Original Research - Special Collection: HTS 75th Anniversary Maake Masango Dedication

Theosis in die Oosters-Ortodokse en Westers-Protestantse teologiese debat

Barend J. van Wyk
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 75, No 4 | a5355 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i4.5355 | © 2019 Barry J. Van Wyk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 December 2018 | Published: 30 September 2019

About the author(s)

Barend J. van Wyk, Unit for Reformed Theology and the Development of the South African Society, Faculty of Theology, North West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


Theosis in the Eastern-Orthodox and Western-Protestant theological debate: All major religions agree on one theme, namely they strive to provide an answer regarding the relation with their God. A good relation to God is the way of salvation, because the question about God is an acknowledgement that a human being needs to be in union with God. Some questions and answers are only possible in the relation between God and humankind. The well-known saying from the letter to the Romans (1:17), is typical of such a relation formulated in the Western Protestant debate in forensic style. From the Eastern orthodox theological debate, theosis is used in accordance to what the church father Irenaeus meant: ‘God became human that we might become divine’. This article gives a definition of theosis, sketch the historic background of the concept, discuss salvation in the Western theological tradition, and pays attention to a theosis scriptural basis. Furthermore, attention is also given to Martin Luther and theosis as an indication that his view of salvation was much closer to theosis as was readily accepted in the Western theological debate since the Reformation of the 16th century.


Theosis; Eastern-Orthodox; Western-Protestant; Theological debate; Luther


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