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On Acquisition of the Holy Spirit Church. Aim of Life Rosary. Eucharistic Prayer

Aim of Life. Created for «deification». John Meyendorff

We are created for «deification»

The man Jesus is God hypostatically; and, therefore, in Him, there is a «communication» (perichōrēsis — circumincessio) of the «energies» divine and human. This «communication» also reaches those who are «in Christ». But they, of course, are human hypostases and united to God not hypostatically but only «by grace» or «by energy». “A man who becomes obedient to God in all things hears God saying: ‘I said: you are gods’ [Jn 10:34]; he then is God and is called ‘God’ not by nature or by relation but by [divine] decree and grace.”[*] It is not through his own activity or «energy» that man can be deified — this would be Pelagianism — but by divine «energy» to which his human activity is «obedient»; between the two, there is a «synergy» of which the relation of the two energies in Christ is the ontological basis. But there is no confusion of natures just as there cannot be any participation in divine essence by man. This is the theology of deification which we can also find in Gregory Palamas: “God in His completeness deifies those who are worthy of this by uniting Himself with them, neither hypostatically — that belonged to Christ alone — nor essentially but through a small part of the uncreated energies and the uncreated divinity… while yet being entirely present in each.”[**] Actually, the Byzantine Council of 1351, which confirmed the theology of Palamas, defined it as a «development» of the decrees of the Sixth Ecumenical Council (680) on the two wills or «energies» of Christ.[***]

In «deification», man achieves the supreme goal for which he is created. This goal, already realized in Christ by a unilateral action of God’s love, represents both the meaning of human history and a judgment over man. It is open to man’s response and free effort.


[*] Maximus the Confessor, Amb.; PG 91:1237AB.
[**] Gregory Palamas, Against Afyndynos, V, 26; edd. A. Kontogiannes and V. Phanourgakes, in P. Khrestov, Gregoriou ton Palatna Syggrammata III (Thessaloniki, 1970), p. 371.
[***] Tome of 1351; PG 151:722B.

John Meyendorff
Byzantine Theology
Historical trends and doctrinal themes
Redemption and Deification

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