Universalism and Deification

Jeff Waddington and Camden Bucey analyze popular formulations of universalism and look to related themes in theologies of deification, divinization, and theosis.

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Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program or subscribe to the podcast feed.

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Richard L. Lindberg

9 years ago

This was an interesting program. In regard to the second half of the program, I wonder if you have heard of or read the book Calvin’s Ladder which came out this year and seems to talk about some of the same issues.

Camden Bucey

9 years ago

Jim Cassidy was listening to this episode live. I believe this was the book he kept asking us to mention. Unfortunately I didn’t see his comments until it was too late.

Jeffrey Waddington

9 years ago


I have heard of the book, or more accurately, seen it advertized, but have not had a chance to purchase it or read it. Is it worth going after?

Richard L. Lindberg

9 years ago

I don’t know. I only know of the book from an Eerdman’s post on FB.

On another matter, is there any Reformed NT scholar who is as prolific as N.T. Wright?

Mo Se Jun

9 years ago


Reformed NT scholars are as follows:
Thomas R. Schreiner at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Vern Poythress at Westminster Theological Seminary.
Guy P. Waters at Reformed Theological Seminary.
I recommend you read Schreiner’s “Magnifying God in Christ,” which is a summary of his “New Testament Theology.”

Richard L. Lindberg

9 years ago

I know those names and had Poythress at Westminster. Yet, it seems that Wright is publishing a new book every year dealing with issues relating to post-modernism and Paul. Many are influenced by his work. My question is really about Reformed scholarship dealing with the same questions, in the way that Machen and Stonehouse did. Waters write a lot about FV and justification. Poythress writes about gender issues, science, translation issues and interpretation.

Mo Se Jun

9 years ago

Schreiner is a Calvinist NT scholar, and he is against New Perspective on Paul which Wright involves in. Even though Schreiner is a Calvinistic Baptist, he is one of few NT scholars who follows Reformed view and thought. I heard that he was fill in for John Piper when Piper couldn’t debate with Wright.
I want you to check more theologians. Seyoon Kim, who is Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is not a Reformed scholar unfortunately, but he is a well-known critic about New Perspective on Paul. He sharply criticizes Dunn and Wright. Kim’s books have contributed to Pauline Studies. He wrote “The Origin of Paul’s Gospel,”(which has a similar title to Machen’s book) “The New Perspective and Paul,” “Christ and Caesar.”
I also recommend Douglas Moo’s books. He is a Calvinist. Check about him whether he dealt with the issues which you want to know.
I think there are several Reformed NT theologians in the world. However, it’s hard to find someone who try to solve the questions which Wright deals with. I guess Schreiner more approaches this matter than others.


9 years ago

N.T. Wright is the most prolific Reformed NT scholar today.


8 years ago

D. A. Carson would have been my first suggestion


8 years ago

You will never penetrate the mystery of theosis with scholastic categories. It has nothing to do with the bogeyman of “pantheism.” It is the process whereby the Spirit makes us into the image of the Son, that we may truly be children of the Father.

To be “deified” is to share in the loving communion of the Holy Trinity. Man does not become part of the Holy Trinity: He does not become a God by nature, but by grace He receives the blessings of perfect happiness, life everlasting, and other characteristics we associate with God.

What is theosis, simply put? It is to be illuminated by the uncreated light that flows from its divine fellowship. Just as the moon has no brightness of its own, but receives its light from the sun, so we have no glory of our own, but we receive all good things from the Living God. This is theosis, divinization, deification.

Scripture speaks often of this marvelous gift — the gift of being a truly son of God — in numerous places:

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”



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