Called To Be the Children of God
The Catholic Theology of Human Deification
Co-edited with Fr. David Meconi, SJ
The first generations of Christians saw in their new lives in Jesus Christ a way to transcend all the limitations of sin and death and become new creatures. St. Peter expressed this as "participating in the divine nature" (2 Pet 1:4), while St. Athanasius stated it succinctly 300 years later: "God became a human, so humans could become God." This is the heart of the Christian faith and the pledge of the Christian promise: that those baptized in Christ become "divine" through their partaking in God's own life and love. This is why Christians can live forever, this is the source of their charity and their holiness, this is why we do not need to live in a world ruled by fallen instinct and sinful desires. We have been made for more, for infinitely more.
This book gathers more than a dozen Catholic scholars and theologians to examine what this process of "deification" means in their respective areas of study. It offers fifteen chapters showing what "becoming God" meant for the early Church, for St. Thomas Aquinas and the greatest Dominicans, the significance it played in the thinking of St. Francis and the early Franciscans. It shows how such an understanding of salvation played out during the Protestant Reformation and the Council of Trent, as well as in French School of Spirituality, in various Thomist thinkers, in John Henry Newman and John Paul II, at the Vatican Councils, and where such thinking can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church today.
No other book has gathered such an array of scholars or provided such a deep study into how humanity's divinized life in Christ has received many rich and various perspectives over the past two thousand years. This book therefore hopes to bring readers into the central mystery of Christianity by allowing the Church's greatest thinkers and texts to speak for themselves, showing how becoming Christ-like, becoming truly the Body of Christ on earth, is the only ultimate purpose of the Christian faith.
"Rescue from sin and death is indeed a wonderful thing—but the salvation won for us by Jesus Christ is incomparably greater. And that is the subject of this book. In all its parts, this book, like Christianity in all its parts, is about salvation. But that means it's about everything that fills our lives, on earth and in heaven." — Dr. Scott Hahn, Author, Rome Sweet Home
"This is a wonderful collection of essays on an issue that has been largely ignored by Western Christianity, which has focused far too much attention on how you get into heaven rather than how heaven gets into you."
— Dr. Francis J. Beckwith, Professor of Philosophy & Church-State Studies, Baylor University.
"Theologians, pastors, students and laity alike would benefit immensely from reading this book, not only for developing their theological knowledge but also for deepening their love for the divine life they already live here on earth."
— Fr. Thomas G. Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap., Member of the International Theological Commission
"The richness of Catholicism is on full display in these marvelous essays as they show how Scripture's revelation of theosis is both taught and embodied throughout the Church's history. I loved reading, pondering, and praying with this marvelous book."
— Dr. Timothy Gray, President of the Augustine Institute and Senior Fellow at St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology
"The importance of this publication, which is a major contribution to the study of Catholic soteriology, can hardly be exaggerated."
— Fr. D. Vincent Twomey, S.V.D., Author of Pope Benedict XVI: The Conscience of Our Age
"At last, we have an up-to-date, comprehensive, and readable introduction to the classical doctrine of divinization. Called to Be the Children of God is a must read for any serious student of Catholic theology."
— Dr. Brant Pitre, Professor of Sacred Scripture, Notre Dame Seminary, Graduate School of Theology
"This is an important book, full of surprises for the expert yet written in an attractive style that makes it accessible to a broad readership."
— Norman Russell, St. Stephen's House, Oxford; author of The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition (Oxford University Press)
"In the explanations of the historical developments of this doctrine, the reader discovers openings into Christian literature that will enrich the spiritual life and theological understanding through deepening our understanding of the effects of God's grace and indwelling, particular through Baptism, the Holy Eucharist and other sacraments."
— Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J., EWTN and Ignatius Productions
"To follow the history and meaning of what it means that we exist to be adopted into the trinitarian life of God is the exact purpose of this most welcome and well presented text."
— Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University