godhood; and every law disobeyed is a sliding toward the bottom where man merges into the brute world" (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.153).


The Ladder To Heaven

During the 7th century, ST. JOHN CLIMACUS, abbot of St. Catherines, wrote a treatise for the spiritual life, directing the monastic in his ascent to a godly life through 30 steps up each rung of the ladder to heaven, and various ascetic exercises, the degrees of self-improvement, and penance leading to the attainment of moral perfection and the soul's ascent to heaven. Hence, the struggle towards moral perfection were depicted in numerous art works of ladders to heaven & were given particular popularity and authority for the Middle Ages by the Scala Paradisi of John Climacus.

Also See:
St. John Climacus Ladder of Divine Ascent The ladder with a brief of each rung.

CROWNS as Symbols for Deification


Paul to Timothy: Having endured, "there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Heavenly crowning ceremonies were an important part of early to later versions of deification and a popular scene in historic Christian art works.

Mandorla or Aureole as Symbols for Deification

The word "aureole" comes from the Latin word for "gold." It is symbolic of divinity and supreme power. An elongated aureole is called a "mandorla" or "almond." It is sometimes used to surround the entire body of Christ or the Virgin Mary and Child.

A Mandorla is a Vesica Piscis shaped aureola which surrounds the figures in traditional Christian art. This symbol is also often depicted around Christ, saints, or prophets, as they pass in and out of different realms of existence by hand and wrist grips.

Theosis

Theosis, also called apotheosis, divinization, and deification, was commonly taught by Church Fathers of the earliest centuries A.D. It is still an official doctrine of the Eastern Orthodox churches and is even mentioned briefly in the current Catechism used in the Roman Catholic Church (Article 460). Though most Protestants don't accept the concept, a few Evangelical scholars have recently written articles demonstrating that Wesley and Calvin taught it. The Church fathers often noted the term "God of gods" (Deuteronomy 10:17; Joshua 22:2; Psalm 136:2; Daniel 11:36), indicating that since God could not be the God of false gods, these must be real gods. Psalm 82:6-7 was cited by Jesus (John 10:33-36) and both passages were frequently used by the Church Fathers to demonstrate that men were gods.

Theosis and related terms:
• Alternative spellings: Theiosis, Theopoiesis, Theosis
• Related terms: Divinization, Consecration, Deification, Divine Union, Sanctification or Entire Sanctification, Apotheosis and Exaltation

Scriptural Basis for the Doctrine of Deification/Theosis

Ps. 82: 5-6
5 They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
See Also:

(cf. John 10: 34-36)
34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

"The quotation from 2 Peter 1:4 was first used by Origen (thrice), then by Athanasius (six times), and subsequently by Cyril (more than forty times). It appears in the Macarian Homilies (ten times), and then Maximus the Confessor (twice). Symeon the New Theologian appeals to it once, Palamas to give a detailed exegesis of the text." (See:"Partakers of the Divine Nature" (2 Peter 1:4) in the Byzantine Tradition;a detailed article of the doctrine of Theosis as taught by the Greek Orthodox Church; From the hommage to Joan Hussey ΚΑΘΗΓΗΤΡΙΑ, Porphyrogenitus Publ., Camberley UK, 1998)

"As man now is, God once was..."

One early LDS leader proclaimed, "As man now is, God once was. As God now is, man may be" (Lorenzo Snow). Latter-day Saints speak of man as a god in embryo”

Also in the second century, Saint Clement of Alexandria wrote, "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, 1.)-almost a paraphrase of Lorenzo Snow's statement. Clement also said that "if one knows himself, he will know God, and knowing God will become like God.... His is beauty, true beauty, for it is God, and that man becomes a god, since God wills it. So Heraclitus was right when he said,'Men are gods, and gods are men.'"( Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, 3.1 See also Clement, Stromateis, 23.)

This very theme of "God became man so man could be come god," runs through all the writings of the Church Fathers.

"...thought it not robbery to be equal with God...."

"But if thou dost not believe the prophets,... the Lord Himself shall speak to thee, "who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but humbled Himself" ... yea, I say, the Word of God became man, that thou mayest learn from man how man may become God. Is it not then monstrous, my friends, that while God is ceaselessly exhorting us to virtue, we should spurn His kindness and reject salvation?"

This quotation comes from Saint Clement of Alexandria, one of the great early Christian Fathers who wrote in the late second century and recognized as an authentic early Christian leader and defender of the faith. He spoke of learning from the example of Christ how man may become God. (Exhortation to the Heathen (Protrepticus, 1.8.4), available at EarlyChristianWritings.com or also at Christian Classics Ethereal Library at Calvin College.)

"It [the knowledge of the Gospel] leads us to the endless and perfect end, teaching us beforehand the future life that we shall lead, according to God, and with gods; after we are freed from all punishment and penalty which we undergo, in consequence of our sins, for salutary discipline. After which redemption the reward and the honors are assigned to those who have become perfect; when they have got done with perfection, and ceased from all service, though it be holy service, and among saints. They become pure in heart, and near to the Lord, there awaits their restoration to everlasting contemplation; and they are called by the appellation of gods, being destined to sit on thrones with the other gods that have been first put in their places by the Savior."
In this second quote, Clement taught the concepts of eternal progression, of the need for obedience on our part to access the gift of grace from Christ, and of the exaltation of the righteous to be "gods" among other "gods" who will be with God (the God of all), thanks to the gift of eternal life made available to us by Christ.
(Stromata 7:10.) You can find this passage yourself on the page of Stromata 7 of Clement at EarlyChristianWritings.com , about halfway down the page, or read it on a similar page in Vol. 2 of the Ante-Nicene Fathers collection at the incredible Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

Divine Potential


Perhaps no other doctrine in early Christianity and in modern Latter-day Saint theology is more controversial and more misunderstood today than the doctrine that humans have divine potential.

Vicious books and movies like "The God Makers" claim that Latter-day Saints deny the divinity of Christ and try to make ourselves into Gods, robbing the Father of His glory. Our true beliefs, which focus on Christ as our Savior and on our eternal relationship as children and eternal subjects of God, are much different than many people have been misled to believe. This thread seeks to correct common misinformation in this area. Other related web pages include the FAQ page on 'Relationships Between God and Man' by Jeff Lindsay.
Also see his page on 'How Are We Saved By Grace? Are "Works" Required for Salvation? Must We Follow and Obey Christ?'

Also recommended, Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks, Offenders for a Word: How Anti-Mormons Play Word Games to Attack the Latter-day Saints (Aspen Books, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1992).

"The Godmakers" Film


The strong relationship between early Christian teachings and LDS doctrine on the divine potential of human beings was explored in a recent master's thesis by a Roman Catholic Dominican monk, Father Jordan Vajda, at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2003, after publication of his thesis, he took the missionary discussions and became LDS, but he was a faithful Catholic when he wrote his thesis...The work in question is Jordan Vajda, OP, "Partakers of the Divine Nature": A Comparative Analysis of the Patristic and Mormon Doctrines of Divinization, master's thesis, Graduate Theological Union at the University of California, Berkeley, 1998, published under the same title as Occasional Paper No. 3 by the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (Provo, Utah, 2002).

Father Vajda was a faithful Catholic who, at the time of his writing, saw Catholicism as a viable dispensation of original Christianity that can be consistent with early Christian teachings. He did not agree with the LDS view on the Trinity at that time, but recognized that there are significant parallels between early Christian doctrines on "becoming a god" and what we claim to be the restored doctrine of exaltation, and correctly pointed out the fallacies of our critics who charge us with being non-Christian for having such truly Christian doctrines....evangelical critics would do well to consider how far they have departed from early Christianity and to investigate the Restoration found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Baroncelli Polyptych- Coronation of the Virgin c. 1334 -
 Giotto Di Bondone
Referring to the critics who published the lurid anti-Mormon film, "The Godmakers," Father Vajda's conclusion contains this interesting passage:
Yet what was meant to be a term of ridicule ["godmakers"] has turned out to be a term of approbation (proof), for the witness of the Greek Fathers of the Church, described in chapter two, is that they also believed that salvation meant "becoming a god." It seems that if one's soteriology cannot accommodate a doctrine of human divinization, then it has at least implicitly, if not explicitly, rejected the heritage of the early Christian church and departed from the faith of first millennium Christianity.... And the supreme irony is that such persons should probably investigate the claims of the LDS Church, which proclaims that within itself is to be found the "restoration of all things."
Now that Father Vajda has become Brother Vajda, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, critics will use that as an excuse to ignore the scholarly work that he published as a Catholic. However, the fact that he eventually converted after examining the LDS position ought to weigh heavily in the thinking of those who are sincerely seeking truth. This was a brave step that required, of course, abandoning his career plans as a Catholic priest and going back to school. He went into medical school instead.

Partakers of the Divine Nature by Jordan Vajda

Martin Luther and Theosis

In an early (1515) Christmas sermon, Martin Luther notes:
As the Word became flesh, so it is certainly necessary that the flesh should also become Word. For just for this reason does the Word become flesh, in order that the flesh might become Word. In other words: God becomes man, in order that man should become God. Thus strength becomes weak in order that weakness might become strong. The Logos puts on our form and figure and image and likeness, in order that He might clothe us with His image, form, likeness. Thus wisdom becomes foolish, in order that foolishness might become wisdom, and so in all other things which are in God and us, in all of which He assumes ours in order to confer upon us His [things]. (See: Luther and Theosis)

In a 1526 sermon Luther said: "God pours out Christ His dear Son over us and pours Himself into us and draws us into Himself, so that He becomes completely humanified (vemzenschet) and we become completely deified (gantz und gar vergottet, "Godded-through") and everything is altogether one thing, God, Christ, and you."

Is God a Spirit?

Cherry-Picking in the Orchard of God's Word: John 4:24 by Darryl L. Barksdale.

(excerpt)
Luke 24:39 as a "Proof-text" of a Literal Interpretation of John 4:24
As cited in some of the passages gleaned from anti-Mormon works, Luke 24:39 is often used to support their literal interpretation of John 4:24. The passage reads:

"Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." (Luke 24:39)

This passage raises an entirely new set of problems for those who would interpret John 4:24 literally. Believers of the "God is Spirit" doctrine also usually hold to the doctrine that Jesus is the same ontological being (albeit with a different personality) as God the Father. If God is only a Spirit, then Jesus Christ is obviously not God, since he is not only a spirit. He has a resurrected, glorified body of flesh and bone as well as a spirit. He ate a piece of broiled fish and a honeycomb to prove it, as well as inviting His disciples to come forward and feel His hands and side. If God is truly only a spirit, then Jesus Christ could not be Him. "For a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."

Another interesting problem is explaining why Christ, who they believe to be "fully God," could have a spirit and a glorified, resurrected body, and clearly be "fully God," while they deny the same possibility of the Father.

And finally, the most profound passage in relation to this issue is found in the epistle to the Hebrews, where Christ's glorified, resurrected body is called the "express image" of the Father's person: "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person." (Hebrews 1:1-3)

How could Christ be the "express image of the Father's person" with a spirit and a glorified, resurrected body if the Father is only a spirit? If God, as [others] insist, does not have a face, how could Christ, who arguably did have one, be the "express image of [the Father's] person?"

[Many] even refute themselves..., when they assert that Christ is "fully God" and thus "as much God as is the Father," while at the same time admitting "The Father--who in his divine nature is spirit (as is Jesus in His divine nature)--never became incarnate (as Jesus became incarnate), and hence does not have a human body as does Jesus." ( Norman Geisler and Ron Rhodes, When Cultists Ask: A Popular Handbook on Cultic Misinterpretations (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1997), 284. How Did The "Spirit Only" Concept Evolve? Richard Hopkins theorizes that the vilification of anything material or physical was straight out of Greek Hellenistic neo-platonic thought. One of the earliest evidence we have of this misinterpretation of scripture is from both Philo of Alexandria and Tatian. In true Hellenistic form, Tatian writes "God is a spirit, not pervading matter, but the Maker of material spirits, and of the forms that are in matter; He is invisible, impalpable, being Himself the Father of both sensible and invisible things…" [Tatian, Address to the Greeks, as quoted in Richard R. Hopkins, Biblical Mormonism: Responding to Evangelical Criticism of LDS Theology (Bountiful, Utah: Horizon Publishers, 1994), 131.] As Hopkins points out, Tatian, of course, fell into apostasy as a natural result of this and other heretical theologies he espoused. For example, Tatian was largely responsible for promoting the Gnostic Basilides' doctrine of creation ex nihilo (creation out of nothing). Tatian, born a pagan who converted to Christianity in AD 150, later left the Church to form a Gnostic group. [Barry R. Bickmore, Restoring the Ancient Church: Joseph Smith and Early Christianity (Ben Lomond, California: Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, 1999), 100-101.])

Can Men Become As God?

Question: Why do Latter-day Saints perpetuate the same lie that the devil told Adam and Eve, that "ye shall be as gods"? Critics are right, the devil did lie in the Garden of Eden; but he mixed his lie with truth. Let us read the text and see what God said would happen to Adam if he partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, then compare it to what the devil said would happen. Then we will see what God observed after the forbidden fruit was eaten. The account in question is found in Chapter 2 of Genesis, verses 16 and 17:

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. The beast, or the devil, then entered the garden and talked to Eve.

In Genesis 3:4-5 we read:

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

In this passage we see that the serpent truly did mix truth and falsehood. He told one lie and two truths:

1. your eyes shall be opened,(true)
2. you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil,(true)
3. ye shall not surely die,(lie)

Adam and Eve then ate of the fruit of the tree. What happened?

Just as the devil said, their eyes were opened; they realized they were naked and hid. Then, just as the devil had said, they became as one of the Gods. Verse 22 relates the word of God confirming that this portion of the serpent's statement was true, not a lie: "And the Lord God said, Behold the man is become as one of us to know good and evil."

However, Adam and Eve were then cast out of the Garden of Eden and out of God's presence; therefore they died spiritually and would someday die physically. So, Adam and Eve did die, just the opposite of what the devil said. This was Satan's lie. Yet in perfect plainness, the scriptures show us that the other things Satan told them were true. Critics are certainly quick to point out that the devil said we could become as gods. Do they not know that God verified this in verse 22?

A beautiful reminder of our ability to ultimately become as God is found in John 10:34-36:

Jesus answered them. Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are Gods'! If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

King Follett Discourse in the Light of Ancient Texts Parts 1-5

Follow the text here: The King Follett Discourse in the Light of Ancient and Medieval Jewish and Christian Beliefs











Also see:
The King Follett Discourse by Joseph Smith

Protestants and Theosis or Deification

John Wesley's teachings and find some of his teachings to be very near the views of the LDS. Here is an article on John Wesley and Theosis. It's pretty insightful.
http://wesley.nnu.edu/wesleyan_theology/theoj...
THEOSIS AND SANCTIFICATION: JOHN WESLEY'S REFORMULATION OF A PATRISTIC DOCTRINE
by Michael J. Christensen
(excerpt)
I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High..." (Ps. 82:6)
Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?" (Jn. 10:34)
Entire Sanctification (holiness, perfection), as understood in the Wesleyan tradition, refers to John Wesley's doctrine of spiritual transformation. It is understood as an experience of grace, subsequent to salvation, with the effect that the Holy Spirit takes full possession of the soul, sanctifies the heart, and empowers the will so that one can love God and others blamelessly in this life. One is justified and then sanctified-understood as communing with God with the result that the holiness of God is actually imparted, not just imputed on the basis of what Christ accomplished on the cross. The power of sin in the believer's life is either eradicated or rendered inoperative as one participates in the higher life of the divine.

C.S. Lewis and Theosis
Esteemed author, C.S. Lewis, perhaps the most popular Christian author of his time writes, "There are no ordinary people." Rather, we "live in a society of possible gods and goddesses. The dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship." Even more to the point, Lewis argues that,
The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said that we were 'gods' and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him--for we can prevent Him, if we choose --He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.
In a letter consoling a woman for some suffering she had witnessed, Lewis wrote as follows: "It is so v[ery] difficult to believe that the travail of all creation which God Himself descended to share, at its most intense, may be necessary in the process of turning finite creatures into - well, Gods."
You never met a mere mortal....remember the people you see are eternal; if you knew what they’d become you’d fall down and worship. C. S. LEWIS
"It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors." C. S. LEWIS

Modern Christian exegesis
The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology describes "deification" thusly:
Deification (Greek Theosis) is for orthodoxy the goal of every Christian. Man, according to the Bible, is ‘made in the image and likeness of God’...it is possible for man to become like God, to become deified, to become God by grace. This doctrine is based on many passages of both O.T. and N.T.(Ps. 82:(81).6; 2_Pet. 1:4), and it is essentially the teaching both of St. Paul, though he tends to use the language of filial adoption (Rom. 8:9-17, Gal. 4:5-7) and the fourth gospel (John 17:21-23).(Alan Richardson (editor), The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology (Westminster: John Knox Press, 1983).)

Joseph Fitzmyer (Christian) wrote:
The language of 2 Peter is taken up by St. Irenaeus, in his famous phrase,‘if the Word has been made man, it is so that men may be made gods; (adv. Haer v, pref.), And becomes the standard in Greek theology. In the fourth century St. Athanasius repeats Irenaeus almost word for word, and in the fifth century St. Cyril of Alexandria says that we shall become sons ‘by participation’(Greek methexis). Deification is the central idea in the spirituality of St. Maximus the confessor, for whom the doctrine is corollary of the incarnation:‘deification, briefly, is the encompassing and fulfillment of all times and ages’,...and St. Symeon the new theologian at the end of the tenth century writes,‘he who is God by nature converses with those whom he has made gods by grace, as a friend converses with his friends, face to face...’
Finally, it should be noted that deification does not mean absorption into God, since the deified creature remains itself and distinct. It is the whole human being, body and soul, who is transfigured in the spirit into the likeness of the divine nature, and deification is the goal of every Christian.(Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Pauline Theology: a brief sketch (Prentice-Hall, 1967), 42. AISN B0006BQTCQ.)

According to Christian scholar G.L. Prestige, the ancient Christians “taught that the destiny of man was to become like God, and even to become deified.” (G.L. Prestige, God in Patristic Thought (London Press, 1956), 73.)

William R. Inge, Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote:
"God became man, that we might become God" was a commonplace of doctrinal theology at least until the time of Augustine, and that "deification holds a very large place in the writings of the fathers...We find it in Irenaeus as well as in Clement, in Athanasius as well in Gregory of Nysee. St. Augustine was no more afraid of deificari in Latin than Origen of apotheosis in Greek...To modern ears the word deification sounds not only strange but arrogant and shocking.(William Ralph Inge, Christian Mysticism (London, Metheun & Co., 1948[1899]), 13, 356.)

"be ye perfect, as your Father is perfect..."

Matthew 5.48. See below for references to this verse in the Christian tradition, early and continuous. Cf. Luke 6.36: ‘be ye therefore merciful as your Father in Heaven is merciful;’ Gen. 17.1: ‘Walk before me, and be thou perfect;’ Deut 18.13: “thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God;’ Leviticus 11.44 and 19.2: “be holy for I am holy;’ this last is quoted in I Peter 1.15-6; James 1.4: ‘let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire;’ cf. Hebrews 6.1.

Irenee-H. Dalmais, in his article on ‘divinisation’ in the Dictionnaire de Spiritualite, begins with reference to Gen. 1.26-7, II Peter 1.4; I John 3.2 and Matthew 5.48. He then discusses the various Greek Fathers who taught the principle (Ignatius, Tatian, Theophilus of Antioch, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen,
Hippolytus, Athanasius, Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria, John of Damascus, Dionysius the Areopagite, Maximus the Confessor, Evagrius Ponticus, Symeon the New Theologian, and Gregory Palamas).181 It is rather interesting that the two passages most cited by LDS writers (I John 3.2 and Matthew 5.48) are not frequently cited by the early Fathers. Those who have cited Matt 5.48 (“be ye therefore perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect”) in their defense of deification include Origen,182 Augustine,183 Athanasius,184 and Clement.185 John Wesley also used the Savior’s command to be perfect in defense of his own theology of perfection.186 The fourth Lateran Council (1215) states that Christ says “’you must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect’, as though he were saying
more explicitly: ‘you must be perfect’ in the perfection of grace ‘as your heavenly Father is perfect’ in the perfection of nature, i.e., each in his own way.’”187 Pope Paul VI in his Profession of Faith (1968) wrote that the Holy Spirit “‘purifies [the Church] members if they do not refuse his grace. His action, which penetrates to the inmost of the soul, enables one to respond to the command of Jesus: ‘you must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.’”188 Pope John Paul II in his text Dominum et Vivicantem quoted Matt 5.48 as the “model of our perfection.” Matthew 5.48 is also quoted, paraphrased, or referred to several times in the new Catechism. It is written there that “’the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real though imperfect.’ In her members perfect holiness is something yet to be acquired: ‘Strengthened by so many and such great means of salvation, all the faithful, whatever their condition or state—though each in his own way—are called by the Lord to that perfection of sanctity by which the Father himself is perfect.’”189 Another paragraph (1693) reads in part that “Christ’s disciples are invited to live in the sight of the Father ‘who sees in secret,’ [Matt 6.6], in order to become ‘perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.’” Paragraph 1968 states that “the Gospel brings the Law [of Moses] to its fullness through imitation of the perfection of the heavenly Father, through forgiveness of enemies and prayer for persecutors, in emulation of the divine generosity.” Another paragraph reads: “’All Christians in any state or way of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.’ All are called to holiness: ‘Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’”190 With reference to that portion of the Lord’s prayer which reads “…as we forgive those who trespass against us” the Catechism reads: “This ‘as’ is not unique in Jesus’ teaching: ‘you, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect;’ ‘Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful’ [Luke 6.36]; ‘a new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another’ [John 13.34].”191 Clearly Matthew 5.48 is a significant text for the concept of deification, even in the modern Catholic Church.

In addition to the sources primarily outlined above, that is Psalm 82.6, II Peter 1.4 and Matthew 5.48, there is also “the Pauline teaching on adoptive filiation and re-creation in the likeness of Christ (I Corinthians 15.49, on bearing the image of the heavenly; II Corinthians 8.9, through Christ’s poverty we may be made rich; Romans 8.11, etc).”192 Kilian McDonnell adds Ephesians 4.22-4, on putting on the new man; Romans 6.5; 8.14-7, on adoption as sons.193 Ephesians 2.6 indicates that Christ will raise us up and give us a place at the right hand of God.194 Jesuit Frans Jozef van Beeck has recently written that “there are a hundred ways to become better, more just, and more humane, but only one way to become gods,” referring us to John 14.6: ‘Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.’195 Latter-day Saints agree both with the end (becoming gods) and the means (the Savior). Other passages have been cited above when discussing the differences between James White and Stephen Robinson.

It should be evident that the early church taught some concept of the deification of the human person, beginning during this life but only being perfected in the life to come. It has been taught through the Middle Ages and into the Reformation; indeed, the Orthodox churches have taught it from the beginning to the present; and it appears to be gaining prominence in Roman Catholic literature. All of them base it on at least a certain amount of scripture, but not entirely so. Tradition passed down from the earliest Christians played a large part in the development of the concept. The fact that the first Father to quote scripture in defense of the concept was Clement of Alexandria (citing II Peter 1.4) suggests that some of it was oral
or written tradition, rather than strictly scripturally based. Most critics of the LDS Church point out, however, that what is taught in the early church has nothing in common with what the Latter-day Saints are teaching. As pointed out above, however, what the early church taught has little in common with what most Western churches are teaching.196 A closer look at what the early church actually taught is therefore essential.

Notes:
185 J. Zandee, ‘The Teachings of Silvanus’ and Clement of Alexandria. A New Document of Alexandrian Theology (Leiden 1977): 108, quoting Stromateis 7.14.88.4-6, wherein Clement also cites Plato, Timaeus 176a-b; Zandee also refers there to the influence on Clement of Albinus, Did 28; and Philo, Fug 63, Spec Leg 4.88; Decal 73, and Op. Mund 144. After quoting the same passage from Clement, Perkins writes: “From this passage we perceive that, when all is said as to Platonic and other influences, the dominant factor is the Lord’s teaching. The form may be philosophical, but the matter is essentially Christian. Its basis is the saying, ‘be ye perfect, as your Father is perfect’…. We cannot be perfect as He is [says Clement]; but we may fulfil what He wishes us to be. Who shall lay anything to the charge of His elect? ‘It is the Father’s will that we should become perfect, so that no charge may lie against us, by living in obedience to the Gospel’”, Harold William Perkins, The Doctrine of Christian or Evangelical Perfection (London 1927), 144.
186 D. Marselle Moore, “Development in Wesley’s thought on Sanctification and Perfection,” Wesleyan Theological Journal 20 (1985): 29-53, at page 31. Tore Meistad, a Methodist minister, has recently stated
that Wesley’s “doctrine of sanctification should be interpreted in light of the Eastern Orthodox concept of theosis, relating salvation to the actual change of the Christian as they share God’s nature (II Pet. 1.4),” in Meistad, Martin Luther and John Wesley on the Sermon on the Mount (Scarecrow Press 1999): 95; on Matt 5.48, see 156-9.

Christian writer and theologian, John Wesley said this in his sermon on Christian Perfection --

"Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect. Philippians 3:12

1. There is scarce any expression in Holy Writ which has given more offence than this. The word perfect is what many cannot bear. The very sound of it is an abomination to them. And whosoever preaches perfection (as the phrase is,) that is, asserts that it is attainable in this life, runs great hazard of being accounted by them worse than a heathen man or a publican.

2. And hence some have advised, wholly to lay aside the use of those expressions, "because they have given so great offence." But are they not found in the oracles of God? If so, by what authority can any Messenger of God lay them aside, even though all men should be offended? We have not so learned Christ; neither may we thus give place to the devil. Whatsoever God hath Spoken that will we speak, whether men will hear or whether they will forbear; knowing that then alone can any Minister of Christ be "pure from the blood of all men," when he hath "not shunned to declare unto them all the counsel of God." [Acts 20:26, 27] "

Also see:
How the Restored Temple Sanctifies and Perfects

Dead Sea Scrolls Deification of Mankind & Council of the Gods

Part 1-6












THE BOOK OF JUBILEES
Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach

LDS Beliefs on Eternal Progression and Deification

John Scottus Eriugena (mid-ninth century Irishman) taught that “by taking on human nature, Christ not only lifted it up ‘to a parity with the angelic nature…but also exalted it above all angels and heavenly powers’…. The soul ‘passes beyond every created heaven and every created paradise, that is, every human and angelic nature’…. Rising above equality with angels, he ‘enters into God who deifies him.’” (Donald F. Duclow, “Isaiah meets the Seraph: Breaking Ranks in Dionysius and Eriugena,” in Eriugena: East and West, edited by Bernard McGinn and Willemien Otten University of Notre Dame 1994): 233-52, at pages 245, 247; citations in Duclow. Note the similarity to the revelation to Joseph Smith quoted on the first page of this paper, regarding going beyond the angels. In the same volume see also the paper by John Meyendorff, “Remarks on Eastern Patristic Thought in John Scottus Eriugena,” 51-68. Rudolf Schmitz-Perrin lists as sources for Eriugena’s writings Origen, Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Dionysius the Areopagite, Maximus the Confessor, Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome, Hilary of Poitiers, Isidore of Seville and Gregory the Great, in Schmitz-Perrin, “’Theosis hoc est deificatio’ Depassement et paradoxe de l’apophase chez Jean Scot Erigene,” Revue des sciences religieuses 72 (1998): 420-445, at page 420-1. He also quotes several relevant passages from Eriugena at 433, 439-440, 444-445.)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly referred to as the Mormons, herein called the Latter-day Saints, or LDS) teaches that mortals may in fact become deified—‘exalted’ is the LDS term of choice—and become like their Father in Heaven. They take literally the command of Jesus Christ to “become perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5.48. See below for references to this verse in the Christian tradition, early and continuous. Cf. Luke 6.36: ‘be ye therefore merciful as your Father in Heaven is merciful;’ Gen. 17.1: ‘Walk before me, and be thou perfect;’ Deut 18.13: “thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God;’Leviticus 11.44 and 19.2: “be holy for I am holy;’ this last is quoted in IPeter 1.15-6; James 1.4: ‘let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire;’ cf. Hebrews 6.1.)

Joseph Smith, the founding Prophet of the Church, taught that “although the earthly tabernacle is laid down and dissolved, they shall rise again to dwell in everlasting burnings in immortal glory, not to sorrow, suffer, or die any more; but they shall be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. What is it? To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a God, and ascend the throne of eternal power.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith (Deseret Book Company 1964), 347. I Timothy 6.16 tells us that God dwells in “unapproachable light;” Isaiah 33.14-5 states that those “who shall dwell with everlasting burnings” will be those who “walk righteously, and speak uprightly; who despise the gain of oppressions, who do not take bribes,” in short, those who are worthy to live with God. Paul taught (Romans 8.17) that the righteous would become heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, who(Heb 1.2) was heir to all things. The Savior himself taught that those who believed in Him would do the same works as He had, or even greater works (John 14.12). Revelation 3.21 teaches that those who overcome will sit on the throne with Jesus, who sits on His Fathers throne. In short, the redeemed will indeed inherit the same power, glory and exaltation as the Savior.

LDS revelation teaches that some, after the resurrection, will “pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things…. Then shall they be gods, because they have no end…. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.” (Doctrine and Covenants (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 1981): 132.19-20 (hereafter cited as D&C,followed by section and verse). It should be emphasized that “all” are called, even though some will respond negatively, rejecting the salvation offered them.)

The Latter-day Saints also teach that the redeemed live in a heaven constituted of varying degrees of glory; further, they believe that there is progression possible for those who inhabit those kingdoms of glory. Needless to say, many outside the LDS Church have been offended by these doctrines. And because a few LDS writers have cited early church Fathers, primarily Irenaeus (second century) and Athanasius (fourth century), when writing about the concept of deification, these critics have sought to demonstrate that what the Latter-day Saints teach is nothing at all like what the early Church taught.

Catholics and Deification or Theosis

Professor Daniel C. Peterson shares an experience he had at the Vatican on the subject of Theosis:
"We were able to meet also with Father Farina, the prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library, regarding a project to digitize a portion of its very fine collection of Syriac materials. It seems that there are no insuperable obstacles to such a project. Neither the prefect nor his ecclesiastical superiors—thanks to a remarkable series of contacts and experiences—appear to have any objection to admitting a group of Mormon scholars to their collection and jointly publishing an electronic selection of their manuscripts with Brigham Young University. At this point, I would like you to consider for just a second how very noteworthy that is.
"Bishop Soro hopes that any work that we do with the Vatican on a compact disk will prove to be only the beginning. And, in fact, others at the Vatican have suggested that we move beyond their Syriac collection to their vast wealth of Greek biblical manuscripts. Bishop Soro has now been to BYU on two different occasions and has learned a bit about Latter-day Saint beliefs. During our time with him in Rome, he suggested a theme for a second Vatican-based compact disk: "We could do something," he said, "about the deification of human beings. Your people would be interested in that, wouldn't they?" He remarked that his encounters with Mormons had resensitized him to the former prominence of that doctrine in his own very old tradition. He had actually delivered a sermon on the topic, which he said was one of the best received sermons he had ever given."
(From the article: Other Voices from the Dust)

Lumen Gentium, a document from Vatican II stated that “the eternal Father, in accordance with the utterly gratuitous and mysterious design of his wisdom and goodness, created the whole universe, and chose to raise up men to share in his own divine life.” [LG 2; quoted by Pope Paul VI, “Original Sin and Modern Science,” July 11, 1966, in The Pope Speaks 11 (1966): 230.]

Frans Jozef van Beeck, S.J., has written that “what Christ is by ‘birth’ or ‘nature' we are by ‘adoption’ (Gal 4.5), ‘rebirth’ (John 3.3), or ‘grace’” ‘sharers of the divine nature’ (II Peter 1.4), or, as the Church Fathers liked to say, ‘gods by grace’” (159-60). (God Encountered: A Contemporary Catholic Systematic Theology. Volume One: Understanding the Christian Faith (Harper and Row 1989): 63, 87.)

Catholic scholar Thomas Weinandy has recently stated that Irenaeus’ statement (that God became man that man might know how to become god) “proclaimed a truth that would
reverberate ever more loudly throughout patristic Christology.”

Creating other Worlds

Jewish beliefs in creating other worlds:
(excerpt)
There actually is evidence of this sort of post-mortem activity in Jewish belief. For example, Rabbi Akiba, an early second century Jewish Rabbi, had this "detail" to offer on our exaltation.
  It is found in some very early Rabbinic texts, which shows it was a part of formative Judaism, and did not originate with Mormonism. Here’s the text (Midrash Alpha Beta diR. Akiba, BhM 3:32):
"The Holy One, blessed be He, will in the future call all of the pious by their names, and give them a cup of exilir of life in their hands so that they should live and endure forever…And the Holy One, blessed be He, will in the future reveal to all the pious in the world to come the ineffable Name with which new heavens and a new earth can be created, so that all of them should be able to create new worlds…The Holy One, blessed be He, will give every pious three hundred and forty worlds in inheritance in the World to Come."[184 Midrash Alpha Beta diR. Akiba, BhM 3:32, quoted in Ralph Patai, The Messiah Texts (Detroit:Wayne State University Press, 1979), 251. Also cited in Bickmore, 245.]

One saying from the Talmud implies that man may be given the ability to create life:
Raba said: "If the righteous desired it, they could be creators, for it is written, But your iniquities have distinguished between yourselves and God."[Raba understands mabadilim in the sense of 'draw a distinction'. But for their iniquities, their power would equal God's, and they could create a world.] Raba created a man, and sent him to R. Zera. R. Zera spoke to him, but received no answer. Thereupon he said unto him:'Thou art a creature of the magicians. Return to thy dust.'(Sanhedrin 65b)
Another Talmudic saying speaks of man as God's equal, sharing with him the ruler ship over the world.
Even as it has been taught: One was for Himself and one for David: this is R. Akiba's view. R. Jose protested to him: Akiba, how long will thou profane the Shechinah?[By asserting that a human being sit beside Him.](Sanhedrin 38b)
Regarding the sayings above, Erich Fromm comments that,
"It is obvious that neither R.Akiba's view that the messiah sits on a throne beside God nor Raba's view that if only man were entirely pure he could create life, like God, are in any way official views of Judaism. But the very fact that two of the greatest rabbinical masters could express such 'blasphemies' shows the existence of a tradition related to the main current of Jewish thought: man, though being mortal and beset by the conflict between his godly and his earthly aspects, nevertheless is an open system and can develop to the point of sharing God's power and capacity for creation... Man is seen as being created in God's likeness, with a capacity for an evolution of which the limits are not set." (Erich Fromm, You Shall be as Gods (Holt, Rinehart and Winston: New York, 1966) 68-70.0)
So we see that the extra features in LDS theosis finds some level of support from a second century Jewish Rabbi. Does the Bible detail this doctrine? Certainly not. And this is all well and good for Latter-day Saints since we don't presuppose a requirement of sola scriptura. The extra features may or not be biblical in the sense that they are detailed in the Bible, though the Bible may indirectly allude to them. Latter-day Saints are ok with this, so long as the Bible doesn't explicitly forbid them. Evangelicals, however, by their own admission, cannot accept any doctrine not found in the Bible. Therefore, the convoluted nature of this criterion (i.e, "That's not in my Bible") is clearly in the Evangelical arena, not ours, and the Evangelical tendency to assume a valid argument against the LDS in these instances, is attributed to their tendency to read LDS doctrines under an Evangelical model of sola scriptura. They point out that some LDS doctrines don't meet their standards (being explicitly biblical), and then reinforce this point as if it carries some meaning in an LDS context. But since LDS are not bound by the Evangelical criterion, we remain unimpressed with these arguments. Even so, LDS apologists still try to draw the Bible in for support, which is the whole point of my book.
In the end, this is what it boils down to. Evangelicals can respect the LDS position for what it is or they can presume to read Evangelical presuppositions, such as sola scriptura, into LDS thought, for the purposes of creating "inconsistencies." If they persist in the latter, they will forever be tearing up a straw man.

In fact, this was the very first temptation that was presented to Man: to share this Godlike, if not Godly, ability to create something out of almost nothing
Theodore Askidas, Bishop of Caesarea (ca. 540 AD) went so far as to suggest that those who are deified will join in creating other worlds.[In Brian E. Daley, The Hope of the Early Church (Oxford University Press 1991): 189-90, with note 65, page 260; also in Daley,“What did ‘Origenism’ mean in the Sixth Century?”, in Origeniana Sexta, ed. Gilles Dorival et al (Leuven 1995): 635; also in Aloys Grillmeier, Christ in Christian Tradition, Vol. 2, Part 2: 409.]

Over one hundred years ago J. D. Davis wrote an intriguing article on the possibilities of sanctification after death. He concluded by writing:“who shall say that God may not safely go on creating new beings whom the host of those who are already perfected by trial and experience shall teach and train, thus filling up the great universe of God, whose limits no human eye has ever yet discovered? Nay, more, may he not go on forever enlarging and forever peopling this universe with happy beings?”[J. D. Davis,“Sanctification after Death,” Bibliotheca Sacra 50 (1893): 544-8, at page 548.]

Jesus taught that “he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do”(John 14.12). Thomas Oden remarks that this is “one of the most astonishing statements reported of Jesus.”[Thomas C. Oden, Life in the Spirit. Systematic Theology Volume Three (San Francisco 1992): 62.]

May we not ask: If the redeemed are to be enthroned with Christ, and do greater works than even Christ Himself did, is it not possible to conclude that they will at least also do the works of Christ—create additional worlds as He had done, and is still doing? May they not people those new worlds, and teach their inhabitants, and ultimately redeem those who are willing to keep the commandments, and live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God? Maximus the Confessor wrote that “all that God is, except for an identity in ousia [substance], one becomes when one is deified by grace.”[Quoted in Jouko Martikainen,“Man’s Salvation: Deification or Justification?”, Sobornost 7.3 (London 1976): 180-192, at page 185.]

Philip A. Khairallah presents some interesting thoughts on the above ideas. He is a priest of the Melkite Rite, of the Holy Orthodox Church of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem, in communion with the Church of Rome. He cites II Peter 1.4, and Athanasius, and then writes that “the one and only aim of human life on earth is union with God and deification.”“Marriage is eternal….[and] is another channel God has given to us for our deification.” He writes that “parents have a responsibility to their children in aiding them to grow in faith and wisdom, to achieve responsible adulthood, so that they too may seek their deification.”[Philip A. Khairallah,”The Sanctification of Life,” Emmanuel 96 (1990): 326, 395, 396-7.]

Cardinal Danielou wrote that one of the two purposes of creation is the “divinization of man.”[Jean Danielou, Christ and Us (New York 1962; 1st Paris 1961): 62.]