The Deification of Man, HH Pope Shenouda III



  • You people are awesomeeee
  • Just to give some historical context here is Stephen Davis' conclusion from his book:

    Matta al-Miskin’s evocative reappropriation of the patristic doctrine of theopoesis has not been without controversy in the contemporary Egyptian church. In a series of pamphlets written against Matta al-Miskin and his followers, the pope of the Coptic Orthodox communion, Shenouda III, has questioned the notion that the church fathers proclaimed the doctrine of ‘deification’, and has unequivocally rejected the possibility that human beings can be endowed with divine properties. Part of the reason for this disagreement is that Shenouda does not allow for a functional distinction between divine attributes and divine essence, categories fundamental to both the Alexandrian Greek fathers and medieval Copto-Arabic philosophical theologians such as the Awlad al-Assal. Thus, he assumes that for human beings to experience ‘deification’ (al-ta’lih) would mean that they become unlimited, omnipresent, omniscient, uncreated, immortal, and fully preserved from error (ma'sum).

    Shenouda’s objection to this doctrine is also motivated by particular cultural and interreligious sensitivities—namely, his suspicion that Matta al-Miskin’s theology betrays unwanted traces of Western European (esp. French Catholic) influence, and his concern that the proclamation of human ‘deification’ would elicit sharp and unyielding criticism from the Muslim world. This latter concern comes to expression in an extraordinary and unprecedented fashion when the patriarch adopts the language of Muslim anti-Christian diatribe and directs that polemical rhetoric against the monks of Dayr Abu Maqar. First, he criticizes Matta al-Miskin and his followers for being guilty of al-tahrif, the ‘corruption’ of Scripture, because of a slight verbal divergence in their Arabic translation of 2 Peter 1: 4. Second, and even more pointedly, he accuses them of committing al-shirk billah (‘the act of associating something with God’). The charge of al-shirk represents a standard Muslim criticism directed against proponents of Christian Trinitarian doctrine; in this case, however, Shenouda employs this language against a fellow Christian as an expression of opposition to the doctrine of deification.

    In adopting such incendiary language, Shenouda is drawing on a deep historical reservoir of apologetic strategies in order to circumscribe and authorize a particular kind of minoritarian social and religious identity. In this case, his rhetoric is designed to highlight crucial values that the Christian community holds in common with the dominant culture (most notably, in the Islamic context, reverence for holy writ and belief in the oneness of God), while distancing himself from—and thereby seeking to marginalize—his monastic opponents, whose views represent for him potential sources of offence in the church’s relation to the wider society.

    In this contemporary christological debate, one gets a vivid glimpse of how notions of incarnation and divine participation continue to be contested and renegotiated among Copts in the twenty-first century. In the writings of Matta al-Miskin and Pope Shenouda III, the Egyptian faithful are left with starkly contrasting visions of the Incarnation and its implications for the sanctification of human bodies and souls. While it is unclear how this debate will resolve itself in future generations, its impact on the theology and common life of the church in Egypt will undoubtedly be profound. At stake is nothing less than the cultural legacy of biblical and patristic interpretation, the shape of intra- and interreligious apologetic encounter, and the ritualized ways that Coptic Christians continue to put their Christology into practice.

    Quoted from: Coptic Christology in Practice: Incarnation and Divine Participation in Late Antique and Medieval Egypt pages 277-278 [ ]

  • St. John Chapter 2
    24 But Jesus did not commitHimself to them, because He knew all men, 25 and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.
  • I once heard someone say that to deny theosis implies that a Church is monophysite and apollinarian. I've also heard that to deny theosis, a Church also becomes fundamentally Nestorian. It is interesting that the Church corrected both Nestorius and Apollinarius because of the Church had a very high view of Deification. Since this past Sunday the Synaxarium mentioned Apollinarius I'm context of the Ecumenical council of Constantinople I thought this might be of interest:

    "The deification of human beings through Christ is the doctrine which this christology is designed to support. Apollinarius maintains that if the arguments of his adoptionist adversaries are accepted, the saints could not be called ‘gods and sons and spirits’ as they are in the Scriptures (Kata meros pistis 5, Lietzmann 169. 14–15). They cannot become like the Son. ‘But we say that the Word of God became man for our salvation, that we may receive the likeness of the heavenly man and be deified in conformity with the likeness of him who is by nature the true Son of God’ (Kata meros pistis 31, Lietzmann 179. 8). Recovery of the divine likeness is only possible because he became man without undergoing any change himself. Indeed, in Apollinarius’ view the Logos could not have become man without losing his divine immutability unless he had taken the place of the nous (frag. 97, Lietzmann 229). Recovery of the likeness, however, does not make human beings the same as Christ: the Logos ‘became man, while remaining God, that he might show men to be gods while remaining men’, as the author of the De incarnatione Dei Verbi put it (De inc. Dei Verbi 4, Lietzmann 307. 2–3). Receiving God does not make men true gods, ‘for then there would be many gods, since many receive God’ (frag. 83, Lietzmann 224. 32–3). This is where those who say that the Logos assumed a human being go wrong: they do not differentiate sufficiently between Christ and the faithful who receive him. Such a reception is not simply by faith. It includes the sacramental life of the Church, for the flesh of Christ saves us when we receive it as our food specifically because it is united to the Godhead (frag. 116, Lietzmann 235; cf. frag. 155, Lietzmann 249).

    The concept of deification which Apollinarius employs is titular and analogous. Men do not become gods in any real sense. The gulf between the Logos and a normal human being is still immense after the Incarnation because the Logos remains transcendent in spite of his kenotic self-emptying. The deification of Christ’s flesh, however, enables Apollinarius to make for the first time an explicit link between the believer’s deification and the Eucharist. This corporeal aspect of participation in Christ was to receive a much fuller treatment from Cyril of Alexandria."

    In Norman Russell's The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition page 190
  • +1, Great post :)
  • Hi everyone here's a few historical documents related to this topic. I was trying to find more information on why the topic was so heavily rejected and only found this alkeraza article:

    The Meeting of the Holy Synod on Wednesday 21st February 2007-03-16
    And Its Decision to Dismiss and Separate Prof. George Habib Bebawy from the Coptic Orthodox Church

    The Decision of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church

    On the morning of Wednesday 21st February 2007 AD in the Papal Residency in Cairo, the Holy Synod, under the presidency of HH Pope Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, discussed what Prof. George Habib Bebawy published and taught before and currently in printed material and voice recordings which is opposing the right Orthodox teachings of our church. And due to the fact that he separated himself by himself from the Coptic Orthodox Church by joining the Russian Church then the Anglican Church of England. So if he still considers himself a Coptic Orthodox, the Holy Synod decides isolating and excommunicating him from the Coptic Orthodox Church due to his Theological, Dogmatic and Ritual deviations that he published and mislead others’ thoughts with, his continual insisting on his mistakes and his movement among different doctrines, and isolating and excommunicating all those who hold the same deviated ideas. And so he and all those who have the same beliefs are not allowed to participate in any of the Church’s Sacraments or teach in any form.

    From: El-Keraza Magazine, Thirty Fifth Year, Friday 23rd February 2007 – 16th Amshir 1723, Issues 5, 6, Page 11
  • The Heresy of Deifying the Human!!
    by HH Pope Shenouda III

    How many are the heresies that some started spreading…

    And maybe the most dangerous of which is the heresy of deifying the human…

    And pretending that the human can be in God’s nature and in His divinity… I know that this talking is hard and is unacceptable and cannot be believed by any believer but that is what happened….

    And deifying the human is against God’s saying in the tem commandments since the past “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex 20, Dt 5), and it is against the Creed that all the world churches believe in and it starts with “We believe in one God…”. And it is against what the Lord said in Prophet Isaiah’s book “I am the LORD, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me.” (Is 45:5). And His saying “Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me” (Is 43:10). And he who believes in deifying the human falls in the same sin in which Satan fell who said “I will be like the Most High” (Is 14:14) so he ended up descending to the Hades and falling of Heaven (Is 14:15, 12).

    + + +

    And the danger of this heresy is that deifying the human means that he has divine characteristics, regardless of how this heresy’s owners may try to deny this.

    God is a Creator. So is it by deifying the human he become a creator like God?! He starts having the ability to create from void!!

    And God is present everywhere, in Heaven and on Earth and in between Heaven and Earth. So by deifying the human does he become like God in this?!

    And God know what’s in the hearts, reads thoughts and knows intentions. And He also knows the future. So by deifying the human does he become fully knowledgeable like God? And does he become fully capable and mighty?!

    And God is eternal, meaning He has no beginning.

    So how could they say that human can be deified while he is a creature with a beginning?! Also God is alive! And does not die, so with which reasoning do they believe in deifying the human while he one day will die?! Can the dead be called a God?!

    And same applies in all God’s characteristics which cannot be applies in deifying the human heresy. And worst of all, one of those who called with this heresy that “God has not become another compared to the human”!! So has God became the human and the human became God and not another?!

    + + +

    And the strange thing is that those who call with deifying the human are trying to relate this heresy to the sayings of the first fathers, the saints!! And there is no way that one of the fathers called with such deifying…

    And if a Christian writer, regardless of who he is, claimed such a claim. So it is either he did not understand what that father saint who said the saying that he refers such talk to, he made a mistake in translating from Greek which he claims to know or it is just a trial from his side to hide behind he saying of the fathers by referring to them what they did not say or did not mean. Or he is doing wrong towards the fathers by saying that they believe in this. Or he is forgetting the teachings of the Holy Bible that says that God is one and no other one…

    + + +

    In some of the western countries there are many heresies that they want to transmit to us through those who are affected by this strange western thinking…

    Either through those who went in exchange programs to the west, and were not deep in understanding their dogma. Or through those who read some of the books that were issued in western languages and carry thoughts that are opposing to our dogma and were affected by what they read… Or those who admire the strange thoughts and think that by publishing these thoughts show that they know what others do not.

    And I remember that fifty years ago one of our sons went in an exchange program group outside and got captive by the atheist thinking so he wrote a book titled “The human is the one who created God on his likeness”!!

    And it is known that, out of the freedom of thinking, the university professor talks in the session and says what he likes!!

    + + +

    For those who call with deifying the human, when they were cornered with the content of the heresy and its seriousness, they started presenting certain concepts to explain their heresy: So they said that rising from the dead indicate deifying the human. And thus, eternal life indicates his deifying!!

    And that is considering that eternal life is a characteristic of God (the Eternal)… And this analogy is wrong because eternal life is of the nature of God. But for the human, God is the one to grant him eternal life as we say in our prayers…

    So is the person who died, got buried, who body dissolved and was eaten by worms and turned to dust, then was raised by God who gave him life, can he become a God?! While he was weak before death and stayed for generations in his death until God raised him?!

    + + +

    They say also that gaining triumph over Satan is an evidence of deifying the human.

    Taking into consideration that no human gains triumph over Satan using his own power, but it is God who gave us the authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy (Lk 10:19) and without the divine help, how easy is it for the human to be fooled with Satan’s tricks.

    And if saints have triumphed before over Satan, were they all gods or have they became gods through gaining this triumph?!

    + + +

    They also say that we share the divine nature through the Eucharist Sacrament.

    Through which we eat divinity and drink divinity!!

    And when we opposed them in this they accused us in our faith! And we had to explain this point to them in our book (New Heresies from p. 168 to p. 174).

    + + +

    And they said that God wanted us deified ever since the beginning!!

    If God wanted to deify us as they say, He would not have created us of dust and He would have protected us from falling in sin, and we would have not been created with a nature that can die… Also deifying a creature goes against its being created…

    + + +

    From: El-Keraza Magazine, Friday 23rd February 2007, Issues 5, 6, Page 12-13
  • Some of the Mistakes of Prof. George Habib Bebawy

    What is referred to him is many whether in his work as a teacher, what he wrote in his books, what he published as a newspaper reporter or on the internet. And we will not count them all for him but we will mention some and will answer consequently on everything, God’s willing.

    And if we have not answered for a while, this does not mean that his mistakes were not serious, but we did not want his negatives to stop our positive work… because he was always ready to come with new heresies and deviating thoughts from his readings of western books. So should we ignore the pastoral work, construction work and checkup up the congregation and be dedicated to answer these heresies?

    And yet some of his mistakes were mentioned in the statements issued by professors of the Theology College and professors of the Coptic Studies Center.

    And here we would like to mention some mistakes that are serious…

    1. The heresy of defying the human about which he says (in his book about St. Athanasious): A companionship in Divinity, we share His Divinity and so on.
    2. Defying humanity in the Lord Christ. And this means canceling the human nature. And this is a known heresy that the church considers illegal.
    3. Fighting the dogma of (Atonement) claiming that it was called for by Anselm in the Eleventh Century ignoring the fact that it is a basic dogma in Christianity that came in the Holy Bible since the Day of Atonement in (Lv 16) to (Ro 3:25), (1 Jn 2:1), (1 Jn 4:10).
    4. His denial of the Priesthood power. And on top of that he says that there is no other priest in Heaven and on Earth and He is Jesus Christ. And this is against the dogma of the Russian Church and the Anglican Church that he joint. And that is pure Protestant teaching.
    5. His denial of the conversion in Eucharist.
    6. His mocking of the Fast and saints’ intercession.
    7. His wrong thoughts about marriage and the importance of bodily purity in taking Communion.
    8. His belief that Christ’s Crucifix was out of love only and not for carrying our sins. And this is against the dogma of redemption that all Christians believe in.
    9. His wrong beliefs about the divine punishment and his spreading of these thoughts.
    10. Him causing others to stumble and call with his beliefs.
    11. His private teaching of the original and serious sin.
    12. His mistakes concerning the divine Justice (and the rest will come).

    And we will publish our reply to all these, God’s willing.

    From: El-Keraza Magazine, Friday 23rd February 2007, Issues 5, 6, Page 13
  • It will be very interesting to see how the next few generations address the repercussions. To quote Dr Stephen Davis again:

    "While it is unclear how this debate will resolve itself in future generations, its impact on the theology and common life of the church in Egypt will undoubtedly be profound. At stake is nothing less than the cultural legacy of biblical and patristic interpretation, the shape of intra- and interreligious apologetic encounter, and the ritualized ways that Coptic Christians continue to put their Christology into practice."

    It might be that we're already seeing how the anti-theosis "ritualized ways" are being put into practice with the increasing popularity of Christian Contemporary Music, small groups, quiet time, megachurch projects, activity focused programs, and pietistic prayer meetings.

    Not that these things are bad. Just that they seem to fill the vacuum created by the harsh stance on deification.
  • edited March 2015
    cyril said:

    It might be that we're already seeing how the anti-theosis "ritualized ways" are being put into practice with the increasing popularity of Christian Contemporary Music, small groups, quiet time, megachurch projects, activity focused programs, and pietistic prayer meetings.

    I think it's got more to do with populism and a lack of (real) education, than with "anti-theosis".
    cyril said:

    Not that these things are bad. Just that they seem to fill the vacuum created by the harsh stance on deification.

    They are bad.  They displace traditional Orthodox spirituality.  Not only in terms of time spent, but more importantly in people's minds.  Proponents of these methods are increasingly identifying them as more 'spiritual' than Agbeya, liturgy, tasbeha, etc.  The two approaches are contradictory: you cannot serve both God and mammon.
  • The concept of the book Man's Deification is 'the fall of man'.
    Pope Shenouda III explains that since Satan who was an angel of rank lusted after that which was not his. Satan wanted (wants) to be God. Satan had it all but iniquity was found in him through his greed for that which was not his to claim. Pope Shenouda III goes on to explain that Satan caused man's downfall when he persuaded Adam that if he ate from the tree of knowledge man would become God. Man also had everything he needed But Satan tricked man into thinking he needed more.
    This is our plight as mankind...never satisfied. Lusting for that which is not for us to have. Calling man our 'idols'. Mistakenly worshipping man and not God. Pope Shenouda III explains that Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior is the only man to walk the earth that is to be worshipped as God.

    Happy Anniversary in Heaven to Pope Shenouda III
    God repose his soul
  • edited March 2015

    Satan's mistake is that he tried to be like God by his own efforts, apart from God.

    Similarly, those who deny theosis, try to become like God, without actually becoming god, ie they have separated the Godhead from an individual's spiritual growth. Denial of theosis is Satanic, not the reverse. God becomes a source of power we tap into to improve ourselves, as opposed to someone we conform ourselves to through humility.

    The authentic Orthodox position is that theosis comes only through kenosis (self-emptying). That is the very antithesis of what Satan tempted Eve with.
  • Satan also offered Adam and Eve a counterfeit as he always does. He promises peace and luxury with every temptation, but it never comes. He promises us to become gods (but our own 'gods') through every temptation. Remember that he told them they would be like God if they ate from the tree, even though they were already made in the image and likeness of God.

    Satan's goal is to make us feel like were lacking, like we don't already have what we really have in Christ: peace, happiness, godliness and theosis. Thus he gives us counterfeits to make us approach those things outside of God the Life of the Universe Himself, and thus we fall away into Darkness.
  • If you do a google search on Deification in the Coptic Orthodox Church, you'll find a few links to HH's book "Man's Deification". Seeing that the books are widely available and even promoted by most Coptic Orthodox Parishes, it seems that most of the Church will first encounter the teaching of Theosis portrayed as a heresy.

    Here are some links to the books Shenouda III/English Books/Man Deification v1.pdf Shenouda III/English Books/Man Deification v2.pdf Deification V1 (Man%20Deification%20v1).pdf Deification V2 (Man%20Deification%20v2).pdf

    Although many on this thread have brought up good evidence of the teaching of Theosis from among the Fathers, it seems that unless our Hierarchs teach otherwise or make a statement correcting HH's views about theosis, many of the Priests and Servants in the Coptic Orthodox Church will continue to teach that Theosis is a heresy. If the perpetual threat of excommunication hangs over any who teach or speak or want to live out a life of Theosis, then this might have disastrous results on the future theological and spiritual life of our Church.

    Does anyone know of any Bishops who have written, spoken or taught about Theosis and who actively use the terms "deification" and "theosis"? Does anyone know of any Bishops or if HH Pope Tawadrous II has written or said anything about the Coptic Orthodox Church's affirmation of Deification and Theosis?
  • Also it also seems that unless we hear about Theosis in our liturgical life, in our liturgical poetry, and in all the expressions of the Church's life, we might still deny the teaching even if it's actively taught in classrooms and sermons.
  • Anba Youssef has used it and explicitly stated that we are called to take part in theosis.
  • I heard that the Holy Synod will be discussing it this year. Maybe someone can confirm?
  • Khepra said:

    I heard that the Holy Synod will be discussing it this year. Maybe someone can confirm?

    Wow! Someone do please confirm.
  • @Cyril
    I think Remenkimi brought evidence before about Coptic hymns talking about theosis. I have some examples too..
    Oujai khan ebshois
  • Mention in hymns might exist in a handful but I think three things also contribute to their incoherence and their ability to transmit Orthodox Theology:

    1) The frequency of use and emphasis. We might hear a few hymns or snippets that could be interpreted as speaking about Theosis if we have the right theological apparatus or if they are highlighted by the servants and clergy in sermons and talks. But often it will be prayed in silent, in a service which people rarely attend, or it gets obscured by not being emphasized or in languages that the people might not understand. In most cases the topic gets called a "complex" one and then is either avoided, spoken about in vaugue terms, or we speak about sonship, oneness and union in pietistic or moralist ways.

    2) Literal Exposition vs Theological Poetry. Long hymns sometime contribute to the incoherence, especially when done in Coptic. I know we all feel strong ties to our heritage and it makes sense in the context of islamic pressures in Egypt from the 14th century onwards, but does anyone else feel or think that some of our long hymns are just single sentences or literal exposition of say a feast's Gospel reading that have been set to a really long tune? Of course we have modern commentaries that will attempt to speak about how the tune rises at a specific word to emphasize the significance of that word, but if we had more theological poetry in the hymns such explanations wouldn't be necessary. Another indicator of the difficulty of transmitting theology in the literalist mode is how long hymns are embraced say during Pascha week or Great Friday. So we'll hear that some love the 'spirituality' of the long Coptic hymn, so they are focused. Great. Then we have the majority who are said to be of 'weaker' spiritual state and they should either work harder or pray more if they're not getting it (for example, they should learn Coptic cause that's the common denominator). There's no critical assessment of the Rite, rather the onus is on the individual. If the rites don't draw forth deep reflection or weave theological poetry, it's the individual who lacks asceticism and prayer to see it. What is suggested for those who don't understand the long hymns is to "keep spiritual" and read a book. It's a strange recommendation (read book and listen to the long hymn in Coptic) because it recognizes a possible issue with the rite or at least in the way we currently pray it. But if the liturgical rite is not drawing us up or teaching us, or if we are indirectly telling people to read a book that explains the rite while it's going on, or we're not working with God to impart Life through them (attention to Beauty, practicing deified life outside the walls of tge Church, processions, attention to space, all the other ascetical acts of love that Christians live in accordance with their Baptism), then it's again an indicator that theosis is not only suppressed dogmatically but also liturgically obscured.

    3) Preemptive Interpretation that does not factor in deification. So even with the few hymns or liturgical responses that mention Theosis there is preexisting commentaries from our hierarchs and clergy which downplay Theosis or "correctly" interpret the language of deification as 'titular' and 'moralistically'.

    An example of this third point is something that @copticmission posted which relates to a Friday Theotokia:

    "What is the meaning of the words: “He took what belongs to us, and gave us what belongs to Himself’?

    This phrase is quoted from the Hymn, and they repeat it more than once in their book “Orthodox Patristic Principles" Part2, p. 33, 34, as if it were a reliable evidence of man’s deification!

    The fact is that God has not given us what belongs to Himself meaning the divine nature, at all.

    He gave us righteousness, filiation, and the authority to loose and bind in priesthood (Mt 18: 18; Jn 20: 22,23) He gave us - or rather to some of us- the power to work miracles (not by our nature, but in His name). St. Peter the Apostle made this clear when he healed the lame man at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful (Acts 3: 12, 16) Certainly He has not given us the divine nature which belongs solely to Himself, otherwise we would not sin nor die, and would become unlimited!!

    The same applies to His taking what belongs to us: He did not take everything, but He became like us in everything except sin ..."

    So again there's obscuring the teaching or not going deep enough...forgive me.

    So we may hear hints about the Orthodox Doctrine of Theosis but it becomes just a small footnote for us Copts, an add on, mostly relegated to the "theological" or "theoretical" circles. Again it might get spoken about more but if we're not seeing and praying it in our liturgical life then theosis will just become a "theological" or philosophical concept. I think the teaching of theosis also effects liturgics, the "how we pray", the lex orandi, he attention to materiality and beauty, the way we move and how we live in the liturgical 'dance' and become part of the "divine poem", the way matter communicates and allows us to communicate and offer back and glorify the Holy Trinity.

    But since theosis is minimized or obscured, we indirectly drive our Churches to focus on activities or become bedazzled by the emotional content from the Evangelical publishing and musical world. Both the activities and the emotionalism seems to be a consequence of supressing the teaching of Theosis, as both appeal to moralistic sentiments and identification of the divine Life with emotionalism. Activities, big projects, conquering mission work and say CCM or small groups make us better people or make us feel good or have 'religious feelings'. Not suggesting that activities, ccm, small groups or even religious feelings are bad, just that if they suppress or are pursued independent of a life of theosis they express a something that might be alien to the Christian life (as witnessed by Orthodox). If these things lead people to union with God, lead to repentance and grow saints among us then Glory to the Holy Trinity. If they are just the activities and emotions and trends that fill the vacuum created by supressing the doctrine of deification, then we have an issue that goes beyond our concerns about preserving Coptic, or setting up mission Churches, or evangelizing or reaching out to our youth. We have the very identity and future of the Orthodox Church in Egypt at stake.

    Lord have Mercy.
  • We can only wait and see. Let us be patient and let love flourish and be incarnate in all we do. Pray for Holy Mother Church.
  • Well @Cyril there is no harm in you expressing your opinion that long hymns prevent the understanding of theosis and that the faithful rarely attend the relevant parts, and so more emphasis should be drawn probably by changing the current practice.. Oops have I heard that before?
    Oujai khan ebshois
  • edited March 2015
    Thanks @ophadece I think if a change is required it would mean drawing from all the other Orthodox Churches...the thing is that change has already occurred but we have drawn influences from islam and in modern times, evangelicalism. Synodically we also seem strongly influenced by RC Magisterium style of central authority. All of the influences are also a consequence of our theology being repressed or forgotton, so our lex orandi changed because our lex credendi was changed...or maybe our lex orandi was forced to change and this gradually this also affected our lex credendi.

    So it seems at some point changes already have taken least we can see we definitely lost certain liturgical practices because we were forced to stop doing them...
  • Btw these are just opinions and mostly speculation, I'm sure there's scholarly work out there that makes better claims or refutes these thoughts.
  • Btw (part 2) The reason I mention the change to lex credendi is because Stephen Davis seems to suggest that we're at a watershed moment (maybe we've already passed the point of no return):

    "While it is unclear how this debate will resolve itself in future generations, its impact on the theology and common life of the church in Egypt will undoubtedly be profound. At stake is nothing less than the cultural legacy of biblical and patristic interpretation, the shape of intra- and interreligious apologetic encounter, and the ritualized ways that Coptic Christians continue to put their Christology into practice."

    Quoted from: Coptic Christology in Practice: Incarnation and Divine Participation in Late Antique and Medieval Egypt pages 277-278 [ ]
  • There are a few other books (other than Man's Deification) that also speak out against Theosis. In "MANY YEARS WITH PEOPLE’S QUESTIONS PART II:Theological & Dogmatic Questions":



    What is the meaning of the words "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet 1:4) and "the communion of the Holy Spirit" (2 Cor 13:14)? Do we partake of God's divine nature? Did the human nature unite with the divine nature in the disciples when the Holy Spirit descended on them on the Day of Pentecost?


    Who partakes of or unites with God in His nature, becomes God! This is against sound faith. Only those who believe in deifying man (in nature not mere title) say this and it is part of the heresy "unity of existence" by which man thinks of himself more highly than he ought to think (Rom 12:3).

    The right interpretation of the words "partakers of the divine nature" is the following:

    We partake of the divine nature in work, not in essence.

    It means that we do not be partakers of the divine nature in the attributes belonging to God alone such as eternity and limitlessness. It is communion in work for the edification of the kingdom whether through our own salvation or winning the others for salvation.

    The same may apply to "the communion of the Holy Spirit" (2 Cor 13:14).

    We can never succeed in any work unless God works with us: for, "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it." (Ps 127:1). And in the Travellers Litany we say, "Take part in the work with Your servants."

    If God's Spirit takes part in the work with us, we take from Him power and grace and our works be successful and in accordance with God's will, thus we become in "communion with the Holy Spirit" in work.

    On the Day of Pentecost, the gifts of the Holy Spirit poured on the disciples.

    This realised the prophecy of Joel the prophet, "I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh: your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams." (Acts 2:17, Joe 2:28). It was also a realisation of the Lord's promise to His disciples, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses to Me." (Acts 1:8). Speaking in tongues was among the gifts God granted them (Acts 2:6). This gift of speaking languages helped spread faith.

    The unity of the divine nature and the human nature happened only in the Incarnation of the Lord Christ alone.

    Can it be believed, then, that all the disciples became like Christ on the Day of Pentecost?

    Here we face a question: What distinguishes Christ from others?

    The divinity of Christ is attacked in two ways:

    a) Either lowering Christ to the level of ordinary humans as the Arians did; or

    b) Raising humans to the level of Christ as those who believe in the philosophy of deification of man proclaim on the ground that the nature of humans united with the nature of God! If we say that man united with the divine nature, it means that he became God and became infallible. In this case he does not sin, he is not mere human.

    But the action of God's Spirit in man is one thing and the unity between God's nature and man's nature is something different. We do not unite with God's nature. Let's be humble and behave as humans as our father Abraham said about himself that he is dust and ashes (Gen 18:7) and as Job the Righteous also said (Job 42:6).

    HH Pope Shenouda III, "MANY YEARS WITH PEOPLE’S QUESTIONS PART II:Theological & Dogmatic Questions" Translated by: Dr. Wedad Abbas. April 1995, 115-117 Years with the Problems of People P - HH Pope Shenouda III_0.pdf
  • Here's another except that also questions Theosis (indirectly):



    Is it true that the body of the Lord Christ, i.e., the Church, is the same body on the altar and the same body that ascended into heaven and sat on the Father's right hand, both being One? Is this mentioned in the sayings of any of the father saints?


    1. The Lord's body that is on the altar is the body born by the Holy Virgin Mary, the body that was crucified, buried and risen, that ascended into heaven and sat on the right hand of the Father. As for the Lord's body, meaning the Church, it refers to the whole congregation of believers and it is not reasonable to say that they all were born of the Holy Virgin. Is it possible that the millions of Christians who live now, the millions who departed and the millions who will be born in future, all of them are born of the Holy Virgin as the body who sat on the Father's right hand and moreover they are that same body?

    2. We worship the Lord's body that is on the altar and say, "We worship Your Holy Body, O Lord." We say also, "His divinity was not separated from His humanity not even for a moment or a twinkling of an eye." We say the same to the body that ascended and sat on the right hand of the Father. It is different from the body of the Lord meaning the Church; for we do not worship the Church nor say about it - as a body - that its divinity was not separated from its humanity!!

    3. The Lord Christ's body that is on the altar is the body that redeemed us and died for us then ascended into heaven in glory. Can we say then it is the church that redeemed us, died for us and ascended into heaven in glory?

    4. We partake of the Lord's Body and Blood on the altar, do we partake of the Church (if we agree that the Church and the Lord's Body are One)? God forbid...

    5. The Lord Christ's Body, meaning the Church, is not yet complete. There are members that have not yet joined it, i.e., those who are not yet born and those who will accept faith in future. But the Lord Christ's Body that is on the altar and in heaven is perfect without deficiency and no other members will join it.

    6. The Lord Christ's Body, meaning the Church, is ourselves while His Body that is on the altar and in heaven is Christ Himself. If both are One, are we then Christ? Are we sitting now on the Father's right hand? Are we in heaven? And when we partake do we partake of the Church or of Christ?

    7. The Lord Christ's Body, meaning the Church, includes all the believers who have not yet completed their struggle and who are still struggling against the evil powers and not yet crowned. As for the Lord's body that is on the altar and sitting on the right hand of the Father, it has no members who are still struggling the evil power to conquer and be crowned. It has overcome and is glorified and helps us to walk in the procession of His victory.

    8. The Lord Christ's body on the altar is a real body in the literal meaning of the word "body". But the Church is the Lord's Body in the spiritual meaning as it is His bride in the spiritual meaning also.......

    9. If the Church is the same Body of the Lord Christ that is on the altar and on the Father's right, we would be lead to the heresy of "the one existence" in which many philosophers and heretics fell.

    10. No one of the fathers adopted this wrong opinion and if it is attributed by any Christian writer to any saint, this writer is certainly wrong in conveying the words or in understanding the intent of the saint and should make sure of the text and its source.

    It is impossible that any of the saints speak words contradicting faith exposing himself to criticism as we have seen while analysing this thought.

    Dear reader, you should examine carefully all that you read and don't believe what some may attribute to saints which saints did not say.

    HH Pope Shenouda III, "MANY YEARS WITH PEOPLE’S QUESTIONS PART II:Theological & Dogmatic Questions" Translated by: Dr. Wedad Abbas. April 1995, 80-83 Years with the Problems of People P - HH Pope Shenouda III_0.pdf
  • Wow, so someone sent me a link to ElKeraza and Anba Epiphanius has a beautiful article entitled "Children of God" that was published last year:

    "When Jesus desired to explain the extent of our relationship with him, after blessing us with adoption having become his children, he said  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

    Without the coming of  the Holy Spirit on us, it would not have been possible for us to be part of the vine. This is because it is the Holy Spirit who unites us with Jesus and it is the Holy Spirit who gives us a nearness to God so that we may become members of his house according to the saying of St Paul (Ephesians 2:19)

    St Cyril the great explained the meaning of this in his commentary on the John 15:1.

    When God desired to show us how much we should hold one to his love and the great gain of staying close to him, he said metaphorically that he is the vine and that the branches are those who unite with him, who become sharers in his nature through the Holy Spirit. The one who unites us with Jesus Christ our Saviour is the Holy Spirit. Just as the vine provides for the branches and distributes its own nutrients, so also the word of God allows the saints to become closer in nature to God by giving them the Holy Spirit. These are the saints who have been united to him through faith and complete holiness and he feeds them his righteousness and  gives them the knowledge of every virtue and good work.

    A long as the branches are firm in the vine, so he revives them and allows them to bear fruit. The lives of the branches depends on the nutrients supplied by the vine and without the vine, there would be no life in the branches. These nutrients are the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ on which our whole life is rooted and without which we become separate from the vine.

    St Cyril the great continues to explain that Jesus himself said "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them" (John 6:57). It is important to realise here that God is not saying that he will be in us through an emotional relationship only, rather also through the sharing of his nature. Just as you mix a piece of wax with another and after heating they become one piece of wax, so also when we partake of the body and blood of Christ, He remains in us and we remain in him and we become one. For there was no other way to revive us from our corruption except through uniting physically with the body which is life."

    His Grace Anba Epiphanius, Abbot of the Monastery of St. Macarius the Great, "Children of God." El-Keraza (Arabic), Forty-second year, Friday, August 8, 2014, Issue 31-32, page 15.
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