Original Research

The question of deification in the theology of John Calvin

Sung W. Park
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 38, No 1 | a1701 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v38i1.1701 | © 2017 Sung W. Park | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 September 2016 | Published: 31 March 2017

About the author(s)

Sung W. Park, Department of Dogmatics and Christian Ethics, University of Pretoria, South Africa


Calvin scholars debate whether Calvin’s theology supports the Eastern Orthodox theosis, which advocates the believers’ participation in the intrinsic divine life, mediated by Christ’s humanity in their union with Christ. To attempt to give an answer to the question of theosis in Calvin’s theology, this article isolates a framework used by the proponents of Eastern Orthodox theosis in Calvin’s theology. The framework centres around the three aspects of the nature of the salvific gifts, the nature of the believers’ union with Christ and the relation of Christ’s two natures in their hypostatic union. The re-examination of these three aspects through the lens of Calvin’s theology shows that it is hard to hold that Calvin teaches Eastern Orthodox theosis.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implication: As a Reformed intradisciplinary assessment of the question of theosis in Calvin’s theology, this article maintains that the proponents of Calvin’s doctrine of theosis overlook his Chalcedonian Christology, the personal dimension of his idea of union with Christ and his emphasis on Christ’s salvific work in his humanity.


Calvin; Deification; Hypostatic union; Union with Christ; Justification


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Crossref Citations

1. Demarcating Deification and the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Reformed Theology
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doi: 10.2478/perc-2020-0005