Orthodox–Reformed Dialogue and the Ecumenical Recovery of Theosis


Carl Mosser, "Orthodox–Reformed Dialogue and the Ecumenical Recovery of Theosis," Ecumenical Review 73, no. 1 (2021): 131-151; #CM-2021-1.


Mosser, Carl. "Orthodox–Reformed Dialogue and the Ecumenical Recovery of Theosis." Ecumenical Review 73, no. 1 (2021): 131-151; #CM-2021-1.


Agreement about theosis in Orthodox–Reformed dialogues played a small but strategic role in the ecumenical recovery of the patristic doctrine of deification and its emergence as a locus of Reformed theology. Ecumenical dialogue helped dispel the idea that theosis is a distinctively Orthodox doctrine incompatible with the Western tradition. This idea was first propounded in the 19th century by Albrecht Ritschl, Ferdinand Kattenbusch, Adolf von Harnack, and others associated with the Ritschlian school. It was later appropriated by émigré Orthodox scholars. Orthodox–Reformed dialogue helped correct this and other misconceptions about theosis. This began informally in correspondence between Thomas F. Torrance and Georges Florovsky and continued in formal dialogue meetings. Orthodox–Reformed dialogue also highlighted patristic ways of thinking about salvation that were not then prominent in Reformed theology. However, as the Reformed participants consulted the works of John Calvin, they realized that he shared those patristic ways of thinking. Today, Reformed theologians are eager contributors to the ecumenical recovery of theosis. They increasingly discuss theosis as a doctrine native to the Reformed tradition.