Theosis shapes contemporary Orthodox theology in two ways: positively and negatively. In the positive sense, contemporary Orthodox theologians made theosis the thread that bound together the various aspects of theology in a coherent whole and also interpreted patristic texts, which experienced a renaissance in the twentieth century, even in Orthodox theology. In the negative sense, contemporary theologians used theosis as a triumphalistic club to beat down Catholic and Protestant Christians, claiming that they rejected theosis in favor of either a rationalistic or fideistic approach to Christian life.
The essays collected in this volume move beyond this East–West divide by examining the relation between faith, reason, and theosis from Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant perspectives. A variety of themes are addressed, such as the nature–grace debate and the relation of philosophy to theology, through engagement with such diverse thinkers as Thomas Aquinas, John Wesley, Meister Eckhart, Dionysius the Areopagite, Symeon the New Theologian, Panayiotis Nellas, Vladimir Lossky, Martin Luther, Martin Heidegger, Sergius Bulgakov, John of the Cross, Delores Williams, Evagrius of Pontus, and Hans Urs von Balthasar. The essays in this book are situated within a current thinking on theosis that consists of a common, albeit minimalist, affirmation amidst the flow of differences. The authors in this volume contribute to the historical theological task of complicating the contemporary Orthodox narrative, but they also continue the “theological achievement” of thinking about theosis so that all Christian traditions may be challenged to stretch and shift their understanding of theosis even amidst an ecumenical celebration of the gift of participation in the life of God.
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