The process of salvation is a continual movement from “glory to glory,” a deification (theosis, divinization) that allows human beings to become “partakers of the divine nature” (1 Pet 1:3-4). God communicates his own life to our human nature to bring us to a final union with Himself. This is our ultimate happiness or beatitude. Jesus Christ, the God-Made-Man, came to share his human nature with us once it was divinized by his divine nature. Central to this theosis, as the words of Scripture put it, is to have an interior vision of God in which “we behold the glory of the Lord” (2 Cor 3:18) because “we have seen his glory, glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14). This deification happens on both individual and corporate levels but it is primarily through the Eucharist and its home in the Liturgy we share in that divine nature increasingly as we recover the likeness of God lost in the Fall. In this paper, I look scriptural texts and five great theologians in the history of the church to discover those principles which can shape our search for Christian unity in the modern world.
Kenneth J. Howell is the Director of Academic Research of the Eucharist Project and President of the Pontifical Studies Foundation. Dr. Howell taught in higher education for almost thirty years, most recently for over a decade as a Professor of Religion at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) where he taught classes on the history, theology, and philosophy of Catholicism. At the same time, he served as the Director of the Institute of Catholic Thought of the St. John’s Catholic Newman Center at the same university. Dr. Howell was a Presbyterian minister for eighteen years and a theological professor for seven years in a Protestant seminary where he taught Hebrew, Greek, and Latin as well as biblical interpretation and the history of Christianity. In 2000, he received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award from John Paul II in recognition of his service to the Catholic Church (the lay equivalent of the title Monsignor). He has authored dozens of articles and seven books (on the Fathers, on biblical interpretation and modern science, on Mary, and on the Eucharist). He is currently at work on several books on the Eucharist at both scholarly and popular levels.