Too often we look at Heaven as just a really great earth: we eat whatever we want, we hang out with whoever we want and we never get sick or hurt. But Heaven is less about what we do and more about what we become. When we enter into Heaven we are transformed into a new creation: while keeping our human nature we participate in the divine nature. In the scandalous words of St. Athanasius, we “become God” – we are deified. We of course must be careful not to confuse the Christian doctrine of deification with Eastern conceptions which confuse divinity and humanity. But we must also not minimize the great transformation that will take place: we become by grace what God is by nature, all while retaining our human nature and individuality. It might seem impossible to see how this could happen, but we have a model already: Jesus Christ, who is true God and true man. By his incarnation he showed us the path which unites divinity and humanity. In his bountiful love he gives us as a gift what he has by right.
Eric Sammons, “The purpose of Christmas” The Divine Life December 17, 2010. (HT: Alan Phipps).
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Deification and Grace
by Daniel A. Keating. Sapientia Press of Ave Maria University (July 1, 2007)
That Christians share in the very divine life of the Trinity is one of the most exciting and awe inspiring mysteries of the Christian faith. Dr. Daniel Keating has written a concise and readable theological introduction to this marvelous Christian doctrine. Not only does he provide an insightful examination of the New Testament evidence for the doctrine of deification, but he also masterfully explores the historical development and perceptively assesses the doctrinal significance of the notion of deification within the Eastern and Western traditions. Dr. Keating’s study is biblically enlightening, historically sensitive, doctrinally engaging, and spiritually enriching. One finishes reading this book rejoicing in the knowledge that one is a Christian. –Thomas G. Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap., Executive Director for the Secretariat for Doctrine at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC