Theology as Theosis

“This aspect of theology is especially emphasized by St. Maximus the Confessor. According to Maximus, theology is the last and highest “stage” of spiritual development in man; it is the accomplishing mode of a Christian’s experience of deification. Maximus interprets this experience as a liturgical one, exercised by man in the world before God. As a culmination of this “cosmic liturgy,” man receives in grace God’s communication, that is, the knowledge of the Holy Trinity in theologia.” – p. 42 [Light from the East: Theology, Science, and the Eastern Orthodox Tradition, by Alexei V. Nesteruk]

“It is clear from this passage that theology for Maximus–that is, the knowledge of God as he is in himself–is granted only in the mystical union with God, at the last stage of deification, which is not an instant act but is preceded by a long spiritual development (katharsis). This highest state of union with God was granted to saints–for example, to Moses, who on the Sinai mountain, entered the mysterious darkness of God, and to apostles at the mountain of transfiguration. Developing this insight by Maximus, St. Gregory Palamas argued later that it is the saints who are the only true theologians, for only they received the full communion with God: “Through grace God in His entirety pentrates saints in their entirety, and the saints in their entirety penetrate God entirely. By virtue of the saints and the Faithers, theology acquires, so to speak, an extended historical dimension, because “the Fathers are liturgical persons who gather around the heavenly altar with the blessed spirits. Thus they are always contemporary and present for the faithful.” This is why Patristic theology is the living, incarnate Orthodox faith, which never agest and is always present in the mind of the church.” – p. 42, Ibid.

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