Sunday, May 10, 2009


I love words. I just adore them. They can transport you to whole new realities, pin down this one, express things that no one else has seen. And there are some words that you can look at, and get at least a vague idea of what they mean. Deification, should be one of them.

'dei', 'deus' - god - deification - the act of making something into a god - Ancient civilizations deified everything. The weather, animals, their dead rulers. Everything became a god. Deified. So, I think I know what the word 'deification' means. And then I run into it in my readings in The Orthodox Church and in Genesis, in the notes of my Orthodox Study Bible. Hmm...and not in the...'don't do that, for it is idolatry!' sort of way you'd expect...

Deification, according to the glossary at the back of the Bible - "The GRACE of God through which believers grow to become like Him and enjoy intimate COMMUNION with the FATHER through the Son in the HOLY SPIRIT."

There's an article about it on pg. 1692 in the Bible, and it's covered in both The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way, but I haven't read all of the pertinent articles, so I'm really not confident on getting into it too much.

So, I'm just going to quote the last two paragraphs of the article, and go back to pondering a new (to me) definition of an old word:

"Historically, deification has often been illustrated by the example of a sword in the fire. A steel sword is thrust into a hot fire until the sword takes on a red glow. The energy of the fire interpenetrates the sword. The sword never becomes fire, but it picks up the properties of the fire.

By application, the divine energies interpenetrate the human nature of Christ. When we are joined to Christ, our humanity is interpenetrated with the energies of God through Christ's glorified flesh. Nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ, we partake of the grace of God - His strength His righteousness, His love - and are enabled to serve Him and glorify Him. Thus we, being human, are being deified."

I'm still not certain exactly what it means...but I find it occupies my thoughts.


  1. Heavy stuff. The stuff of grace. I really like the sword in the fire symbol, because if the sword is removed from the fire, it looses its fire properties. It is only when we are in Christ that we retain that grace.

    This concept of what it means to be united with God in Christ Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, IMO, takes my understanding of the Christian life to a whole 'nother level. Here's a good bit of reading about St. Seraphim of Sarov (beloved Russian Orthodox Saint) on the subject:

  2. Indeed - I agree with Alana - heavy stuff indeed...

    I think it will be very interesting to read your comments on the topic as your understand grows....

  3. I love your posts, Amber! This was a good one. Makes me think of John 15 when Jesus tells us to abide in Him because without Him we can do NOTHING.

    At the same time, it almost reads as if we becoming little gods. But I do recall preachers saying that God's desire is to make us into the image of His dear Son so in that sense we are to be like Christ. Doesn't "Christian" have to do with being "like Christ" or "little Christs"? Anyway, great stuff.

    Thanks for sharing what's on your mind and I'll look forward to more!

  4. Alana,

    The more I think about it, the more appropriate the sword in the fire analogy becomes. It goes back, if I'm thinking of this right, to the distinction between God's energies, and His essence. We can share in, interact with, the energies, but not the essence. The essence of the sword and the essence of the fire do not change, but the fire imparts some of it's energy to the sword, for a period of time. If, as you said, and I didn't think of that before, the sword is removed from the fire, it loses the energy that it's been infused with. It's only while it is in the fire (in Christ) that the sword (Christian) can be infused with the energy. :)

    I'll go ahead and admit that this is an entirely new concept to me. I think I've got a basic, *surface* understanding the the term, in concept, but I know that there's *so much* more under that.

    Thanks for the link! :)

  5. Ahavah,

    I'm finding a lot of heavy stuff (deep) lately.

    It's, honestly, an entirely different way of looking at things. Very, very interesting.

  6. Susanne,

    I really think it's the same concept. (as ref. in John 15)

    We don't become little gods, but, as Alana said, and going back to the sword/fire symbol, we abide in Christ, who is God, and are infused with the energies, so in that respect, we become a little bit like Christ, but only so long as we abide in Him. If we remove ourselves from Him, from life in Christ, we lose that. But, whether we are in Christ or not, our essence (the steel of the sword), cannot change. We cannot *become* God.

    Hmm...I'm probably making a muddle of this, so please don't take anything I say as correct. I'm still trying to sort it all out properly in my head. :)

  7. I just LOVE Christianity. I smiled as I read this. I love the complexity and the use of reason, that isn't always there in Islam.

    Wha Alana said about the the fire and the sword needing to remain in the fire was so interesting. You have me thinking quite a lot Amber. I always just want to lay on your cute bed, talk about sharks, maybe even become a Trekkie.... :) Love you!

  8. Actually, Amber, I don't think you are making a muddle of it at all. Rather, you seem to have a rather clear grasp of the Orthodox understanding of deification, which is the entire goal of the Christian life, and which process shall continue even when we are with God in heaven.

  9. Lisa,

    I'm glad to make others think. :)

    As for Trekkie-dom, well, you will assimilate! ;)

  10. Alana,

    Woot! I felt fairly comfortable with my understanding, but I didn't want to assume.

    Okay, I take back what I said about not listening to me. You can all listen to me on this particular thing. Everything else is still up for grabs. :)


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