ABSTRACT

2 Peter 1:3–11 is an important text for understanding the Christian doctrine of theōsis. This text is the basis for two arguments I will make in this article. First, I suggest, as many Eastern Orthodox theologians have, that theōsis is the desired end of the Christian life. Second, because I am a theological ethicist, I am interested in probing the implications of this text for grounding the Christian moral life in God's own goodness. Theōsis, therefore, is not just an important theological category but an equally important ethical one for locating the source and purpose of the Christian moral life. I will suggest that theōsis as our participation in God's divine nature is not just an end but also a means by which we learn to embody the goodness of God as a key motivation and purpose in Christian ethics. To sharpen the ethical importance of theōsis, I will offer a brief exploration of the virtues listed in this text, suggesting that making every effort to add to and practice these virtues is part of what it means to participate in God's goodness and hence God's nature. In summary, a theological interpretation of this text offers an understanding of theōsis with significant moral implications for connecting theōsis with morality, and for integrating the ends of our lives with the means by which we live them through participation in the divine nature both now and when our union with God is fully realized.

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