{a post I drafted in 2011 that I queued and forgot about, and as I am very busy today I will post it unfinished. So if it feels like it begs for more, well…}

The Transfiguration

Recently, I attended an annual interfaith prayer service. After the prayer service ended all of the participants went out into the common room for refreshments and chit chat. I ended up speaking with a theologically literate Greek Orthodox layman (with a Greek accent) and a Baptist minister. Somehow we ended up on the subject of our three traditions’ respective theologies of salvation. I don’t think I had ever experienced a theological dialogue of substance at an interfaith service before, as they usually promote what is commonly held and dialogue tends to stir the pot. But it was an amicable conversation and I was totally energized by the prospect of talking theology with people who loved to talk about such things! But I was unprepared for the jolt this brief exchange would provide.

The Baptist minister gave a brief and eloquent summary of his tradition’s way of understanding salvation as justification by faith alone that comes from accepting Jesus from the heart as personal Lord and Savior. He offered some helpful nuances on the positive role of “works” in salvation that, he said, offered much “common ground” for discussion among the three of us.

Before I could speak, the Orthodox gentleman said very matter of factly, “We Orthodox hope to become God.”

The minister replied in a muted but surprised tone, “Become God?”

The Orthodox layman said, “Yes, of course. Salvation is only saying what Jesus is, right? And what we say of Jesus we say to all of humanity that accepts Him. I mean, what else do we mean when we say we are born of God in Baptism, eat the Flesh and drink the Blood of the God-Man in His Holy Mysteries? Right? You cannot be more a part of another’s life than being born of them and consuming them, eh?”

“But what does that really mean, practically?” the minister asked, emphasizing the word practically.

The Orthodox man said, “Very simple. It means we love as God loves, act as God acts. Don’t lie. Do justice. Be merciful. Forgive. Be faithful to your spouse. Die a martyr. You know, doing like God does because you’re being what God is.”

The minister looked at me and said, “What do you think?” I responded, “What he said.”

The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature”: “For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.” “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.” — Catechism # 460


Here’s a brief video with an Orthodox testimony on what it means to be saved that beautifully unfolds the heart of these words:

This entry was posted in Faith.

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