Original Research - Special Collection: Decolonialism in Theology today

Augustine on theosis and divine illumination as the theologic framework for decolonisation

Godfrey T. Baleng
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 45, No 1 | a3161 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v45i1.3161 | © 2024 Godfrey T. Baleng | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 March 2024 | Published: 13 June 2024

About the author(s)

Godfrey T. Baleng, The Unit for Reformational Theology and the Development of South African Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


This study examined the plausibility and role of theosis in Augustine’s theory of divine illumination as a theologic framework for decolonising theology. Theologic refers to God’s revelation about himself and his nature. Therefore, through an analysis of Augustine’s dogmatic treatise concerning the nature of the Holy Trinity, this article argues that Augustine’s theory of divine illumination is a precedent for God to speak about himself. Moreover, this theory of divine illumination is useful in developing a non-biased theoretical framework for decolonialism in theology today. At the centre of this theory is the inability of human beings to possess and command true knowledge as a result of inherent sin. However, in contrast, this highlights the graceful nature of God as he assists us in partaking in his glory and wisdom through theosis. Therefore, by incorporating Augustine’s philosophical analyses into empirical studies, the purpose of this study was to discuss the following: (1) The theologic of Augustine’s theory of divine illumination in the process of decolonising theology; (2) Augustine’s comprehension and use of divine procession through a triadic function of the human mind in his treatise De Trinitate; and (3) the role and plausibility of theosis because of God’s love in the process of learning and teaching. Through critical analysis of Augustine’s philosophical thought, this study develops an ethical theoretical framework for decolonising theology. Thus, the key contention is to succinctly present Augustine’s dogmatic thought rationally and logically in the process of his pragmatic stance.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article develops an ethical theoretical framework for decolonising theology based on Augustine’s theory of divine illumination. The theologic of his divine illumination theory posits the pragmatic stance of his inner teacher concept, which he argued was the one true teacher in his philosophical treaties. Conversely, the study of decolonisation advocates for the inculturation of knowledge as an inclusive praxis that does not perpetuate a Eurocentric worldview. Thus, the authority of Augustine’s inner teacher concept in his theory of divine illumination becomes ideal and fundamental in developing ethical hermeneutical praxis because of God’s love.


Augustine; theory of divine illumination; decolonising theology; De Trinitate; inculturation; theosis; theologic.

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