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Many Christians in the Western tradition would find the idea of salvation as the deification of man alien because the concept of justification by faith has played such a central and influential role in Western soteriologies. There is, however, a renaissance of the concept of deification or theosis in contemporary theology even outside its traditional home in Eastern Orthodoxy. Many Roman Catholic and Protestant theologians have discovered that although the two metaphors, justification and deification, emphasise different aspects of salvation, they are not incompatible with each other. In addition, theologians in the Western tradition are arguing that although the forensic and declarative aspect of justification is important, justification also has a transformative aspect. An exploration of the transformative aspect of justification has resulted in the discovery of interesting ways in which this concept can be brought closer to that of theosis in the Eastern tradition.
The theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar can be described as an attempt to provide an exposition of a verse in one of Gerard Manley Hopkin's most memorable poems in which the Jesuit poet declared that ‘The world is charged with the grandeur of God’. This verse, and indeed the poem as a whole, affirms the Christian's cosmic experience of God. Just as the mythological view of the relationship between god and the world is that the world is a sacred theophany, the world is, for the Christian, the theophany of God's glory and beauty.
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