Theosis is Possible Through the Uncreated Energies of God

Martyr David of Georgia

Martyr David of Georgia

My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord and Our Lord Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

by Archimandrite George Egoumenos (Abbot) of the Holy Monastery of Gregoriou (St. Gregory) Holy Mountain, Greece

According to the teachings of the Holy Bible and the Holy Fathers of the Church, man is able to achieve Theosis (Deification) because within the Orthodox Church of Christ the Grace of God is uncreated. God is not only essence, as the West (Roman Catholicism and Protestantism) thinks, He is energy. If God was only essence, we could not be united with Him, could not commune with Him, because the essence of God is awesome and unapproachable for man, as was written: "Never will man see My face and live" (Exodus 33:20). Let us give a relevant example from things human. If we grasp a bare electric wire, we will die. However, if we connect a lamp to the same wire, we are illuminated. We see, enjoy, and are assisted by, the energy of electric current, but we are not able to grasp its essence. Let us say that something similar happens with the uncreated energy of God. If we were able to unite with the essence of God, we would become gods in essence. Then everything would become a god, and there would be confusion so that, essentially, nothing would be a god. In a few words, this is what they believe in the Oriental religions, e.g. in Hinduism, where the god is not a personal existence but an indistinct power dispersed through all the world, in men, in animals, and in objects (pantheism).

Again, if God had only the Divine essence--of which we cannot partake--and did not have His energies, He would remain a self-sufficient god, closed within himself and unable to communicate with his creatures.

God, according to the Orthodox Christian theological view, is One in a Trinity and Trinity in One. As Saint Maximus the Confessor, Saint Dionysius the Areopagite, and other Holy Fathers repeatedly say, God is filled with a divine eros, a divine love for His creatures. Because of this infinite and ecstatic love of His, He comes out of Himself and seeks to unite with them. This is expressed and realized as His energy, or better, His energies.

With these, His uncreated energies, God created the world and continues to preserve it. He gives essence and substance to our world through His essence-creating energies. His is present in nature and preserve the universe with His preserving energies; He illuminates man with His illuminating energies; He sanctifies him with His sanctifying energies. Finally, He deifies (theosis) him with His deifying energies. Thus, through his uncreated energies, Holy God enters nature, the world, and human life.

The energies of God are Divine energies. They too are God, but without being His essence. They are God, and therefore they can deify man. If the energies of God were not Divine and uncreated, they would not be God and so they would be unable to deify us, to unite us with God. There would be an unbridgeable distance between God and men. But as God has the Divine energies, and unites with us by these energies, we are able to commune with Him and to unite with His Grace, without becoming identical with God, as would happen if we united with His essence.

So we unite with God through His uncreated energies, and not through His essence. This is the mystery of our Orthodox faith and life.

Western heretics cannot accept this. Being rationalists, they do not discern between the essence, and the energy of God, so they say that they cannot speak about man's Theosis (Deification) because God is only essence, for on this basis, how can man be deified when they do not accept that the Divine energies are uncreated, but regard them as created? How can something created deify man, i.e., how can something outside God deify man?

In order not to all into pantheism, they do not talk about Theosis (Deification) at all. What then, according to them, remains as the purpose of human life? Simply man cannot be deified with Divine grace and Divine energies, what purpose does his life have? Only that he becomes better than before, simply to perform moral deeds. We have as our final aim to unite with Holy God Himself. This is the purpose of the creation of the universe. This is what we desire. This is our joy, our happiness, and our fulfillment.

The psyche (soul) of man, who is created in the image and likeness of God, yearns for God and desires union with Him. No matter how moral, how good man may be, no matter how many good deeds he may perform, if he does not find God, if he does not united with Him, he finds no rest. For Holy God placed within him this holy thirst, the Divine eros (love), the desire for union with Him, for Theosis (Deification), so he has in himself the erotic power, which he receives from his Creator, in order to love truly, strongly, selflessly...just as his Holy Creator falls in love with His world, with His creatures. This is so that with this holy erotic impetus and loving power, he falls in love with God. If man did not have the image of God in himself, he would not be able to seek its prototype. Each of us is an image of God, and God is our prototype. The image seeks the prototype, and only when it finds it does it find rest.

Next: Qualifications for Theosis (Deification)


"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom


With sincere agape in Christ's Holy Resurrection,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George