In his essay, “The Place of Theosis in Orthodox Theology” Andrew Louth suggests that theosis or divinization has a specific doctrinal location in Orthodox theology and that it cannot simply be abstracted away from those doctrines. In this sense, it might be helpful to follow Hallonsten’s distinction between a theme and a doctrine of deification, emphasizing that many (if not most) of the recent proposals claiming to find a doctrine of deification in a historic Protestant figure is probably more of a theme than a doctrine. So, what are these doctrines? I will let Louth summarize:
…I have suggested that deification, by the place it occupies in Orthodox theology, determines the shape of that theology: first, it is a counterpart to the doctrine of the Incarnation, and also anchors the greater arch of the divine economy, which reaches from creation to deification, thereby securing the cosmic dimension of theology; second, it witnesses to the human side of theosis in the transformation involved in responding to the encounter with God offered in Christ through the Holy Spirit – a real change that requires a series ascetic commitment on our part; and finally, deification witnesses to the deeper meaning of the apophatic way found in Orthodox theology, a meaning rooted in the ‘the [sic] repentance of the human person before the face of the living God.’”
He doesn’t explicitly state it, but it seems like Louth is not terribly impressed with all of the “retrievals” that evangelicals (and others) are attempting to construct by adopting a form of theosis. For Louth, it seems, you can’t simply have theosis, you need to have the entire soteriological package – outlined by his four points above. What do we think about this? Is it possible to have a Reformed view of Theosis? I haven’t read Habets on Torrance yet, but I imagine that he must draw some helpful distinctions there. If we disagree with Louth, and I imagine many of us do, what are the necessary and sufficient conditions for a true doctrine of theosis?