Transformed into the Same Image: Constructive Investigations into the Doctrine of Deification, Edited by Paul Copan and Michael M. C. Reardon

Transformed into the Same Image

Constructive Investigations into the Doctrine of Deification

Edited by Paul Copan and Michael M. C. Reardon
Foreword by Michael J. Gorman

Transformed into the Same Image
  • Length: 368 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: October 15, 2024
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A0984
  • ISBN: 9781514009840

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The doctrine of deification or theosis has been gaining interest among scholars for some time. Yet most publications on the topic have focused on Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions and have subsumed the discussion under the category of soteriology. If "being transformed into the same image" (2 Corinthians 3:18) is truly essential to the Christian life, a fuller understanding of this biblical concept is needed for Christians of all traditions.

In this volume, biblical scholars and theologians offer a constructive account of deification that breaks new ground in key ways. First, several essays focus on the work of major Protestant thinkers and Protestant expressions of the doctrine—including Lutheran, Reformed, Baptist, Wesleyan, Pentecostal, and Evangelical. Second, contributors incorporate deification into arenas that have thus far remained largely unexplored, such as the relationship between justification and deification, applications for theological education, how deification compares with transhumanism, the impact of translation philosophy on the visibility of deification in Scripture, and perspectives on deification in global Christianity.

Contributors include both senior and younger scholars from a variety of backgrounds, including Alister McGrath, Ann Jervis, Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Ben C. Blackwell, and Michael Gorman. Transformed into the Same Image invites readers to dive deeper into the doctrine of deification and continue the conversation.

"This book advances the theology of deification in a number of ways. It shows how Luther's theology—read from diverse angles—accords with key insights in ecumenical deification theology. It integrates the important Chinese and Taiwanese church movement fostered by Witness Lee, along with the work of C. S. Lewis. And it fully welcomes Protestant biblical scholars and theologians into the deification conversation. Warmly commended!"

Matthew Levering, James N. Jr. and Mary D. Perry Chair of Theology at Mundelein Seminary and coeditor of The Oxford Handbook of Deification

"A fascinating collection of studies on the theological and practical meaning of deification. These refreshing essays show how Protestant theology creatively appropriated—and continues to creatively appropriate—traditional notions of deification in light of particular doctrinal commitments and pastoral contexts. The editors and authors are to be commended for challenging the false idea that deification is merely an Eastern doctrine, while also firmly demonstrating the biblical roots, Protestant appropriation, and evangelical possibilities of this foundational Christian teaching."

Jared Ortiz, professor of religion at Hope College and editor of With All the Fullness of God: Deification in Christian Tradition

"This book will help Protestant theologians, especially evangelicals, see that forensic justification might not be the heart of the gospel or biblical theology. Therefore, this book has the potential of advancing ecumenical understanding among orthodox Christians. Recommended for all those interested in biblical and systematic theology."

Gerald McDermott, author of A New History of Redemption and Deep Anglicanism

"What do you get if you cross PBS's Antiques Roadshow, the Protestant Reformation, and one of the trending topics in evangelical theology? The doctrine of deification! This fascinating collection of essays sets out to retrieve the patristic notion of theosis by showing its biblical and Protestant bona fides as well as its potential for ecumenical dialogue about the nature of salvation—and more. I particularly appreciated the suggestion that believers are deified by being transformed into the image of Christ, the God-man: not simply deified but Christified."

Kevin J. Vanhoozer, research professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"The doctrine of deification was first neglected in modern Western theology, and then enthusiastically rediscovered by Lutheran, Calvinist, Methodist, and Pentecostal scholars. Now the time is ripe for a critical and constructive reassessment. The present volume undertakes a differentiated evaluation of biblical and historical evidence and makes a number of fascinating new proposals. With the help of this book, the relative importance of deification in Christian soteriology is outlined in a solid and inspiring fashion."

Risto Saarinen, professor of ecumenics at University of Helsinki in Finland

"In recent decades, the doctrine of theosis ceased to be an exclusive preserve of Orthodox thinkers and gained traction among thinkers of all Christian traditions. Yet its position remained tenuous, like that of an unexpected houseguest who arrives and then intends to stay on indefinitely. Theosis was admitted but not welcomed. Theosis, so to speak, had to sleep in the woodshed. Copan's and Reardon's volume shows though that theosis is capable of encompassing and integrating such classical Western soteriological themes as conversion, justification, sanctification, etc., without effacing their distinctness or violating their integrity. Perhaps a 'theotic' turn in soteriology will facilitate the sort of ecumenical renewal that has already occurred in trinitarian and christological reflection. This volume will be of great interest for those who feel stymied by the seemingly unbridgeable chasms between East and West, Catholic and Protestant, Evangelical and Charismatic, on the crucial questions regarding Christian salvation."

Michael McClymond, professor of modern Christianity at Saint Louis University

"This collection of well-written and groundbreaking essays by a diverse array of fine scholars provides a number of fascinating perspectives on the doctrine of theosis. With a unique (but not exclusive) focus on a spectrum of Protestant viewpoints and ways of approaching deification, this work significantly advances the discussion and is sure to spark further research and dialogue on, among other things, what it means for Christians to be in Christ by faith and reflect the glory of God."

John C. Peckham, research professor of theology and Christian philosophy at Andrews University in Berrian Springs, Michigan

"Transformed into the Same Image is a timely gift for Protestants who seek to grasp the biblical, theological, and historical roots and fruits of deification. This expansive and breathtaking treatment examines the conceptions of theosis from the Lutheran, Reformed, Baptist, Wesleyan, Pentecostal, Evangelical, and nondenominational traditions. Special attention is focused on the often misunderstood but insightful contributions of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. Copan and Reardon are to be congratulated on enlisting both prominent scholars and new and promising researchers to guide readers in this fresh and stimulating exploration of being partakers of the divine image. May this outstanding work continue the conversation on this often-neglected topic."

Tom Schwanda, associate professor emeritus of Christian formation and ministry at Wheaton College

"It is wonderful to see how Protestant scholars have reconnected with the patristic exegetical tradition. Even the Hesychast emphasis makes its contribution. These excellent essays show that evangelical reflection on theosis, with its view of deification not just as salvation for the individual but as the return of the whole of creation to its divine fullness, is of much more than intra-confessional interest. This is a book of truly ecumenical significance."

Norman Russell, honorary research fellow at the University of Oxford and author of The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition

Read an Excerpt


Foreword by Michael J. Gorman
Introduction—Paul Copan and Michael M. C. Reardon

Part I: Biblical Foundations
1. Conformity to Divine Messiah in Paul (Ann Jervis)
2. The Church is Christ: The Wirkungsgeschichte of Interpreting Pauline Soteriology as Ecclesial Deification (Michael M. C. Reardon)
3. Deification Seen from Three Biblical Metaphors in Watchman Nee and Witness Lee with a Cognitive-Linguistic Interpretive Approach to Metaphors (Jacob Chengwei Feng)
4. Deification and the Eschatological City: Theological Connections in Early Christian Thought (Nathan Betz)
5. The Influence of Translation Philosophy upon the Visibility of the Doctrine of Deification in Scripture (Chao-Chun Liu)

Part II: Protestant Foundations
6. Deification or Christification? Martin Luther on Theosis (Alister E. McGrath)
7. Deification in the Reformed Tradition from Zwingli to Vermigli (Carl Mosser)
8. Jonathan Edwards, Theosis, and the Purpose of Creation (James Salladin)
9. John and Charles Wesley on Deification (Mark Gorman)
10. C. S. Lewis on Deification (Jahdiel Perez)
11. Towards an Evangelical Doctrine of Deification (Paul Copan)

Part III: New Investigations into the Doctrine of Deification
12. Deification as a Theological Foundation and Goal for Formational Theological Education (Brian Siu-kit Chiu)
13. Sharing in the Life of God: Considering the Relationship between Justification and Deification (Ben C. Blackwell)
14. Justification as Union and Christ’s Presence: A Lutheran Perspective (Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen)
15. Deification and World Christianity: Hesychasm and “Calling upon the Name of the Lord” (Shu-chen Hsu Hsiung)
16. Transhumanism as Active Effort of Technology versus Deification as Active Reception of Grace (Kimbell Kornu)



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Paul Copan

Paul Copan (PhD, Marquette University) is the Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University. His books include The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas, An Introduction to Biblical Ethics, and Creation Out of Nothing.

Michael Reardon

Michael M. C. Reardon (PhD, University of Toronto) is academic dean and professor of New Testament and historical theology at Canada Christian College and School of Graduate Theological Studies.