Patristic Tradition

Preferences to Deification ( 28.04.2009 )

Holy Fathers say that we may achieve the Deification in the Church. However, Deification is a gift from God and not something that we ourselves achieve. We have to love, to struggle and be prepared to be worthy, capable and acceptable to receive and keep this gift from God, because God doesn’t want to do anything out of our freedom. Therefore, the Holy Fathers say that we do receive the deification, and God is realising such deed.

We may find several necessary preferences (predispositions) on the man’s road to deification.


The Humility


According to the Holy Fathers, the first preference to deification is humility. Without the blessed humility, man cannot place himself in the orbit of deification, to receive the Divine grace and to unite with God. Man needs humility even to understand that deification is the aim of his life. How can you recognise that the main objective of your life is outside you, i.e. in God, without humility?

When some lives an egocentric life, human-centric life, then he puts himself in the centre of such life. He becomes an aim to himself. He believes that he may achieve self-perfection, self-dependence, and self-deification. No doubt, this is the spirit of the contemporary culture, contemporary philosophy, and contemporary policy as well. All these branches has one particular goal: to create a better world, more just and more fair, but in an autonomic way, a world that will put the man in the centre of everything, without any connection to God, without recognition that God is the spring of every goodness. Adam has made the same mistake, believing that he may become god with his own abilities, means to become perfect. All humanists make Adam’s mistake during all the centuries passed. They do not consider the unity with God as the fundamental cause for perfection of man.


Everything that is Orthodox is God-centric, having the Godman Jesus Christ as its centre. Everything that is not Orthodox: the Protestantism, Catholicism, Masonry, Chiliasm, Atheism and others has this common denominator: the man is in the centre. For us, the centre is the Godman Jesus Christ. It is easy therefore someone to become (be) a heretic or a chiliast, mason – whatever – but it is hard to be (become) an Orthodox Christian. To be (become) a Christian, you must first to accept that you are not the centre of the world, but it is Christ. In other words, the beginning of the path to deification is the humility, means that we recognise that the objective of our life is out of us, and that it is placed in our Father and Creator.


The humility is necessary also to show to us, that we are ill, that we are full of weaknesses and passions.

The one, who starts going on the road to deification, must have unceasing humility to be relentless on this road. If he starts thinking that he may progress by his own force and abilities, then the pride enters in him. He loses everything he gained before in such case, thus he must starts the road from the very beginning, to become humble, to become conscious of his weakness, and to stop relying to his own only. It is necessary for him, to rely on the grace of God, so that he may stay steady on the path to deification.


Therefore, in the life of Saints, the great impression comes out from their great humility. They, despite having been close to God, having lived in His lightness, having been miracle-makers, Myrrh-flowing, in the same time thought about themselves that they have been very low, that they have been far from God, and that they have been the worst among people. Such their humility made them gods by grace.      


Archimandrite George Kapsanis