MARTIN LUTHER: “LITTLE CHRISTS FOR THE WORLD”; FAITH AND SACRAMENTS AS A MEANS TO THEOSIS Jonathan Linman Sophia Nahachewsky ∙ THO 3306 JONATHAN LINMAN • American, Lutheran Pastor, Husband, Father • B.A. Sociology-Anthropology; M.Div; M.A. and Ph.D., Formative Spirituality • Director of the Center for Christian Spirituality and Professor of Ascetical Theology at The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church, 20012009 • Assistant to the Bishop for Formation, Metropolitan New York Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2009-present • Enjoys exploring New York City neighborhoods, hiking, model railroading, and following weather-related phenomena MARTIN LUTHER • http://www.cloudbiography.com/bios/luther-martin.html FINNISH SCHOOL OF LUTHERAN THEOLOGY • As of the 1970s • Tuomo Mannermaa is the father of The New Finnish Interpretation of Luther • Presents Luther’s views on salvation to be very similar to Eastern Christian theosis • Motivated by bilateral dialogues between the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finnland and the Russian Orthodox Church • Critiqued for downplaying key elements of Western Christendom and for equating the very different metaphysical understandings of “union with Christ” between Luther and Eastern Orthodoxy STRUCTURE • Introduction • Typical Lutheran Attitudes Toward Theosis • The Finnish School • Luther’s View of Faith and Its Relation to Theosis • The Holy Spirit Creates Faith Through Means • The Role of Baptism in Theosis • The Role of Eucharist in Theosis • Conclusion and Implications INTRODUCTION • The word theosis has not been used by Lutherans until recently • This essay explores the possibility of theosis in Lutheran theology by looking at selected writings of Martin Luther and summarizing Finnish Luther scholarship. • Faith (through the Word, baptism and Eucharist) is key to a Lutheran understanding of theosis • Lutheran Understanding of Theosis: “unitive or participatory state between the person of faith and Christ where faith itself functions as the source of deification” (189). TYPICAL LUTHERAN ATTITUDES TOWARD THEOSIS • The idea of theosis is grounded in scripture and elaborated upon in the patristic age • However, it seems incompatible with Lutheran view of fallen humanity • The Formula of Concord explains justification by faith as an external: “the sinner is declared forgiven by God as in a court of law, but the sinner’s being ( esse) remains corrupt and as such does not share directly in the divine life” (190). So, how can a depraved human participate in divine life? • The author argues that (although believed by most Lutherans) German theologians and neo-Kantian philosophical influences have inaccurately reduced justification by faith to a forensic, imputed forgiveness THE FINNISH SCHOOL • Justification by faith isn’t simply the forgiveness of sins, but is also the means to theosis! • Tuomo Mannermaa says: • Participation in the person of Chirst through faith is central to Luther’s theology. • The Formula of Concord misrepresented Luther’s beliefs by overemphasizing imputed forgiveness. • Simo Peura, another Finnish theologian, adds: • “ God changes the sinner ontologically in the sense that he or she participates in God and in his divine nature, being made righteous and ‘a god’” (191). • This hinges on one’s understanding of unio cum Christo, union with Christ. THE FINNISH SCHOOL CNT’D • “ a new set of hermeneutic lenses can make a significant difference when reexamining texts that have been read for centuries through traditional eyes of faith” (191) • Has theosis been “hidden in plain sight” in Martin Luther’s words all along?!? Sample A: “Just as the word of God became flesh, so it is certainly also necessary that the flesh may become word. In others words: God became man so that man may become God. …The Logos puts on our form and pattern, our image and likeness, so that it may clothe us with its image, its pattern, and its likeness” (191). Sample B: “[Another] incomparable benefit of faith is that it unites the soul with Christ as a bride is united with her bridegroom. By this mystery… Christ and the soul become one flesh [Eph 5:31-32]. …The believing soul by means of the pledge of its faith… is endowed with the eternal righteousness, life, and salvation of Christ its bridegroom” (191-2). LUTHER’S VIEW OF FAITH AND ITS RELATION TO THEOSIS • Faith is not mentally accepting doctrines. • Faith is trust in Christ. “Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that the believer would stake his life on it a thousand times” (192). –Martin Luther • Sin is misplaced trust driving us away from Christ. • Faith drives us towards Christ as Christ simultaneously draws us towards himself. THE HOLY SPIRIT CREATES FAITH THROUGH MEANS • Faith is not something that we do. • It is the result of the Holy Spirit’s activity mediated through: • The Word (Scripture) • and the Sacraments • Sacraments are not just external signs; they require faith, are to be received in faith, and strengthen faith. • “Faith as a means to our union with Christ is not simply an act of will but a gift of the Holy Spirit mediated through Word and sacraments” (193). THE ROLE OF BAPTISM IN THEOSIS • Through baptism we become one with Christ, sharing in his death and resurrection, sharing in his very person. • “Through the sacramental act of baptism God binds himself ontologically to a sinner and is one with him through his whole earthly life, if he adheres to Christ in faith” ( 194). • Because the Trinity is present, baptism has automatic efficacy and validity, however it must be claimed through faith. • Luther points out that Baptism is not about water being poured over you, it is about accepting God’s commands in your heart. • Baptism is the celebration of budding faith, the credit for which belongs to God through the work of the church, and not to the individual. THE ROLE OF EUCHARIST IN THEOSIS • Like baptism, Eucharist is a sacrament of union with Christ. • In this mystery, Christ is the food which “enters into and is assimilated by [the recipients] very nature and becomes one substance with the person who is fed” (195). • Also like baptism, the Eucharist has an objective efficacy and validity, but also must be apprehended by faith. • Anyone, including non-Christians and mice, can consume Eucharist without faith and love. Union with Christ through the sacrament requires true spiritual reception as well as physical reception. • Eating Christ’s flesh “transforms us into itself” (196). CONCLUSION Faith: • Does not automatically result in theosis, but faith and the deifying work of Christ and the Holy Spirit are inseparably linked. • Must be understood in the context of the Church because proclamation of the Gospel and administration of sacraments are the means to deification. • Is a process of unifying the soul with Christ which results in justification – not only a forgiveness of sins, but a partaking in the divine nature. AND IMPLICATIONS The Importance of the Finnish School for: • • Lutheran Theology and Witness in the Twenty-First Century • Forensic justification no longer speaks to people because they aren’t concerned with individual sin and salvation • People are concerned with loneliness and lack of community. Therefore justification as intimacy with Christ and the community of faith is attractive. Lutheran–Roman Catholic Dialogue • • Could show less polarized beliefs regarding forensic and effective justification than established in the Joint Declaration of Justification Lutheran Ethics • theosis links mystical union with social action. We must become “little Chirsts” to others. • “Through faith we become gods and partakers of the divine nature and name… But through love we become the equals of the very lowliest... Just so Christ was in need of nothing according to His divinity, but according to His humanity He served everbody who was in need of Him” (198). QUESTIONS? 1) In light of the Eastern Christian understanding of tradition, is the Finnish School of Lutheran Theology a positive or negative step towards discovering Luther’s views on theosis? 2) How is the role of faith, scripture, and sacraments in this version of deification different than the Eastern Christian version? JOHN CALVIN: UNITED TO GOD THROUGH CHRIST J. Todd Billings Sophia Nahachewsky ∙ THO 3306 J. TODD BILLINGS • Minister of the Reformed Church in America, Husband, Father • B.A. Philosophy-English; M.Div; Th.D. • Professor of Reformed theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI. • Author of three books and several articles. • Served as a missionary in Ethiopia for a year and worked at a homeless shelter for 5 years. JOHN CALVIN • . http://www.cloudbiography.com/bios/calvin-john.html STRUCTURE • Introduction • The Unity of Divinity and Humanity in Calvin’s Theology of Redemption • Calvin’s Differences with Osiander on Participation • Calvin’s Distinctive Doctrine of Deification • Conclusion INTRODUCTION • Most people assume that Calvin and deification don’t belong in the same sentence. • If late Byzantine theologians (like Gregory Palamas) are the standard then this is true. • If Scripture and the church fathers are the source of deification theology, then there are legitimate Western conceptions of theosis including Calvin’s. • Calvin uses Pauline and Johannine language, and patristic ideas to produce a model of “the qualified participation of humanity in the Triune God” (200). • However, his theological approach is distinct because it insists on • A) the imputation of Christ’s righteousness • B) the rejection of a synergistic approach • C) the critical role of communion with and compassion for others INTRODUCTION CNT’D • Challenges to seeing a model of deification within Calvin’s theology: • Humanity and divinity seem to be polar opposites. How can they be united? • Human nature, being fundamentally sinful, plays practically no role in salvation. • Rejection of synergy and cooperative grace leaves humans powerless. • Suggestions that humanity becomes “nothing” or is “obliterated” in the process of redemption. • In short, there is very little “human” left to work with in the divine-human relationship. THE UNITY OF DIVINITY AND HUMANITY IN CALVIN’S THEOLOGY OF REDEMPTION • In the 1539 Institutes, Calvin expresses what is received as a very “negative” anthropology • Human will is immobilized by sin unless the Holy Spirit basically overrides it. • In the 1542 Ten Books on Human Free Choice and Divine Grace, Pighius (RC) counters. • None of the church fathers would agree and humans do have a role in salvation. • In the 1543 The Bondage and Liberation of the Will, Calvin counter-counters. • He emphasises patristic source in his response to Pighius. • He qualifies his early assertions… Qualifications to Earlier Position • Only fallen humanity is held captive by sin (not humanity as originally created or as fulfilled in Christ) • Human’s are unable to do anything on their own, including cooperating with God. However, if they are ingrafted onto God they become capable of great things. A.k.a. To be fully human one must be interpenetrated by the divine. • Uses Augustine to argue against Pelagianism • emphasizing that the Incarnation was the work of the Spirit and not of Christ’s human will, because it did not exist yet. Humans as Good and Capable • The substance of human nature is good! The corruption of it is accidental. • Therefore, the ‘becoming nothing’ is Paul’s dying to the “old self” (corrupt), and restoring the good substance through resurrection in Christ. • Humans can still freely assent to faith and do voluntary acts of love even though God seems to be doing all the work. • “The human faculties are not bypassed in this process, but activated by the Spirit” (204). Sources for Argument • Augustine’s theology of grace and Irenaeus’ belief that the goodness of creation is restored in Christ is used. • Johannine language of indwelling and ingrafting is used. • Romans is used RE: participation (in Christ’s death and resurrection), adoption (access to Father through Spirit), ingrafting (of the believer by faith). • Ironically, when reading Scripture and Calvin, if one uses “participation” as a hermeneutical key, themes of participation become prominent. • Any kind of unification or participation in God pertains to a final, eschatological end. Though not elaborated upon, it does seem as if the potential is there for theosis… CALVIN’S DIFFERENCES WITH OSIANDER ON PARTICIPATION • A full doctrine of deification involves “the development of these biblical themes [of participation, etc.] and a differentiation among various theological alternatives connected with them” (206). • The differentiation part is where Osiander comes in. (He’s a Lutheran theologian.) • Common points between Calvin and Osiander include the uses of Johaninne indwelling, growth in holiness and faith, and focus on Augustine’s theology of grace. • Main difference was concerning justification and sanctification • Osiander: Justification can’t be forensic because it is about “the possession of Jesus Christ’s divine righteousness by… infusion” (206). • Calvin: Justification is forensic but goes hand in hand with sanctification which is a transformation by the Spirit. Justification and Sanctification: distinct but inseparable 1) A forensic understanding assures Christians that their sins are pardoned (justification) therefore allowing them to live Christian lives gratefully, joyfully, and eagerly without fear that they aren’t living up to God’s standards (sanctification). 2) Osiander’s justification has believers infused with the divine essence of Christ. Calvin argues that this undermines the role of the Spirit (against Nicene Trinitarian theology) and downplays Christ’s humanity (against Chalcedonian natures of Christ) blurring the line between humanity and divinity in participation. Calvin emphasizes this distinction insisting that in redemption “the union of Creator and creature…does not ‘swallow up’ the latter” (208). • Therefore Calvin is Orthodox (or eccumenical or something): • ‘Orthodox’ Reformation position on justification. • ‘Orthodox’ Catholic position on Trinitarian and Christological issues. CALVIN’S DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINE OF DEIFICATION • Billings is defensive against those who analyze Calvin’s ‘deification’ from the Eastern understanding of ‘theosis’ or who label him as legalistic and forensic. • The forensic imputation of righteousness leads to a mystical intimacy with Christ. • “In Calvin, the ‘forensic’ imputation of Christ’s righteousness and the mystical union with Christ are held in the closest possible relationship” (209). • Mysticism is directly linked with loving action and koinonia. “Just as believers have a vertical participation in the body and blood of Christ, they simultaneously have a horizontal participation in the church as Body.” (209) • His sacrament understanding of the Lord’s Supper is that Christ lives in us and we live in him… and this is not a passive reality. • Developing his theology Calvin experimented with different language most radically claiming that believers and God are united into the “same/one substance” (211). CONCLUSION • The use of philosophical, biblical and patristic sources give his doctrine of deification a ‘Catholic’ flavour. • Using the language of participation, Calvin moves from justification to sanctification to deification (as a soteriological end). • Calvin’s deification is unique especially from Palamas and even from Aquinas. • The distinctive features of Calvin’s doctrine are that: • Imputation of Christ’s righteousness is a prerequisite of participation • Participation in the life of Christ means a life of unity and love within the church • Partitive and synergistic theological claims are false QUESTIONS? 1) Is the condition that communion is necessary for deification unique to Calvin or does the Eastern Christian doctrine of deification also require koinonia? 2) How does a forensic understanding of justification enhance union with Christ in a Christian life? How does it hamper it?