Theosis Centred Youth Work

My last post was a video of a talk given by Peter Benson on helping young people discover their spark. watch here.

This is an idea I have been fascinated for awhile but, as a christian, I speak about it in different terms.

“Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” 2 Peter 1:4.

The greek word Peter uses here is theosis (also understood as divinization). It refers to the “attainment of likeness of God, union with God and/or reconciliation with God”.

Eastern Orthodox understands this as “the purpose of life, and it is considered achievable only through a synergy (or cooperation) between humans’ activities and God’s uncreated energies (or operations)”.

I believe Peter Bensons ‘spark’, Ken Robinsons ‘element‘ and the process of theosis are all speaking of the same thing.

Becoming what we were created to be.

I believe this should be one of the main goals of christian youth work.

Through prayer, prophesy, observation and conversation, we should aid young people in discovering who they are created to be and offer them opportunities to be transformed into this likeness.

Whether it be a footballer or a dancer or a teacher, we should name these qualities and help young people become them and help them relate this to being created in the image of God.

Do you do this currently in your youth work?

If not, how would your work change if this was at the centre?




3 responses

  1. I think you’re right when you talk about this idea of union with God, this is truly something that Western Christians often miss. I mean, we get to be one with God and get to be remade like His Son. This is awesome. But to say that this is the ‘spark’ that we are encouraging young people to be, is, well, bankrupt and useless. When Peter writes about becoming one with God, he says it is through the precious promises of Christ, who has given us everything we need through our coming to know Christ; Christ who has called us by His glory and goodness. The root of our union with God doesn’t come through our creation, but through our recreation having accepted and being accepted by God through Christ (by which I mean and by which Peter goes onto explain is through his death and resurrection for those who are called and who trust in him). You’ve taken a glorious, supreme benefit of the gospel of Jesus Christ separately from the gospel of Jesus Christ. What is done for God’s children is now done for everyone. And you make think that universalising it makes it better, after all it blesses more people now? But that’s not what’s happened. What’s happened is that the blessing of Union with God has to be made lesser, because now it’s now about coming to know the glorious true and living God, who is above all to be praised and worship, and celebrating that greatness, but now it’s about discovering who you are, and being transformed into your own likeness. The good news is better than this! We should embrace it and proclaim it!

    1. thanks for the comments.

      I do believe that our transformation to ‘divinization’ is about being created into the image of the triune God (and becoming part of His substance) and i believe that part of that is about becoming what we were created to be. God is a creator and by helping our young people create is part of that plan. I don’t think that means being transformed into our own likeness as you suggest. That’s not to say that this is the only point of theosis. My post is not a rigorous theological reflection on that concept. There is so much more to the process as you say.

      I’d also state that we are all God’s children (whether we choose to acknowledge it or now) so I don’t think I am universalising it as that is already what is happening.

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