I am still working through the Holy Father’s latest Encyclical, Spe Salvi. There’s some really good stuff in the second half. I read a bit to my wife and she commented that the Pope has a way with language.
But meanwhile, back at the ranch, I am listening to an audio file about the doctrine of Theosis (Divinization) from the Sonitus Sanctus blog.
A comment is made by the speaker, one Phil Krill (whose Greek is pretty dodgy for someone teaching on this topic…) something to the effect that Christ did not have a human hypostasis/person, but was solely a divine hypostasis/person (the Second Person of the Trinity) who assumed humanity. This is used as the explanation for Maximus’ assertion (I don’t have the exact quote) that in Theosis, man becomes God to the same extent that God became man in Christ. Thus, says Phil, just as the Son of God became man without becoming a human person, so man becomes divine without becoming a divine person.
Now, I am perfectly happy with the assertion that in Theosis we become “divine” without becoming divine persons, but I feel there is something dodgy about the assertion that the hypostasis of Christ was not both fully divine AND fully human. I mean, if Christ had a human nature, a human body, a human soul, and a human will (as Orthodox Chalcedonian Christology asserts), how could we say that he was not a “human person”? And if he did not assume human personhood, how could my human personhood be redeemed?
It seems in fact that in this I have stumbled onto the old Antiochene vs Alexandrian argument between the doctrines of “anhypostasia” and “enhypostasia”, although I am not quite sure if either of these quite get what I (in my simplistic Latin mind) would like to say about the Person of Jesus Christ. (For more on this, see question no. 3 in this discussion here). My humble understanding is that the Divine Second Person of the Holy Trinity–the Logos–became a fully human person while remaining a fully Divine person, yet remaining one person and not by becoming two persons. This is how I understand the declaration of faith from Chalcedon. Of course, the problem may well stem from Chalcedon itself, in using parallel language about Christ being “consubstantial with the Father as regards his divinity, and the same consubstantial with us as regards his humanity”.
But if I am right–that in fact, Christ became man to a more complete extent than we will ever “become God”, then where does that leave the doctrines of Maximus et al, along the (sometimes–I think–too neat) slogan: “God became Man that Man might become God”? Is the problem with the language of Theosis itself? Indeed it is intended to express man’s glorious destiny of full participation in and communion with God–but, while a beautiful expression, does it not perhaps try to say too much?