Dialoguing about Inhabiting

A few bloggers are now interacting seriously with Inhabiting the Cruciform God. Most recently, Fuller New Testament professor Daniel Kirk has a series of three appreciative posts (here, here, and here) that also raise some good questions. I have a response to only one (so far) of his posts, the third, in the form of a comment.

Eastern University NT professor Carl Mosser, who knows the topic of theosis very well, has some long and very perceptive comments in response to my recent post called “Fear of Theosis.”

Another blogger, a theologian, may post a long review with my (short) response soon.

There are also some other reviews on the web. (See mjg ONLINE to the right.) Thanks to all for the interest and feedback!

4 Responses to “Dialoguing about Inhabiting”

  1. Greg says:

    I just finished your book last evening. While I’m sympathetic to your thesis and find the discussions that are unfolding to be fascinating, it all seems like an irresolvable argument that will degenerate to problems of hermeneutics or (worse still and more likely) struggles around theological pre-commitments. The thing that struck me after closing the book was the more or less complete absence of appeal to authority for the exegesis. Or, more to the point, appeals to ephemeral – in the broad sense – personalities like Wright and Wolf make the idea of theosis in Paul seem like it is an entirely modern reading. Given that theosis is a major component of Christology in the early Fathers and it is almost inconceivable of thinking of the Chalcedonian formula being formulated without the idea of deification of humanity in the background, the missing piece seems to be some grounding in the historic theology of the Church to support the reading. I’m not arguing for an exercise in anachronisms here – but certainly the fact that the early Church received the Pauline corpus and proceeded to understand the Gospel in terms of theosis is something worth exploring in some depth – especially as this reading is largely preserved in the Orthodox Church today. Just a thought.

  2. MJG says:


    Thanks for reading the book and for commenting. I actually agree with your major concern: “the missing piece seems to be some grounding in the historic theology of the Church to support the reading.” Let me make three points or four brief:

    1. Remember that when a book comes out, it is already a year old (assuming the publisher takes a year to produce and market it), which means it is already two years old! My own thinking has changed and developed over the last two years. When I wrote it I wanted to avoid the accusation of anachronism (which failed sometimes), but now Iam less concerned about that.

    2. Note that I end with Bonhoeffer—not quite as ephemeral as Volf and Wright. And I do so because he sounds like the Fathers.

    3. My own case now would go something like this: (a) the Fathers read Paul as saying “he became… so that we might become….”; (b) there are several key texts in Paul where this pattern emerges prominently; (c) this pattern is the key to Paul’s soteriology, it should be called not merely Christosis but theosis, and it can fold into itself other soteriological elements. I would say the book does (b) and (c) without (a). Ben Blackwell’s dissertation, soon to be published, does more of (a) but is a little hesitant about parts of (c).

    4. I wish I had paid more attention in the book to Morna Hooker’s under-appreciated work From Adam to Christ, which ratifies a lot of my argument. Do you know it?

    5. You might be interested in my forthcoming article in Journal of Theological Interpretation called “Romans: The First Christian Treatise on Theosis.”

  3. Greg says:

    Understood and thank you for your reply. In reading through a lot of the recent literature on Paul, some of the ‘new’ perspectives seem a lot like the ‘really old’ perspective and it seems almost maddening not to see that point made, as you suggest, first and foremost. It is certainly counters the claim that these ideas are radical innovations or deviations from the historic Gospel, though they are admittedly foreign when first encountered in 21st century America.

    I have not read Morna Hooker’s book, though with your recommendation, I will do so shortly.

  4. MJG says:


    At the very least the “new” new perspective—participation, theosis, etc.—is not new. And that is part of its attraction to some of us, without discounting the new and fresh perspectives.

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