Cosmic theosis: an incarnational response to present suffering

Montague, Chase Cameron (2022). Cosmic theosis: an incarnational response to present suffering. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This project (unlike most theodical responses or defenses) seeks to respond to the existential problem for theism presented by what I call the problem of present suffering. In short, the problem of present suffering concerns God’s relationship to those experiencing evil. I contend God is uninvolved in evil altogether, and (without God’s involvement) actual gratuitous evil exists. Additionally, I argue true meaning for the present sufferer must be found, as I understand it, within divine-human communion (i.e., theosis) and ubiquitously available regardless of suffering. Divine blame or anger for one’s suffering, and the disseverment of theosis which would likely follow, is avoided by spurning what I call the post-suffering and instrumental approaches to evil. Hence, I believe theosis (not suffering) remains one’s greatest source of meaning within theism.

This point is clarified through a discussion of God’s primordial desire for divine-human communion before sin and the suffering it causes or what I call cosmic theosis. I also adopt a supralapsarian christology, which, as I use the term, says the incarnation would have happened without the fall (and its subsequent suffering) and is ultimately salvific. I argue my interpretation of the incarnation presents the best picture of theosis and represents the final fulfilment of creation through what I call particular theosis (i.e., the working out of salvation in the context of sin and the suffering it causes) into cosmic theosis. In other words, particular theosis is actualized in cosmic theosis, or God’s will for created being. I contend, if God’s will for cosmic theosis is achieved through the incarnation, and the incarnation was going to occur before sin, then a personal and corporate meaning (not according to divine will) of Jesus’s suffering and the suffering of others is possible without suffering. To emphasize this point, I utilize Jesus’s cry of forsakenness on the cross and his descent into hell, demonstrating common responses to suffering which can be had analogously by any sufferer for the achievement of personal (as opposed to divine) meaning within evil. I further explore what it might look like for a Christian to endure present suffering through a limited and philosophical use of the writings of Gregory of Nyssa.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Department of Theology and Religion
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BD Speculative Philosophy
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity


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